After a rollercoaster ride of sponsors dropping out last minute, a whirlwind Crowdfunding campaign on FlyingV and the announcement of a star-studded line up, New York's annual Taiwanese Waves showcase is powering through, and slated to have the run of the legendary Summerstage venue on the 7th of July (6PM-10PM). Despite all the obstacles, the Taiwanese Waves team has nevertheless outdone themselves, putting together a truly fantastic tasting platter of Taiwan's best and brightest.
This year, they've invited Math-rock youngsters Elephant Gym大象體操, critically acclaimed music activist legends Sheng Xiang Band 林生祥 and SoftLipa蛋堡, the rapper who revolutionised Taiwan's hip hop scene with his chill raps. The team put together a short Q&A to gather the artists' thoughts on New York, Taiwanese Waves and how they hope to cross cultural barriers. Although all acts received the same questions, comparing the three acts' answers side by side truly show how different yet equally creative and unique their perspectives are.
Q1:What is your impression of New York?
Elephant Gym (EG): We haven’t been to New York before. But recently, Tell and Chia-chin love the TV show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, which takes place in New York. Since the show brought many laughs to us, we felt very connected to the scenes in the show that takes place on the street of New York, haha!
Sheng Xiang Band (SXB): It seems that one has to visit New York once in his lifetime.
Soft Lipa (SL): A place for all walks of life and also a place that also makes one feel at ease.
By Jocelle Koh & Matt Taylor
In an overwhelmingly positive and progressive move, Taiwan announced in February 2018 that it would be moving full speed towards a blanket ban on single-use plastic drinking straws, takeaway beverage cups, plastic bags and disposable utensils by 2030, one of the farthest reaching bans on plastic in the world. Originally promoted by the government since the early 1990s due to worries about diseases and cross-contamination, single use utensils and plastic bags soon became a huge problem, producing over 160,000 tonnes plastic waste annually. As a result, there have been consistent efforts by the government to become more environmentally conscious since 2000. Although this may seem an unwieldy task for residents outside Taiwan, locals have already had a culture of environmental friendliness going for years; something which has been reflected in their music scene in a big way.
And when we say ‘big’, we don’t mean a huge gaggle of artists releasing songs about loving the earth in one spurt because it was trendy before petering off to a dying trickle. We mean a consistent and encouraging history of artists within the Taiwanese independent and mainstream scenes who have expressed their concern at the state of the environment, and used their influence and visibility to keep the cause going. From Luo Ta-Yu in 1984 to Wang Leehom in 2007, and the aptly titled ‘Quit Plastic Poison’ by the Sheng Xiang band in 2016, here’s a crash course on how Taiwanese music’s authenticity and outspoken nature has lent itself perfectly to the island’s journey to greater environmental wellbeing.
Luo Ta-yu - Super Citizen 超級市民 (1984
It’s impossible to overstate how influential veteran singer Luo Ta-yu 羅大佑 has been on the development of popular Chinese language music. Since his initial contribution to the campus folk movement (校園民歌運動) of the 1970s, Luo has deservedly been credited with not only broadening the horizons of Chinese music sonically, but also setting a new model for lyricism in Mandarin.