When you think ‘Taiwanese indie music’, those of you in the know might associate the term with kitschy groups dressed in colourful, mismatched outfits, or with distressed bands which always happen to have a female lead singer singing somewhat eerily. But no matter what popped up for you, I doubt ‘East-meets-West music’ was the first thing to spring to mind. A niche theme popularised by the likes of pop stars Wang Leehom, David Tao, Khalil Fong and more, it is surprising to see such influences creep into the underbelly of the Taiwanese music scene.
Nevertheless, that is exactly what Calvin Jordan and Anna Pan set out to do when they started their band Violet Lens in 2015, a five-piece indie/alternative pop/ punk and indie rock outfit that proffers an organic blend of Eastern and Western musical influences while performing in English, Mandarin and sometimes Taiwanese. The band, composed of Calvin (Songwriter, Backup Vocals), Anna (Songwriter, Vocals), Stan (Lead guitar), Howl (Bass, Backup Vocals) and Kulou (Drums) started in a way as Taiwanese and as indie as one could get; through the use of Taiwanese independent music sharing platform Streetvoice. Calvin recalls:
“Violet Lens started when I found a few of Anna’s songs on StreetVoice.com. I immediately felt a connection to her voice, which sounded special even when recorded on a smartphone and paired with a beat-up old guitar. At the time I was living in Taichung, so I reached out to Anna and asked if she was open to collaborating and possibly meeting up in Taipei to play together. She was a bit reserved, but said she was interested. Shortly after that we met up and started sending snippets of song ideas to one another.”