Legendary Taiwanese Hip Hop Label KAO! INC. Bringing Unique Taiwanese Cool To New York & LA This November
As the world is slowly getting more of a taste for Taiwanese music, what better time than now for a wave of the Taiwanese indie scene's best to enter the North American market?
A big player in the Taiwanese indie hip hop scene is none other than legendary Hip Hop label KAO! Inc. founded by Dela Chang. The label has produced for some of the hip hop scene's best and most critically acclaimed artists, such as Miss Ko, Soft Lipa, and DJ Didilong, who have all been highly appraised and nominated multiple times at the prestigious Golden Melody Awards for their efforts.
Now, the entire label which currently consists of Soft Lipa, GorDoN, DJ Didilong and Leo Wang are bringing their offerings from Coast to Coast-such is the name of their tour as they tour LA and NYC, holding shows on the 19th (LA) at the Echoplex and on the 22nd (NYC) at the Highline Ballroom.
The crew will not only be performing some of their cult favourites, such as SoftLipa's 'About Little Bear' and DJ Didilong's 'Didilong of Taipei', but also previewing some new yet-to-be released tracks for Western audiences. Get tickets for the NYC show here.
Still not convinced to catch the show? Check out the profiles of the five artists below...
In his long-awaited comeback, Mandopop king Wang Leehom builds on his previous experimentation with EDM sounds, releasing part 1 of 2 for his new digital album 'A.I. Love'. The first song on the two-song EP is the self titled first single 'A.I. Love', which since its release has been hotly debated over by netizens, who either seem to love or hate the song. As a hardcore Leehom fan and music journalist, I decided that now would be as good a time as ever for me to weigh in on the debate.
Starting off by unpacking the song lyrics, Leehom's voice; auto-tuned into a somewhat eerie manner comes in, chanting 'ethics attain ethics'; a play on the similar pinyin of those words in Chinese. In doing so, Leehom is already using the intricacies of the Chinese language to make a point. Both the words 'ethics' and 'attain' have the words 'dao de' in them in Chinese; ethics meaning 'dao de 道德' and attain meaning 'de dao得到'. Leehom uses their similarities; singing them in sequence to demonstrate the thin line that exists between ethics and attainment of success.
We see this particular play on words appear again leading up to the chorus ; and Leehom borrows the same technique for the chorus, singing 'A.I. Love(Ai)' repeatedly. This time, the play on words occurs between A.I., an English short-form for artificial intelligence and '愛Ai', the Chinese word for love. The wordplay works on two levels; first of all subtly reinforcing Wang's ongoing engagement with 'East meets West' themes within his music, and secondly making a statement on what he sees as the tug and pull between a reliance on digital technology at large (so much so that we use it to create sentient beings like ourselves) and real human emotions of love and concern; not only in a romantic sense but also in a general sense of stewardship and solidarity.
He touches on both these types of love in his verses, which feature heavy use of satire to hammer his point home. For example, in his first verse he sings:
'Inject a vaccine and you'll grow immunity/congratulations, you're now immortal/everyone wants a perfect lover/to give a shoulder massage at any time'
Leehom's use of satire here is almost palpable, and is clearly a critique on the concept of people using man-made means to become immortal; as well as the concept of an artificially created perfect lover. In his second verse, he uses satire again but moves his focus to how artificial intelligence and technology can be used in harmful and destructive ways, singing:
'Artificial Intelligence has finally perfected love/Just don't challenge it in go/No longer worry about the world's problems/it will colonize Mars'
Taiwanese Waves returns to Central Park’s SummerStage in 2017, Showcasing Taiwan’s Vibrant and Multicultural Music Scene to New York
What happens when music from one of Asia’s foremost cultural centres is displaced in a concrete jungle like New York? One can only know for sure by attending the Taiwanese Waves event at New York’s legendary SummerStage venue on the 29th of July.
After the success of last year’s showcase which drew the biggest crowd recorded in SummerStage’s 30 year history, Taiwanese Waves is back again this year, featuring award-winning Taiwanese artists such as Sangpuy, FireEX, Berry J and Dadado Huang.
Boasting three of Taiwan’s uniquely skilled musical acts, Yen expressed that this years’ showcase is focused on showcasing Taiwan’s diverse set of cultures.
“Both New York and Taiwan are made up of many diverse cultures. This year we are bringing three sets representing three styles and three languages, Mandarin, Taiwanese and Puyuma.”
Listen to Taiwanese Waves 2017 Artists
This years’ lineup will not just be performing in Mandarin, but also in the other dialects and languages that are native to Taiwan. Performing this year are Sangpuy, the winner of Taiwan’s 24th Golden Melody Awards in Indigenous Music, indie folk legends Berry J and Dadado Huang and FireEX, the band behind runaway hit ‘Island’s Sunrise’.
Showcase organiser Mia Min Yen spoke to us about her intention behind organising the performance, revealing her passion for crossing cultural barriers and encouraging diversity. In particular, given her Taiwanese heritage she describes her motivation to share their music as her means of giving back:
“I am proud of the music from my hometown, it is the roots of how I got into the music scene; that is why I want to share it with the whole world. It is same as if you took a good photo and you want the whole world to see it; or you read a good book, and you want everyone around you to read it. I'm sharing what I am passionate about… Good music crosses (cultural) boundaries. It is just a matter of when and where you get to exposed to that music." Thus, I would like to create this platform/an opportunity for people in the west to hear, to see, to have a taste of what music in the east sounds like.”
Indeed, given the success of last years’ showcase, this years’ is sure to wow audiences and provide them with an even greater insight into Taiwan’s music beyond its bubblegum exterior.
This event is hosted by Taiwanese Waves, Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bureau of Tourism, Fubon Cultural and Educational Foundation, Teresa Teng Foundation, McSam Hotel Group, China Airlines, On-Line Entertainment and multiple local businesses in New York.
Taiwanese Waves will be held at SummerStage in New York (Rumsey Playfield, Central Park (East 69th St, New York) at 6PM on the 29th of July. Entrance is free.
Clockenflap, Hong Kong’s biggest music and arts festival has begun preparations for their 10th anniversary festivities, and have announced Bristol Trip-Hop legends Massive Attack and Canadian indie-rock chanteuse Feist amongst artists performing this year.
The festival will go from Friday, November 17th to Sunday November 19th at Central Harbourfront in Hong Kong.
Massive Attack will close the festival on Sunday with a spectacular full live show that will also be their only Southeast Asian show for the year. They will also be joined by singer-songwriter Feist.
As for Asian acts representing at this years’ festivities, Korean R&B singer DEAN, the off-the-charts Chinese rap group Higher Brothers, Taiwanese indie band Hello Nico and Hong Kong rock pop band Supper Moment will be gracing Clockenflap stages this year.
Other acts announced include Portland indie-rockers The Dandy Warhols (hits include Bohemian Like You and Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth), Tinariwen, and Hong Kong Indie legends Fan Hung A, who are reuniting especially for this special performance.
This years’ festival will include four Asian festival exclusive performances, two special sets and nine Hong Kong debut appearances. An event which brings together the best from the East and the West, Clockenflap’s tenth anniversary show is not one you will want to miss.
Tickets for the Festival which takes place from November 17th to November 19th are on sale no. Fans can take advantage of Early Bird discount prices until July 4 2017.
Asian-American YouTube sweetheart Kina Grannis has recently announced that she will be holding a showcase in Singapore on the 18th of June at Hood bar and cafe at 7pm.
The last time she was supposed to come to Singapore on tour, she along with Singaporean singer-songwriter Gentle Bones and several others were held in Jakarta due to issues with their performance permit.
This time, she'll be in Singapore filming for the upcoming film adaptation of the novel Crazy Rich Asians, and decided to make up for lost time with a gig here while she was at it!
During the performance Kina will be playing some of her new songs as well as old favourites such as Valentine, and will be headlining alongside opening acts such as Imaginary Future and The Facade.
Doors open at 7pm, and tickets are going for $68 a pop. See you there!
Find out more about Kina's Singapore performance on her website, and get tickets here.
Kina's message to Singapore fans!
Listen to Kina's new single "When will I learn"
A place where you can get quick updates on your favourite Asian Artists! If you have any updates as well feel free to share them with me!
** If there are any particular lyrics/pinyin from artists that you would like up here don't hesitate to just comment on any of the posts!