Discovering Taiwan’s Underground With LucFest & Four Of Taipei’s Electronic Ambassadors
A few weeks ago, we ventured to Tainan, Taiwan for the inaugural LucFest, a showcase and conference for underground Taiwanese acts who spanned the spectrum of underground and indie music.
Over the course of 4 days in Taiwan’s cultural epicenter, DHA joined a slew of local, regional, and international acts, labels, events, and more for a discovery and, in some cases, introduction to some of the best music Taiwan had to offer. Amongst this crowd, were local imprint MUTNTKND, Netherlands’ own Subbacultcha, New York City’s underground electronic label 2MR, Music Art Interactive event Focus Wales, Jakarta based Music Collective Double Deer Records, and more from India, Thailand, China, and around the world.
Searching through the vast lineup, obviously for us its electronic music, DJs and live acts that we’re searching for and at LucFest we found a few. Here, I spoke with 4 of the country’s foremost electronic and experimental acts, from DJs to live performers – DJ Mykal aka 林哲儀, Dizparity, Ruby Fatale, and Slamer.
Where in Taiwan do you live? Where were you born?
DJ Mykal aka 林哲儀 – Taipei
Dizparity – Taipei
Ruby Fatale – I’m living in Taipei and was born the same place.
Slamer – I live in Banqiao, New Taipei City, also where I was born
How would you describe your musical style? Why?
DJ Mykal aka 林哲儀 – Mixture. Because I love to play everything I like from Dance Music to Rock/Pop Music in my DJ set and all kind of Bass’n’Breaks Music are my favorite.
Dizparity – Alternative dance/ bass music with organic, melancholy textures
Ruby Fatale – The first words that come to mind are: electronic, glitch, atmospheric, cinematic, and human. We incorporate various styles of music in our songs with the intent of making each song narrative and emotional. One reviewer referred to us as a story telling band, saying that listening to our music triggered cinematic memories for them. Our ambition is to make complex and interesting electronic compositions which touch people on a deep, human level.
Slamer – I prefer groovy rhythm when I am on the set, not limiting to any type of music genre like house, trap, electronic etc. It’s because I think vocal and melody should be laid bare for the audience, to induce the most direct response.
Describe your technical setup when producing? DJing?
DJ Mykal aka 林哲儀 – Producing: Novation Nocturn 49-keys Keyboard, KRK Rokit Powered 6 & Ableton Live
DJIng: DJMS9 + CDJ2000 NEXUS + Serato DJ
Dizparity – I did most of my tunes digitally, design the sounds through plugin or sample. But I just got a couple of new semi-modular synths, quite many lovely sounds! I use ableton live for producing and djing with cdj or traktor, depends on the event.
Ruby Fatale – My equipment is quite simple. I use only APC 40, macbook pro, Roland GIA Sh-01, Roland VT-3 and a microphone.
Slamer – Because I use an USB drive to load songs, I’d usually setup at least 3 CDJ for my set. But that keeps me busy enough from adding more hardware in. Hah!
How were you first introduced to electronic music and/or DJing?
DJ Mykal aka 林哲儀 – Back in early 80s, I was introduced to Electronic Music because of Synth-Pop. Then I was so much in love with Big Beat & Drum & Bass in mid 90s when I started DJing. And I have to mentioned the legendary club SPIN in Taipei was the place my DJ career was getting started.
Dizparity – I was a huge fan of electronic/ dance pop records when I in high school, guess that was the earliest period I started to know anything about electronic music. The biggest source then was by MTV and YouTube’s electronic music festival video.
Ruby Fatale – My first touch of electronic music is through Japanese Animation; some theme songs of the animation are of progressive Trance or Djent. But when I began to make my own sounds, I started to explore the delicate world of experimental.
Slamer – It was around college period, 2005, 06ish. Back then I was a frequent club goer and there was this place, Party Room. It plays a variety of music, electronic, rock, all sorts.
What was the first way you acquired music that you would eventually play?
DJ Mykal aka 林哲儀 – I was playing vinyls and CD when I sstarted DJing 20 years ago. So now I still acquired music from the CDs I bought. And of course I bought so many singles/remixes from beatport.
Dizparity – SoundCloud, Beatport, Mixcloud
Ruby Fatale – SoundCloud, Beatport and Youtube Music Video.
Slamer – Before, I think mostly at record store, got some CDs there. I was lucky internet was open enough. There was MySpace and some blogs that I could tap on some interesting tunes.
Who are some of your artistic inspirations (local & international)?
DJ Mykal aka 林哲儀 – Local: Everyone Taiwanese who’s in love with DJing & producing
Internaional: James Lavelle is always the priority because himself and his label Mo’Wax was huge influence to me only in music but also in fashion back in 90s. Then I would mention The Chemical Brothers’ DJ-Mix lbum “Brothers Gonna Work It Out” as the big inspiration to me when I started DJing.
Dizparity – My local inspiration are mostly from the clubs or live bands venue. As here is not too many underground electronic music venue, so sometimes the cool DJ event will be held in the livehouse together with the indie bands. Therefore, it’s quite easy to get inspiration from different music genres.
Internationally I was inspired a lot by a Dutch producer called ZES, his sound is nicely deep and heavy, and super unique. I was inspired by him a lot during my early production times, even now sometimes I still play his tracks in my DJ set.
Ruby Fatale – I was inspired a lot by Japanese minimal and experimental music, the sounds are very delicate, precise and cold like calculator or machine. Also music from Label Raster is what I listen to repeatedly.
Slamer – If DJs, it’s a Taiwanese called Spykee. His song selection and mixing skills always inspire me on performance and music production. There are also a lot of notable labels like luckyme records and soulection records. These are my recent favorites. I like all of their label artists. They give me a lot of production inspirations.
Describe the electronic music underground of Taiwan?
Slamer – In Taiwan, I don’t think there is really an underground culture for electronic music.
What are some of the best record shops?
Dizparity – The best record shop for digging electronic music I would say Blue Record Store in Taichung City, It was introduced by my friend when I was studying college there. The boss, JJ is a very experienced DJ and audio technician, sometimes I just go for asking feedbacks of the tracks I had been working on, JJ would give me suggestions about where the track should be going or any reference tracks. It’s a really cool record store with unique taste on their record selections.
Ruby Fatale – If you’re looking for Taiwanese Indie or underground record, GenKicd Shop in Taichung is a place you shouldn’t miss.
Slamer – Species Records
What are some of the best clubs & festivals?
DJ Mykal aka 林哲儀 – Korner
Ruby Fatale – The best Club for Taiwanese Indie and or underground electronic music is Korner in Gongguan Taipei, this is a place where all the audio nerds or freaks will show up on weekend.
Slamer – There isn’t a best or unique club in Taiwan. Most of them play more entertaining kind of EDM. But for bars, there are a few that are quite good. Hahaha
Who are some of your favourite artists?
DJ Mykal aka 林哲儀 – All the artists from my own label ROKON, haha
Dizparity – My favorite artists of Taiwan underground electronic music artists are Barkher, Ruby Fatale. They also performed in LucFest this year in Tainan. They are both really good at their own sound style, lovely experimental electronica texture.
Slamer – Cashmere Cat!!
What would you say Taiwan needs in order to be a regional (or International) centre for electronic music?
DJ Mykal aka 林哲儀 – Showing more respect to all the DJs & Producers
Dizparity – Taiwan has its geographical advantage in East South Asia, common for transferring flights and also in the middle of east pacific. I think it has potential to be developed into a electronic music center for connecting north, south asia and also the Chinese sounds, we are very opened in music taste. The whole electronic music scene is pretty diverse too. Even though here’s not that many music producers doing it professionally like western countries, but we still can see many creative ideas coming up, people seem not be narrowed by any form, and the listeners also enjoy seeing them doing the original arts. That’s why I think we have the potential of being a music central for the diverse Asia sounds.
Ruby Fatale – We need more electronic music Labels of different colors and taste to work with each other in order to create our local color.
Slamer – I don’t think Taiwan has that kind of position yet, because there aren’t a lot of electronic music labels in Taiwan. I think less than 5. So on this land, the so-called culture hasn’t been developed yet. People are obscured by many large festivals, thinking those are the culture.
What is your experience performing outside of Taiwan?
DJ Mykal aka 林哲儀 – Always excited because I can feel and learn from club scene outside Taiwan.
Dizparity – I played in London once when I was studying music there. It’s a small festival for introducing the rising sounds held by The Roundhouse. It’s a great experience, people seemed enjoy it.
Ruby Fatale – I was invited to perform in Zandari Festa at Seoul, and will perform in SXSW 2018.
Slamer – I find people more drawn the music and more acceptable to different types of music, hah!
What are 3 locations, places, events around the world where you would most like to perform?
DJ Mykal aka 林哲儀 – Fabric(UK)/ Summer Sonic(Japan)/ Taipei Arena(Taiwan)
Dizparity – If I did live show I would like to perform at Coachella, Glastonbury, Pitchfork.
Ruby Fatale – I want to perform at Glastonbury, Clockenflap and Pitchfork (actually there are more!)
Slamer – Fuju Rock (JP), L.A. (America), Banqiao （TW）
Any last words on anything related to Taiwan, music, or your own artistry?
DJ Mykal aka 林哲儀 – Express yourself
Dizparity – As I said we have a small indie music scene, so it’s quite common to have collaboration things from other sides happening. In August, 2017, I was touring with a band called Jade Eyes as a guest dj. After that, I did three remixes of their classic tracks released as《Dizparity Remix (Jade Eyes孔雀眼)》 EP in October – ITUNES
Ruby Fatale – Before music, I was a fantasy novel writer and have one book published when I was 17 (It’s a detective novel). 2016 my album “Grace & Gravity” was selected as “The Best Indie Electronic Album” in Taiwan Golden Indie Music Award.
Slamer – Hmm…. I’m currently preparing for my album. Hahaha. Hope it’ll be released on time next year.