Go Chic’s new album, We Ain’t Home, was mastered and completed almost two years ago, but was only released yesterday in Taiwan and two weeks ago on Dec. 11 in Japan.
At first, the album seemed like a dream come true. It started out as an invitation from Peaches, the foulmouthed Canadian electronic musician and performance artist, who got hooked up with Go Chic at a 2010 gig in Taipei. Go Chic was the opening band, and, says vocalist Ariel Zheng (鄭思齊), “We ended up hanging out with her the whole next day. At the end of it, she said if we ever went to Europe, she would hook us up with a gig in Berlin.”
That first Berlin gig happened a few months later, when Go Chic embarked on a tour through Spain and was able to tack on a couple of dates in Germany. “After that show, Peaches said she wanted to produce our next album. First we thought she was just drunk,” says Sonia Lai (賴思勻), the band’s guitarist and beat-maker.
“After we left Berlin, we were really nervous about it, and we were asking each other, ‘Should we email her?’ And what should we say?’” Zheng remembers.
Go Chic was formed in 2007 by four girls from the same Taipei high school. Lai, Zheng and Sarah Wen (溫一珊) were all different years, but students at the same time. A fourth member, Yang Shu-fan (楊舒帆) was older, and has since left the band. They had no drummer.
The band was born more out of attitude than proven musical ability.
“I really liked Peaches and Chicks on Speed and wanted to start a band like that,” says Wen, who had studied some piano, then learned guitar and then bass in the high school’s rock ‘n’ roll club.
Lai’s background was similar. “I studied piano from when I was little, but I never made it past the second book,” she says. “Then in middle school, I started learning guitar from Da Ma (大麻), the guitarist in 1976.” She is now Go Chic’s primary beat-maker, and also DJs electro, dance rock, moombahton and other genres of air-horn party music as part of the duo Bounce Girlz.
Go Chic had a party edge from the very beginning. They started out playing sassy, irreverent gigs as teenagers, trying to mix riot grrrl punk and electronic dance music.
Zheng, the vocalist, grew up speaking only English at home with her parents, and wrote songs in English. In Taipei’s open-minded scene, this was never questioned and has since given the band an international edge. On stage, she is brash and confrontational, often berating the audience, telling them they don’t party hard enough, and calling out people for not dancing.
“When I go on stage, I have a different personality. It’s a performance, so I know I have to perform,” says Zheng, who takes her cues from singers like M.I.A., Azelea Banks, Kid Sister and Love Foxxx from CSS.
“In Taiwan,” she adds, “I don’t think enough other bands really realize this.”
At present, the girls are in their mid-20s. They have two albums, have toured extensively in Europe and played major festivals including Fuji Rock, SXSW and Summer Sonic. They recently also played large events in Indonesia and Reunion Island, a French territory off the coast of Madagascar. Quite possibly, they are Taiwan’s most travelled rock band to the West, though they have also played some big rock festivals in China. Last year, they were able to quit their day jobs after signing a contract with the Taiwanese label and management group Arrival Music (有凰音樂).