When Yeh Wan-ching (
Ignoring the grumbling from her family, she chose the former.
PHOTO: MAX WOODWORTH, TAIPEI TIMES
It's an unconventional path to take for a politics major, but not half as unlikely as the modest success her label White Wabbit Records (
By that point, school had already ranked low on her list of priorities for several years, and starting a label also conveniently ensured that her band would be able to release an album commercially, which the other labels in town were not liable to help with.
Founding a record label and record store isn't quite revolutionary, but cornering a niche market for quirky, relatively unheard-of indie bands required a measure of risk that, until White Wabbit was founded, others had only taken half-heartedly.
"There's no reliable local business model in indie-music. So, just because we went through with it, we're perceived as pioneers and get a lot of attention for it," said KK, whose label and store have been featured in everything from popular women's magazines to a DPP presidential campaign ad.
The store, located inside the music venue/shopping complex The Wall, is tiny -- no more than five pings -- but it's a significant improvement from its former address inside a converted men's restroom at the now-defunct live music house Zeitgeist. The new space allows for a proper counter, a sofa and floor-to-ceiling shelves to fit a couple thousand CDs from bands known by only a handful of truly dedicated music listeners.
Keeping the titles as obscure as possible helps the store maintain an unchallenged status locally as the city's nexus for people with their ears to the rails for upcoming bands. There's also little likelihood for would-be consumers to find the music sold at the shop on popular MP3 file-sharing systems, like Kuro.com, that major labels and record stores complain have cut into their profits.
"It's a convenient convergence of personal interests and market conditions. I like this kind of music, and it so happens that we operate in part of the music market that MP3 file-sharing doesn't affect," KK said.
Learning the ropes in the rock-music industry, where young women label-heads are noticeable in Taiwan, as elsewhere, for their absence, was a trial-and-error process, but not, KK says, an especially arduous one.
"Because the music market is so fresh, starting this kind of venture might actually be the easy part. Keeping it alive is the hard part," she said.
To do so, KK made the label and store operate symbiotically, as the label's local releases -- six in total so far by Nipples, Bad Daughter (
A significant portion of the business comes over the Internet. Through the label's Web site (www.wwr.idv.tw), newletter and community forum site, KK has built a small client base from southern Taiwan and even as far away as Hong Kong and China.
KK also designed the label's logo -- a one-eyed cartoon rabbit that looks as though it were first doodled on a napkin.
But despite her undeniable marketing acumen, KK hesitates to describe herself as a businesswoman.
"I'm more of a musician than anything else. In the beginning, keeping the accounting books straight at the store was a huge drag. I can barely count," she said.
Her laid-back attitude has given White Wabbit something of a cachet as head of Taiwan's indie-rock slacker community and masks the actual round-the-clock work that goes into keeping the label and store afloat.
And she's not so unambitious as to not forget to forge medium-term plans for the label and store.
"I hope in five years to open up a branch in Tokyo. People buy anything in Japan," she said.
This month the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) announced a new policy ostensibly aimed at influencing the upcoming presidential election. A top-notch Voice of America (VOA) report observed “China launched a series of influence campaigns against Taiwan last week, unveiling a plan to promote integrated development across the Taiwan Strait.” The plan, a “demonstration zone,” offers incentives for Taiwanese to live, work and invest in Fujian Province, across the Strait from Taiwan, along with supplies of water, electricity and gas. Using cooperative zones to poach technology and influence Taiwanese is an old plan that has appeared in various
SEPT. 25 to OCT. 1 Joyce McMillan was greatly moved by the pleas of the Taiwanese pastor and doctor who preached at her church in the summer of 1954. Hsieh Wei (謝緯) had just completed his medical residency in Buffalo, New York and stopped by Berkeley to raise funds and recruit staff for the tuberculosis treatment center the Presbyterian Church planned to open in his hometown of Puli, Nantou County. McMillan, who was a nursing aide, had the dream of being an overseas missionary since she was 7 years old. She also had a close friend die of tuberculosis. She expressed
Si Mateneng of the Tao indigenous community felt like he had reunited with a lost friend. While visiting Seattle’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, he encountered a boat that had been in the US since the 1970s, first hanging in a restaurant then languishing in a warehouse before being purchased by a collector and donated to the museum. Si Mateneng could tell from the crosses on the vessel, known as a tatala, that it was built on his homeland of Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) after the introduction of Christianity in 1959. He could hardly contain his excitement. Si Mateneng
If the world is to avert climate catastrophe without causing immense suffering, humanity must put the global economy into reverse gear, and begin serious and truly democratic discussions about resources and priorities, says Lu Chien-yi (盧倩儀), a research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of European and American Studies (IEAS). Lu is a proponent of degrowth, a movement that seeks to knock GDP as the standard metric off its pedestal, save the planet’s ecosystems and create a more just society. She and other degrowth thinkers contend that the eco-economic decoupling promised by supporters of green growth will not happen fast enough to