Dirty Beaches will perform one-off concerts in Taipei and Greater Kaohsiung next week. For the band’s frontman Alex Zhang (張洪泰), however, playing Taiwan is more than just the usual gig.
“I’m really excited to be back and play my first concert in the city and country I was born in,” the Taiwanese-born Canadian tells the Taipei Times.
Though Zhang hasn’t played in Taiwan before, he refuses to compare it with other international music scenes.
Photo courtesy of Dirty Beaches
“I’m expecting Taipei to be Taipei. And it should evolve naturally and be its own scene,” Zhang says.
Dirty Beaches has relocated several times, moving from Canada to Europe and touring extensively, all while garnering an impressive following of fans and critics, including online music publication Pitchfork, which included it in their Best of 2013 list.
In an interview with the Taipei Times ahead of his arrival, Zhang talks about travel and its influence on his music, performing and film.
Taipei Times: You have been doing a lot of touring and moving about: What drives you to travel and how have these travels influenced your music?
Alex Zhang: To be honest I always wanted to avoid asking myself the motives and the drive behind all the journeys I embarked on because it can lead to some dark uncharted territory. But because of the way I grew up (born in Taipei, immigrated to Canada, raised in Hawaii, worked in Shanghai, restarted my life in Montreal, then Berlin) I am built for this kind of lifestyle. I embody all the different traits of the places that raised me. Home is a collage of landscapes for me at this point, and as a result I can never be from somewhere completely, and can even feel a bit like a tourist in the country I was born in. Such is the fate of the modern child of the diaspora.
TT: You’ve mentioned in interviews before that your father was a source of inspiration. What has been his response to your music?
AZ: [My father] was [the inspiration] for the album Badlands, as it was created as an homage to his youth in Taiwan. It’s also ironic that the album that gave me the breakthrough I needed was the one written for him and also designed (image wise) for me to resemble him … It was a lot of unspoken love, ideas, concepts and contexts injected into one album.
TT: You have spoken about cinematic references in your music and how you view the process of making music similar to directing a film. How do you view that difference between writing a song and performing it?
AZ: [P]erforming music or any kind of live performance is a completely different category for me [than writing or recording music]. It is like an exorcism or some other ritualistic feeling. In my opinion, films are like albums because once they are set in stone those images and sound are locked up and preserved forever. But a live performance is not about replicating and re-presenting a piece of work you already did, but how you can present ideas that weren’t so obvious in certain mediums.
To me, Dirty Beaches’ music and identity are more than just a band, it can be an imaginary country, it can be the vessel of tradition and also watch it contradict itself midway, spawning new formations and identities that are layered. For me, it’s an expedition trekking through those dark uncharted waters/territories in your own mind. That deep dark ass shit in yourself that no one wants to confront, I exorcize those spirits at every show, whenever I can.
TT: Are there any venues or bands that you are excited to see [in Taipei]?
AZ: It’s actually quite emotional. I feel like some kid who has been sent out to sea for 30 years and have finally came home.
Taiwan Plus (@taiwanplusnews), the excellent English-language media outlet, reported last week that water levels were down in Taiwan’s largest reservoir as the nation’s dry season looms. The northern reservoirs may be brimming, but the rains have neglected the south, forcing the nation’s water bureaucracy to scramble to maintain supplies without rationing. Almost a metaphor for the nation’s political geography. There’s no little irony in this happening on the heels of a business-as-usual election in which all incumbents were re-elected. That construct we misleadingly label “mother nature” is sending us another tranche of signals telling us that business as usual is
Winter is the best season — the only season, many would argue — in which long walks near sea level are enjoyable. Remembering that Miaoli County is often very pleasant in the cool season, with little of the pollution that often plagues Taiwan’s south during that time of year, I broke out a map and scanned parts of the county I’m not familiar with. I hoped to work out a route that’d link a few points of interest I’d not visited before, and also begin and end at places served by public transportation. Jhunan Township (竹南), which has a population
In the past few weeks a photograph of Tony Blair and his buddy Bill Clinton sharing a panel with a scruffy kid wearing a T-shirt, baggy shorts and trainers has been doing the rounds. The April event was in the Bahamas and funded by an outfit called FTX — a supposedly “user-friendly crypto exchange”—– owned by the scruffy kid, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF from now on). Blair and Clinton are looking very pleased to be there, providing confirmation of the aphrodisiac effect of great wealth, because the lad who was playing host was apparently as rich as Croesus, or at any
Dec 5 to Dec 11 Recent visitors to Taipei’s Guangzhou Street Night Market (廣州街) may have noticed that the old concrete building with traditional tiled roofs at No. 200, which spans an entire block, is undergoing renovation. Jen Chi Hospital (仁濟醫院) maintains that it was just doing “emergency maintenance” when it partially demolished the building’s second floor walls in September, but the city stopped them and declared last week the 71-year-old structure a historic building. Since it still housed the hospital’s rehabilitation and dentistry departments, the hospital said that the structure was suffering