Physical Chemical Brothers (理化兄弟) was formed at the end of 2010 by two art school student, DJ Zhao Yu Lin (林昭宇) and VJ Zhen Hoang. The duo’s name first appeared when making their video artwork “Guide to Public Smoking”, which appeared in Urban Nomad Film Festival in 2011. Physical Chemical Brothers then started to work on electro music and perform as DJs. They have been regularly doing shows in Taiwan’s underground electro music scene since then.
Their work is a mixture of indie rock and electro with old 8-bit videogame sounds bringing an atmosphere of a misplaced era, reminiscent of the New York experimental electronic rock group Ratatat. You can find Physical Chemical Brothers’ music on Soundcloud and their song “Greeting” is also included on Underworld’s closing-down compilation CD.
The following is our interview with DJ Zhao Yu Lin:
When I first heard your name I thought of the band The Chemical Brothers, but after listening I realize your music is not alike at all. In fact, your style is quite retro and unique, and your tunes have a mischievous quality. Could you share with us how you established your style?
Actually Chiptune music (also called 8-bit, or Gameboy music) has been around a while in underground music scenes overseas. It’s pretty active really, and there is even the Blip Festival (currently held in Europe, Japan and Australia) especially for 8-bit artists. We initially thought there might be producers of 8-bit music in Taiwan too, but after some searching online there weren’t really any. So, we thought Taiwan needs 8-bit too! As for the “Physical Chemical” in our name, it is taken from a subject in Taiwan schools, just junior high school level, that combines both physical and chemical fields. The name reflects our independence and grassroots nature.
Are these 8-bit sounds from samplers or produced by synthesizers? What platform do you use to arrange songs?
Earlier artists used Gameboy with LSDJ and nanoloop cart to do live performances, but Physical Chemical Brothers is about music plus visual work, so we don’t do things the traditional way. Instead we use Ableton to make songs and Traktor to play.
Please share with us influences on your music and your recent favorite works.
Inspiration can come from just a walk in the street. Anything from black-holes in the universe down to the smallest flower on a street corner.
Could you share with us your most unforgettable experience while performing?
During our set at Super ADD’s party there was a technical issue and the music was stopped. Fortunately the crowd was forgiving, shouting ‘I love you’ at us, and eventually the sound came back on. We went on to play two encores…
Translated by Che Chen