Your debut album “A Glass of What Reminds Me of Lovesick Potions” has been out for more than a year. What has the reception been like in Taiwan? Anything in particular that made you happy or disappointed?
張: If we consider the 23 million Taiwanese on this island, the reception cannot be considered very good. We recorded and released an album. That is it. There is nothing happy or sad about this fact.
盧: When the album was released, I thought the reception was good and was going to improve. However, after a while, I noticed that the people coming to see Sleaze’s gigs were the same.
黃: I am new to the band. I did not really have much to do with the last album.
林: I do not take the reception of the last album to heart. The release of the album made me neither happy nor disappointed.
官: Penetration into the general Taiwanese audience is not high. Disappointment and happiness to me is the same thing. I still consider the last album a flawed recording.
Do you have overseas aspirations? What has been your progress on this front?
盧: I want to go to Japan or China!
黃: Overseas aspirations are good! In the next few days I will be heading to Beijing to explore opportunities.
林: Heading overseas to perform is not a difficult thing – it is not really an aspiration as such. However, our progress on that front has been like an old man walking…
Are you recording new material? Will there be any changes in style?
張: No plans at the moment.
黃: We will most likely have some changes in style but as to what that will sound like – we are not telling!
When listening to Sleaze’s music, one can tell that the members of the band like lots of different kinds of music. What have you guys been listening to? Any bands or artists that would cause your fans to be surprised?
盧: Recently, I have been listening to Power Trip and Sam Chatmon.
張: Ray Brown, Erkan Oğur, 宋東野 and 陶晶瑩.
黃: Recently I have been listening to Mozart and Debussy. The music I listen to that might surprise our fans? I frequently listen to songs from Japanese Anime.
林: 頭腦警察, 鐘玲玲, 54-71. On a side note regarding fans, the support from fans gives me a sense of achievement and warmth. However, it can also fill me with self-doubts sometimes.
官: Most recently I have been looking into how to compose and write rap lyrics in Chinese. I have been following a local Taiwanese rapper熊仔. He is my current favourite new artist.
Sleaze can be said to have been incubated from the Shida Park and Underworld scene which is endangered. Do you guys have any view on the state of indie music now? Do you think things will get better? What steps we do need to take?
張: The closure of Underworld caused the music community to start facing up to pre-existing institutional problems. We are calling for action to amend the laws and policies. In theory, things will become better.
黃: Taiwanese indie music seems to constantly face a longstanding “gap” problem in the intergenerational passing of culture. Simply put, there is little passing of knowledge, experience, institutions, responsibility, etc. between the generations of musicians. I feel that there are two causes of this.
One, as Bourdieu states, a cultural community is grown through the exchange of ideas (for musicians, this is accomplished simply by listening to others’ works) and through the preservation of capital and field. In Taiwan, while many musicians’ backgrounds form fertile cultural hotbeds for new culture, there is difficulty in preserving and passing on the work by these musicians. These difficulties arise because musicians find it difficult to make a living out of their work. The ensuring conflict between reality and ideals (I prefer to call it “interest”) consumes a lot of energy in these musicians and they subsequently decide to leave the cultural field. If musicians start a family, the undervalued economic returns of cultural work cannot be relied on to nurture the next generation.
Two, If we follow Bourdieu’s theory, a cultural community can become entrenched as a societal practice according to the following formula: Habit + Capital + Field = Practice. If we consider Capital and Field here, the Taiwanese indie music seems to be lacking in “effective struggle” or “effective revolution” which leads to a fragmented community. This can lead to a lack of self-direction within the community and possibly a weak sense of self identity. In other words, indie music bands in Taiwan tend to be similar – similar to foreign bands or similar to local bands. Then again, this might just be the habit of the current members of the community.
This problem is not something that can be explained in two or three sentences. My conclusion is that we (musicians) are too poor. We cannot live by music alone. We have many other problems but this problem seems to be the most urgent for us. If we are to take action, maybe the first step is some sort of union? The ironic thing is that due to the “outsider to the mainstream” character of indie musicians, asking them to form something like a union seems like a very long shot.
What does the early punk’s DIY attitude mean to you? Is DIY a suitable model for Taiwanese indie music? What should DIY look like now in this day and age?
黃: For the small Taiwanese market, DIY can be both a good and bad model. DIY is a low-cost way of producing music and is suitable for targeting a niche market. There is not much money to be made, so why not DIY? However, the growth of Taiwanese culture is limited by a DIY model as it is difficult to transmit to a wider audience. If it is possible to reach out to a wider audience, a DIY model with low cost of production will have a much stronger multiplier effect on growth.
官: I feel that DIY can be awesomely liberating or a perfect excuse (especially when a performance is not well executed). However, if the reaction from the audience is good, the returns from a DIY model is significant. Hence, I feel that the most important thing is ultimately the work of art itself (i.e. the music, the performance, etc.).
When Sleaze performs, crazy shit happens. Please share a story or two.
盧: Someone did push-ups while we performed. Happened at two gigs…
張: Our singer threw a bottle off a two-storey tall stage at Formoz Festival. Luckily no one was hurt!
黃: At this year’s Beastie Rock, our singer threw someone over his shoulder.
官: While on stage at PIPE, there was a power outage. When the power came back on and without conferring with each other, we continued the song from the exact point when the power outage occurred.
Jackie Chan or Stephen Chow? Perfume or Kyary Pamyu Pamyu? Jeremy Lin or Wang Chien-Ming? Why?
黃: Can I answer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu for all three? Why? Because I like Cyndi (王心凌).
Anything else you want to say to the GigGuide.tw community?
盧: If you want to be in a band, learn an instrument quick! More new bands! More fun!
黃: There are a lot of good looking guys and girls who are in bands here. Please convince your Korean idol worshipping friends to come to our gigs (not necessarily for the music) to see these good looking people. We can survive off a side business of selling merchandise featuring these people. For real! We only need 10 percent of these Korean idol worshipping people to switch to us!
張: Merry Christmas!
林: This (GigGuide.tw) is a good platform, surprisingly started by a foreigner for Taiwanese music. When will a Taiwanese surprise us with something good? *smiles*
官: Please enjoy the beauty of life. Going to gigs and playing music is a very good option in life.