An Intro to Taiwanese Music
Tuesday, 29 November 2022
A brief introduction to the Taiwanese indie music scene from our resident Chinese music expert.
Listening to music in a foreign language is a great way to pick up new vocab and improve your listening skills but listening to the soft piano ballad mandopop hits in the charts can get repetitive. Taiwan is making it big in the Chinese-language music scene. So, even if you’re not learning Chinese and are just interested in finding new music, hopefully, there’s something that takes your interest.
イルカポリス 海豚刑警 (hǎitún xíngjǐng) (Dolphin Police)
Song recommendation: 羽球少年 (yǔqiú shàonián) (Badminton Boy)
Inspired by and named after a character from the manga KochiKame: Tokyo Beat Cops, this Taipei-based band’s music is influenced by Japanese rock and pop music. The band’s light-hearted and fun music has become the group’s signature style. Their album and EP covers, as well as their promotional materials, are upbeat and colourful, apparently reflecting the Dolphin Police manga character the band’s name is based on.
Although it is hard to find a similar-sounding English-language band, the band’s drummer has said the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, among others, served as inspiration for some of their music.
No Party For Cao Dong
Song recommendation: 山海 (Shānhǎi) (Wayfarer)
“Quiet. Loud. Honest” – this is how Taipei-based band No Party for Cao Dong describe their musical style.
Formed in Taipei in 2012, No Party For Cao Dong has quickly become a popular name among fans of Taiwanese indie music. Their first album and only one to date, The Servile, is a story of sorrow, grief and anger which speaks to the frustrations many young people in Taiwan have about society, according to the band. Despite the political nature of their music, No Party for Cao Dong has found success outside of Taiwan, playing concerts in mainland China, South America and even featuring at Glastonbury in 2019.
Fans of the band are still waiting for the release of their second album which has been delayed due to the pandemic but if the band can recapture the magic they found with their first album, you will be hearing a lot more about his band in the future.
Song recommendation: 海浪 (hǎilàng) (Wave)
Also formed in Taipei, deca joins can often be heard playing in Taiwan’s packed cafés and bubble tea shops. With a more relaxed, lo-fi-inspired sound than other indie-rock groups, deca joins’ music is perfect to listen to while studying. Their most recent album, 鳥鳥鳥 (Bird and Reflections), incorporates more jazz and hard-rock elements into their music, taking the band’s sound in a new and exciting direction.
Bassist Xie Jun-Yan has said that the band’s music and message can be summed up as not giving up on your dreams, which is a great message for anyone who has had to learn how to use 把.
無妄合作社 (No-nonsense collective)
Song recommendation: 開店歌 (kāidiàn gē) (Opening Shop Song)
Another politically charged band, the group was started by members of a Marx reading group at National Taipei University. Their songs have been used by politicians at rallies as well as to celebrate election victories.
Reminiscent of the Foo Fighters, No-nonsense Collective says that their music is inspired by “cigarette smoke, forest game, and city pollution”.
In 2018, they won the Golden Music Award in Taiwan for best band, beating out favourites Eggplantegg and 告五人, putting the band on the map in the process. Following this success, the band has released an album and an EP and put on free shows across Taiwan to help promote Taiwanese culture and music.
Song recommendation: 披星戴月的想你 (pīxīngdàiyuède xiǎngnǐ) (Missing you)
Accusefive is another band that gained mainstream success after winning an award at the prestigious Golden Music Awards, making them one of the most popular bands in Taiwan right now. The group of three friends formed in Yilan in 2017, and after their song ‘披星戴月的想你’ was featured during an episode of the popular Taiwanese series Yong-Jiu Grocery Store, they quickly became a household name.
Their first and most famous album, 我肯定在幾百年前就說過愛你 (Somewhere in time, I love you), incorporates psychedelic rock, retro disco and indie rock tracks into one project. The theme of the album is love, and every song touches on a different aspect of it, whether that be love between friends, family or lovers.
Other bands you might like:
老破麻Old Slut Distortion
Wayne’s so sad
Bremen Entertainment Inc.
Check out Chris's curated playlist with all his top Taiwanese recommendations below.
Lovely tasty dish. Try it you won’t be disappointed.
Very tasty and cheap. I often have this for tea!
Being a bilingual family (French mother and British father,) living in France I thought your article was extremely interesting . Have you research on bilingualism ? It seems that when the mother is British and the father French and they both live in France their children seem to be more bilingual than when the mother is French and the father is British . This is what we called mother tongue , isn't it ?
Such an interesting article!