Text by Wang Hsin-Chuan
While lead singer Zebrateens of I Mean Us is sound checking, he repeatedly sings “I’ve been doing wrong……" from the song “Johnny the Hero”. His voice is amplified by a vintage Ampeg amp, which is placed in YuChen Studio’s long hall way. You can hear his voice clearly even close to the main entrance. This idea was actually from the studio’s owner, Andy Baker, who proposed the use of this special sound capturing technique to make use of the natural reverb effect of the studio’s space, which would allow for an even richer spatial texture of sound.
I Mean Us is an up and coming indie band from Taiwan. Formed in 2015 with five members, with an average of about 26 years old. The band members all had extensive experience with music prior to I Mean US, with guitarist Vitz Young coming from Taiwanese post-rock band Triple Deer.
The band had a great year in 2018. Their first album OST and its debut show “Endless Road” at Legacy Taipei was sold-out, attracting roughly a thousand of fans to attend. Overseas performances in Seoul, Busan, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen also garnered great praise.
Throughout the creative path that I Mean Us has taken, especially with both the album’s concept and visual design, they have tried to recreate scenery of road-trip movies, in which the story has seen fluctuations and pivots.
In the beginning, the band got together by covering well-known Scottish alternative band My Bloody Valentine. Gradually building a tacit understanding of each other, and building upon their new found relationships with one another, writing their own material was only natural. Many listeners would say that their music is a call back to late-90’s Noise pop bands, describing their songs as “abusive love songs of century end.”
Zebrateens said the concept behind the album was of a movie soundtrack that never existed. The album OST has eight songs, and each song has its individual story. However, each song shares the same road and order of progression and the album sets out to be like an imaginary movie, gradually revealing its own unexpected mysterious fate.
Their demo track “Søulмaтe” was used in the Taiwanese movie My Egg Boy as an insert and end credits song, which is how they came into contact with well-known Taiwanese producer Chen Chien Chi. This led them to collaborate on the album’s recording at YuChen Studio. Chen made some observations while recording the band, even remarking: “When they enter the studio, I can see that they treat each other with open-minds and open-attitudes for creativeness. I believe that this is a very important aspect of a band, for each member to bring an opinion to the creative process.”
This January, I Mean Us returned to YuChen Studio. This time as one of the artists invited to participate in ‘CINEMA’ SESSIONS. The live recording session saw them play songs “Jonny the Hero” and “Playground Babe.” The numerous performances in the past few years, has also made them much more solid in musicianship.
Why did they choose these two songs? Zebrateens said it’s because the two songs best represent the band members. He also commented: “This time, vocal effects were recorded differently in comparison to the original album, as Andy suggested using the hallway of the studio for a natural reverb effect. Everyone was excited by this and looked forward to the outcome.” Vitz Young also weighted in on the CINEMA SESSIONS: “When you listen to the songs, there are many electric noises that difficult to comprehend. You don’t know where they’re from, but when you watch the live session video, you’ll be able to find out”
The song “Playground Babe” was written by the band’s other vocalist Mandark Ravel. She and Zebrateens wrote most of the composition and lyrics, while the other band members took care of the song’s arrangement. She also said: “When I was writing this song, I thought of it as an ending song. I feel that it fits very well with rolling credits at the end of the video. Almost as if the words on the screen represent relief, as if everything no longer needed to be take care of.”
Fresh off completing their first live session recording, I Mean Us will hit the road touring. “Even though the album is done, the story continues,” they said.