I move for music. I moved from the green countryside of North Carolina to Los Angeles for the music, and from the grit and glamour of Los Angeles to Taipei for the music. If a city has good music it has a good soul.
Although I originally moved to Taipei to chase Lim Giong, who's song "A Pure Person" is truly something of mantra for my life, I have found that Taiwan has many more well-kept secrets to find. But some secrets are meant to be shared, so I've created this mix series to expose Taiwanese music to more people outside of Taiwan. You can find my first mix comprised solely of CD's via Eternal Dragonz, but the rest of this monthly series can be found via my new Mixcloud and Taiwan Beats.
This mix is a combination of tracks from old CD's I've thrifted around Taipei, songs I have on repeat, and iPhone Voice Memos. These memos are either moments I've discovered a new song or moments when my soul felt locked back into my chest. So this mix intimate. It's my Taipei Diary and it features the voices of friends and places that have slowly made a small puzzle I'm willing to call "home."
The Party - It's Raining
"It's raining, it's raining, this is our favorite weather.
It's raining, it's raining, I like to walk together at this time."
A friend once told me that you aren't really Taiwanese until you either fight or kiss your lover in the rain. Because of the amount of rain in Taiwan there is an abundance of rain themed love songs but The Party's simply titled "It's Raining" has been a recent standout for me.
The Party was a bit overlooked in this period of Taiwanese hip hop and R&B by their contemporaries LA Boyz. The two boy bands shared a lot of similarities in sound - both had songs produced by Jerry Lo and had attitudes that were a great mix of American and Taiwanese pop culture. I love this track because the charming personalities each member is able to convey in their verse. Plus, the music video for the track makes wearing raincoats look fun when in reality it's really too humid in Taiwan to be wearing anything made of rubber.
aMEI - One Night
"Hey, what are you doing tonight? I can't sleep, can you come over?"
aMEI is often seen as the Mariah Carey/Madonna of Taiwan. She's a bona fide diva and her songs range from stadium chant-worthy anthems to beautiful R&B gems like "One Night Stand." Produced by David Tao (often given credit for defining the R&B sound to Taiwan), "One Night Stand" is one of the best of Taiwan's vibrant 90's era that also includes hits from singers like Elva Hsiao and Coco Lee.
The opening dialogue in "One Night Stand" coyly asks if a lover can come over and then slides right into a sexy R&B beat that showcases aMEI's voice. This track will have you wishing you had someone you could call at 3 AM to help you fall asleep... innocently or not.
Little Dragon Girl - Big Two
"Give Me, give me, your Big Two"
Little Dragon Girl was a singer who had a very sexy image in a time where most female singers had to promote an image of purity in order to be successful. Rumour has it that she worked for "0204", a number that men would call on lonely nights in order to flirt with "hot girls" over the phone.
Being so sexually forward as an entertainer in Taiwan was not easy but Little Dragon Girl knew how to toe the line. She was very clever at hiding the sexual nature of her songs with innuendos and inside jokes that only Taiwanese people could truly understand. For example, "Big Two" is the name of a popular card game in Asia but it can also be interpreted as a man's "Big Two." I have a lot of respect for Little Dragon Girl whose career ended short when police found her with prescription pills. She partied too hard, but for me she was a sexual pioneer in Taiwan.
DJ Didilong - One Way
"There's only one way. Golden Boy picks up the Western Road"
DJ Didilong is usually known for pop hits like his Taipei anthem "Taipei DiDi Long" (台北直直撞, meaning "Taipei hits straight"). An untraditional pop star who often uses the Hokkien dialect in his songs, "One Way" proves that DJ Didilong has a strong grasp for experimental and traditional Taiwanese music as well. Created for an exhibit in Taiwan's MOCA that paired visual artists and musicians, DJ Didilong has composed, produced, and sung a modern take on traditional Taiwanese temple chants. Even while the production boasts an avant electronic beat and some surprising electric guitar, the lyrics are all taken from original temple chants, which ground the track in a zen balance of old and new.
Sunset Rollercoaster - Villa
"Open these Doors, dream sensation
I know its yours, dream vacation"
Sunset Rollercoaster is a 6-piece synth-pop band from Taiwan. Known for their breezy 80s sound and incredible live performances, fans have nicknamed the band's genre as "pregnant rock." Caught up in the romance of their songs, some Sunset fans have even proposed to their partners during shows. The craze for Sunset Rollercoaster has slowly started to spread to the West. The band just came off a successful EU tour and will head to the States in October. Tour dates can be found HERE.
Their latest EP Vanilla Villa is unique in that its the first time the band created a sound that came from jamming together and feeling each other out first versus coming in with prepared notes. "Villa" is my favorite of the trio simply because of the pure summer jam vibes.
Lim says everyone is Pure @ Platinum Studio
Lim Giong (林強) - Look At Someone (查某人 )
Mischievous Tune @ Heping E. Road
Deng Zhi Hao (鄧志浩) - Peach Blossom Red (桃花紅紅)
Lost Song Driving @ Kanding Road
Chen Lei (陳雷) - Windy (風真透)
Vinyl Uncle Sings Along @ Fuhe Flea Market
Kerris Tsai (蔡秋鳳) - Love Drama (情戲)
Practicing Brass @ Guting Riverside Park
Night Scent Jazz Band (夜來香 - Moonlight Night (月夜愁)
Conehead Feels Summer @ The Bar
Li Yaming (李亞明) - Feeling Summer
Wei Ting asks: Where's the Beach? @ No Idea Where We Are
Pandull (陳建年) - Amis' Feast (Amis的饗宴)
Waves @ Wanli Beach
Why Not - 無法度按奈 (Unable to Press)
Trix's Party @ The Waiting Room
The Party - It's Raining (下雨了)
Big Party @ Ahndong Street
9m88 - Love Rain (愛情雨)
A Bit of Rain + Piano @ Tangzhou Road
Elva Hsiao (蕭亞軒) - Suddenly Missing You (突然想起你)
I'm the Outside DJ @ The Diner
aMEI (張惠妹) - One Night Stand (一夜情)
Do You Like Your Job? @ NTNU
Soft Lipa (蛋堡) - Bear (關於小熊)
Killing Time @ Basement Cafe
Tia Lee (李毓芬) - Am I Not Good Enough? (是我不夠好)
Yyuling DJs for her Sisters @ FINAL
Matilda Tao (陶晶瑩) - Sisters Stand Up (姐姐妹妹站起来)
Roll The Dice @ Fucking Place (操場)
Little Dragon Girl (小龍女) - Big Two (大老二)
Nights Over, Suns up @ Fucking Place (操場酒吧)
Stanley Huang (黃立行) - End of the Night (黑夜盡頭)
I Sing Along to Wu Bai @ Taxi Back Home
Wu Bai (伍佰) - Go With the Wind (隨風而去)
Up With the Birds @ Nanchang Park
Extraterrestrial Source (世外挑源) - A Spiritual World of Arcadia
Chanting @ Mazu's Temple
DJ Didilong (李英宏) - One Way (有前無後 )
Wei's Retreat @ Elephant Mountain
Alex Zhang Huantai + Guo Guo - Broken Gate
Sunset Jam @ Studio
Sunset Rollercoaster - Villa
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angel Arlin is Angela Lin. A recent transplant from Los Angeles, Angela moved to Taiwan to find out what it means to be a pure person. If you have Taiwanese music you think she'd like to hear - send tunes via Instagram at @angel_arlin.