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Back with Spectacular Landscapes: Taiwan Beats SXSW Online 2021 with Taiwanese Artists Enno Cheng, Fire EX., The Chairs and NekoJam.

BY Infong Chen

After a year of reformulation and rearrangement, SXSW is ready to bring back its signature combination of music and technology in online form.

This year, four Taiwanese artists and groups will join the Taiwan Beats SXSW Online showcase, which will introduce Taiwan's music together with its diverse culture. Internationally renowned for its agile and effective response to the pandemic, Taiwan has largely held concerts and events as normal, with health management and crowd control measures in place.

Artists have performed for the Taiwan Beats SXSW Online showcase at a range of unconventional venues, representing the diversity of Taiwanese music and presenting the daily scenery of this island nation.

The showcase will start with singer/songwriter Enno Cheng, whose ethereal voice echoes alongside dreamy keyboards through the mountains of Camping East Site (露境東岳) locates at Taiwan’s east coast. Having grown up among the hills, Cheng’s poetic whisper evokes the rich natural landscapes of Taiwan, a country with one of the highest densities of mountains in the world.

Next is guitar-heavy punk-rock band Fire EX., often considered one of the defining bands of their generation because of their music’s connection to social movements and the underprivileged. With traditional percussion and pentatonic melodies mixing with chants of “Let me stand up like a Taiwanese,” they roar in solidarity with every overlooked worker that supports the island’s economy. Distorted guitar lines reverberate along aisles of factory machinery and products, symbols of the country’s renowned manufacturing industry.

With their sparkling, breezy psychedelia and a retro touch, The Chairs are an iconic group in Southeast Asia’s ongoing groove music trend. Against the background of a charmingly dilapidated indoor shrimp fishing farm of Zhishan Shrimp Fishing (至善釣蝦場), their music creates a romantic vibe that matches perfectly with an old-school date fishing for shrimp, a popular pastime in Taiwan since the 1980s.

Last is NekoJam, a girl-power electro quartet making pop music full of upbeat hooks. As religious events in Taiwan are adapted to modern society, EDM has also been integrated into related rituals, and at Bangka Qingshan Temple (艋舺青山宮), a Taoist temple in Taipei, NekoJam’s melodies make a surprising union with traditional religious symbols, which move in rhythm with the catchy beats.

From dreamy spiritual melodies and retro-psychedelic vibes to electropop, Taiwan Beats, together with the Bureau Of Audiovisual and Music Industry Development of Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture as well as Young Team Productions, matches a range of acts with scenes from Taiwan’s uniquely diverse natural and urban landscapes.

Taiwan Beats at SXSW Online 2021 will take place on March 18 at 6PM CDT.

BY Infong Chen /
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