From harsh noise recordings in the underpass to sophisticated club music, from dystopic hip-hop to ethereal world synth-scapes, this article spotlights six emerging independent labels that are not only active in Taiwan but also forging connections with larger international music scenes.
As the understanding of record labels' role in fostering international dialogue continues to mature, an increasing number of independent labels are forming with the aim of strengthening the local music community.
Originating from the Paiwan indigenous language, "nanguaq" embodies the essence of something “wonderful" and “enchanting."
Founded by award winning Paiwan artist Abao, Nanguaq music is built upon indigenous culture as its foundation, serving as a platform for nurturing indigenous voices and discovering talented native musicians and creators. With the realization that pop culture could promote language, Abao seeks artists who sing in their native language against non-traditional music, as exemplified by Paiwan artist žž Wei-Qi, who blends jazz vocals with her native tongue.
In the spring of 2021, the label brought together seven young Indigenous artists to release the compilation album "N1: Nanguaq Volume 1", where the album aims to usher in a new era for Indigenous youth through blending native languages with electronic music. Featured artists on the album, including Arase, Natsuko, Dremedreman, Stingie, Drangadrang, Makav and Kivi hail from Taiwan's Rukai, Bunun, Amis tribes, as well as individuals of mixed heritage. In collaboration with Huang Shaoyong, both music producer and founder of Dark Paradise Records, the album offers an eclectic mix of electronic and pop genres, demonstrating the label's progressive vision.
Fortune Coookie Records, founded in 2020 by Howe Chen, HLK, and Ziya Huang, emerged just before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Undeterred by these obstacles, the label remained resolute in its mission to make its mark internationally. All three founders bring a wealth of experience from their years in the Taiwanese pop music scene and aim to leverage their comprehensive musical talents to craft a distinctive artistic vision for their newly established label. Setting them apart from many other independent labels, these founders also serve as producers and engineers for the artists featured on their roster.
The label has released music from artists Mandark, Andr, Yuying Hsu and Robot Swing, whom have received nominations and awards from both Golden Indie Music Awards and the prestigious Golden Melody Awards.
Founded in the year 2020, NXWV represents an innovative collaboration between Taiwanese independent designer brand Guerrilla-Group and image production team GJ94 Creative Collective. Dubbed as the "NEXT WAVE” their mission revolves around integrating elements of global popular music, multimedia, visual arts and international musical partnerships, with the aim to elevate and showcase Taiwanese hip-hop culture. At its core, NXWV aspires to carve a prominent and influential niche on the international stage while offering comprehensive support and services to artists striving for excellence in their creative pursuits.
Notably the label hosted a collaborative showcase with Tokyo label CANTEEN, between their signed artists REX and SOWUT, with Tokyo’s bass grime duo Double Clapperz and hip hop star ralph. It’s worth mentioning that this event had the honor of hosting Ralph’s first international performance, who has gone on to make waves internationally.
Founded by hard drum producer B E N N, Over My Body is an innovative avant-garde electronic music label that is working as a catalyst to form connections between the Taipei electronic music scene and abroad. With an unwavering commitment to pushing boundaries, the label has unleashed groundbreaking music from local and international artists including personalbrand (UK), Capiuz (IT), Lujiachi, WRACK (JP), SABIWA (DE), Max Dahlhaus (DE) and numerous other talents.
The label frequently hosts international artists at club Final, welcoming Tokyo based WRACK & DJ MORO, K8 from TYO GQOM, Berlin-based SABIWA, trngs and Bungalovv. Beyond Taipei, the label has organized showcases in Berlin and recently embarked on a tour across China, featuring a handful of Taiwan’s leading and upcoming artists. A notable collaboration with Paris-based label Club Late Music is set to culminate in a shared release featuring Lujiachi & Bungalovv.
Later this month Over My Body will be curating a collaborative event with UK based collective Eastern Margins.
(Bungalovv performing at Final, Taipei, photo taken by @li_lyngg)
Label run by noise artist Chia-Chun Xu is dedicated to releasing free improv, industrial, noise, field recordings and experimental music from Taiwan and afar. The label has notable releases from Fangyi Liu, PGR (IT), Bergegas Mati (ID), Dawang Yingfan Huang, Torturing Nurse (CN), Dino among a myriad of other gifted artists.
Driven by a passion for analogue sound and a commitment to DIY aesthetics, Chia-Chun visits various temples and “takes” a box full of temple tapes to overdub them with the music he releases.
Releases are in limited numbers, usually capped at around 30 copies due the painstaking process of dubbing each cassette one-to-one to ensure optimal audio quality. Moreover, much of the album art is a labor of love, handcrafted using images collected from vintage magazines. Acquiring one of these tapes not only offers a rewarding listening experience, but also provides a gratifying physical memento in itself.
Notably, Chia-Chun Xu is also the curator of the clandestine guerrilla noise event, Outer Pulsation, which takes place in the underpasses and overpasses of Taipei. This event has featured numerous international artists, including Jason Khan (CH), Jaw Surgery (PH), Heracles (JP), Ramaputratantra (ID), and Yong Yandsen (MY), among others.
The sensation evoked by their releases feels akin to peacefully drifting within a dynamic Chinese landscape painting, where celestial beings gradually emerge as you traverse this ethereal realm.
World Synth Records is a Taipei-based label, founded by artists Sun Jenga and Betelnut Kangaroo in 2020. They specialize in releasing world-influenced music with electronic, and tribal elements, aiming to promote and explore alternative electronic music artists within Taiwan.
The label has meticulously curated multiple ambient compilations, each revolving around distinct themes. Artists invited to participate are entrusted with the creative challenge of interpreting these themes through their commissioned music. A prime illustration is the "Deep Spa" compilation, where each artist is tasked with composing music that revolves around the concept of Hydrotherapy and its potential for immortality. As each artist comes from varying musical backgrounds, the resulting compilation showcases a rich variety of timbres, textures, and contrasting melodic ideas. Music featured include works from Hom Yu (from Mong Tong), Yanazuki Mune (JP), Sun Jenga, Silent Jeff, and Betelnut Kangaroo, offering a deeply engaging listening experience.