In recent years, a wave of Taiwanese indie bands combining the traditional music elements with modern music is on the rise. It might because the rise of local consciousness just in time.However, several bands of similar styles were active in the same period, and as an audience, it is too hard to categorize this trend.
Therefore, when read one of the passages in Lilium's introduction on streaming platform, if we translate it directly, it would be "Get rid of all the clichés", I was particularly curious about the original meaning of the Lilium.
If you listen carefully to Lilium's music, you can tell that they are good at blending Taiwanese traditional instruments, Pak-kuán and Nan-kuán along with alternative rock, which is just in line with the combination of tradition and modernity.
"Hm..." I-Shuo paused slightly, "It's actually a bit too aggressive to say cliché, I wouldn’t use that phrase now." It seems that he forgets writing about it from his reaction.
"Do you want to change it?" I-Hsin, who was next to him laughed and spoke.
No wonder it was blapped by Tit Tok
Trace back in 2011, Lilium was formed of duo vocalists I-Shuo and Wei-zuo, and what if not subsidize from government just right, it was not until 2019, the first album "Burnana" was released. Later, the drummer I-Hsin joined the band which completes the present trios.
The way we create is I-Shuo creates a demo in preliminary, and then Wei-Zuo and I-Hsin will arrange the music together. At the end of 2021, they collaborated to accomplish their second album "Road to ...", and on account of this album, Lilium won two trophies at the 33rd Golden Melody Awards.
At the award ceremony, I-Shuo mentioned that he has a friend who told him the night before that he couldn’t name any candidates this year, therefore, when Lilium won the "Best Taiwanese Album Award" and "Best Album Design Award" respectively, I-shuo walked to the stage, raised the trophy, and replied his friend: "It's because you didn’t know us, that is the reason we are here being introduced to you at the Golden Melody Awards!"
It is also true that whether from the perspective data of streaming service or live performances, the reputation of the Golden Melody Award promotes Lilium's music to reach more new listeners. The Lilium members suddenly need to face the audience boom right after being awarded, they are concerning more than ever.
Among the plenty of feedbacks, there was a comment under the MV lingering in members’ mind: "How come this type of music can also win the Golden Melody Award, no wonder it was blapped by TikTok." It is not encouraging, nor criticizing. The members are amused since their production was being compared to the TikTok tuned music.
Fun fact, few months before the award, the band provided 4 songs to broad podcast in Malaysia in promoting their release. But the proposal was turned down with a comment - these songs are too off the wall.
As they are being labeled as “alternative rock”, Lilium do have a unique but humble attitude after winning the Golden Melody Award, without attaching to the importance of it: "It feels like winning applause, yet what’s crucial only happens in the studio.”
Experimenting by making music
As "Road to..." producer Ge-Jun, Zheng (a.k.a. Sonic Deadhorse) describes “Lilium is a unique existence.” He analyzed that no one could write Taiwanese songs like Lilium. Their music went through both abstract lyrics and representational meaning simultaneously.
From a perspective point of create, Lilium, they do produce the music with consciousness and purpose, for instance, albums "Burnana," "Road to...," and the other demos on the I-Shuo’s YouTube channel. I-Shou, as the core of the Lilium, often tries to combine traditional elements with modern music, sometimes with traditional tunes, or with traditional gongs and drums. The only difference is the way of music juxtaposition.
I-Shuo has been noticed that various of song writers are used to express the specific feelings directly, but he clings to the belief that music is not just like this.
In the new album "Road to...", he and members were tried to apply several different symbols and formations, to complete the fusion of tradition and modernity. Among the 9 songs of the album, the song "Saturday" incorporates exhortation tunes into Disco Funk, even more the entire song " Butterflies Dance" was composed with the lyrics mostly "you" and "me".
For instance, I-Shuo reckoned that if producing music is a process of independent thinking, it should have persistence to achieve it, and he regards each song as experiment. However, he also admits that it’s quite tough to spell the story out yet touching, nevertheless "it’s boring if everyone tells the same story.”
Getting rid of all the Cliché
However, there are some challenges from turning experiments to songs, meanwhile keep the balance between tradition and modernity. One of the toughest challenges is the music not only satisfy desires, but also take the audience’s feeling into account while arranging; furthermore, the marketing: how to go big?
While producing the second album, Wei-Zuo had discussed with I-Shou that music from Lilium must be "easy digest to listeners", this idea came to me right after releasing the first album. The reaction and feedback on the stream service platform was not as expected. Especially those songs with quite complex structures.
Therefore, in the meantime, there was an idea lingering in Wei-Zuo's mind "It’s still the same group of audience, I want the second album to break out of the frame."
When Lilium launched the MV of "Saturday" right before new album drops. The video was truly fascinating by the narration style of the director Liu Li. The whole new concept of the Lilium was endowed with soul from vocal to visual.
I-Hsin agrees that the MV brings great influence for the upcoming album. When Lilium performed in Spring Wave Music Festival, she noticed that there were parents and children dancing to "Saturday" in the audience. She was witnessing this scenario and said, "Some songs spread out off the echo chamber and became catchy."
“So, what if one day, Lilium’s song is broadly used on TikTok?” I continue the previous TikTok topic and ask.
I-Hsin replied, "I'd love to see what they do with this song!"
I-Shou then added, "That would be an honor being involved.”
The band Itself was frameless
After launching two albums, Lilium's music gained recognition on a larger scale. As far as Taiwanese indie bands are concerned, such as the ZenKwun, Tsng-kha-lâng and A Root, and even Sam-seng-hiàn-gē existing in the same period. These indie bands lift the combination of traditional and modern music forms to a whole new level.
As for the trending, in Wei-Zuo's view, the type of music has always been there, Lilium is just right in time to make the music together and lucky enough to caught up the wave.
For next stage, Lilium is looking forward to more inspirations. I-Shou said, "There is a goal I want to achieve, then I haven't reached yet. But someone shook my hand and said I am doing great while I am on the way to my goal. Of course, I was happy." It seems that he also couldn’t tell the specific direction, perhaps new style composing or much more logical presenting. But for the most important of all, all the members are agreed that they were still be themselves.
11 years and two Golden Melody Awards, Lilium’s story actually was kick-started by a coincidence, it was when I-Shuo was encouraged to apply for recording fund by friends. Therefore, the Lilium gradually made music not a style but a living thing. Perhaps that reason when I asked him about his vision of the Lilium, he replied: "The band Itself was frameless, because there wasn't meant to be one."
For Lilium, it’s just the beginning of this long and winding road.