I’ve been asked a lot during this tour how I ended up making this kind of music and who my influences are. So here’s a small playlist of some key figures for me:
Tzigane by Maurice Ravel performed by Midori
I watched Midori on TV a lot when I was a tiny budding violinist. Something about her intensity and expressive eyebrows really grabbed me. There was definitely a time when I thought of becoming a concert violinist and being just like Midori.
String Quintet in E flat major, Op. 97 “American” Mvt. 2 Allegro vivo by Antonin Dvorak
Music lessons and practicing were a chore for the majority of my childhood and youth. In the summer between Grade 11 and 12 though, I had the chance to attend an amazing chamber music camp with 4 other prodigy string friends as part of a quintet. Their 5th friend couldn’t make it and I was the next best option, which was really fortunate, because this was the first time I actually remember enjoying the music I was playing and finding a love for it. We learned both Mvt. 2 and 3 from this quintet by Dvorak, as well as Mvt. 1 from K.516 by Mozart. Rehearsal time was something I was actually excited for, it was inspiring, exciting, fun, and I would willingly practice beforehand to make sure I was well prepared to play with everyone else. It’s something I think a lot about now as a music teacher, how to help my students enjoy what they’re learning and playing, instead of begrudingly going through the motions.
Gabriel Moody by FOONYAP
Admittedly when friends first started recommending FOONYAP to me I was skeptical that they were only drawing the comparison because we’re both Chinese, from the prairies, and play the violin. I listened to this earlier recording of Gabriel Moody a lot, really drawing lots of inspiration on how drippy the violin parts come together. It turns out there’s a lot more in common between the two of us the more I’ve gotten to know her, it’s a very surreal feeling when your heroes become your friends.
Experience by Daedelus on Song Exploder
This episode was really encouraging for me because I was interested in making electronic music but didn’t know how. Daedelus talks about how they see electronic music as being soundscapes that subvert expectations and described their own track as “aspirationally” electronic even though they didn’t use any electronic equipment. I didn’t know how to use any electronic gear when I started so instead I’m just working with what I already know (my violin) to make my own.
遊戲 by Elephant Gym
When I first got my delay pedal I was really excited but also totally lost about what to do with it. I stumbled upon Elephant Gym and was super inspired by the way 張凱婷 plays with the timing of their delay pedal to create flowing bass lines, especially on this track. I learned this bass line on my violin and then started making my own riffs, you can hear this technique on tracks like “glitter” and “trickle”.
Scalpel/Stradivarius by Sarah Neufeld
I played this at my first show as respectfulchild. The chord progression is just so divine, it feels so good both under the fingers and in my soul. Sarah Neufeld’s solo album Hero Brother is pretty important to me, both as a selection of avant-garde violin pieces that doesn’t use a loop pedal, but also as a collection that simply embraces the violin without need for added extras like vocals or a rhythm section.
Deviations by Economics
Continuing along my “aspirational” electronic sound, I was thinking lots about the arpeggiation that synths can automate, especially while listening to the album The Wastes by my pal Economics. I basically combined that with the delay technique that I got from Elephant Gym and the result was the track “glitter”
The Mutterer by Lonely China Day
I could listen to this track and this album endlessly. This track in particular influenced me to explore and take time with space in my music. There is a calm introspection to this track that pulls at some deep emotions that I can’t quite describe. It pretty directly influenced the composition of my track “float”, especially the intro.
Says by Nils Frahm
I remember my friend sent me the album Spaces by Nils and I really fixated on how he could do so much with very few chords. He would build intensity with minimal movement and I really enjoyed that. It’s definitely reminded me that I can be very selective about my chord structure instead of making things too busy and that sometimes it benefits to have less rather than more.