音樂mixtape [side H]

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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.

音樂mixtape [side G]

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for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, here is my playlist of music and resources by Asian artists out here in the diaspora:

to those of us not born or living in Asia, those of us who have lost connection to our language and our culture, who share struggles with being exotified and tokenized, of internalized self-loathing, of trying to escape Asian stereotypes while still trying to feel Asian enough, of not knowing where we belong and who we are, of trying to prove that the struggle our immigrant parents went through was worth it, for those of us who face systematic violence and elimination through islamophobia, of feelings of isolation from being an ocean away from your family and never getting to visit them, but also those of us who are carving out and creating spaces for each other where we don’t see ourselves, who actively dismantle anti-blackness in our own communities, who decolonize our minds and our work to remind us of our responsibilities as settlers on indigenous land, who are helping to inspire the next generation, telling us that we are worth the fight, that we deserve to be here, and that we don’t have to take any of this shit. This is a thank you to each of these artists that inspires me daily, and also to the many more that are not on this list.

Your Best American Girl by Mitski
Sounds That Mark Our Words by Casey Mecjia
I Think You’re Alright by Jay Som
Sloka by Saraswathi Jones
Atalanta / Whalesong by Yamantaka// Sonic Titan
Resident Alien by Doctors & Engineers
Part-Time Woman by Vivek Shraya
The Woman That Loves You by Japanese Breakfast
Kitty in the Tree by Bitter Party
Baby’s Got It by Maylee Todd
World Gong Crazy by Han Han x Datu x Hataw
Eid Mubarak by The Kominas

The Great White North: the myth of multiculturalism in Canada featuring Yamantaka // Sonic Titan and Casey Mecija
The Sound and Fury of Mitski
Street Music-Culture in Taiwan project by Wendy Hsu of Bitter Party
100% Mixed Story featuring Maylee Todd
Han Han bring Pinoy pride to Wavelength
Real Life: Love, Loss, and Kimchi featuring Japanese Breakfast
Seeking Single White Male short film and essay by Vivek Shraya
Meet Jay Som: the New Queer Voice of Indie Rock
Meet the Desi Artists Fighting Back Against Trump with Punk Rock and ‘Post-Colonial Pop’ featuring Doctors & Engineers, The Kominas, and Saraswathi Jones

音樂mixtape [side E]

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first playlist for the year of the Fire Rooster!
atmospheric post-rock to emo punk anthems to lo-fi bedroom jams

万佛朝宗 / Ten Thousand Buddhas by Wang Wen
Street Spotted by 8 Eye Spy
Biting Straws
by forests
Golden Pineapple by LinFeng
TARDY by The White Tulips
頭腦體操 Sports Brain by Chen Yinn
上野公园 (Ueno Park) by Atta Girl
I Love You Mr.Snowball by chestnut bakery
一起去跑步(Let’s go running together) by Cosmospeople

音樂mixtape [side C]

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3rd installment of a (hopefully) monthly playlist of East Asian music, curated by me

Islands by +2dB
Chinese Palace by Meng Qi (also check out the synths that meng qi has designed `o`)
Shell Buttons by Milkmustache
守门员 by Chinese Football
G.N.S. by Tricot
Insomnia by The Ephemera
Sex Drugs Internet by New Pants
來世不存在 (next life) by OCD Girl
白 – whitE by White+
days of daze by tfvsjs
Crisis de Identidad by Duda Deportiva

音樂mixtape [side B]

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Here is side B of the mostly Mandarin mix tape I made a while back. Enjoy

P.S. last post I was unable to locate a link for Don’t You Move by Pet Conspiracy ft Helen Feng, but I found one now!

Chernobyl! Soultiger’s Occupation by Booji
TV Show (Hang the Police) by Re-Tros (Restoring The Rights Of Statues)
Guai Li by Guai Li
Finger by 大象體操 Elephant Gym (this live version isn’t as good of sound quality, but I love watching their bass player ^_^)
Shanghai by Hang On The Box
Ge Zhong Ren by AM444
City by Nipples (I stumbled upon this band on rdio, and I’m so glad I was able to find this album somewhere else because it’s a bit tough to find what the music you’re searching for when you type the words”Nipples” and “City”)
Kiss Your Eyes by The White Eyes
The Mutterer by Lonely China Day
Untaian Kosmik by remedmatika (not Mandarin, beautiful chiptune from Indonesia)


音樂mixtape [side A]

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It’s been a personal project of mine to try and find more Chinese artists to listen to, specifically artists and bands that often sing in Mandarin. So I made this mixtape a while ago and this is the first side. I’ll be sharing the other side soon. Enjoy

溼濡城市 by Papergirl
Castle by Dear Eloise
Don’t You Move by PET CONSPIRACY ft Helen Feng*
15 Minutes Older by Carsick Cars
Glass Walls by Duck Fight Goose
Hate Me? You Old! by Birdstriking
be my friend by Boyz & Girl
Holy Comment by Snapline
Mind Shop Is On Sale by Muscle Snog
Silent Robot by The Eat
Sunday Girl by Ourself Beside Me

*I originally heard this track on rdio, but can’t find a link to it that isn’t from a subscription based streaming service

Weird Canada: New Canadiana :: respectfulchild – [demos]

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I got a lovely feature on Weird Canada’s New Canadiana page. Thanks to Marie Leblanc Flanagan for the beautiful words and to Emily Traichel for the translation


Been dreaming underground, been breathing under while soft bones feed the green. Saskatoon’s respectfulchild pulls strings through and up, looping you to the golden haze. All good things end in death, all good things come from death. A voice warming distant like prairie sundogs, trickle beats like footsteps rippling around grasping holes. Not all loops return to where they began, some pull upward.

Par les mains pulsantes de Marie LeBlanc Flanagan:
(Traduit par les rêves germinants d’ Émily Traichel)

Ses rêves germinent sous terre, sa respiration sous la surface tandis que de tendres os nourrissent le vert. Respectfulchild de Saskatoon fait traverser les cordes et les faitt monter, vous bouclant à la brume dorée. Toutes bonnes choses prennent fin dans la mort, toutes bonnes choses viennent de la mort. Une voix qui s’échauffe, lointaine comme des parhélies de la prairie; des rythmes ruisselants comme des bruits de pas qui ondulent autour des trous agrippants. Ce n’est pas toutes les boucles qui retournent où elles ont commencé, certaines se relèvent vers le haut.

Star Phoenix interview

  • Post category:Press

I got a feature article in the Star Phoenix written by Sean Trembath on April 9th, 2016. I have a few extra edits of my own I’d particularly like people to note:

– Let’s stop using the word “caucasian” to mean “white” because the two are not the same. We live in a world of white supremacy, white privilege, white guilt, and white violence. You don’t get to use the word “caucasian” to deflect away from that politically privileged position. People of the Caucasus region do not benefit from white privilege the way white people do.

– I want to reiterate this quote from the article because it’s especially on my mind these days: “What can the [men] be doing to look at themselves and figure out what’s implicit in their culture that’s leaving other people out?”

– Dear white straight cis man friends, this is my question to you, because I know that the fellow trans and cis women in my life are doing lots of work to address this issue, to make space for themselves and for future generations, and I want you to know that this work can’t be done just from one side. We need you to figure out change too.

– Lastly, just a reminder that the music scene is just a smaller version of society. And society is messed up with misogyny, colonial violence, white supremacy, transmisogyny, racism, A LOT OF THINGS. Trying to deal with them on a massive societal scale is really overwhelming. But starting smaller within our own communities is likely more conceivable within our brains and our own capacities. Let’s figure some stuff out.

Here’s the full text from the article:

As a child taking piano and violin lessons, Melissa Gan was surrounded by plenty of girls and a wide array of ethnicities. Now, as a member of Saskatoon’s music scene, she wonders where they have all gone.

“That’s who I want to find in our city. I’m sure they exist and we should be welcoming them,” she says.

When Gan goes to a show, she knows it will be mostly men and mostly Caucasians.

“Even if a few more come, and say I’m not the only Asian girl there, you can still count us on your hand. I want to get to the point where we don’t need to count things,” she says.

She used to struggle with how to represent her political views in her music. Her solo project, respectfulchild, is mostly instrumental. She can’t spit political rhetoric like a hip hop artist.

Only recently did she realize just doing it was important.

“Me just being here, I’m making space,” Gan says.

No one could argue she belongs. By the end of high school she had earned Grade 10 certification for both violin and piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music. She played in competitions, performed classically and was in a jazz combo as a teen before making her way through the indie rock scene once she hit university. She has appeared on stage with and on recordings by multiple local groups, most notably Little Criminals.

Her early attempts at solo work were difficult. She wasn’t attracted to writing lyrics and found the sound of just her violin wasn’t working for her. Once she decided to explore what kind of sound environments she could create, things started falling into place.

“I bought all my friends’ old pedals and I just started experimenting,” Gan says.

The results are ambient, ethereal and sometimes hypnotic. She says people have described her tracks as “underwater music” or “fairie music.” These descriptors might confuse you, but only until you hear the songs.

She recalls her first show, played in a local basement. After she finished her first track, she looked up to see people had lied down and were fully tuned in to what she was doing. She has played one or two shows a month ever since.

As she participated more and more in the scene, she found herself better understanding the feelings of otherness that have always lingered at the outskirts or her experience. She has become very concerned with representation in the music scene.

“If there’s a show that’s all women, or just not cis-men, you take notice of that,” she says.

“On the one hand that makes me excited, but at the same time, we don’t say, ‘Ooh, an all-male lineup.’ “

A big part of the responsibility falls on the males who make up such a dominant chunk of the scene, according to Gan.

“What can the guys be doing to look at themselves and figure out what’s implicit in their culture that’s leaving other people out?” she says.

The problem isn’t only on the stage. The crowds are usually just as white and often just as male. Gan says there needs to be a focus on creating an environment where the less-represented music fans — and she is positive they exist — are comfortable participating in local culture.

“I don’t want to fill quotas. It’s not about those numbers. It’s the type of values that are being understood and demonstrated, both for audience members and people on stage,” she says.

She admits she doesn’t have all the answers, but says it is important for everyone involved to at least consider how they might be contributing to the problem.

“If we’re not trying then obviously it’s going to stay the same.”