By Andrew Hamlin
Northwest Asian Weekly
The Chinese psychedelic band Chui Wan, named from a passage written by Taoist philosopher Zhuangzi, brings a particular brooding spin to explorations of the macrocosm-as-microcosm and occasionally vice versa. On their first American tour, to promote their second, self-titled album, they’re playing at Seattle’s Lo-Fi on Wednesday, May 27th. Three of the four members—multi-instrumentalist Yan Yulong, new drummer Li Zichao, and guitarist Liu Xinyu—took some questions over email.
NWAW: How did the band first get together?
Yan Yulong: Wu Qiong and I met each other on the internet in 2009.
Li Zichao: I met them through a website in 2012.
Liu Xinyu: I had a no wave band and the drummer had an important exam so Yan Yulong spontaneously came on stage to jam with us! Nobody knew him yet, then.
NWAW: What were the band’s early influences?
Yan Yulong: For me it’s La Monte Young, Velvet Underground and Swans.
Li Zichao: I don’t know. I’m still the new guy!
Liu Xinyu: Japanese new psychedelic noise, world music, underground music from Europe and the USA.
NWAW: What is the rock-and-roll scene like in China? How has it grown and changed over the years?
Yan Yulong: Generally it’s quite simple here. Different cities have different scenes.
Li Zichao: From the ‘90s till now lots of bands have sprung up in China.
Liu Xinyu: From 2005 to 2010 there were a lot of good and interesting bands, however, after that a lot of them separated or stopped making music. Since then, there hasn’t been many significant bands from the Chinese scene.
NWAW: What is the relationship of the rock scene to the Chinesegovernment? Are they encouraging, skeptical, repressive…?
Yan Yulong: Actually, we don’t think much about these things…
Li Zichao: I don’t think they know we exist.
NWAW: How has the band’s sound grown and changed over the years?
Yan Yulong: Our sound is in constant change, however we keep some core ideas.
Li Zichao: Over the past years… I became the drummer! But I think the general idea and perspective of the band have become more unified.
Liu Xinyu: I think we’ve become more open and free to styles other than psychedelic music.
NWAW: I noticed that some tracks on the new album have vocals and lyrics, but most don’t. What makes you decide whether to add vocals and lyrics?
Yan Yulong: We like to give our audience space to imagine. Vocals and lyrics are an optional part of music and not always necessary. Most importantly, they’re never more important than the music itself.
Liu Xinyu: The most important for us is the music itself, if there’s something we don’t manage to express with instruments, we use voice and lyrics.
NWAW: The band had to cancel some early gigs in the tour because of visa difficulties. What happened there?
Yan Yulong: The process was very slow, we don’t really know what happened. But the important thing is: We finally got the visas!
NWAW: Is this the band’s first trip to America? If not, when was the band’s first trip to America?
Yan Yulong: Yes, it’s our first trip to the US and we’re very excited.
NWAW: How do Chinese audiences compare to audiences in different parts of the world?
Yan Yulong: We don’t know about the American audience yet, but the crowd in Europe is amazing!
Li Zichao: I imagine that because there are a lot more bands in America than in China, their reaction will be different.
NWAW: What are your most memorable experiences from the tour so far?
Yan Yulong: One of our most memorable experiences of a previous international tour is enjoying mushrooms in the Modern Art Museum of Amsterdam.
NWAW: What’s in the future for the band after the tour?
Yan Yulong: We will tour China then write new songs.
Li Zichao: Go back to normal life! Play shows, practice, write new material. (end)
Andrew Hamlin can be reached at email@example.com.