Hi Yang. I am glad to talk to you. It’s intresting for me to have an interview with a Taiwanese person, and you are also an amazing musician who plays in my favourite genre. And there’s a story behind the creation of Laang 冷. Would you like to tell us about it?
So the origin for Laang, was essntially a near death experience. I was at the wrong place in the wrong time, and I was shot. It was something I would not want to wish on anyone. It was a terrible experience and that didn’t end as soon as it happened, and the music of Laang is based on that experience. This kind of state of being medically dead for a period, being in a coma and exploring the trauma that comes with these events, and the recovery that also comes with it. So this new album is predominantly focused on this recovery and the coma, and regaining fuel for life. And it isn’t easy, to write and record this kind of music, because it does involve reliving a lot of memories that I would much rather forget, and very much opening myself up on that vulnerable side.
If I am not mistaken, asian people are not used to show their anger on social platforms, but your music does show these emotions a lot. How much does it go against your culture or religion?
It’s intersting here, because different countries have different perceptions about how to express emotions and struggle. And yeah in a lot of asian countries there is a stigma of talking about trauma and struggle. It’s something we don’t really do in a lot of ways, but at the same time at other countries like Taiwan, we do a lot of things to express our frustration, wether it’s about politics or life, and we are very vulgar. Taiwan has a really strong voice I think, and that’s why in my opinion this place is such a good place for this kind of music, but in a way it’s still odd, because people don’t really know how to respond to the different emotions in the music. Maybe because it’s not quite spoken out as it may be on other parts of the world.
What do you think your music’s charm is? How well does it help to get away from the horror and torment we live in? Is there a lot of bands in Taiwan like this?
For me, it’s therapeutic, because I look as a way of putting memories behind me. And others actually contected me and told me about their own traumas. There is a number of people who has suffered in different ways. To them it’s a way to feel heard and recognised, because a lot of metal is about suffering in some way. But I think there is some more personal connection that these people had, and I think that it is important that they could identify with this and have a positive experience, despite having this experience of suffering. Whatever it might be in their situation. So I think it’s that emotional context that is helpfull there. As for other bands in Taiwan, there is actually a really big metal scene here. It’s kind of a small community, a lot of people know each other, but there are also quite a few bands and they are really good. Chthonic is one that is very popular overseas, but also Burning Islands is I think got really succesfull for a while in other countries. There is plenty of others, I could keep on going forever. And they have this often angry kind of emotion behind them, they are frustrated about something. And a lot of these bands are political, but mostly they are just sad about other things, and it’s good seeing Taiwan reaching other parts of the world with it’s music.
You started Laang 冷in 2018, and in this year you released ,,Hǎiyáng 海洋”. What process was difficult while making it?
We released Hǎiyáng 海洋 in 2018, and it was a difficult album to make in a lot of ways, because as the first album you have to decide on what’s the sound, and I had something in mind but I didn’t really know how to make that sound. And then there is the obvious difficulty on how do I relive what happened in a way that isn’t exposition, and doesn’t give away my personal story too much to a point where it’s no longer my story, and that it doesn’t feel invasive to my life, but enough to still make music about it. So that was a really intresting album to work on.
How was it to listen to the completed album for the first time? What did you feel? What could you achieve with it?
It was humbling. I am very critical of my own music, so even from just the music side I was like, did I do this right and how could’ve I approach this a bit differently, to be more authentic on what I wanted to do. It was like a bit of an achievement in some ways to have taken what have happened and to now have a whole album. It was entirely about that experience, every song. And to be able to look back and say that I went through this, I did that, and I wrote this, I spent the time recording it and I had that and I was able to live all through that was maybe a bit hopefull. Before giving me at least that inspiration and belief that I could overcome this difficulties and traumas as it were.
After some time you made another 8 tracks, but now there are 2 other gentlemen’s names on it as well. Who are they and what difference did they make?
There are two new bandmembers. The first one was a solo album. This new album has 2 new members, Willy 戴敬緯 on bass and Li Wanling 李婉伶, she is on drums. They are both really talented musicians, and the backgrounds that they come from gives a new approach to the band. Becuase not only they are better at playing at their instruments than I am at playing them, but they have cool new directions to take the songs as well. Like that bassists other band is a folk metal band, and they have this strong melodic focus, that I think can make the basslines more dynamic and intresting. More than a typical black metal kind of approach. And Wanling has mostly played in post-rock bands in the past. So this idea of going for big sounds with dynamics performances, like going from very quite to very loud and back down to quite. This emotional feeling transitions in the actual sound of the music and I am excited to see how more ways she can tribute to making the sound more and more intresting to listen to.
What can you tell us about ,,Xinteng 心疼”, your newest album? I think it sounds great.
Thank you very much, I am very glad you like it. Xinteng 心疼 is very much of an album like recovery, but it’s not a hopeful album. It’s a bit of hope with disillusionment I think is how I would say it. Cǎndàn 慘淡, the first song on the album, is very much taking place in this nightmare kind of experience, and all of the songs from there are emerging from that nightmare and eventually building and becoming lighter to show this emegrence, from literally a coma and waking up into life, but also showing out lightness and coming from this feeling of terror into comparatively lighter feeling of depression. The main idea of this album that I’ve been trying to portrait is, when people recover from trauma, there’s always these inspirational stories of suddenly they love life, but that was not my experience. My experience was more of just a depression, where you come out of this experience and now you are still afraid and you can see how bad things can get and what can happen, and it’s difficult, because it changes your entire view on your own mortality and the way that you live life. I don’t think I can say that it’s been a positive change for me. So this is the main idea of Xinteng 心疼, which translates to heartache is the kind of feeling where you feel you should be happy, but you’re not. So it’s just breaking down that stereorype of positive improvement from trauma. It isn’t always a positive change.
When will it come out and in what forms? How high are your expectations now compared to the previous release?
So this album will come out at the end of this month, September 31th. It will come out in digipack form Talheim Records, so anyone who likes CD-s, thos will be radilly available. It will also be digital, you will be ale to buy it on bandcamp and spotify, all the streaming platforms. If there is intrest in other formats, I can run postal a label, because if a lot of people would want vinyl and stuffs like these, vinyls are very expensive to make so we would need to sell a lot of CD-s before the label would make vinyls, but if they really want it then maybe it can happen. Tape may not be as popular as it was, but I tought about making my own limited edition tape cassetts, but that just depends if people are intrested.
Who has similiar music to you? Who would you recommend it to?
We’ve been compared quite a lot to Harakiri For The Sky and Agrypnie. And largly I think because of the vocal style used in the music. Rather than a black metal scream it’s more like a post hard-core shout as some others call it. I can see that comparison. I think from my influences where I draw from I can definitely see Harakiri For The Sky, but I’d definitely say more Karg, which is the sideproject of the frontman from Harakiri From The Sky. That’s actually in my opinion one of the most depressive bands and I really like it. And The Moth Gatherer, they are a swedish band that I think is more Doom metal and kind of Sludge, but I think there are some similar ideas in the sounds and the approach. At least as far as our first album Hǎiyáng 海洋, there is another swedish band called Terra Tenebrosa, and they have this idea of how dissonant can we make this music sound, but there is just much more of approaching it from depression.
In what aspects do you think a european person is different?
I think there is so many cultural differences, but in general I would say that a european person is much more outgoing and extroverted and much more direct. It’s actually true to the music industry kind of things, because an asian bands are not direct. They will not tell you if they have a problem, they’ll go: Oh no no no it’s great! And then they just disappear rather than just saying let’s work on this. Europeans are more prefered to talk about problems, maybe we are more passive-aggressive. And also I think the culture in Taiwan is a lot more traditional in some ways and when it comes to asians we have different perceptions about how we deal with trauma and things like that. But there are also differences in how we view our identity. This has something to do with the cultural history, but we care a lot about others, it’s a very giving culture where people are worrying more on taking care of others than to take care on themselves. And that’s not to say that europeans are selfish, europeans may just stand up for themselves more. That’s not a bad thing, it’s actually a good thing, because maybe they can do more on what they want and what they want to do. And also there’s they way how we think about the world. Like Taiwan is really mindfull. There’s lots of buddhists and taoists and losts of atheists too, but I think these ways of thinking are shaped by the cultural differences, where european countries might had some more influences from Nordic traditions and then into some more christian or muslim or jewish kind of ways of looking things. And it’s not that it’s better or worse than the other, but it’s just different ways of thinking, and I think it’s intresting.
Do you have any plans for the future? What will make Laang 冷live long?
The first thing is to release this album, and the next thing is we are hoping that the pandemic will be better enough that we can go on tour. We actually have a tour booked right now, but we haven’t announced it just in case. We just want to see what’s gonna happen, becuase we’ve already had 2 tours cancelled, because of covid, and one becuase of the political crisis in Hong Kong. So we are hopefull, that we can go on tour, and if it does get rescheduled, that’s fine. It’s not ideal but we are fine with it. So touring will come, we are gonna have some more live experiences in the future. Hopefully as many places as possible, we are rescheduling an asian tour, and we have this North American tour that is going to hopefully happen in 2022, and we are trying to get set up in europe, which I am hopefull for, and maybe it can happen. As far as going forward I do some others stuffs that might help Laang, is that I do soundtracks for movies and video games. That’s kind of my side job, and sometimes I just put Laang’s music in the films, and there is actually one that came out in the last months that actually has a song from Xinteng 心疼 in the movie. So I’m kind of hoping that this other format might help with Laang. Just to have it to more people who wouldn’t necessarily even be metal fans.
Thank you for your answers. If you have any message for the fans, feel free to let them know.
Thank you for having me, I really appreciate it. We have this new album coming out, I hope everybody will at least like it. I am hoping that there will be a bit of everything for everyone to connect with, and to create this intimate space, where people can connect with their emotions through music. And I am really excited to meet everyone in tour, and hopefully, you guys as well. And as would one of my best friends would say, stay humble, stay kind and stay in touch.
The interview was taken with Yang Haitao (楊海濤) on 01.09.2021.