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  • interview | sun ye’s trash can

    We came across an excellent interview on Shanghai-based music critic and scenster Jake Newby’s blog featuring Q&A with Neocha.com-user Sun Ye (孙晔), a ridiculously multi-talented cross-genre Chinese musician from Shanghai. To read the interview on Jake’s blog, link here. We’ve also shared the full transcript below as well as some of Sun Ye’s music in an embeddable player from his Neocha.com profile. Have a listen and let us know what you think in the comments section.

    Related, NeochaEDGE Editor-in-Chief Adam Schokora recently produced a video capturing Sun Ye, together with Zhu Baixi (朱百喜), the lead singer and guitarist for Sonnet (十四行诗), performing a roaring live cover of Kraftwerk’s “The Model” at the two-year birthday party for Neocha.com. To view that video on Tudou, link here; on Youtube, link here. For more from Sun Ye on NeochaEDGE, link here. /// CL


    new-sun-yeSun Ye (孙晔), former guitarist with The Fuck’ndrolls and Sonnet, is currently in Boojii. But he also does his own solo stuff on the Miniless-E label (the electronic / dance offshoot of the Miniless label). His debut record Trash Can is a beautifully kaleidoscopic album featuring collaborations with B6 and JJ (who together are IGO) and a couple of tracks with vocals from Sheena Du of Hard Queen (on Neocha.com). It’s a great record and recently I asked him about it, his solo work, and his job making music for computer games.

    You’ve played in an indie rock band, a punk band, are now in a post-rock band and are making your own electronic music. Is there any kind of music you don’t like?

    I pretty much like all types of music, I don’t exclude anything. I go along with the idea that there are only two types of music in the world: good music and rubbish music. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Middle-Eastern music and Armenian folk music. I’ve always liked folk music to be honest – when I was at university, a friend brought me a tape of 12 Muqam music from Xinjiang and I just feel like folk music is the most natural thing.

    I also bought a CD of ancient Chinese music recently. My generation of Chinese are a generation who are used to the influence of Western culture and maybe it’s because recent years have seen a number of political and cultural conflicts between West and East, or maybe it’s because as I get older the Eastern feeling in me gets stronger, but I really like this CD. I feel like there’s so much we can learn from ancient Chinese music.

    In terms of rock, I’ve also started listening again to 1970s progressive rock – Yes and King Crimson’s earlier records. That stuff is well structured and full of interesting material.

    How did Trash Can come about?

    After I left Sonnet, I spent a lot of time playing around making my own music – stuff that really interested me. Trash Can is the accumulated result of that period of time so there’s no specific or clear cut genre running throughout the record. It’s kind of like a bowl of Oden [the Japanese noodle dish] where I’ve just thrown a whole bunch of things into it and out of it has come something which proves to myself that I’m not just a guitarist, not just tied to one type of music. Of course, I know that what I’ve made isn’t good enough, that’s why I’ve called it Trash Can – you could also say it’s a slightly self-mocking title.

    Is making your own record something you’ve wanted to do for a while?

    Yeah. I remember when I was in Sonnet, we had introductions to each member of the band on our website and mine was “Guitarist. His ultimate goal is to make a solo record with rubbish sound quality”.

    Given that you’ve played guitar in rock bands before, was making an electronic record something of a break with that past for you?

    Like I say, to be honest, I like all types of music. I chose electronic music because it’s a fairly basic language and method. Maybe it’s also partly out of frustration because I didn’t have any real musicians. I really don’t see myself as a qualified electronic musician. When I operate, I’m just trying to improve the melodies and harmonies – currently, electronic music is just a type of music that enables me to achieve things fairly quickly and easily.

    Of course, since 2006 I’ve been listening to a few proper electronic records and I have a preference for “synth epic” music – Klaus Schulze and Vangelis really shook me, just the scale of it, it really is epic synth music.

    Trash Can is a fairly eclectic record. What was the inspiration behind it?

    My inspiration comes from the different types of music that I listen to. Different types of music give people different visions and thoughts, people imagine things in different ways. The songs on Trash Can have been made at different times over the last two-three years so there was a time when I was listening to lots of synth pop, then I was listening to lots of space rock, then film soundtracks. The important thing for me is not to have any constraints, but just to do what I’m interested in doing. If I like something at the time, then I’ll do it

    trashDoes your job making music for computer games influence your own music at all?

    I don’t feel that the two things are quite the same. Right now, most of the computer games in China don’t pay too much attention to the music side of things. Production costs are really low and most game producers don’t really have any strong feelings about music. Of course, I always think that if I had the chance to make music for a really good game it would be a really significant and challenging thing to do and I would whole-heartedly want to do it.

    How did the collaborations with B6, JJ, and Sheena come about?

    My collaboration with B6 started a long time ago. I think it was in 2005, B6 released his Post Rock Yard EP and I played guitar on it. After that, the two of us worked on a really small commercial project together. I met JJ through a fairly loose group that we formed with a bassist called Yann – we just used to jam together.

    With Sheena, I first met her when I heard the song I Don’t Wanna Sleep Tonight. When I heard that I just thought she was the best songwriter to come out of the last couple of years. After that I came up with some songs and sent them to her. She added some vocals and then I played around with the arrangement and composition a bit.

    You’ve worked on lots of different projects to date. What are you planning next?

    Hopefully in the second half of this year we’ll have the debut record from Boojii out. For me as a soloist, if the conditions are right I’d really like to try and write a piece for a string quartet, he he! But I feel like there are lots of possibilities and I want to explore epic synth music more. I’d like to add a cello player to my live show too, if I can find one.


    Link here to buy Trash Can or pick up a copy next time you’re at Yuyintang (in Shanghai), where Miniless-E CDs are sold. If you want to have a listen first, link here.

    Sun Ye’s next solo show hasn’t been confirmed yet, but you can see him in action on the guitar when he returns to play with Sonnet for one night only at the Michael Jackson tribute night at Yuyintang on August 28th.


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