March 2, 2010
When I think of Chinese pop music, it's usually this melodramatic mess with
digital instruments that seem to spit out quite a cheap sound, combined with
lyrics that are created for no other purpose than to entertain to the lowest
possible common decimal. In fact, I believe there is a lack of soul in music
that is created for the language, because a lot of that market is focused on
selling albums as a Olympic sport out of all things.
Locus provides a very different, a more profound point of view into this
otherwise failed genre. For those who don't understand the Chinese language,
they have also given equal footing by being bilingual with their material. It's
a form of pop that isn't corny or ridiculous at all... in fact, a number of
genres take an influential role in their music, and that's probably their
I should brush up on my own pathetically amateurish knowledge of this mother
tongue before I say anything else. My ridiculous questions have been answered
by bandmates Jason Chu and Kaila So.
PHIL: How was the band formed in 2006?
KAILA: We actually didn't think about forming a band at first. It started
when Jason and Kelvin began writing music ten years ago as a duo. I came on
board in 2005 when Jason and I met while still playing for another band.
Eric joined shortly after he began collaborating with Jason in late 2006.
This led to a string of collaborations between the four of us, and in a very
short time, we discovered we had written about 30 songs! Then we realized it
would make perfect sense if we all joined together to contribute to each others'
musical journey. Now, here we are, a songwriting group and best friends for life.
PHIL: How did music in general come into your life?
JASON: Kelvin and I started studying piano when we were four years old.
Eric is self-taught in guitar and drums. Kaila has previously fronted other
local bands and contributed vocals for local acts XYL and Daddy Chang.
PHIL: Your music draws heavily under a number of styles. Do these influences
form a unique mold for your music, or are different elements spread across
JASON: Both. In our early songwriting, we began by emulating some of our
favourite artists (which include Delerium, Eurythmics, and Lamb, among many
others), so our sound was largely molded from our influences. We're huge
fans of electronic music but we also love acoustic, folk, and pop music, so
it was always a conscious decision for us to make music with not only a
strong electronic presence but also with all the sensibilities of pop music
as well as the story-telling qualities of the acoustic genres. Over the past
few years, we've matured a lot in our songwriting and we've started to develop
our own nuances and idiosyncrasies, so we have more control over our sound than
we used to.
PHIL: Tell me about your latest EP, "Shine". What was your primary inspiration
JASON: "Shine" is our third studio record, and it's the first release
that we've written, arranged, mixed, and mastered entirely on our own. The
inspiration behind "Shine" is the blend of old with new. The EP has three
original songs, two of which were written before Locus was formed. Originally
recorded as piano demos, we gave these "old" songs brand new arrangements. We
finished the juxtaposition of old and new by adding a newly-written track, the
first single, "Shooting Star," as well as including a piano version of
"Sunflower," a track off our previous full-length album, "Ambrosia."
PHIL: If music wasn't such an important part of your life, what would you be
passionate about instead?
KAILA: Music is too big of a part of my life. I can't think of
anything else I can put in as much passion as I can for music. Perhaps fiction
writing? movie screenplay? I usually write my lyrics for songs as stories
of their own so if there's another thing I can be passionate about, it's
JASON: I can't really imagine not making music, but I imagine I'd probably
be a paleontologist. I love dinosaurs!
PHIL: Would a ukelele produce a "dreamy" sound, in your opinion?
KAILA: Sure! We would make it work somehow!
Phillip Hong is a presenter on AMPM, combining some great indie music with
quotes and interviews.