“I used to be that typical insecure kid; just started playing guitar and really getting into rock bands and musicians. I did genuinely like music and I saw this passion for it as an opportunity to be different, to standout – and I do think this happens quite often. Now the desire is far bigger than that; I never thought that I will be one of those people that say ‘making music is the most important thing in my life!’ But with the way I live and the life I lead now, that’s pretty much what it’s like. I don’t know what else to do. I thought about being a ‘salary man’ but no… I feel like me creating music is the most productive I can be and the best contribution I can make.”
– Sonia of Go Chic
Having known each other way back when, to a time of merely kicking it with their high school ‘rock band’ club, Sonia Lai and Sarah Wen of the roaring all female Taiwanese band Go Chic have since grown too monumental for such unassuming affairs.
Not without their fair share of growing pains, the major players of the award-winning musical act talk to us about their riotous ride dealing with rich delirious managers, wired stage-gropers, and even being sheltered and cooked for by the Canadian electro artist, the father-fucking Peaches.
‘FUCK SAD SONGS AND SLOW JAMS’ seems like a motto of sorts for your band. Can you elaborate more about the sentiments behind this?
SONIA LAI: Oh this comes from our singer who is not present at the moment. But I think at that time we were just trying to be straight forward, strong, tough girls.
SARAH WEN: Also because in Taiwan at the time mainstream music was a lot of slow love songs…
SONIA: Yeah, when we first started the band, there were a lot of post-rock bands in Taipei and everyone was listening to moody shit. Even now with the acoustic or dream pop songs with female vocals, we were never really into these kinds of music. I mean we listen to slow jams and sad songs now.. but we just don’t like people that can’t appreciate more aggressive upbeat music.
There’s usually a lot of uncertainty involved in being a performer and vying for recognition amongst thousands of other musical acts today. How do you confront this pressure?
SONIA: In the beginning we didn’t think that much and, yeah, compared to other indie bands in Taiwan we got really lucky. When we started, even before we started, we got a lot of support from our friends and other people.
SARAH: Yeah we just invited friends to see us play and everyone was so supportive.
SONIA: The only thing we aimed for then was that we didn’t want to only play in Taiwan; we also wanted to perform around the world. Of course, yeah, when we first started of course we wanted to be more known but right now personally I am only concerned about making a living making music. Aside from that we go out, meet other creative people, hang out, chill without any purpose in mind.
SARAH: Yeah, we are not out only looking for opportunities.
Are the songs you write connected to your own personal lives in any way, and how?
SONIA: Well usually our singer comes up with the lyrics… but for ‘City Slicker’ I told them the idea of me feeling a lot of pressure going out and worrying about how I perform even when I was just going to hang out with my friends. I think this happens to a lot of city people.
SARAH: It’s like social anxiety, something like that.
SONIA: Yeah like I didn’t want to hang out with people but I felt like I needed to hang out with people. So that’s what I told our singer and she wrote the lyrics based on this scenario.
SARAH: As for me there’s not much relation to my personal life but maybe personal taste – from the music and other things that inspire me.
SONIA: But you know, our singer also usually writes lyrics based more on the things she observes. I feel like she writes about our lives, other people’s lives, or maybe even the things she sees in parties. I think that was what she wanted to create and present.
You guys have a couple of cool videos involving insanely awesome aliens and pole dancers – how was the experience shooting those videos?
SONIA: We actually flew to LA to shoot the first video we made for our last album and that was pretty crazy because this was not common for indie bands here. And because we just got signed to a label run by this crazy rich boss we managed to have the budget to fly and shoot there.
SARAH: And the director for it was Peaches’ friend Vice Cooler. She helped hook us up.
SONIA: It was really crazy… It was like ‘Hollywood’ shooting for 3 days in L.A. with him. We even had green screens..
SARAH: Yeah. We did a lot of acting, even crying!
SONIA: The Berlin subway one was harder right? It was really cold and it was in between our Europe tour.
SARAH: Yeah so many things happened and we only had 3 or 4 hours to shoot the video and the camera was broken – we only had 5 takes. And the boom box was broken too!
SONIA: Yeah there was no music and they were like ‘Keep moving, keep moving!’ and the security even tried to shut our filming down. On top of that it was really really cold but the pole dancers were wearing less than us so we tried not to complain!
Which step of the process do you consider more gratifying over the other – studio or stage time – and why?
SONIA: For me, It’s definitely studio time because every time I am on stage, I personally feel like I’m a clown! [Laughs]
SARAH: I think I also feel better in the studio because when performing I always try not to look and be nervous. In the studio it’s more natural.
SONIA: Also sometimes when you’ve been playing the same songs for years, personally, you get sick of them in a way. But you always have to feel it for your audience so that they can feel it too. At times, this takes a lot of effort to be honest. But the experience is always different when performing so it’s nice that way.
In conclusion, when do you think is the best time for people to listen to your music? Whilst jogging perhaps?
SONIA: Actually my gay friend, who is this crazy gym person, said that our music is not good for jogging because it’s not regular enough, but it’s good for lifting weights and pumping up the testosterone – I guess it’s hormonal music you know. [Laughs] But for some reason, I always picture our fans as these cool high school girls, maybe because I grew up and started listening to all these awesome bands and female artists around that time. They were not just about the music but also about the attitude they exude. So probably like.. high-school girls preparing for their midterms needing a boost of energy and attitude – I think that would be cool!
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JULIA KAO