Compelled by the sounds and stories shared by the musician-colleagues during my 24-month close ethnographic engagement with members of two dozen bands of partial or whole Asian American membership, I started my band Dzian!. In this band, I work alongside my band mates to adapt and perform rock music from 1960s and 1970s Asia. With a mission to challenge the Anglo-American hegemony of rock music, and to inscribe Asia and Asian America into the rock music discourses, we introduce and make visible this obscure body of music to the local and regional popular music scenes. I consider Dzian! a post-fieldwork, post-academic project of public scholarship. The band is a playground for me to experiment with the critical concepts related to race, ethnicity, and the postcolonial conditions that I formulated in my dissertation.
Two conference papers came out of my performance experience with Dzian!:
- “How to rock “Asia” in America? Reflexive Performance as Public Scholarship”, Society of Ethnomusicology, 2011. [abstract | video]
- “The Sound of Racial Melancholia: Listening to and Performing Indie Rock in Asian America” Inter-Asia Pop Conference (IASPM-Asia), National Taiwan Normal University, 2012. [paper]
Read about Dzian! in the press:
- “Taiwanese Surf Rock Puppetry?! Yes, Please!”, LA Weekly, April 3, 2012. [official link]
- “Dzian!’s Last Show Will be ‘Love-Boat’-Themed”, C-Ville Weekly, May 17, 2012. [official link]
Dzian!/ 贊! (pronounced “ze-an”) revives the ecstasy of vintage rock sound from Asia. The band curates and masters the style of Taiwanese a-go-go, Japanese eleki, Indo-rock, Thai disco and shadow music, Malaysian pop yeh yeh, Khmer pop, Middle Eastern bellydance surf, and Ventures hits enjoyed by Taiwanese puppetry bands and audiences. No gimmicks, only geeks. The band embodies Taiwanese “super-cool” by recreating Nakasi (那卡西), down-home, “fashionable” party music in pre-WWII Taiwan. Committed to spectaculars, Dzian! flaunts feather boas, LEDs, authentic costumes, and choreographed belly and go-go dance, while unabashedly delivering tunes in ten languages and counting. From Chinese buffets and shopping malls in Virginia to Manhattan’s Union Square and Taiwan Center in Flushing, the band has left a trail of joyous red boa feathers. Put on your swell dancing shoes, your thumbs up, and say, “Dzian!”