After I moved to Los Angeles, I started playing music with a group of close friends. In Bitter Party, I arrange and compose songs based on source materials from 20th century Taiwan and unlike the authentistic approach to performance in Dzian!, I fully embrace the technological intervention in this repertory. I sample acoustic instruments like sanshin, ghostly riffs from analog recordings that I have discovered from my nakashi research, and borrow from the whimsical MIDI song arranging techniques from nakashi musicians and their cassette/vinyl recordings. My new song “Kitty in the Tree” is exemplary of this emerging approach to songwriting.
This is a sketch of a new song that I’m working on. It currently lacks vocals and some parts of the song will be played live. I took the melody of “Mei Hua,” an old patriotic song from the KMT (the Nationalist Party) in Taiwan, and then wrote tons of new parts based on the 8-bit aesthetics of nakashi cassettes that I’ve found in Taiwan and field recordings of machine sounds that come out of loudspeakers and tiny speakers in Taiwan. I have sampled a field recording of mini pinball machines that I captured in a small township south of Taipei where my grandparents are from. I will post a newer version of the song once my post-Dzian! band Bitter Party records it.
Bitter Party celebrates the melancholy of life. Based in Los Angeles, they experiment with the concept of “ghost pop,” while immersing themselves in the rich repertoire of pop, folk, and obscure tunes from Asia. With megaphones, sanshin, and whatever music technology at their disposal, they thrive on musical adventures across media. Parsing and mixing content from dusty tapes, vinyls, songbooks, and Youtube channels, they enliven song memories across the Pacific to haunt their post-digital, cosmopolitan living.