Acclaimed Taiwanese rapper/poet/instrumentalist Aristophanes (real name Pan Wei Ju) has collaborated with everyone from Grimes to Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, and later this month she’s coming to Australia for the first time ever. We caught up with her to talk about the upcoming tour, we find out the Australian artists she loves (and one she’s worked with), the year ahead and much more:
Hi Aristophanes! Great to finally chat with you. Where are you at the moment?
I’m in Hong Kong right now.
The last time we saw you was at SXSW last year. What was your SXSW experience like? Any favourite memories?
I had such a good time then. The Ninja Tune party was insane! I really enjoyed performing with DJ Paypal.
We see you have been working with Will Butler from Arcade Fire as well for your EP “3001: A Space Disco. How did you guys meet? What’s it like to be produced by Will?
The reason we met is Will did a review of Art Angel, saying that he liked Scream a lot. It was so good to work with Will, he is always so nice and has a good taste of humour. When it comes to producing, it was such special moment when I got the last beat produced and having his vocal in it. It’s beautiful and epic. It even has changed how I considered myself as an artist during writing/recording that song.
How does Will differ from other producers you’ve worked with?
Well, each producer I have been working with is unique. They are all different from each other.
Was 3001: A Space Disco your homage to the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey?
It’s more like I trying to say something deep in myself in its language because I was amazed by the film.
How would you say the hip hop and rap scene in Taiwan is changing or has changed since you first started making music? Do you see Chinese hip hop going global?
I don’t really know much about the Hip Hop/rap scene has changed in Taiwan, but I know there are more people into it now. It’s really hard for me to make the prediction of Chinese Hip Hop because I don’t really know Hip Hop artists from China. If you meant the Hip Hop music written in Mandarin I’d like to say it has gone global so far. At least my songs have been to more countries than me.
When I visit Taiwan I see the indie scene there is the most vibrant and creative in the Chinese language world. What has been the local reaction to your success and your music? Has it been positive or negative?
I think it’s positive. To be honest I think many people here are not ready for my music but things are getting better.
Do you have a particular songwriting process? Do you have particular themes you like to explore?
Most of the time I try to figure out what kind of world is build by the beat (the structure, the sounds, the color and atmosphere), and then I work on the story which fits in.
Pan you also have an Australian tour coming up with stops in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. What’s your expectations about performing in Australia?
It will be my first Australian tour so I can’t wait to feel the different energy on stage. I know it will be fun!
Have you had a chance to listen to some Aussie hip hop before?
Yeah I listened to Ta-ku’s music and watched his show in Amsterdam. And I have a song produced by an Australia artist called Sam Kuzich (he is the drummer playing in Ta-ku’s live show).
Looking to a new year of music in 2017 – what is exciting you the most about the concept of introducing your sound to more people internationally?
I have so much new music to release which I had been working on in 2016. There is so much that’s different from my old stuff because the people I started to work with in 2016 are so talented and they have been inspiring me to grow. There is an young UK producer called Kai Whiston I am so excited to share our collaborations with the world. His music is incredible!
What’s your plans for the rest of 2017?
Making some new music and doing more shows I guess.
Don’t miss Aristophanes when she plays the following dates in Australia:
Feb 23rd – XO State, Melbourne
Feb 24th – Perth International Arts Festival, Perth
Feb 26th – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney