Say hello to Aristophanes, the Taiwanese rapper who is taking the Western music world by storm with her unique Chinese rapping style and intense yet beautiful lyrics. Having been introduced to her by an Australian friend of mine (shame on me!), it seems that Aristophanes is taking the road less travelled by finding fame through her collaboration with Canadian singer Grimes on her track “Scream”.
Since then, she has been rapidly propelled to fame as one of the indie darlings of the music journalism world; having scored features in press such as The Fader, Rolling Stone and Vice. Most recently, she’s been getting ready to take over the stages over at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas as she performs along with other artists such as Queen Suitcase and Trash at the Taiwan Beats Showcase.
Here are 10 things you should know about Aristophanes before catching her in action.
1. She didn’t know who Grimes was before she discovered her.
Discovered by Canadian artist Grimes on Soundcloud, Aristophanes was completely unaware of who she was when she first contacted her. It was only after she bought her album and was amazed by how good it was that she agreed to collaborate with Grimes.
2. She cites Taiwanese rapper Soft Lipa as one of her biggest influences
Although having listened to English rap before, it was only when she was exposed to the music of prominent Taiwanese rapper Soft Lipa who has a more relaxed flow to his rap that she was inspired to begin making music.
3. She has a day job teaching English to kids
Conveniently enough, Aristophanes teaches English to kids, while waxing lyrical about more in-depth topics such as gender, sex, feminism and politics in her music. Writers who have inspired her include Italo Calvino, Milan Kundera and Raymond Carver.
4. Her lyrics for the rap in Grimes’ song ‘Scream’ are about sex and frustration
Aristophanes describes her lyrics as not the most straightforward, but says in the song she was trying to describe the general emotion of frustration to the point of screaming. Some implications of sex are also present in the song’s lyrics.
5. Her music is a coalescence of hip-hop, slam poetry, soul and electronica
Given Aristophane’s wide range of interests, she has always found the combination of music and literature interesting. She fuses hip-hop, slam, poetry soul and electronica elements into her music, however describers herself as more part of the electronic than rap scene, due to it not having many girls in it.
6. She’s had her share of haters
The now critically-acclaimed rapper has even had friends come up to her and tell her that her music is too strange and she needs to change to hip-hop, if not nobody will be listening to her music! She has also previously said many male MCs and producers judge her music and skill… thank god this girl has a mind of her own.
7. She shows that creating girly and sexy music can also be empowering
Under the critical eye of those in the male-dominated rap scene in Taiwan, Aristophanes had previously tried to fight fire with fire against male MCs. However, after being inspired by Erykah Badu‘s delivery and lyrics, she learnt that it was okay for her music to be girly, sexy and yet still empowering nonetheless. That’s what I like to hear!
8. The internet is her playground
Grimes is not the only artist who has discovered this sweetly evil gem on Soundcloud. All the musicians whom Aristophanes has collaborated with found out about her through Soundcloud. If she’s interested in collaborating with other artists, she’ll send them a message too! Right now she works closely with Taiwanese producer Sonic Deadhorse.
9. She doesn’t care if people don’t understand her lyrics
A writer who likes to keep things deep and abstract, Aristophanes doesn’t feel like completely understanding her lyrics is a big part of creating a pleasurable musical experience. She believes that gaining a general feel for the emotions through her delivery, her beats and also translation is good enough!
10. She’s only been doing this for 4 years
Her short time in the industry is testament to her talent and uniqueness. While others wait years before getting their big break in the industry be it mainstream or underground, it seems that four years was all this Taiwanese rapper needed to create music that would blow the minds of listeners all across the world!
If you want to find out more about this amazing artist, and happen to be attending SXSW this year, here are the deets to her performance below:
Aristophanes SXSW 2016 Showcases
Date: Thursday 17th of March
Address: The Show At Palm Door on Sixth, 508 E 6th St
Taiwan Beats @ SXSW
Date: Saturday 19th of March
Address: Elysium, 705 Red River
Check out her music on Soundcloud here:
Hello Asia! will be bringing you all the best Asian music from SXSW in Austin from March 15th to 20th.