When we last caught up with Leo Wang in 2015, he was fronting Taiwanese indie rock band Gigantic Roar, a four-piece acclaimed in underground circles for their electrifying live gigs. Soon after our last chat, the singer, rapper and all-round creative did a 180 and re-emerged as a rapper and solo artist, pushing out a completely different-yet uniquely him-brand of sound.
Coming from indie roots, yet gaining critical acclaim for his debut album ‘Artist’s Mood’ (not to mention millions of views his songs have racked up since), Leo seems well on his way to becoming one of the pioneers bringing underground alternative genres to Taiwanese mainstream audiences.
We spoke to Leo briefly as he prepares to tour North America with his record label KAO!INC. this November.
If you were to sum up your music for international audiences, how would you introduce yourself and your music?
I like being on the stages, it’s like a swing which buoys me and my voice. I think my mouth is my instrument.
You were previously with indie band Gigantic Roar, then suddenly made the leap to Hip Hop and Rap. How did you initially discover your passion for a genre that is quite different from indie rock?
It was around the end of 2014, and in 2015 I began to fervently practice songwriting.
Who have been your main influences, given your keen interest in so many different kinds of music?
Radiohead, The Doors, Maceo Parker, Nas, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Jay Chou
I know that it is not your first time performing in the US. How do you feel about being back again and what do you hope to get out of this experience?
When it comes to performing I am always in anticipation. As for this particular performance? I probably have to finish performing before knowing.
If you were to pick one song from your discography that you would recommend to others when introducing your music, what would you choose and why?
Perhaps I would pick ‘Turning Eighteen長大十八歲’, when I wrote that song I wished that I could commemorate the youth of my schooling days.
You handle various different musical projects at the same time, and have experience as being part of a band, a solo artist, and I hear you will also be working as a duo for some of your future musical works. How are each of these experiences different for you, and which identity do you prefer performing under most?
I think the important part is not whether an artist is divided by a band or a solo concept, that is only a political difference. In terms of music there is no difference. As long as I can play with talented musicians that is the most awesome thing. Instead I really indulge in opportunities to play live with great bands.
From indie rock to hip hop and rap, what other types of music are you influenced by, and do you have any intention to broaden your range of genres in the future?
I want to do some Reggae songs.
Do you have any new works in the pipeline? Can you share with us a little about what’s up next for you?
What can we expect from your performance within KAO!INC.’s North America showcase?
well……the cat got my tongue
A cult success story buoyed by nothing more than his eclectic, straight-talking persona and the power of the internet, Leo’s voracious appetite for anything creative has given him the freedom to pursue many avenues and genres within Taiwan’s music scene. With his cheeky sense of humour and penchant for a wide variety of musical styles, his works are far from the usual fare that the Taiwanese music scene is known for, yet interesting and enticing all the same. A great musical find for the adventurous appreciator in every one of us.
Hip Hop company KAO!INC. which consists of Soft Lipa, GorDoN, DJ Didilong, Deejay Gin and Leo Wang are touring LA and NYC, holding shows on the 19th (LA) at the Echoplex and on the 22nd (NYC) at the Highline Ballroom. See below for more information.
KAO!INC. World Tour – Los Angeles
Ticketing Info: HERE (Priced at $30 advance, $35 on the day)
KAO!INC. World Tour – New York
Venue: Highline Ballroom
Ticketing Info: HERE (Priced between $30-$49.99)