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Band | Collage

  • Date:2023-02-02
Band | Collage

Chinese Name: 珂拉琪

Formed: 2019

Did You Know?

On December 22, 2021, the band Collage was attempting to upload the files for their debut album to the website StreetVoice when they found that the uploads were stuck halfway through. At the time, they thought it must be a network problem or something similar, but as it turned out, fans were so excited to listen to the new tracks that they had swamped the site, overloading and paralyzing it with their sheer numbers.

Collage is a Taiwanese duo, singer Natsuko Lariyod (夏子.拉里又斯) and guitarist Ông Ka-koân (王家權), which was formed on January 31, 2019. Just like their name, their music is a collage of elements and styles, making use of various musical instruments, using synthesizers to add instruments beyond guitar and vocals, including everything from jazz drums and electric bass to classical wood and string instruments, and even traditional Chinese instruments like the huqin. The two also write their lyrics in a variety of languages, including Taiwanese, Amis, and Japanese.

Among their first songs as a duo was a cover of "One Thousand Eyes (合掌)" by Taiwanese metal band Chthonic, a band whose focus on Taiwanese history has clearly been a profound influence on Collage’s own creative vision. In August 2020, Collage released their new original song "Green Tara's Thousands of Sorrowful Blossoms (萬千花蕊慈母悲哀)" online, with an Eastern musical style and Taiwanese-language lyrics that described the White Terror period in an allusive way. No one could have predicted that in a mere two years, the song would break 10 million views on YouTube. Mysterious and low-key, Collage doesn’t even have a Facebook page, let alone the backing of advertising and marketing, but the song nonetheless reached its audience and struck a chord with them, leading to more and more people turning their attention to this new band.

Vocalist Natsuko Lariyod is Amis and speaks Japanese. Her lyrics are mainly in the latter language, although "Maliyang (Words)" was written in Amis, with her brother asked to sing with her. The song was written in memory of the older generation of Amis women, she says, who spoke Amis and Japanese, but also struggled with the impacts of Japanese colonialization on the indigenous peoples and cultures of Taiwan.

Much of guitarist Ông Ka-koân's artistic inspiration is also drawn from Japan, particularly Japanese acts like Sheena Ringo and rock band Radwimps, whose chaotic aesthetic especially appealed to him. When writing for Collage, much of his reference has been drawn from Japanese metal band SiM, whose growled vocals also carry with them a feeling of warmth and softness within. Ông writes his lyrics in Taiwanese primarily, although despite growing up with a Taiwanese-speaking grandmother, with Taiwanese society being overwhelmingly tilted in favor of Mandarin, his Taiwanese has gotten rusty over the years. His Taiwanese-language pieces "Stubborn Love in Chains (這該死的拘執佮愛)" and "Rather be Ashes than Dust (葬予歸路飛灰猶在)" both ignited fierce discussions on YouTube, with plenty of fans correcting the Taiwanese in the lyrics and offering other suggestions. Collage takes such suggestions and corrections in a positive spirit, and Ông even set about investing time relearning the language and asking an expert to come and correct the lyrics so the band could re-record the songs.

Collage won the Best Newcomer Award at the 33rd Golden Melody Awards in 2022 with their debut album "Memento Mori." After winning, they dedicated their music to all of those who work hard for their race, language, gender, and music. “If our songs can make people think about their history and seek out their own answers to out of curiosity, that’s the best thing we could ask for. In this post-colonial era, we hope that our creations will continue to help shine a light on people’s self-identification. Just as we as a band are always trying to be heard, you, too should find your voice through freedom and diversity,” they said.

The "beautiful isle" of Taiwan has become home to many different cultures, as those born here may well understand. As a band, Collage aims to put that concept into music. Differences should never be cause for conflicts. As long as they are reasonable, all kinds of elements can come together and reflect one another in harmony, creating a utopia in our hearts.