Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Indietracks interview #3: Hong Kong in the 60s

Hey popkids, I think it might actually be 'officially summer', as Lauren Laverne once sang - or Aidan from Arab Strap if you prefer your summer holiday fun laced with some licentious drunken chaos. Either way, we've been wearing sunglasses to work all week and remembering watching the sunset over Ballboy at last summer's Indietracks.

And to add to that summery feeling, we're joined by Mei Yau from classy electro-Casio-popsters Hong Kong In The 60s. The band formed in London in 2007, and take their cue from old Oriental pop, classic AM radio, and the baroque melancholy of groups like Blonde Redhead and Broadcast. The band play hypnotic lullabies through a filter of cheap keyboards and guitars.

Tim and Mei Yau met at school in Berkshire in 1996. They lived for two years in Japan before returning to Southern England. Mei Yau met Christopher in Summer 2005 at an Oxford library. The trio moved to London at the end of 2006. Christopher has lived in Africa, Brazil and Cambridge. His band Too Many Zeros released a split 7" with The Oedipus (Steven Ansell, now of Blood Red Shoes) on Running Riot Records. While at university in Brighton, Mei Yau was invited to play bass in Electrelane, but declined. Their loss is Indietracks' gain!

Hi Mei Yau, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

We're Mei Yau, Tim and Christopher - we all sing and play guitar and keyboards in Hong Kong In The 60s. Our name is a reference to the Wong Kar Wai film "In The Mood For Love" which is a beautiful story of repressed love in, yes, Hong Kong in the 60s. We loved the atmosphere of the film and all the little period details and textures - lush greens, the humid air, cracking walls, the balletic cinematography. And we try to evoke the same vibe with our music - but using old Casio keyboards.

Do you have any exciting plans for the rest of the year?

We'll be putting out our first EP "Willow Pattern Songs" in June (on Proper Songs) and it's really exciting to have a release of our own! Earlier in April an Italian filmmaker contacted us about appearing in one of his short films and he's making it into a video for the EP's lead track, "Footsteps". It was pretty cool doing the film shoot and we can't wait to see the finished article.

What music are you enjoying at the moment?

I'm listening to a lot of Chinese music from the 1940s to 1970s on Spotify these days - it's amazing what they have on it. The synthesis of stuff like cha cha rhythms or garagey guitars with traditional Chinese melodies and vocals is quite hard to beat. I also like the Cantonese version of YMCA, I must say.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the Indietracks festival, and why?

We were thrilled to hear that Au Revoir Simone are playing on the Friday as they're one of our favourite bands and, of course, we're excited to see BMX Bandits and Camera Obscura too. The Marshmallow Kisses will be amazing - with Peter based in Hong Kong and Edine in London, we're never had a chance to see them play live. Festivals are all about discovering new music and I am looking forward to seeing lots of the international Elefant bands.

Thanks Mei Yau! And the band have left us with a free MP3 to download: You Got Me Into This

Next up: Little My talk glockenspiel injuries and human pyramid training classes!

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