pass it on {04.10.08}

indefinite hiatus, thank you to all that have been reading the blog, please stay safe & sound.

Love, team cameracrowd

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Halfway around the world and back again

{Scroll down and stream the music, while reading this rather long post, it may make the post seem a bit shorter. Sorry for so many words!}

As most of you know, I went to Taiwan during the Christmas holidays to visit relatives and also took a chance to see if where I came from had somewhat of a music scene. (The answer to that question is yes and no.) A little refresher on World Geography as to where Taiwan is located on the map (Hint: look beside China...). So, I went to a few of the regular record stores that appear in multiple cities around Taiwan. Kind of like our F.Y.E. or Warehouse Music, but I think Taiwan record stores have a slight advantage from all the foot traffic. Taiwan's easiest to navigate on foot compared to America's potential customers driving past the small record stores in the suburbs.

Still, the situation may already be changing, since Internet has Taiwan's music industry in a tight hold. This is bad news, especially for the genre specific stores like the one I bought most my CDs from: a hidden indie store underground called White Wabbit Orange. Most people who walk into a record store, which focuses on music that is not on the radio, had the intention of going there for that music in mind: people don't stumble upon a store and decide to go in if they had no interest in what's inside in the first place.

I realized how strange loneliness can be in a foreign country, even though I was born there. (My family moved to Canada when I was 4.) So even Mandarin, the main language there, was a bit of a challenge coupled with the nervousness I had to speak it in front of my relatives. The fact that no one around is interested in the same things you are or even speak the same primary language is frustrating. So when I first discovered a record store, I was elated. Familiar faces staring up at me as I listened to them through the store's headphones. I was saying quiet hellos to home: The Octopus Project, Broken Social Scene and Camera Obscura. It is also a relief to know that there are people in Taiwan who knows the same songs and recognizes the same names. I finally fully understood the line from Almost Famous, "...and if you ever get lonely, you just go to the record store and visit all your friends." Hopefully you'll get to experience this sometime in your life and come to appreciate the great music that is being made today and how lucky we are to be surrounded by it. Okay, so here are the record stores that you will probably stumble upon in any city in Taiwan for a quick purchase.

The first two photos on the top are the regular chain record stores you'll find easily just by taking a walk in any city. If you do find yourself clueless, navigate yourself to a Sogo (one of Taiwan's biggest department store, think Macy's, but bigger) and take the elevator to their book department, they sell music there too and have a lovely music listening station that lets you preview CDs. I was surprised to see a few familiar faces: The Octopus Project, Camera Obscura and Yndi Halda.
There is another chain store I didn't get a photo of: Rose (In Music We Trust), watch for a big pink sign with yellow letters. For the regular CD stores there are for a few familiar names on the shelves and you'll find them under international artists. The very bottom photo is the White Wabbit Orange records entrance: the record store is a branch from the Taiwanese indie record label White Wabbit Records. Their record store is where you'll have to venture out to Taipei for its huge collection of bands you recognize and also the Taiwanese bands you should listen to. White Wabbit Orange is literally underground that sits beside a CD store specializing in metal; it's also where the music venue called The Wall is fitted in. To see them for yourself: you have to first slowly descend a curvy, dark flight of stairs sandwiched between the two walls covered in graffiti, yes slightly creepy, but once you see the record store it's worth it. One thing to remember when shopping for CDs when in a different city/country is to buy CDs from the local bands. Especially in a different country, since some bands won't be able to release it where you call home.

Don't be afraid to ask for help, the people who actually live there probably know more about the music scene there than you do and you might find yourself with good company and in a really nice conversation. I'd just like to thank the person who was working at White Wabbit Orange for helping and suggesting which Taiwanese bands to look into. Most of the bands in this post here wouldn't have been possible without you. I could've just picked random CDs off the shelves based on their band names or the artwork. Another good idea, is grab a compilation or two that's from a local record label. Ideally the more bands you buy from, the better your chance is finding a real jewel. Of course, it's kind of idiotic to buy out the whole record store, so do some researching yourself before getting off the airplane and in a whole different culture, language...etc.

Unfortunately I was not able to attend a show while I was there due to the poor timing of things, so maybe next time. Okay, below is a preview of what I'll write about individually in later posts. We finally figured out how to let you stream the music before you download a song without pulling out our wallets or loading this blog with ads.

(For any other bloggers or anyone else who is interested, we were tipped off from what The Hype Machine uses for music players, make sure you upload everything to a site that allows direct linking: we used filexoom. If you find another site that's better please tell us! Feel free to email us if you run into trouble, I know it took us way too many hours to figure this thing out despite how easy they make it sound.)

For now, this is just a sneak peek of what's coming up, when I do post about the bands separately I'll provide more songs for downloading. Take note that I may talk about more bands later on as they naturally grow on me. Also here are some photos I took from Taiwan if your eyes want the visual side too.

Atonia | Selfkill

So, Let's Go | 8mm Sky

Winter Passing | VARO

Travel With Sound | Cheer Chan

Pendantic Mushroom | Bad Daughter



arielle said...

Finally! :)

Love the post. Especially the "I finally fully understood the line from Almost Famous, "...and if you ever get lonely, you just go to the record store and visit all your friends."

Pendatic Mushroom reminded me of the beginning of Lazy Eye by Silversun Pickups but slowed down.

Tothiro said...

Yeah Arielle I noticed that too - in fact Pendantic Mushroom is exactly that song, but first by 3 years (and missing an extra guitar sequence which I fits in there nicely at the new tempo).

Anyone know if that's a royalty deal worked out? Is it a lift or legit?

Anonymous said...

could you please reupload pendantic mushroom? i'm a big fan of sspu and i'm very curious about this song! thanks

Marty said...

Just came across this blog by chance. I had a similar experience in the White Wabbit store several years ago. My time in Taiwan lead me to make a website featuring local bands called Island of Sound and eventually open an online shop with the focus of distributing Taiwanese and other Asian indies worldwide. You can find CDs by all the bands listed above at:

For more about the Taiwanese music scene:

Feel free to email me with any questions!

Marty Shane