Taiwan's known for a lot of things, from vibrant night markets and bustling cityscapes to decadent cuisine and delicious milk tea. While music is rarely the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Taiwan, it's definitely not one to discount.
Small but bubbling with some great tunes, the country's local music scene is immensely rich, boasting a wide range of sounds and styles. Home to iconic Mandopop stars like Eric Chou, renowned hip-hop acts like ØZI, and coveted indie bands like Sunset Rollercoaster, Taiwanese music are gradually making their way to the global stage.
To help you on your deep dive into Taiwanese music, we've come up with a list of artists definitely worth a spot on your playlist. From veteran pop acts to new psychedelic rock bands to aboriginal folk musicians, here are 10 acts you need to listen to, stat.
While Taiwan is mainly known for the hustle and bustle of the city, its rural nature tells an equally captivating story. Against the backdrop of jazz, folk and blues, 陳建年 Paudull capture fragments of the natural earth and aboriginal Taiwanese culture in his music.
With decades' worth of work under his belt, the singer-songwriter has become an integral sound in Taiwan's vast music scene that spans much farther than the contemporary pop we know today. Originally a police officer, 陳建年 Paudull began his music career while still part of the police force. Almost two years after retiring, the musician is back with a brand new album made in ode to Taiwan's Orchid Island.
I Mean Us
Since their formation in 2015, I Mean Us have paved their own path in music, becoming a mainstay in Taiwan's music scene. Taking influence from an array of genres, including post-rock, shoegaze, and classical music, the band have created a soundscape so distinctively their own – ethereal, mythical, and something that feels straight out of a cosmic universe.
I Mean Us comprises Mandark (vocals, keys), Vitz (guitar), Hank (bass), and PP L (drums). In the last six years, the 'You So' hitmakers have won an array of awards and accolades and performed on stages all across the world including SXSW, Music Matters, City Roar Festival, and more.
Life rarely feels like a walk in the park, but DSPS' music has a way of showing you the simple joys in these mundane days. Wanting to inject a little colour into an otherwise dull world, the indie-pop band deliver a sense of comfort, peace, and bliss with their distinctive drum beats, acoustic riffs, and soothing vocals. Think of them as the beautiful soundtrack behind your trek your way through life's daily adventures.
Initially set to make a college-student-slash-aspiring-musician's dream come true, DSPS was formed in 2016 by Ami (vocals), Yung Hsiang (guitar), Yi An (bass), and Xiao Ji (drums). Now, almost half a decade later, the four-piece band is rocking stages all across Taiwan, Japan, and Korea and impacting people from all walks of life with their music.
Versatile, passionate, and innately musical, NIO's one of the few destined to do music. From playing an array of instruments to singing to songwriting, the Taiwanese-British act is an all-around performer.
While NIO's still relatively new to Taiwan's music scene, the young musician has years of talent and expertise under his belt. The 'Person' act started playing the piano at age five and has since been sharing his music with the world. Initially beginning his musical journey on YouTube, NIO is now making name for himself with his heartfelt yet playful music that spans various genres including neo-soul, indie rock, and alt-pop.
宋柏緯 Edison Song
An actor, producer, and arranger, 宋柏緯 Edison Song is as talented as they come. The 26-year-old broke into the entertainment industry as an actor in 2014 film Dawn/Spring but most recently, deep dived into the world of music. Curating a diverse collection of instrumental tracks, Edison creates music that makes life feel like a feel-good movie.
Wanting to ease his listeners as they go through the struggles of their everyday lives, the 'End Of Circle' act recently put out his purely instrumental debut album, Outline vol. 1 that takes sonic influences from jazz, R&B, and even hip-hop.
打倒三明治 Sandwich Fail
Comprising Noel (leader, bass), Neo (vocals, guitar), Alexandre (drums), and Kuilun (guitar), Sandwich Fail tell a story of outcasts banding together, daily introspection, and a deep-rooted love for rock music. Emerging from the shadows, the band first turned their heads with the demos they uploaded onto Streetvoice, Taiwan's equivalent of SoundCloud.
Since then, Sandwich Fail has released their debut EP Roadkill and performed on stages all over the country, including Taiwan's coveted indie festival LUCfest last year. Documenting their daily observations and adventures, the band makes music that takes you through the tumultuous journey of life, the good and bad of it all.
While the name 魚丁糸 Oaeen is still relatively new to Taiwan's music scene, the band has been around for years and is even one of the country's most iconic musical acts.
Previously known as Sodagreen, the indie rock band was initially formed in 2001 and comprises Qing Feng (日出 Sunrise – vocals), Wei (八女 BaNu – drums), Claire (香我 Fragrant Me – bass), Yu-Chi (金八Jinba – piano, violin), and Kay (豕豆 Stone – guitar).
After almost two decades, the band started a new chapter as 魚丁糸 Oaeen and released 'Start From The End', an aptly made single about new beginnings. Sonically, the band still take on the classic Sodagreen sound we all know and love while incorporating new, refreshing twists.
Reminiscent of retro vibes, late-night drives, and flickering neon lights, COLD DEW's music paints a scene straight out of the 70s. Comprising Lin Jhe-An (vocal/guitar), Wu Cheng-Chun (guitar), Tsai Yu-Sheng (bass), and Wu Cheng-Hung (drums), the band has a way of articulating the feelings of loss and pain in such a soothing and calming way.
Taking on the genres of shoegaze and blues, COLD DEW came together in 2018. In the last three years, the band has been making their way around Taiwan, performing at stages all across the country.
Eclectic, creative, and outright groovy, The Chairs are a band that'll take you on a relaxing ride through the good ol' days. Armed with a psychedelic, retro soundscape and a unique outlook on life, the indie-pop trio are brightening up Taiwan's music scene, one vividly colourful track at a time.
Comprising Yun Jin (vocals, guitar), Zhong Ying (vocals, guitar), and Benson (bass), The Chairs made their debut in 2015 with their single 'Rollin On'. Since then, they've received an array of accolades and have gradually made their way to the forefront of the country's indie music scene. Did we mention they sing in four different languages? Yes, four – Mandarin, English, Hokkien, and Japanese!
Bridging cultures and challenging the confines of traditional music, 黃宇寒 Han is breaking boundaries, one song at a time. Wanting to offer the world a new type of Chinese music, the Taiwanese Hakka composer and musician has a knack for bringing together the worlds of electronic pop and Hakka music, while simultaneously narrating meaningful stories from her culture.
Making her way through the local music scene, 黃宇寒 Han has been highly recognised for her intricately complex music that still have a way of resonating with almost everyone willing to lend an ear.
Presented by Taiwan Beats
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