Last Updated on 2023-06-12 by a-indie
Manic Sheep, Taiwan’s dreamy shoegaze band, is going to reissue “Brooklyn (布魯克林)” by vinyl record, and coming back to Japan!
We asked them about how they created such a dreamy sound, music inspired them, and how they felt about visiting Japan last time and this time.
Can you guess what effects pedals guitarist Howard uses？
About Taipei and Forming Manic Sheep
Artist:Manic Sheep Interviewer, Translations:Lisa Tominaga
Taipei from Our Perspective
– I know that you are from Taipei, Taiwan. I’ve been to Taipei and love that atmosphere of “迪化街”, where there are various good old shops. Could you tell us what Taipei is like from your perspective?
Howard : I don’t go out much now, I go to work then go straight back home. Taipei could be fun if you enjoy night life, but not for me.
Thomas : Taipei is a busy city, always crowded, but it is also convenient. I like the convenience.
White : Lively and fast-paced I guess? I think I’m more like an urbanite person so I’m quite used to it. Also if you’re a foodie you’ll definitely enjoy living in Taipei, because you can get most of the famous local & foreign food out here easily. Also, most of the art, music & cultural events are held in Taipei. These are the things I really enjoy about this city.
Chris : I just moved to 迪化街 half a year ago, this area is a unique existence in Taipei. More quiet and slow paced.
Formation of the Band in 2010
– How did the four members, White, Chris, Joy, and Howard, meet and get to form the band in 2010?
Howard : I met Chris back in 2008, she introduced me to the music scene in Taipei. I’m not familiar with any bands and I didn’t play any guitar before 2009. Around 2012 I joined my very first band “Pleasure Science” as guitarist until I joined Manic Sheep in 2014 after former guitarist Yo’s leave.
Thomas: I was a fan of Manic Sheep, I met Howard first, that time I was playing in a band called Goosander (川秋沙). Soon in 2019, Goosander took a break because one of our band members went to China to work, then Howard asked me to play for Manic Sheep, I said yes without even thinking about it.
White: I joined Manic Sheep in 2014, the year when I moved back to Taiwan from Australia. Joy and I have been friends for a long time since we were both high school students. I met her in a music school where I learnt drums and she was working there as a receptionist. After I moved back to Taiwan, she told me Manic Sheep is looking for a former drummer and asked me if I’m keen, and this is how the fate happened with Manic Sheep.
After we finished touring in support of the release of “Brooklyn”, Joy decided she wanted to focus more on her visual design career, then we had Thomas replacing Joy’s role as our new bassist.
Chris : I uploaded my demo on myspace in 2009, then met Yo online to play a guitar (now he is a very successful label owner called Airhead Records.), and drummer Jocelyn was introduced by a friend. After they left the band, White and Howard joined us in 2014, Thomas joined us in 2019. And Joy was in the band at the very beginning, at first she did all the visual work and helped us manage the band, even playing bass in 2015-2019.
The Next Big Thing 2011：川秋沙 ｜少年花
Meaning of the Band Name
– What is the meaning of the band’s name, “Manic Sheep”?
Chirs : I was a big fan of Manic Street Preachers, I just simply hope that my album can be placed next to them on the shelf in the record store.
Individual Musical Roots and Similar Tastes
– Could you tell us each of your root’s music? And do you have any similar tastes?
Thomas’s Musical Roots
Thomas: I’ve been playing bass since my school year. In high school I liked Dream Theater and Primus. In college I like to listen to brit-pop, post-punk and funk, like Blur, Radiohead, RHCP(Red Hot Chili Peppers), Mew, Interpol, Placebo…and a lot of Taiwan indie bands. After I graduated from college, I started to listen to hip hop and jazz since then. But I think brit-pop and post-punk influenced me the most.
White’s Musical Roots
White : I start listening music back when I was in junior high, my older cousin, who is also plays in my another band Prairie WWWW (落差草原 WWWW), used to recommend lots of music, he is one of the big influence for my music taste. I dug a lot of experimental and avant-garde music, post-rock, post-punk, and shoegaze of course. Then I started digging into ambient, world music and contemporary jazz.
My drum technique was mostly self-taught so I learned things by listening to a lot of records.
Prairie WWWW(落差草原) – Formosan Dream / Shells | Audiotree Worldwide
Howard’s Musical Roots
Howard : I listen to shoegaze and dream-pop a lot back then, such as Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Verve, Galaxie 500 etc, I really like those dreamy and washy guitar sound at the time, but now I’m more into black music such as jazz, R&B, hip-hop, soul, and electronic music. I started to pay more attention to other instruments. I’m not sure if I have any roots right now, I just grab some ideas at the moment and play with what I know and see if it works.
I think we do share the same tastes in music that provide weird vibes or sounds like Portishead, Beak>, SUUNS, Grizzly Bear etc. I’ve been really into trip-hop music for a while and Portishead might still be my top 1, they combined weird rock music and hip-hop with some strange cinematic vibe really well.
Chris’s Musical Roots
Chris : My favorite band in junior high school was Oasis, the main source for me to dig in music was MTV channel and record store. Then I got into Sonic Youth in high school, which made me start to play bass. After I started making music, I became addicted to post-punk and shoegaze, such as Ride, MBV(My Bloody Valentine), Joy Division etc. And now I mostly listen to the music recommended by band members, a recent favorite is Portishead.
Portishead – Sour Times
– How do you make songs usually? Who is the main songwriter?
White : We used to jam a lot, record ourself during the rehearsal session and choose the parts which we think is good, then working on it. But we barely do this lately, now mostly we come out with ideas individually then we share and put it together on DAW to see whether it works or not. Most of the time Chris will be the one who rearrange everyone’s idea and finalise it.
Howard : Chris is still the main songwriter. We don’t jam much, once we have some basic structure of a song in the rehearsal room, we take it back home and work our own part. There is a lot of cut and paste on logic pro, Chris will usually rearrange the material we have and sometimes change it into a whole new thing with new melody we never think of, the process will repeat over and over again.
Chris : When making our second album “Brooklyn”, I wrote the songs and arranged them first then went to the rehearsal room, let other members make it better. But recently, since our last EP “Deep Dusk”(2019), we tried to contribute each person’s idea first, then worked really hard to put it together. It takes more time but it’s more fun.
– Is there any particular listener or person aiming for?
White : For me, I create things I enjoy, so I don’t think I make music for a particular listener. But I feel grateful when someone likes our music and feels really connected to the song, I think this is quite a magical feeling.
Chris : No, it’s for everyone.
Language Choice in Lyrics
– In your album “Brooklyn (布魯克林)” there are both songs sung in Taiwanese and English. How do you decide which language to use in lyrics?
Chris : I used to arrange the song first, and wrote the vocal line at last. I never presuppose which language to write. Our music is made by all of my band members, so what I do is to try to feel it, then use the language which is more suitable, make sure the vocal line won’t change the song too much.
Sound and Effects
– Throughout the album, all sounds are comfortable like I’m floating in the air. What is the magic ingredient in making your music? In particular, what kind of effects pedals do you use?
Howard : I think I recorded it with Strymon Timeline and a Rat pedal, but I kind of dislike Strymon now. The sound coming out from Strymon is too “delicate” to my ear and there are too many knobs. I go back to Boss and some Digitech now.
White : That’s the dreamy feeling that we’re kinda aiming for the time when we’re making Brooklyn. Chris’s vocals and Howard’s guitar played the big role in creating this overall feel of Brooklyn.
Chris : I think the main reason is because we are not only focusing on member’s own instrument individually, but each member has also composed other one’s part. For instance, Howard composed some of the bass for me, and I have composed some of the guitar riff for him .
Album Design and Joy’s Involvement
– This album, “Brooklyn(布魯克林)” is not only great in music but also stylish on the album cover. How did you come up with this design?
Howard : Joy did it, she did all the design work, now she’s the crew of Sunset Rollercoaster, she is a brilliant designer.
Chris : Joy is a talented designer, although she didn’t participated in the song-writing process that much, but she can understand our concept and idea, then visualize it very well.
Band Activities during the COVID-19 Pandemic
– How did you spend your time as a band under the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Howard : I think we barely made any music under pandemic, I worked at a record store during pandemic and listened to music I never heard before.
I think during the pandemic is when I really start digging music.
Thomas : We didn’t make music during quarantine, but we chatted a lot online about life and mood.
White : We were kinda resting during the pandemic, four of us were focusing on our own career, so we didn’t do much in Manic Sheep if I can recall correctly. Luckily the pandemic didn’t affect me that much, I still played a lot of gigs and taught drums during the time.
Chris : Because of family reasons I’ve been through endless quarantine. I couldn’t leave my house so the band had to rest.
Memories of Fuji Rock Festival and Japan Tour
– I heard you performed at Fuji Rock Festival twice. Could you tell us about your memories in Japan and what you await during the Japan tour this time?
Howard : I remember our friends Shinji san and Takeshi san from Broken Little Sister drove us from Tokyo to Fuji Rock twice, and some shows we played with DYGL were fun, our friends and the audience in Japan are always amazing. I really miss the food in Japan and also plan to visit some guitar shops this time.
White : Fuji Rock was one of my dream festivals to visit when I was still a student, never thought I would have such a chance to go and even play in this festival as an artist, I’m flattered.
Japan is always my top 1 country to visit, everything there is just too perfect, so I’m quite excited for the upcoming shows in Japan, looking forward to seeing and meeting new people from the shows we play, and reunite with old friends of course.
Chris : I’m grateful for everything I have experienced in Japan. The Fuji Rock experience is incredible, also the friends we met in Japan are amazing. Broken Little Sister and DYGL really help us a lot. Big romantic records owner took us to eat lots of delicious food last time, this is what I am most looking forward to this time.
Japanese Bands We’d Like to Perform With
– If you have any Japanese bands to perform with, please let us know.
Thomas : Zazen boys.
White : Shintaro Sakamoto
Message to Fans in Japan
– Could you give a message to fans in Japan?
Howard : It’s been a long time, thank you for still listening to our music!
White : Long time long see! We are so excited to be back in Japan, we will play some new tunes and hope you’ll like it. See you soon!
Chris : Hope everything goes well with you.
Manic Sheep – No More Anger (Official Video)
Manic Sheep released Works
Manic Sheep has released 2 albums(“Manic Sheep”、“Brooklyn”).
The first LP release of the second album “Brooklyn,” released in 2016 and considered a historical masterpiece of Taiwanese shoegaze, is now available.
3.No More Anger
4.Eve of Destruction
5.Have Back on Everyone
format: Mp3、CD、Analog record
1st album“Manic Sheep”
Release Date:December 2012
Manic Sheep Live Information
- June 17th, 2023 (Sat)
- June 19th, 2023 (Mon)
OTO TO TABI presents “Shake Music Festival 2023”
Time: Both days OPEN 10:30 / CLOSE 20:00 scheduled
Venue: Sapporo Art Park Outdoor Stage (2-75 Geijutsu-no-mori, Minami-ku, Sapporo)
Manic Sheep “Brooklyn” LP release party
at Aoyama Tsukimiru Kimisoufu
Performers:Manic Sheep / Khaki / Ålborg
Advance ticket 4500 / Day of show 5000 (both separate from drinks)
open 19:30 / start 20:00
Ticket URL (sales start at 20:00 on May 2nd)
https://230619.peatix.com* Admission in order of reservation number
Manic Sheep profile
“Manic Sheep is an indie-rock band from Taipei, Taiwan. We incorporate a wide range of genres, shoegaze and noise rock. Our second album”Brooklyn” is going to release in November 2016.”
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