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Interviews: Laang

On this new occasion, we have had the opportunity to interview the  Black Metal band, Laang, from Taiwan. Check out the interview and follow the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1. Where did you get the idea for the band name, you planned it or came out just like that? 

The band name "Laang" translates to "Cold" in English. I wanted a simple, single-word name for the band that could capture the feelings of the music that I wanted to provide, and also reflect the emotional and melancholic component. The word "cold" felt to me like it encompassed all of these levels. Interestingly, in Mandarin Chinese the word is actually pronounced "Leng", but I chose "Laang", the Cantonese pronunciation, because I thought it would be easier for English-speakers to say and remember. 

2. Why did you want to play this genre?

The goal for the music has always been to provide an emotional experience, and to have the music, genre, and atmosphere fully reflect the emotions that we want to represent. Our debut album was based in fear, and had many abrasive and dissonant overtones to represent this, while our upcoming album is based in depression and has taken a more melodic turn on the same black metal style. Black metal as a genre is very diverse, but it is generally a great and powerful resonator of emotional overtones that can be delivered with a very strong impact, which is why I really connect with the genre personally. 

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed?

When the band was formed it was initially just myself (Haitao) in the studio. I wrote and recorded the first 2 albums entirely myself, and only recently decided to branch out to have a full band of collaborators. They will be involved in the creative and recording process for our third album, and of course will be involved in upcoming tours! I was acquainted with both members who joined, but had never met them personally, so music has really been something that has helped us come together. 

4. Each band member favourite band?

Haitao Yang (guitar & vocals): Alcest

Willy Krieg Tai (bass): Amorphis

Wanling Li (drums): Gojira 

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs?

All the music of Laang is based on a near-death experience that I had many years ago. I don't discuss this in much great detail because it is very emotionally difficult to me, but I was shot and declared medically dead for a short period of time. This traumatic experience, and the visions I had while dead and in a coma were horrifying, and the music of Laang is my method of exploring and coming to accept my experience, my own mortality, and struggle with what happened. It is a very emotional process, and the music of Laang is entirely inspired by this event. When I started Laang I thought I would try to have this be a center focus of the band because it might draw us more attention, but I quickly changed my mind. I don't want my suffering to be a spectacle, or capitalized on. It cheapens it. I was also surprised by how uncomfortable I was with sharing details about the event when asked by people, and realized that I am still emotionally working through this event and am not ready to fully be open about it. So the music is based on the event, but I don't want the band to just be exposition of this event like some trite marketing scheme. I want to discuss it enough to share my experience with people who can connect with it, and attempt to heal myself, but I don't want my trauma and pain to be exploited. I hope that this makes sense. 

6. Where was your last gig?

We have pretty bad luck with gigs so far, there always seems to be an international crisis that leads to things being cancelled. As of now we haven't performed live yet. Our first headlining tour in Taiwan and Hong Kong was cancelled due to the political situation in Hong Kong causing our flights to be cancelled, and our co-headlining North American tour was cancelled due to COVID. We are currently working on scheduling another North American tour and getting some European festival slots. 

7. Where would you like to act?

It would be almost impossible to happen, but one day I would love to perform in the water towns of Jiang'nan, it is a region of Mainland China with many rivers that have towns built into the waterways. It's beautiful and I love the historical and esoteric resonance of these places, and I think it would be wonderful to express myself musically there. 

8. Whom would you like to feature with?

I would most like to open for Harakiri for the Sky. We have some stylistic overlap with them, particularly on our second album, and I feel like despite having different reasons for the emotion and focus on death and depression in our music, we both discuss similar hopelessness in our music. I think that it would be a really wonderful lineup and experience to perform with them. 9. 

9. Whom not?

We, of course, do not want to perform with any kind of Nazi band, or any band that supports oppression, hate, suppression of voices and people. It's important that music be a welcoming, supportive, and free community for all, and not being used as a platform to perpetuate harmful ideologies. 

10. Any of you has ever suffered from stage fright? Any tip for beginners on how to beat that?

I was incredibly nervous for my first few shows, but this did fade in time. I think a lot of this is through repeated exposure, honestly. I began performing when I was 12 years old and would generally perform something like 8 times or more per year every year until I was about 18. That was when I became a lot more of a studio musician and live shows began to slow down. I think it was this constant and early exposure to performing that helped with my stage fright. The more you do it, the easier it gets. But also, something that maybe helps is having a mental state that you have when it comes to performing. I completely disconnect and maybe nearly dissociate when I'm performing. I forget where I am, I largely forget the audience is even there. I just let myself immerse myself in what I'm doing and my performance, and it gives it a much more personal experience. Also, it can be helpful to remember that these audience members are there to support you, not ridicule you. They only want to have a good time. 

11. What bands have inspired you the most? 

My all-time greatest influence is Alcest. This was my gateway to black metal when I was 15, and through them and the other bands this opened the door for me I learned about black metal could combine these abrasive and depressive melodic overtones and have a great emotional load. Other artists who have been very important for shaping the sound of Laang have been Harakiri for the Sky, Agrypnie, Sylvaine, Chthonic, and Bloody Tyrant. 

12. What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you for?

Surprisingly, I don't think I've actually been asked anything weird by a fan! Usually it's questions like "is the story real", "what are the English translations of these lyrics", "when are you coming to our city", or questions about my gear! I guess the least typical thing I've been asked for is the Singapore heavy metal show "Visionomicon" has asked me to contribute some Erhu recordings to an ambient music collection. I always want to say yes to anything fans ask for because I think the relationship between the artist and the fans is important and needs to be reciprocal, so I want to make sure I can do whatever I can to best connect with the people who have connected with our music. That said, someone who was definitely not a fan once very rudely asked to see my bullet hole. Despite the music being based on this, the injury and events itself are very private and personal to me because of the traumatic nature, and I don't feel comfortable freely sharing everything with people because of how difficult it is for me. Laang is therapeutic to me, and I don't want my personal suffering to be made a spectacle for someone to ogle and jeer at. Of course when I told this person "no" they decided to try to trash the image of Laang for a period of time, which was really disappointing to me that someone would try to harm our reputation because I didn't want to publicly showcase photos of my injury. 

13. What do you think of your fans?

I love my fans. They're all incredibly friendly, wonderful people. I have been able to connect really closely with so many of them, messaging or calling each other frequently to stay in touch, featuring on some of their songs, and doing what I can to give back to them to thank them for their support. I really like speaking with our fans and hearing their stories and building a connection. I'm incredibly, incredibly grateful for all the support they have shown Laang over the last 2 years. 

14. What do you think of our site?

Breathing the Core is a great resource for people who want to find great new bands to listen to. It's actually probably the most well-organizing review site I've seen, and has a great diversity of music and connections to people and resources within the music community. The promoter database is definitely particularly beneficial for people who may want to look into booking their band in new areas! 

15. Something add?

Thanks so much for taking the time to interview us! For those reading, our second album "Xinteng" will be coming out in the near future on Talheim Records. You can also hear our debut album "Haiyang" on all major streaming platforms and Bandcamp, which is the best way to support us. I hope to connect with all of you soon!

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