With fashion, comes music. And vice versa. Temper hooks up with Zong Li of NYC-based band “The Either” and compares notes on minimalism, futurism and non-conformism. Because things are always either. Or.
“Partners in crime”, that’s what best describes The Either‘s Zong Li and Eva Xu of the All Comes From Nothing brand — in Temper vernacular. Having collaborated on her last three shows, Zong is the conductor of Xu’s orchestra, i.e. the musical director of the minimalist brand. We duly take note from VH1 and go behind the music. It’s Temper trending time!
“Futurism: An artistic movement that begun in Italy in 1909, which strongly rejected traditional forms and embraced the energy and dynamism of modern technology.” Oxford Dictionary
Temper Magazine’s Trending segment casts a net upon all that is throwing tantrums within the world of China Fashion across a variety of global sources. This very necessary segment makes for a collection of largely non-Temper Magazine-original content dipping its toe into the deep indigo-dyed pool that is the ocean of Middle Kingdom fashionable astonishment.
This time around, it’s a Temper original as we go beneath the surface to find out what exactly is that one ultimate component of concoction for a fashion brand to come full circle. The answer is self-evident: It’s music.
Cut us some slack here — it’s cheesy and you either love it or loathe it. The courtship between fashion and music is one of a unique and reciprocal imagination. Complementary influences have all along joined forces to produce some of the most charismatic visualizations ever to be created in popular culture. David Bowie, Madonna, the New Romantics, the Harlem Renaissance… Some occur as memorable creations brought onto the stage or featured in music videos; others become long-lasting fashion trends which firmly embed themselves into popular culture to become remarkable, reverent and longstanding.
According to the Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion, three collaborations exist. One is when fashion designers and entertainment celebrities engineer fashion to fit a declared project. Another collaboration occurs when youth subcultures articulate themselves through fashion. The third is when the fashion industry interprets a musical theme or trend. Here we get three, two and one all rolled into…
Temper: Here’s to The Either — at its core!
Zong: “I’m Chinese, Shanghainese to be specific, so I do have both the Chinese and international side to me. In my music, I can combine elements of Western music as well as incorporate the Chinese essentials. First time the three of us [the band] spoke, I said, ‘Let’s conjure up something interesting here; something never before either seen or heard!’ Shen Jiaju [pipa] and Wang Yang [erhu] are traditionally trained musicians, but their craft also features 21st, or 22nd for that matter!, century facets. We’re the post-1980s who are building a fusion future, from outer style to inner core. Futurism takes up the top spot on today’s agenda!
We want to challenge tradition. Purely going by ‘form’, this is a rather straightforward MO: We use traditional instruments to create modern-day music. Through our music, we talk about the future.
Check out this short clip of The Either going “Body Free” (courtesy of The Either YouTube Channel):
Some people, for example my parents, ask us, ‘What is your style? Define it! Rock, electronic, world music,…?’ Plenty of people out there would refer to us as being ‘exotic’, I suppose, but that’s not who we are. We aim to challenge music from within, for example through texture and voice.”
“We still use elements stemming from the original Asian ‘taste’, if you will, but then through technology and technique certain sounds are adapted to the ‘future’.” Zong Li of The Either
Temper: Here’s to that “hybrid” hypothesis!
Zong: “All three of us grew up in big cities and we’re now trying to imagine what the future will look like. Not in a sci-fi kind of way, but from a globalist type of perspective. The world we live in is no longer strictly about Western or Asian; it’s about humanity and what the future holds for us all. We use music as a vehicle to share our cultures and amalgamate them. Wherever you go, there’s plenty of Asian factors to be found, not just in fashion, but also in experimental cuisine, film and overall daily life. The time is here to cook up something completely new!
We still use elements stemming from the original Asian ‘taste’, if you will, but then through technology and technique certain sounds are adapted to the ‘future’. Take for example the high-pitched voices found in Beijing Opera and old-school Chinese movies. I take my keyboard and go from a deep-bass monstrous vocal straight up to that high-pitched female one.” [In doing so, the traditional idea of “gender” too becomes an assorted concept.] We want to dig deep beneath the surface, delve into the minimal, or maximum, quintessence of music and go ‘hybrid’.”
Check out this short clip of The Either covering Adele (courtesy of The Either YouTube Channel):
Temper: Here’s to no limitations!
Zong: “You can combine everything and create something that cannot be defined as either ‘Western’ or ‘Asian’ or ‘European’ or ‘American’, but only as ‘human’. Take our pipa player, she can tackle the guitar rock-style; our erhu player, he can play his instrument like a cello, with a seriously strong baseline. Our tastes and expectations towards music, humanity, art and this world at large are changing, they’re evolving. There’s no need to conform anymore.
The biggest difference for me, or us, to be based in New York instead of Shanghai or Beijing is… Limitations. Or, rather, the lack thereof. Asia, especially China, still features numerous restrictions. Whether these be subject to politics or tradition, China to date remains a conservative society. Shanghai may be even more modern than Tokyo or New York right now, but that modernity is merely a superficial one. It’s fleeting, a coming and going of people; there’s no time to go deeper. It’s limited.
The city of New York was built on immigrants; the U.S. was built on immigrants. Thus far, for me, New York is the one single place on Earth where people from all over the world can find their spot and everyone can accept one another for who they are. As long as what you’re bringing to the table is creatively sound and solid, New York holds no bounds!”
Keeping things minimal and non-conformist, we shall. When you check out The Either’s style, from being dressed in All Comes From Nothing to the band’s music videos and 2017 “Body Free” album cover, one thing strikes a cord: The blank space. Once again, we find ourselves surrounded by that traditional Chinese painting method called liúbái (留白 ), a commonly used technique in traditional Chinese painting, leaving space for the imagination to run rife. Because things are never rigidly defined. They are either. Or.
Check out The Either on Instagram: @the_either_band or the official website!
Featured Image: Courtesy of The Either
Images: Courtesy of Elsbeth van Paridon for Temper Magazine
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