PURE Guest.007 Sonia Calico
Cutting-edge dance floor mix shuttles new and old with Eastern and Western elements from Taipei.
Sonia Calico is a DJ/Producer born and raised in Taipei. She is standing at the forefront of Taiwan's electronic dance music scene. She keeps finding out new sounds and trying not to be constrained by genre.
Sonia's early days on stage was a bandleader of the legendary Taiwanese Electro-Punk band Go Chic. Her upbringing in Taipei had broadened her creative scope comprised of Mandopop, Japanese anime soundtracks, and folks sounds from other countries in Asia. Reflecting society's diverse and contemporary issues is her knack for music. After Go Chic disbanded, she actively created under the name Sonia Calico. Then, she set up the music label UnderU, it means to build a collective and connect with like-minded artists in Taiwan and Asia.
In 2019, her collaborative project "Clutter Confines" is a response to the Taiwanese LGBTQ rights movement. At that time, Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. "Clutter Confines" is split into four sections, each one presenting visual and sonic cues drawing on the artist's experiences with the referendum. The single "Iridescent Vision Feat. Taj Raiden" released at the end of last year won the Golden Indie Music Awards "Best Electronic Music" in Taiwan. She stands firmly as an internationally active artist who also pushes the electronic music evolution of Taiwan.
Now, Sonia Calico has tuned into artists such as AirMax '97, PRINCI, ASJ, Kelvin T, etc., as well as labels like More Time Records, Trekkie Trax, Do Hits. She has played on festivals like SXSW(Texas), Sonar(Hong Kong) and ADE(Netherland). Her Sonia Calico Boiler Room Taipei DJ Set also impressed us. Apart from the above, her new album – "Simulation of an Overloaded World" will release Music Videos one after another, so stay tuned!
Could you give us a quick background of your life? Where you're from, how music followed you, and where you're at now? When did you start DJ and what was the fate of the beginning?
I'm Sonia Calico. Taipei is where I lived, and I was born. I started Djing in about 2009 and collaborated with the duo "Bounce Girlz" with my friend Veeeky. Music is a medium helping me try to realize this world.
Do you think there has been a Soundscape surrounding you since your childhood? Does it influence your preferences towards certain timbres or atmospheres while you select tunes?
I listened to alternative rock when I was young. The first instrument I've came into was electric guitar, it contact with my passion for music. Electric guitar often plays the role of lead melody other than the lead singer. Even though I haven't played guitar for a long time, I still like to emphasize "lead" or "thematic" element when composing electronic music. Although the main theme isn't necessary for electronic music.
How and where was the mix recorded?
At home, with my XDJ-RX.
Could you tell us the idea behind the mix? Any favorites you want to highlight?
I want to record a high-speed mix between 150 -180 BPM at first. When I stayed at home during the pandemic, I seemed to listen to more intense tracks. But then, I decided to play some I found recently. The result of speed would be between 130 –180 BPM.
The tracklist includes many Amen Break and Afro Rhythm as I like usually, and some tracks that I rarely play (deconstructed) on the dance floor. The whole mood is very exciting and energetic, and the experience of joining in several PURE G events also inspired me.
Would you like to use this occasion to introduce one of your album or tracks? What was the concept of it?
I'm recently preparing for the MV of "Neo Tokyo Folk feat. Dustin Ngo," let's talk about the stories behind this track.
The inspiration came from a friend who brought me to a traditional Japanese performance called "Awa Odori" invited by the tourist association in Taipei. Japanese Taiko Drums and Shamisen always affect me, and they constantly appear in my music. But what impressed me was the performers' singing and yelling voice was powerful and rhythmic. After that, I've done some research and found out about the yelling performance called "Kakegoe". It seems constructs by 3/4 beat that uncommon to use in electronic music. So I was trying to use these elements in music as a challenge. I started adding some new electric sounds during the producing process, and this gave me an imagination:
There's an Awa Odori ceremony in the future world. Some traditions and conventions will change or even disappear due to technological development. But the spirit will never die and become into other forms.
How do you think of the differences between the rave scenes around you (your country) and other countries (cultures) ? Have you ever been to one that left you a greatest impression?
I used to go abroad and performed before the pandemic. I was fortunate to see and feel the local party scenes from all over the world. Of course, even in the same city, there will be different scenes due to the organizers and venues. I can only share my experience and may not be able to discuss this topic very precisely.
I think there are a few people who like electronic music and clubbing in Taiwan. It would be hard to establish the scene. Maybe the development of electronic music in Taiwan has not been so long! In around 2000, DJs only focused on introducing western electronic music styles into Taiwan, and local dance music has slowly grown in the last few years. Electronic music and ravers need to support each other. I think the club culture in Taipei is very extreme. The mainstream clubs play EDM and open champagne every day to make money, while other venues that support local electronic music creation are too small to sustain. I wonder if there is any way to find a balance and make more people interested in dance music culture.
Compared with European countries' dancing culture history, they're also more open to different music styles. For them, clubbing is a mainstream nightlife choice. Probably to the same degree as people in Taipei like to sing on Karaoke! I often wonder if people who love singing Karaoke in Taipei become like clubbing, will there be a "Taipei rave scene"?
Apart from DJ, how would you define your role in the entire rave scene?
Honestly, I had never thought about this question before. I would possibly want to invest a lot in this scene and hoped to make something change as a responsibility in this city, Taipei, where I grew up. Now I'm thinking and expecting myself to be like when I just contacted music, who only does what she's passionate about. As for what roles I have played accidentally, maybe it will keep changing.
Which artists or labels have pricked your ears recently? Could you share with us some of your favorite movies or artists?
I'd like to introduce two labels by my friends, and I played both of their tracks in this mix.
Eastern Margins from London was established by Lumi and other Asian artists and DJs. They want to promote and support Asian artists' works in the western world. Apart from their routines on NTS, they have published QQBBG's, T5UMUT5UMU's and Ralph's works. The track I played was Tomoyu's "月読," it's from the compilation "REDLINE LEGEND" released by Eastern Margins.
Another Italy Turin-based label called Early Reflex, and run by Alec Pace. It was found in 2020, has released two compilations and four EPs. I've taken part in the first compilation, so did Loraine James and DJ P I really like the second compilation, the hammered sounds were very suitable for the dance floor. Another track I've chosen was from "EPOS Digitale" by Ikävä Pii, it's a super cool EP, full-tension deconstructed track.
Boylan – Say Goodbye
Toya Delazy – Resurrection
Waya Waya – Zulu
Posthuman – Terror Police
Stones Taro – Again
DJ Crisps – Luvin U
Ikävä Pii – death by haha reaction
FJAAK – XoXp0rt ft. J. Manuel (Cocktail Party Effect remix)
J-WOW – Diva (w.o.w. Mix)
Async Figure – Panic FM
Precolumbian & Estoc – CCT01
Lorenzo Senni – XBreakingEdgeX
Modeselektor – Mean Boyfriend
Hathoot – Te3raf (You Know...!!)
Slick Shoota – See Me Flex
Sobolik – Camille
Mouse On Mars feat. Sepalcure – Sensitive Person
Yen Tech – Sentry
Thodén – Glint
Tomoyu – 月読
Wulffluw Xciv – Inteira
Peaches – Billionaire
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