Androsace are Lenz from Dali – China, Sasha from Xinjian – China, Sebastian from France, Dario from Italy. They are a young band born in Shanghai. On the stage Lenz is the quiet skinny girl on the front of the band, she is quiet, but when the songs are breaking through their pick, she turns into some kind of bestial being, a loose mad cherub, or at least a scary chick. Dario on drums is the one keeping the ground, the one that all look at when they are turning to the next level. Sebastian, on the bass, plays the fool, he’s a funky joker, an strange communicative bass player. Sasha and his guitar are mysterious, his riffs are wild and strong, together with Dario, they carry the songs up and around. The sum of them all result in a dense, and strapping rock that’s groovy, metallic, and hard-cored. You can better hear it by yourself on their douban page, and tomorrow Saturday live at Logo.
I think is interesting to watch young bands evolving, specially when they are so talented. In less than a year of life Androsace has already won many battles achieving many objectives they have set for themselves. Already they have played in many concerts, they have opened for bands they admired, and they have captured the impressed ears of many rock lovers in China. They have in their hands the seed of a promising project. If they beat the risk of falling down against the challenges of their own habitat, and the evil common indolence, then we will see them become a victorious band. Until now, they are winning. Cheers to warriors!
Layabozi: Were you playing with other bands before Androsace?
Sasha: Yes. In Beijing, with a punk band called No Name. Then with Awe. I’ve been playing for ten years already.
Lenz: I don’t know, yes or no, because before I was helping Andy Best with his band (Expendable) for a while, we worked some time, but it didn’t moved forward. Then last summer in August, my parents wanted me to come back to Dali, so I looked for a job, and I got one in the Expo Shanghai, I wanted to stay in Shanghai. That’s the only reason I could stay in Shanghai. They waited for me to finish, but when I did, the drum player and the bass player already found other band or other things to do, so we couldn’t go on. We couldn’t keep going. But at the same time, I was already working with Dario, and we had already four songs. Then he found these two guys, and we started to play.
Dario: Before I lived in Kunming, and for a short period I played with Smegma Riot.
Lenz: They are really funny, you know, they were also the first band that we opened for. It was a really good start.
Dario: Also it was nice to play with them. I played with them three or two years ago. Now they have grown a lot, and they are really good. There are not really a lot of expat bands that come from other provinces, mainly all are from Beijing or from Shanghai
Lenz: This Spring Festival I went back to Dali, and there I met on the street the bass player, and the drum player of the band. They started other band, a folk band, and they were playing there on a bar. They are always going around playing.
Dario: Yes …Later in Shanghai I started to enjoy a lot the jam sessions in Logo, and Anar. There I met a lot of musicians. Then I was in a band called The Dukes, doing only cover songs, all were from France, except from me, the Italian one, they were always tissing me.
Sebastian: Yeah, and I was playing before in a band with only Italian people, except me. But then we had some internal issues, and I was looking for a band, and I met Dario.
Dario: Yeah, but these bands were cover bands, we wanted to do original songs, we wanted something more interesting.
LYBZ: How was the first time you played together?
Sebastian: First it was Lenz and Dario, then I came to the band, and then Sasha.
Lenz: I was feeling like… me and Dario, we already knew, but the first time I was with these two guys (Sebastia and Sasha), I thought “oh, these two nerdy boys”… because, you know, Sebastian is waring glasses, and Sasha is waring very normal shoes. But the more we played I just felt really different, like this was fun stuff. He (Sebastian) has a very cool punk voice, totally different from what you think.
Dario: Actually it was very cool. Because then we started to rehearse the songs we had, and then we had the chance to open on YuyinTang for Smegma Riot. We only had three weeks to prepare. And I think in those three weeks we met three or four times per week.
Lenz: yes, we did a good job.
Dario: I think is good for us to work on dead lines. Pressure helps us.
LYBZ: What is your inspiration? Why do you want to play music?
Lenz: The inspiration to the music…how to say this? I’m from a minority, and I always liked music. I left my hometown when I was in middle school, then I moved to Shanghai because my father had a job here, and my whole family is from Dali. And only my parents and me came to Shanghai. I really hated the life here. Because the people from minorities is very mature, we know what we want, like the girls, like they already have boyfriends or something. But here in Shanghai, every kid is just like really cute, and they are fighting all the time, I just feel it’s really boring. And when I finally finished school I went back to my hometown. And at that time I met a boy, he was a punk boy, he played in a punk band. Then I just always followed him, saw him playing, how they practice, and his life, and I suddenly felt, that’s the life I want. So when I came back to Shaghai to high school I was always looking for music, and movies, and doing those things, but I couldn’t find the people that had this in common with me in high school. So I thought I must do it in universtity, I must start to play in a band.
Sasha: Sorry, my English is very bad. I studied very hard, every day, and the parents needed to see me studying every day. And I hated that they were pushing. I started to buy music too. And I heard this music I really liked. The Six Pistols was the first band, and second was Metallica. So I think this music is cool. Later I gave up studying on mid school. And I got a guitar. And after I started to play in bands.
Sebastian: Well, I always listened to music, with my family and friends, and when I was quiet young, twelve, thirteen years old, I was listening to Queen, Police, and Metallica, and this kind of stuff. I always listened to music. Later in high school, with a friend, we decided to make a band, I never played bass or any instrument before, the drummer never played before, and the guitar player was playing for only one year. We did it anyway, it was a huge mess, but still we had fun, and since then I was trying to play in bands with people I like, and music I like. I think is a good way to get away from what you do during the day. When we meet and we play, we forget about the other things, you don’t look like the guy with the glasses during the day. And you can get free beers some time. And you know, that is very important. (laughs) But Dario is my inspiration really!
Sebatian: yeah! When I get old I want to be like you!
Dario: .. Ok… Well. …Me? …Well, my family is quiet traditional, so I grew up listening to that kind of music. Then when I was thirteen or fourteen, and I started listening to Queen, and the way they built melodies, and … well, yes, then the mustache and the tight pants. (Laughs) You know, also what influenced Queen, Hendrix, Led Zeppellin. Also my brother can play guitar, my sister can play piano. I started taking things from my mom’s kitchen and played drums. When I was around seventeen years old, I started a band with friends, and then, you know music is a way to express yourself, you know, it’s a fun way to do it.
Lenz: I remember when we just started to play, because I went to YuyinTang and no one talked to me. And now when we have the band, a lot of people comes to talk to me. So I can choose that’s the cutest boy, but then after a few times, it gets boring. Now I have my boyfriend.
LYBZ: There are bands that once they are known, somehow they work more to be popular, than for their music. What do you think of that?
Dario: I think, when we make music we never think what will people think of it. We don’t want to please anyone.
Lenz: Yes, when we started we talked about this, we don’t want to entertain people, we just want to express ourselves. I don’t write when I’m happy, only when I’m angry. We just want people to think about our lyrics.
LYBZ Do you write all the lyrics?
Lenz: Yeah, I do.
Dario: We read a review about a the gig we had in YuyinTang some time ago with The Fever Machine, and it said we are a grunge band, and that they expected more from us, like they wanted us to get more nuts on stage. I don’t know if thats right, we don’t want to pretend to do something we are not. We are not like rock stars, we are keeping the visual elements not really involve. In some way we should do it, I mean, the way we act on stage, but no putting so much attention on that…
Sebastian: The thing is the way that Lenz is being on stage now, which is a very natural way, it’s working, so she doesn’t have to push herself, it’s just the way she is, and the way she enjoys it. I think this is the way to do it. The only thing is the set list, which is very organized.
Dario: Yeah, because we are open to accept suggestions how to make our songs better, maybe our music comes in a way from grunge. We should improve this, maybe to make it a bit away from the grunge side.
LYBZ: What do you think are your strenghts?
Sebastian: We enjoy playing together, we enjoy it, and people can feel that. And second thing is Lenz, I think she’s quiet strong and great. And we know how to control, we don’t push us to do what we can’t do yet, we are working to develop, and know what we want.
Lenz: I think, for me. Because we are all like a minority. I’m a vocal so of course there’s a lot of attention on me. But you know, our name, Androsace, is a big flower, (I study landscapes), it’s a very weak flower but grows on anything, even grows on stones. We are normal people, but we are minority here, our music is very hard, in Chinese is “you shui xing”, it’s like, it has blood, it’s not weak. So our advantage, is that we have blood, and heart. Maybe hard rock, for some people is like pop., but not for us, for us is very powerful. If anyone takes time to read our lyrics, they will see they are not like Chinese songs, but I like to sing in my mother’s language. Although some times we use English
Sasha: Our lyrics and our music are powerful. It’s all honest.
Dario: You know, we are mixed, we call ourselves Chinese-European, so we call our music minority music. Lenz comes from a minority group from Dali, Sasha is from Xinjian, and Sebastian and me are foreigners here, no matter how long we’d be living here. So actually, from this side, we have a point of view that’s more critical. We can put these things together. Lenz and Sasha gets us closer to Chinese people. I feel this is important. Because some times expats here, play only for expats, or rich Chinese people, and always in the same venues. Of course here is not like in Beijing, but here we have played in nice bars, like 696, we played just once, and I think ninety-eight percent of the crowd was Chinese people. For me that is important. Other way, is like living in your spaceship in China.
LYBZ: You all said that expressing yourselves is important for you, also that you don’t play to entertain the audience, but aren’t you wanting to affect your audience. What is the effect you want to produce in your audience? What’s the objective of your music? What do you think that you can do with your music?
Lenz: I think the audience is interested in our lyrics. I also read that blog that said we should write more challenging songs. But what’s challenging really? You want something like “fuck you, fuck the police, and bla bla” That’s challenging songs for them maybe. But I’m really confident about my lyrics, maybe because the way my parents educated me, when I write I don’t like to show clearly the meaning, not very obviously, I want to let the listeners to think of it. Like with our song “Machine”, when I wrote it, I was on a meeting in a school. Everyone stayed there and listened to them, the meeting was about the party, and they just were saying all these lies, about how you should join us, and how you should have this ambition in life, and then all my roomates want to join the party. But what are they going to do? Even they don’t even know the real history of the party. I showed them some events that you shouldn’t check on Internet. They said I was ant!-g@v#rnm*nt [Ed. Note’s: excuse our paranoia], and that’s why they don’t want to talk about this with me. So this song is about this, but I didn’t say something direct on this song like “fuck whatever”, but I said “the machine is working”, everyone is like a machine, and they listen to the party, there’re no tears, there’re no laughs there, because no one says something. Even I want to say something, I don’t, because I’m really weak, because I can’t really do anything. So my lyrics are like this, so there’s people that feels like this. Even we are weak and we can’t say something, this is something we can say and people can understand
Sasha: All students wear uniform, the same haircut, etc. So that’s why this song is good, we are like this. Everyone looks as one part of the machine.
Lenz: I’m still a student, and I write like the way the Chinese students think. We are not writing about something global that Chinese people probably don’t know, so I think this is an advantage for us.
Dario: yeah, I think the lyrics, the way of putting things, you know, in China if you go against in a straight way, you are going to loose, so you have to find other way to express. Chinese way is also like this (drawing circles on the air). So with music then is easier to remember.
LYBZ: So how is the instrumental part of your music related to the lyrics?
Sebastian: It’s a bit of a sinergy, what we play is rock with an easy structure, but quiet often we try to make a different thing, which maybe will make people think ok this is the same idea, but we tried most of the songs to add different stuff, not to have all the time the same thing. We have original riffs, and heavy choruses, with rhythym
Dario: I think we have a really specific style of riff. We think if you listen to our songs, and the way Lenz sings, the languages she uses, then you will hear our sound
Lenz: I did sing for a long time. I can sing other things, like post punk, or things that if you hear will be kind of smart, but I like to scream, and I like to sing like this. Anyway, rock and roll likes to say “no” to things. Then we’ve had people coming to us to tell us they like our songs and the music. I like that. Our music brings something to us. Even if people would think we are pop, I don’t care I like the music I do.
Dario: Lenz doesn’t only scream, she is singing with intention. She’s actually screaming a melody, not just going nuts.
LYBZ: How do you compose your songs?
Dario: We start songs with an acustic guitar, and then some songs were already there. We work on some lines on the instruments. But some songs, like “Machine” that took half an hour to write, just like that, click! Eighty percent of the time is boring time, because then it’s really frustrating, you want to make a song work, but you can’t do it, and suddenly you have an idea. Ok let’s try it. Like with “Black Box”, it was totally different at the beginning, and then we added a riff in the middle and it changed it like that. I think Lenz has a lot of lyrics, and “Black box” is a Sasha’s song. I like to use a guitar to make songs, because I always find first the melody then I tried to take the song out from there.
Sasha: We jam together, so I can try everything, then I can build the guitar lines.
Sebastian: Sometimes we have some very heavy lines, a lot of metal too. Some times there are pieces that are very clean, some songs even sometimes they are too clean, so we have to fix them.
LYBZ: Have you recorded an album?
Dario: We are working on an LP, that I think we’ll have ready soon. And we have had already some good gigs around China, and there’s more hapenning soon too.
LYBZ: Who is producing your album?
Dario: We havent’ decided yet. There are many albums out recently, but they are not our style, I don’t like the feeling with the drummer in the back, I like better the sound of the instruments balanced, which is more powerful, so I think we want to try to get an special feeling from the recording.
LYBZ: So, can you see yourself becoming a band dedicated full time to music?
Dario: If we have the chance to do it. I read an interview on Layabozi with The Fever Machine, like they were rejected to play on a festival because they were foreigners. We need to work on the Chinese promotion, and well if we have the potential to do it. Yeah, of course. We are applying to festivals, like the Fuji, that has a stage for rookies, so yeah, we are working and trying.
Sebastian: And I think is also important to move from the Shanghai scene, there’s the risk when you play on the same place, with the same people. Then you hear and see different things, and that’s good for you.
Dario: We played on the stage of Formula One on April, for example. We need to tour to grow. You know, I’m the oldest, when we finish to play, I’m the most critical always, I’m always feeling like it was ok, but not as good as I’d like, every time we make mistakes, and we have to improve things. I’m the one that’s pressuring more.
Lenz: That’s good, because he is always very serious. It’s the point that makes us prove a lot. And grow.
Dario: We are a very young band, less than a year. We were thinking we wanted to play in MAO Livehouse in a year. And we played there after only two months. So for us was wow! You know. Because it’s a big stage.
Lenz: Specially because then we warmed up for The Subs. I saw them on Midi Festival before, and I said to my friend, I hope one day I warm up for them. And we did it already. So you know, I was nearly crying that day. And even they liked us. So, imagine, it was really good. So we just not only warm up for them, but also we got respect from them, really really good.
Dario: We are working setting goals. Now we are preparing some gigs, then the EP. Then touring.
Sebastian: And then the world!