We met with Duck Fight Goose (all of them) weeks ago after they played a show in YuyinTang, before they released their new album, Sports.
Han Han and I had talked a lot about music through the years we know each other. Somehow without clearly mention it we know we share a common understating of music, exalting music to a mystic relevance, but we never really have talked much about this specifically. Now having also all the guys of the band there, plus Ox, and our crew there, all music lovers of course, this exaltation of music touched ground and became a bit more explicit.
I wanted to have this talk with Duck Fight Goose long ago because when I’m listening to their music, specially on their live performances, I feel in their sound their search in music, how music affects their life, their vision of things, and how then their music is affected by the changes that they are experiencing, and then the same sound that the musicians are producing bouncing back at them, and affecting them again.
To me Duck Fight Goose is a band with a personality that doesn’t interfere with their music, they are all about music. Their connections and disconnections are easy to listen in their music. You could see when they are on the stage that they don’t hide, don’t attack, don’t pose, don’t act, don’t show off, don’t try to be anything they are not, they are who they are anywhere their music takes them. It’s all about their strength, and them being naturally musical.
Layabozi: Tell me about your newest album…
Han han: Actually this is our first LP, it has eleven songs, and it’s called Sports. The theme is kind of related to sports, but not directly, we are not describing men running, or something like that. It’s deeper than that, because sports are about competition, there’s someone that loose, someone that wins, it’s kind of a reflection of the society. And according to Wikipedia the looser should congratulate the winner… it’s like the society. You know, congratulate the winner, you show some kind of attitude, to be polite, to follow the rules until the end, and we wanted to use this word, because the songs are about the society we live in or that we see. And I really like the word, it’s powerful, like our new songs.
LYBZ: Who wrote the lyrics of the songs?
HH: Me. Sometimes they [the other members of the band] give me advice. Sometimes I write the lyrics to straight forward, and sometimes they tell me it’s not cool, they say “you are speaking too much”, and they tell me to change.
LYBZ: The subject of these lyrics, the theme of the album, comes from you Han Han… and the whole band, did they feel it too?
HH: I hope so. They felt it. I think so, you know I write the lyrics, but they can feel the songs deeper because they feel the music. You know, previously I didn’t care about how the music feel the lyrics, because the lyrics were totally floating in the space. But now the lyrics are describing something. Maybe telling a story. A fiction, or a kind of fiction. And now we are working in the structure and all the sounds to fit the lyrics, and we change the lyrics according to the structure.
LYBZ: Is the music following the lyrics?
HH: Not exactly. They are both strong. Equally strong. No one is following the other. Previously the lyrics for us were shit. We only cared about the music. Now the lyrics are important to us, even if they are in English
LYBZ: So music and lyrics are related?
HH: Yes, now they are.
LYBZ: I want to talk with you guys about the process that you went through the creation of this album. I want to get personal, as personal as you feel to share… How the development of your music has influenced your life?
Damen: Music has given new ingredients to my normal life. Because my life is boring, my life follows a routine, and music has changed this for me.
Sansan: For me Duck Fight Goose is very important… It became my life.
Panda: Now I party every day. [laughs]
HH: For me is a whole new experience. I had bands with other people before. But now it has been a total different experience. They, and the songs, changed me. The songs on our first EP [Flow] had a strange structure, and it was hard to handle our stuff, so we we had to work very intensely. And I’m a little … mmm…. you know, I hate to say what the songs are about, what I have to express through the songs, I think is natural, I don’t have to say that to people, but they [the members of the band] have changed me to be more… mmm….you know, not that hidden inside. I mean… I have to talk to them. And gradually they get my idea, they know what I want. Like in the recordings, everybody is thinking about something new, and they actually add things that I can’t think of, and I can’t create myself. So, they have affected me. I’m more trustful to other guys now. Because before I was a little isolated. Kind of related to my own experience. But now I feel, yeah, I’m okay with them, I like them, I’m comfortable with them.
LYBZ: This makes me think about how your voice has become wider, with a wider range. You know? Your voice is way more open now. I wonder how has been the experience to find this voice in you. Like when you are singing “History”, one of your new songs. How did you find it?
HH: I don’t know. I think is natural. Now we are more interested in writing songs about more specific themes. We were singing about something unreal, it’s kind of hard to speak unreal, because you are speaking about something in your imagination. But now we are singing about things that actually exist. And that we have talk about.
LYBZ: The theme of this album is about sports. Do you think there’s a general subject for Duck Fight Goose?
Damen: Positive. Optimistic. Friendly.
HH: Is that what you feel about our songs? [impressed]
Sansan: Yes, positive things.
LYBZ: What is the relevance of sound design in your music?
HH: I don’t know, we don’t have rules for this. We like to arrange sounds according to our mind. We do have some rules of course. But when a song is too strange we just follow the line. … I think the sounds are more complex than before, but the instruments, the elements are tending to be more minimal. For example, in two seconds, before we wanted to add four bits into them, but now we think maybe one is enough. Because it’s a different face, maybe a different face of the songs. Before we liked to make every face like is complex, but in the end all what people would be hearing… they could just feel, one groove from the start to the end. Now we want people to find some kind of pace, one that they like, that will gradually take them into the songs. They won’t say “okay this band practice a lot”. No. We don’t want that. We want to touch them. Like the song “History”, there are some words that can touch the heart of some people. It touched my heart, and for the first time I could write it out.
LYBZ: What do you want to communicate?
HH: Last year once one night we played here, a guy came here, and he said to us… I remember him, he is very thin, and kind of short… He said “It works”. That’s enough for us. Every people can translate music into their mind, I don’t want to implant some sort of thought into them. Just let them feel by themselves.
LYBZ: Do you feel like you are developing a style for Chinese rock?
HH: No. I don’t want to make some kind of definition for Chinese rock, we are just following some guiding steps. I think that every mature band will know that is following the steps of someone else. Because it’s normal. Nobody can create something purely isolated, purely by himself. When a person is talking about himself, he, himself, consist of every kind of different knowledge is from his surrounding. That’s history! History makes you. Every second makes you. We just want to describe ourselves. We don’t care about styles or definitions, it’s not important, we have to go somewhere, where we want to go, no matter where is it, but for Duck Fight Goose of course…
Sansan: I know many bands in China, they are post punk, punk, experimental, and they are Chinese, but they are post punk, punk, they are not Chinese rock. You don’t say American rock, European rock.
LYBZ: True, but we have Latin rock there… [laughs]
Sansan: That’s true
LYBZ: So whose steps are you following then?
HH: Steve Reich’s and Tortoise’s
LYBZ: How do you think your music grows together with your environment, the other bands, the people, the scene, etc.
HH: mhhh… we are more like isolated. We care about other bands, we all have had three or four other bands. Before we wanted to affect, but now we are more into our own process. What we are pursuing seems to be an isolated concept comparing to other bands we know, in Shanghai and China. We do care about other bands and we respect many of them. But of course we don’t have that much time to mingle with everyone or every other band. We are willingly to concentrate more on making music rather than talking too much.
LYBZ: What are you learning with music right now?
HH: Most of all how to deal with each other, and how to communicate the technique and knowledge the most efficient way with people. And we have learned already some things, but the most important thing is to communicate. We are coming from an underground scene, and we want to see what we can do, but there’s no specific ambition about being famous. Our ambition is to make a song as great song as we can.
Damen: I have learned nothing musical, but all about how to receive emails, and how to reply to them [laughs].
HH: I feel bad for Panda because now he is smoking more and more. [laughs]
LYBZ: This whole process that you have been living. The band is changing. You are even changing your look, eh? [groupie laughing to Han Han]
Sansan: You’re flattering him with that
LYBZ: Yeah, longer hair… Girls aren’t complaining [laughs] … So how do you feel together? Do you feel like you could stay longer together? … you know … are you in love with each other?
HH: mmm… I’m in love with her [San San]. And Damen’s husband is our sound engineer [Brad Ferguson]. And Panda’s girlfriend is our biggest supporter for us, no matter where, or when she is there with us. We call her Little White Bear. [laughs] So every time we travel around is three couples.
LYBZ: So you think you will stay together for long? Will you get married to each other?
HH: YES! Definitely! [All the members of the band nod in approval]
Listen to “Glass Wall” the fourth track on Sports
Song : “Future Deer” by Duck Fight Goose