Taiwan Beats Showcase 2022 on BFM Wavelength

Photo Credit: Young Team Productions

Taiwan ASEAN Music Action (TAMA) is back for another year, and so is its fruitful partnership with BFM Radio’s Wavelength, a show dedicated to uncovering fresh new music from across Asia. 

The first episode of the six-part collaboration aired at the end of May and focused on the recent Taiwan Beats Showcase at South By Southwest (SXSW) 2022. This year’s Taiwan Beats Showcase was produced by Young Team Productions, whose International Project Manager Hsiao Hsuan Chen was a guest on the episode.

This year’s acts were alt-rock trio Sorry Youth, DMC World DJ Championship Taiwan winner DJ QuestionMark, singer-songwriter Olivia Tsao, psychedelic duo Mong Tong, electro-rock band Sleeping Brain, and math-rock legends Elephant Gym. The bands performed in locations as diverse as the Wufeng Lin Family Garden (Sorry Youth), the iconic Chuan Mei Theater (Olivia Tsang), and Taipei club Pawnshop (Mong Tong).

Photo credit: Young Team Productions

Alongside Hsiao Hsuan Chen, the members of Sleeping Brain and Mong Tong also took time out to talk to Othniel Ting for Wavelength.

After songs from 宇宙人 Cosmos People, 李晉瑋, and 淺堤 Shallow Levée, as well as a round of introductions, the discussion begins in earnest with a question about the development of this year’s Taiwan Beats Showcase.

“First of all, we had to recommend all the Taiwanese bands … that have potential in the international market to the music supervisor at SXSW … James [Minor],” Hsiao Hsuan explains. After Minor selected the six bands for this year’s showcase, it was then a process of “evaluat[ing] the possibilities” and communicating with venues, all while “consider[ing] the character of each band.”

One of the best examples of a band and venue pairing for this year’s showcase was Mong Tong’s performance in the underground Taipei club Pawnshop. “[It’s] a really secret place,” Mong Tong bassist Hom Yu explains, adding that it’s the kind of venue that asks patrons to put stickers over their smartphone cameras. The showcase was actually the duo’s second time performing there, and Hom Yu points out that the band is “honoured” to be “the first band to perform twice [there].”

Photo credit: Young Team Productions

“We wanted to give the audience the feeling [of] time-travelling,” Hsiao Hsuan explains as the conversation turns to the video concept itself. The performances and locations were sequenced to showcase passing time “from ancient to modern.”

But the team also took advantage of relaxed Covid restrictions to travel around Taiwan even more for this year’s video. “Our idea [was to] … use this video to make people … [feel like] they’re travelling around Taiwan.”

The team’s work travelling around Taiwan and filming in such beautiful and varied locations was worth it, too. Hsiao Hsuen tells host Othniel that people “really like” the videos, especially The Chairs’ 2021 showcase performance in an indoor shrimp fishing restaurant. “They really hope that we can [build] a real shrimp fishing place [for an on-site performance],” she adds, laughing.

Looking back at the recording itself, host Othniel asks the bands how it felt to record for the showcase. Mong Tong’s Hom Yu recalls being scared of the drone used for some shots during the performance, mainly because of the small room. “I was really afraid of hitting or [getting] my hair cut by the drone,” he reveals.

The conversation turns to language barriers, and whether they’re an issue for Taiwanese bands attempting to break into the global market. Sleeping Brain vocalist Raven explains that the decision to record an English version of “Sinking Raft” was expressly for “increasing our exposure on the global market.”

Mong Tong, however, don’t consider language much of an issue, especially since they’re an instrumental duo. The presence of Mandarin and Korean voice samples isn’t quite the same as having non-English lead vocals, and Hom Yu points out that “I don’t need to understand that language, but I can still feel that vibe, that groove.”

Hsiao Hsuen is optimistic, pointing out her belief that YouTube and Spotify algorithms will help break the language barrier. She points out bands like Sunset Rollercoaster and Elephant Gym, who have developed large international fanbases.

Photo credit: Young Team Productions

Social media also plays a big role in expanding beyond national boundaries. Hom Yu reveals that Mong Tong have “like 50 social media accounts around; every platform, any platform you can imagine.” But Mong Tong already have an international fanbase; Sleeping Brain, whose fanbase is much more local, are “still working on it.”

Hsiao Hsuen also highlights the importance of knowing which social media platforms to target. This often changes based on the target country: “when we tried to promote … in America, we found that Twitter and Bandcamp were very important because that’s [where they get their information].”

With Mong Tong gearing up for a European tour supporting fellow GuruGuru Brain artists Kikagaku Moyo, host Othniel asks Sleeping Brain about what their next steps are to try and break past regional barriers. “These days, we’re only working on music, so we’ll figure [that] out someday,” vocalist Raven admits.

Photo credit: Young Team Productions

Mong Tong and Sleeping Brain are two bands at two different points in their careers, united under the banner of the Taiwan Beats Showcase 2022. And before the episode ends, Hom Yu reveals that Mong Tong may have another album coming out in 2022. If it’s anything like their previous albums, it’ll be something worth looking forward to.

Follow Sleeping Brain on Facebook and Instagram.

Follow Mong Tong on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Listen to the whole conversation on BFM: https://www.bfm.my/podcast/night-shift/wavelength/wavelength-ep293-taiwan-beats-showcase-sxsw-2022

Taiwan Beats Showcase Website:

Taiwan Beats Showcase on YouTube:

Behind The Scenes:

“Taiwan Beats Showcase at SXSW 2022” on SoundCloud


01. ” Pilgrimage ”  Sorry Youth
02.  ” Love Our Differences ”  Sorry Youth
03.  ” A Road Trip ”  DJ QuestionMark
04.  ” Tainan Woman ” Olivia Tsao
05.  ” If Tomorrow Comes ” Olivia Tsao
06.  ” A Nambra ” Mong Tong
07.  ” Minyo Pop ” Mong Tong
08.  ” A Cold Place ” Sleeping Brain
09.  ” Sinking Raft ” Sleeping Brain
10.  ” Go Through The Night ” Elephant Gym
11.  ” D ” Elephant Gym