As if the nostalgia of modern indie dream pop isn’t enough, the genre sweeping the world now takes a Mesozoic approach with Taiwanese jangle-rock outfit, The Dinosaur’s Skin.
Trex and Tri don dinosaur skins not just for laughs. Even if they are gimmicks, they dive deep into that persona and present them through 3 songs about the woes and wonders of the dinosaurian kind. The possibility that their ancient reptilian lives are meant to be metaphors for our current mammalian ones is probably out of the question.
When talking about how the two different species of dinosaurs – each with contrasting dietary habits – ended up together in a collaboration, their response to our email questions is telling:
“As the last remaining dinosaurs, we’ve learnt to look past our differences and decide to express ourselves through music. It’s not easy, Trex still mistakes Tri for food sometimes, but mammals are actually quite tasty.”
Their penchant for eating mammals doesn’t mean their music isn’t suitable for our ears however. In fact, it’s filled with all the classic elements you want in a shimmering indie project. Million Years Apart isn’t exactly genre-bending, but what The Dinosaur’s Skin brings along with their storytelling is an immaculate sense of melody. One of the terms they’ve decided to adopt for their sound is Asteroid-gaze.
“We had a hard time naming our musical style, it’s a mix of indie pop, dream pop/shoegaze and bedroom pop, but there’s this inherent dinosaur loneliness mixed in, and it kind of all started when we saw the asteroid lit up the sky, hence the name. Jurassic-Pop is also a name we like. Sums it up nicely.”
Producer Skippy, from Crispy, played a pertinent part in nailing the Dinosaur Skin’s sound. “Well Skippy was actually one of the first humans we encountered, good lad, dinosaur lover. Turns out we have a lot in common musically as well, sometimes I even think we share a deeper connection that I can’t quite pin-point”.
According to the band, the recording itself didn’t take long, but the writing process spanned for quite some time. “The songs were mostly about our prehistoric adventures, millions of years ago. Didn’t expect it to coincide with what the human kind is facing today, but yeah, let’s say we all had our ups and downs during our time as the dominant species”. The most hopeful thing the band has said in their interview.
First song, Jurassic Ride, has wheezing synths like an out-of-breath-runner leading to a catchy chorus pop melody that comes complete with jangly goodness. It’s an outright whole song, where praises are sung for “your tail, your fin” and spreading your wings to witness a whole new world.
There’s a bittersweet feeling to the song, found in its backstory. As Trex and Tri talk about the extinction of the world they left, Pangea, and reminiscing about their friend, Pterry, that inspired Jurassic Ride: “Our last memory of Pangea is not a good one to be honest, it got cold and dark soon after the meteorite hit. But it was quite chill before that, we had friends and hung out all the time. Really miss Pterry, our Pterodactyl friend, he took us on some amazing rides before he died”. This tug-of-war between joyful sounds and somber lyrics about loss continues further in the title track. “Million Years Apart” exhibits a gorgeous duet between Trex and MANDARK from the bands Sweet John and I Mean Us. Both great Taiwanese indie pop acts in their own right with Sweet John being more lavish with electronic embellishments and channeling the spirit of New Wave pioneers like New Order; I Mean Us more expansive and atmospheric, as evident in their 2018 single, “You So (Youth Soul)”.
The song itself covers love separated by distance and time and given a somewhat existential dread when you realise they’re sung by dinosaurs facing inevitable extinction. “After waking up and finding out the dinosaurs are extinct, I think sadness will always be a fundamental part of our music”, said Trex. “I do try to keep it less depressing by making the music sound upbeat or sing about how much fun we had in the good old days but the loneliness will always be there. This is how we’ve learnt to cope, through music and performing.” “All My Friends Are Dead” expresses the kind of profound thematic in this three-track EP when it comes the thematic choices made in the production; even within the context of seemingly simple indie pop songwriting, such as the cavalcade of voices spiralling into oblivion, parcelled with bright keys and wispy dream pop timbre.
It’s not all just doom and coping mechanisms for gloom. The Dinosaur’s Skin also cite many influences from other modern mammal musicians, with Dayglow as their all time favourite, but also in the list areEasy Life, Ginger Root, Coldplay, Parcels, Rex Orange County and more. “We look up to all of them, including Crispy”. There’s also more coming this year according to the duo. “There are at least two songs coming up before the end of the year, both collaborations, definitely look forward to those! Also will hopefully be able to finally tour, and even release the physical version of our EP. We really miss playing shows, see you all there!”
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