Retro-futuristic electronic music band Wasabi Bytes comes from Thailand to Shanghai for the first time, presenting their dystopian visions and new wave synths. They will be headlining “Rage of the Machine” night, the namesake of perhaps the group’s biggest single. The song, featuring legendary producer/DJ/Ice-T partner Afrika Islam, looms at about 1.5 million hits on YouTube. To complement the band’s mix of electronic music with rock influences, they’re getting local support from Round Eye, Skinny Brown, Sesa Wu and DJ B.O, with the event happening on Friday, March 3rd 10pm at Harley’s Underground. Entrance is only ¥60 and read on to learn more about Wasabi Bytes in the interview below!
Wasabi G. (leader of Wasabi Bytes)
What is Wasabi Bytes?
It’s a collective or musicians with ridiculous diverse backgrounds that somehow coalesces. It’s basically a bit of 80s electronica, a bit of techno, a bit of house, a bit of hip hop, a bit of rock, all mixed together to see what comes out. We’re going through a hip hop phase right now…Your music often reflects a dystopian view of the future.
A lot of what we’re about is sort of self conscious: the machines are doing most the work in our music. The machines are doing most of the work in our society. And the Machines will soon be doing much of the thinking in our society. So we’re trying to catalogue that, in the way that Phillip Dick did. It’s our way of saying the same sort of things.
You are based in Thailand, but are an expat. How has that effected your music?
The interesting thing about us being in Thailand is that 3 out of the 4 of us aren’t Thai. So we’re very much the other; we’re the aliens in that society. We don’t have a Thai sound. That’s definitely not the case. We are constantly trying to get Thais to like what we do. So you make concessions and compromises and build bridges that you might not do in your home country. I’m from Australia, out guitarist is from the UK, and our MC is from America. It forces you to make compromises and concessions that you wouldn’t make ordinarily. It makes for a more exciting blend, I think.
You have 2 things coming up: a DJ set for Pyro Music on Thursday, and a Wasabi Bytes band show at Harley’s on Friday. How do you approach each one differently?
On Thursday I’m going to play a “Desert Island Discs” type set of influences, which will be reasonably eclectic. So if you don’t like what I play right now, you might like what I’m playing in 5 minutes, because I’m going through a bit of a koleidiscope. That’s just DJing. That’s just personal taste. I’m not a DJ of legendary proportions like say, Afrika Islam, for example, or anyone who has anything technically great to offer the art of DJing, but I do have my tastes. I’m a curator if interesting, diverse influences. On Friday what you’ll see is a show. We’ve been around a few years, we’ve worked with some interesting people. We’ve worked with Bassment Freaks, who is a Greek/German funk DJ; we’ve worked with some Thai singers; we’ve remixed Oregon-lesbian-electronica acts; we’ve worked with UK goth-rock acts; [and] we’ve done all sorts of interesting things.
How do you navigate making electronic music in a band format?
I’ll tell you where that comes from. I come from Australia. I’m of a vintage where the 1980s, which were my formative years, everything in Australia was pub rock. There’s something indigenous to Australia about electronic music. It was all this weird stuff from far away: Chicago house, Detroit techno, New York hip hop, British alternative pop like new wave, [and] German electronica. It was all like astronomy to us, watching the stars. So in the late 80s and early 90s, quite unbelievably, there were people, my peers at the time, who were trying to put electronica across in a pub rock format. It’s always been part of the ethic of electronic musicians of my age in Australia that we always think of treading the boards…sticky carpets… spilt beer… all that sort of thing. That’s actually what we’re about. And that continues to this day. And that is accentuated by the fact that we play a lot in countries like Thailand, Cambodia, South Korea, and so on.
Anything else to tell people about the show?
If you like 80s new wave, if you like early 90s hip hop, if you like even what Tangerine Dream were doing, if you like goth rock, if you like any of that stuff, there’s little bits of those influences and sounds somewhere in one of our songs. And it might only be for a few seconds, or evoke a genetic memory from some time ago, because that’s what we are. We’re the ultimate congee of music.
What does the term “Rage of the Machine” mean to you?
It’s when the computers rebel. When the artificial intelligence is no longer artificial; it’s superior intelligence. And it’s angry.
265 East Nandan Road // 南丹东路265号 B1