Rock Band IO - Making The Leap From Canada To Taiwan

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I had the opportunity to sit down with the members of IO, a Taiwan indie band originally formed in Vancouver, Canada. The band relocated to Taiwan because it is "the launchpad for music in China and central focus of Chinese media."

IO admits that, "Musically speaking, the culture in Taiwan is very different. The way we speak, the content that we speak of, and the way we express ourselves onstage is very different than the way we'd do it in Vancouver. But our music is a merging of the Canadian and Taiwanese styles. When you perform in Vancouver, they clap for you no matter what - it's all about how well you sing and play. The way Chinese people look at music is less about the sound and more about how the content affects that body and emotions. You must connect with them with your message. The fans are much more demanding in Taiwan, which keeps us thinking and strategizing more for the crowd."

"We used to write songs that we thought was cool, but now we write more things that our fans can identify with, and then begin incorporating other elements that we like. Our goal is to bring more of the Vancouver sound to the people here in Taiwan, and we hope that it will one day be cool here too." IO is also keeping an eye on the pop scene in Malaysia, which is still playing mostly 90's pop.

Coming up with material is a collaborative process, though each person has a role to play. Angus does the songwriting, Hans is the guitarist and does most of the arranging, Sho does most of the administrative work and is the band's manager, while band founder and drummer Cody pitches in a little everywhere, critiquing the melodies and arrangements. Though the band's individual members' musical tastes range from Nickelback and Simple Plan, to mainstream pop, jazz, techno and hip hop, at their core lies a heart of "rock".

As with most artists, the Internet has greatly shaped the way IO interacts with their fans. "The fans really want to get to know and keep in touch with you. Through the Internet and the use of social media applications like FaceBook, YouTube, and Tudou, we are able to do that. It's a much better interaction process, and it really allows us to be a part of our fans lives. We're not at our concerts trying to tell the fans who we are anymore - they actually know that already. We're just using that opportunity to expand upon that."

"The Internet has changed the fan/band culture. This is the era of building relationships. They feel that we really care about them, which we do. People come to our show and get to listen and enjoy our music - it's like hanging out with friends. That's good because our music is not just showcase music. It's about interaction, and without that interaction on and offstage, it would really be nothing. Ours is a music that lives between us and the people, and without this platform connection for the people, the music would just die."

IO also acknowledges that though the crowd in Taiwan is a little tougher, they're in it for the long haul. "What we are doing musically is pursuing our dreams. We each have given up our jobs to do this. It isn't just about having fun. We actually want to deliver the message that you can pursue your dreams; you can fight for what you want and get it. That's really the core of what we're spreading through our album and music. We're still learning and growing and we'll see where the music takes us."

By Eric De Fontenay

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