Upcoming indie electro duo Asian Envy is that king hit of colour, flamboyant synths and peace hand gestures you didn’t see coming.
The Melbourne-based band first broke out with ‘Back to Shinjuku’ last May and over the past few months, it’s become clear that these guys totally gets the visual obligations that comes with fashioning themselves on Japanese/Harajuku culture. Check on their super kawaii merch, artwork and designs.
I caught up with the band’s lead singer Ross Larkin this week to talk about the inspiration behind the band name, their sound and test his Asian persuasion.
Asian Envy is gearing up for their first ever live show this Saturday in Melbourne, so pop over and make your inspections before they jet off to New York to set up shop.
Dave: So tell us the inspiration behind the band name.
Ross: Steve and I met in a hotel in Japan and we became good friends, and that’s how the general inspiration for Asian Envy started. We were both musicians wanting to start a project and we both have this fascination with Japan – anything to do with it, really – the comics, manga, the food, the architecture, the people, the culture and the fashion, in particular. One day in Australia, we were in a Japanese restaurant having a discussion and we realised that we both have Asian envy. We couldn’t stop eating Asian food, we couldn’t stop talking about Asian culture and wanting to explore every other part of Asia… we’ve got Asian envy and we thought, wouldn’t that be a cool name for the band.
Dave: Musically, are you inspired by Asian pop?
Ross: No. The inspiration is actually more from Australia – very much mainstream electro like The Presets, Cut Copy and Midnight Juggernauts. There are some really fantastic Australian electro artists coming out recently and they’ve probably been the strongest influences. Having said that, we do have quite a strong 80s influence as well.
Dave: Tell us about the recording process for your debut album Sweet & Vicious.
Ross: It was a reasonably long process because it was very much a self-funded indie project. [In terms of the creative process] I had old lyrics that I had written from years back, Steve had lots of loops and riffs that he’s been messing with and we put a lot of our separate ideas together to come up with something that gelled really well. It took about 12-months and it was all done in the confines of just one room in a house.
Dave: You guys seem like a really visual band with your merch and artworks etc. Was that a particularly conscious decision to reflect the Japanese pop influences?
Ross: Definitely. We really wanted a visual element that was perhaps even specifically influenced by Harajuku, which is that area of Tokyo that Gwen Stefani has often sung about. [The scene] is really famous for its outrageous fashion – the type of fashion you just don’t see anywhere else in the world, as far as I’m aware.
Dave: You’re playing your first show this Saturday, can we expect to see some of those fashion influences come through on stage?
Ross: Interesting you should mention that. We actually have a fashion designer designing our stage outfits – Stephen Soliz, who has done a lot of work in Germany and the UK – so there will definitely be that visual imagery on stage.
Dave: In terms of what else Asian Envy can do, do you see yourselves remixing or producing for other artists?
Ross: Yeah, in fact, we have done a little bit of that. We’ve had people approach us from all over like, Mexico and Spain, but nothing has been released as yet. It’s just those kind of random requests – the joys of the online music world! We’ve also had quite a number of people remixing our tracks, particularly the latest single ‘The Animals Will Come’. I believe some of it has been hitting the clubs lately so it’s really exciting.
Dave: Given that you’ve called yourselves Asian Envy, I thought it’d only be fair if we play a little game just to test how Asian you are…
Ross: (laughs) Great.
Dave: Question #1 – what is a yakitori?
Ross: It’s a Japanese chicken noodle dish. [Close enough. It’s actually skewered grilled chicken.]
Dave: Question #2 – according to the Chinese zodiac, this is the year of what animal?
Ross: Rabbit! [Correct.]
Dave: Question #3 – where in the world can you find a Hello Kitty-themed hospital unit?
Ross: It’ll have to be Tokyo, wouldn’t it? [You’d think it was somewhere in Japan but no, it’s actually in Taiwan.]
Dave: Question #4 – what is yaoi?
Ross: I don’t know… (laughs) Manga is more Steve‘s thing. [Correct answer is gay manga. Get into it.]
Check out Asian Envy on their first ever live show: this Saturday, 15 January – East Brunswick Club, Melbourne.
Have a listen to tracks off their debut LP Sweet & Vicious:
Check on our radio show: Diff’rent Strokes on JOY 94.9