INTERVIEW: No Party For Cao Dong

Hi No Party For Cao Dong, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Same old, same old. Originally, we had planned for our first ever nearly 10K stadium concert back in May. But just like many other artists around the world, due to COVID, our stadium concert was cancelled. While it felt like a small setback, since we were quite excited about what would have been our biggest show ever, it also gave us a rare chance to fully concentrate on our songwriting. After being on the road for over two and a half years, since mid-2017, we are now in the process of making our much anticipated second album.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Same Old, Same Old”?

In terms of musical style, we tried some different things than before. “Same Old, Same Old” was also the name of our last international tour. It kind of concludes the past two years of our life, marking a transition between our debut album and the second one. The single is meaningful to us in not only our career but also life. Back in May we livestreamed an RPG live action show in place of the concert. The interactive show we livestreamed on YouTube played with a similar concept as the song’s theme of “change is the constant” and complemented each other very well. The usual is that life itself is unusual. Placing “Same Old, Same Old” as the ending theme song for the livestream series was a very intuitive way to tease the single before the digital release.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Rather than saying any particular event, it was more a sum of the past two years or so of touring. All the days spent in so many different cities, all the hustle and bustle on those streets, all the unfamiliar faces seen every corner we turned inspired feelings of comprehension and confusion towards the ordinary and the extraordinary in life. The lyrics, the melodies, the chords and even the rhythm of “Same Old, Same Old” both stir and stand still in the same ways that these days of travelling strike us. Times pass, scenes change, but we go on performing as usual. Are we the constant or are we the change in this journey? Perhaps only change is the constant.

Any plans to release any sort of video for the track?

The four-episode multiple-choice RPG live action series, We All Love Our Moms 5.0, was our longest video content released so far. The mini-series that livestreamed one episode per night from May 20-23 was an entirely new format and gamified livestream. Each of the first three episodes was about an hour long and the finale was approximately 30 minutes before the single was revealed in the end to conclude the story.

We hired professional actors to perform live according to fan decisions. The whole show was shot from a first-person point of view. In this way, the viewers became a role through the camera lens that the actors interacted with directly. Three characters in each episode would share their struggles and even make wishes for help from the viewers, making the viewers and their “playing” a part of the narrative. Fans would reply or talk to each character by voting on one of the multiple choices that appear on-screen. Poking fun, playing God or ruining lives, the audience decides and the narrative follows. This kind of interaction encouraged engagement on a whole different level. It’s more than just performing, chatting, asking fans for feedback or comments or answering fan questions. We’re actually counting on the fans to continue the livestream. If they didn’t choose, we wouldn’t know what twists and turns the story would take. There were a few comments in the live chat that asked what would happen if no one voted. LOL. Thankfully, they still voted despite asking. But to be honest, we didn’t know what exactly was going to happen in any case. Nerve-rackingly exciting. This is as live as it gets. We had a plan and what we imagined could happen. But still, it was like leaving the control of the livestream in the hands of our fans.

How was the recording and writing process?

“Same Old, Same Old” was composed, arranged, rehearsed, recorded and re-recorded bit by bit in between the breaks we had while flying around everywhere. So to finally produce the official studio recording of the track felt like opening a time capsule. From when we first wrote this song and performed it only live, to now recording and producing it, every phase in this whole process led to new understandings and interpretations of this song that evolved as we did. After we started recording the track in the studio for official release, we learned more on the production side of things. We usually think about making music from habit, ways that we’re most used to, as the most direct approach. But this time was unlike before because we had the chance to review what we’ve made with fresh eyes. This was different from just going in and out of the studio in between tours. We were able to tweak things that we otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to. Opening this time capsule was a very real and raw process which pushed us to rethink about a lot of things that we went through over this period of time. We got to reconsider our younger thought process from a more detached and almost objective angle. We don’t usually get another shot at past decisions. It’s rather special.

What role does Taiwan play in your music?

Our creation comes from everything in our life and the society and environment where we grew up inevitably influences our writing. The inspirations to our music were gathered from the rawest moments and most honest places. Where we’ve lived, what we’ve seen and how we’ve felt here weave together the authenticity that we try to express in every lyric written, every guitar riff, every bass slap, every drum kick and every note sang. But the overwhelmingly accepting response we’ve received from our fans all over the world made us realize that such authentic expressions through music is universal. We’re actually closer than we imagine.

With your RPG livestream you guys show that you like to push boundaries – how does this get translated in your music as a whole?

Stepping out of our comfort zone always brings many challenges, often in positive ways. These steps may lead us to perspectives that we’ve never seen through, especially with creators from different fields of expertise. In the pre-production phase of this RPG livestream, we enjoyed the experience of bouncing ideas around with the video production team as well as the actors and their crew. It’s very interesting to see the same concept seek a fresh form of life with a new and different artistic interpretation. Collaborating with other creative talents than musicians taught us what it was like to approach the same things in different ways. Everything we’ve learned through this entire process contributes and solidifies our own musical creation. Diversity really drives our creativity beyond boundaries we didn’t even know we had. It takes a while to digest and internalize but also makes us look forward to what we can do in the future.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new album – how’s that coming along?

Yes, of course! This does mean we are focusing our efforts on the upcoming second album. The new work is something we are all looking forward to. Obviously, it’s still a work in progress but we have also been getting some intensive, immersive and all-inclusive training to improve ourselves, musically and physically. It’s a very different lifestyle than being out on the road. We almost forgot what it was like to “go to work” in the studio but returning home at the end of each day to our own beds has its merits.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

Yes, we have a tentative release date and title in mind but we’re not quite ready to reveal them because the timing isn’t here yet. We have a lot of tracks lined up and are taking it slow for the best possible outcome to share with our fans.

Any plans to hit the road?

It’s been a while since any artist has been able to hit the road, so we also hope that we’d be able to go back out there to see our UK fans as soon as it is safe to do so. Our fans here have always given us incredibly warm welcomes and the loudest cheers. The level of love and support our fans have shown us ever since our very first (headline) London gig back in late 2018 was really moving when they snatched up all the tickets to the 450-cap venue within 12 hours. We couldn’t believe it. That was insane. Then to be invited for a festival run last summer, from Liverpool Sound City, The Great Escape and then all the way to Glastonbury was not only such an honor but also a tremendously humbling experience to play alongside so many other amazing artists. There is nothing like the energy of a live show and we’d love to see our fans in person again. But for now, the health and well-being of everyone are our priority. Please take care until then.

What else is happening next in No Party For Cao Dong’s world?

We are knee deep in the world of no party, literally, but all album production (with some proper social distancing). At the same time, we are brainstorming music video ideas and new digital content that could potentially develop into some fun stuff. We’re not sure what things will look like but hang tight for now and you might be surprised. After all, change is the constant.

LISTEN HERE

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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