Rainbow Chan doesn’t just blend textures in obscure and unexpected ways, or match 8-bit keyboards with distorted beats as casually as ordering coffee. Her music is a means of showcasing her ability as an eloquent storyteller. But on this particular winter’s evening in Sydney’s Inner West, the story she’s telling me is hers.
It’s not just any musician who can transform iPhone apps into improvised performance residencies, but Rainbow Chan isn’t just any artist. She talks counterfeit culture, feminism and her insatiable habit of hoarding loops.
Given that it’s 2016, one of those stories is, unsurprisingly, feminism. And for Rainbow, it’s not just a case of wanting more visibility of female artists in the arts and creative industries – it’s for women in those fields to be normalised. That way, she explains, we won’t have to talk about them any more.
“Hopefully, we can just get to the point when gender binaries, aren’t even important in the conversation, and we can just treat the artist as an artist,” she says, “but we still have a long way to go. If I can add to that conversation in a respectful and informed and sensitive way that makes other women feel empowered or included, then that would be a really nice goal.”
When I ask the Sydney-based singer and producer about the women she admires, she has to take a moment to round down her list – “there’re so many I could bring up” – but then rattles off Fatima Al Qadiri, whom she interviewed earlier this year; and her band members Corin and Moon Holiday, whose exchanges of ideas provide continuous inspiration.
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Rainbow Chan’s musical ethos couples forward-thinking pop with shimmery nostalgia, a throwback that throws you because it’s sentimental and progressive both at the same time.
Her songs are experimental, otherworldly – an acoustic-meets-electro soundscape that comes layered in loops, and swirling in glittering synths and sugar-sweet melodies that bend and shift way past your average guitar, drums, keyboard set-up.
She’s a regular on the Vivid line-up with three performances at Sydney Opera House under her belt; and this year joined the Woman in Electronic Music Showcase at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
Winter’s no time to hibernation though. Her forthcoming record, Spacings, which she says is about distance, impossible intimacies and things relentlessly collapsing in on themselves, is one of the most anticipated records of the year. Plus she’s working towards releasing a 12” from her dance-techno-oriented project Chuyin with UK DJ and producer Braiden’s label Off Out.
Needless to say, she’s busy….
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