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"CAssette A Boy With The Red Elephant"

CAssette (from Beijing) is playing this weekend in Shanghai. This year they released their first album, an EP titled A Boy With The Red Elephant.

CAssette took a year to finish this album, probably too long, as the singer and front lady of the band Teardroppy said to us, but more relevant than that is that A Boy With The Red Elephant is a very nice album, and a very good omen for the band. The five tracks of A Boy With The Red Elephant flow comfortably from the speakers to our ears. It’s a round album, with a cool pallet of sounds, each of the songs stand on solid grown by themselves, and they interconnect and communicate in a gentle way producing an attractive and solid result.

Recorded at Snake Pit rehearsal studios, mixed and produced by the guitarist of the band, Mark Lee, A Boy With The Red Elephant presents very well the range of sounds produced by CAssette, from pop, to rock, passing by some influences of post rock, and electronic music too. The melodies though are catchy, are not pretentious, they are also well stylized, with simplicity, good taste, so it feels the music is focus on itself and not on the impression that will cause, which I believe is difficult to achieve when playing with pop sounds. With A Boy With The Red Elephant I feel most impressed by the honesty behind the pop sound of the album. Mark Lee has his own studio now, where he is recording and producing the works of other bands, I find it easy to understand why he is becoming a popular producer in Beijing among indie bands.

This album will not change the story of music, neither will be on the top charts of Billboard, but as it said on the tag of one of my favorite bottled green teas with milk, “it’s a very decent drink”. To me that exactly is what it makes A Boy With The Red Elephant a great album. And I’ll say it again, definitely a very good omen for the life of CAssette.

This reminds me of one thing that my very good friend Tolo always said about the best album of Fito Paez, a rock guy from Argentina that we love, Paez biggest album was his third album. My friend Tolo, used to say that nothing could be worst than making your best production when you are still starting your career, then you’d always be doomed to compete against it. Tolo is a lazy guy by nature, but he is kind of right. Whoever wants a smashing first album to conquer the universe in a blink is either super bold, or super dumb.

A Boy With The Red Elephant starts with the song that gives the name to the album. Teardroppy singing recalls a bit the style of Shiina Ringo, or Faye Wong, two huge female singers of Asian pop. She is a sexy singer, her technique is fine, sure still can be more developed, but as it is now is already very attractive and nice to listen to. “Dogdays II”, the second track, begins with the drama that ended the first song, and suddenly I’m totally hooked on the dramatic evolution of the song when Teardroppy sings along Mark Lee’s very post-rock riffs “I find you crying, I find you struggling. Only find out silliness. When the day comes. I feel like falling, I feel like flying”. Yeah, so do I. Then the third track “Snowing” is the first song of the album in Chinese, and it is very very very Shiina Ringo kind, like when she swims to her punk influences and mixes them with Asian sounds, so Teardroppy does too. I like a lot the textured created by the guitar on a rockabilly mood. “Life Sux” the fourth track evolves what was kind of funny on “Snowing” to a more serious tone with heavier riffs, and darker sounds from the keyboard, and the repeated drumrolls elevating the tension to pop the song into heavy dark rock ‘n roll exploding in riffs. So the fall into the last track, a remix of the second track that starts with very atmospheric cloudy sounds, is surprising, and a fun fall. -

"Interview with Daisy Zhao of CAssette"

Beijing based band, CAssette’s sound range from pop, to rock, with touched of post rock, and electronic music mixed in. Their music is catchy and clean fronted by the amazing vocals of Daisy Zhao. The best way to describe her voice is sexy, sultry and emotional and her vocals has been compared to asian pop stars Shiina Ringo and Faye Wong.

Daisy, it is a pleasure to meet you. Can you tell me a little about where you grew up and when you first became interested in music?

Thank you for finding me on the almighty internet and having me for this interview ; ]

I was born and grew up totally in Beijing, this big crowded city, and fortunately, or unfortunately, the neighborhood where I lived was an apartment district (what we call Da Yuan) of an Academy of Forestry which is far away from downtown. I lived at the foot of a mountain (there were many trees there, as you can imagine) People who lived there also worked there. They came from different cities in China. Most kids, just like me, all went to the same kindergarten and then the same primary school. The school recruited other students, like two- thirds of them, from other military Da Yuan around ours as well. So to sum up, I grew up in a beautiful, peaceful, simple place which may lack of traditional Beijing stuffs but can make many other Beijingers jealous : ]

Interested in music? I don’t consider myself ever interested in music haha! It’s been with me all the time, just like you cannot say you are interested in eating apples everyday.

I remembered when I was a little kid my mother took me to my grandma’s home every weekend. Grandma has been living downtown till now and it’s a long trip especially for a kid. We went there by bus. I can still remembered how much I enjoyed the bus trip because I would sit near the window, look out the big world and sing to myself all the long, long way. If we could not find a seat or the seat wasn’t near the window I would get very frustrated but once I was succeed to get one I would start to worry if anyone would notice my singing? I really don’t know how those stupid , self-created melodies came to my mind!

Did you have family members who were musicians?

No… My father’s mother used to be a dancer when she was a young lady, my father said she sang at times too. I can hardly remember her, she passed away when I was in junior school. She lived in Guangxi which is my father’s hometown and is nearly the most south in China, much too distant from my life, but she is always a beautiful young lady in the photo and the princess in the fairy tale to me.

When you were young who were some of the artists you would listen to?

May I say I’m still very young? ; ]

I went through periods of time where I listened to different types of music. In the beginning it was Michael Jackson, then the Cardigans and the Cranberries. Later on I was into the two female vocalists of Slipknot and System of a Down along with Miserable Faith and AK-47 (two Chinese nu-metal bands) followed by Dead Can Dance and Massive Attack. After these I think I can say I’m grown up and getting old ; )

I bet you really cannot imagine how young kids at my age used to find ways to listen to the western rock music, that would be an adventure story, I can write a book for you ^^

How would you best describe your style?

To describe it in the worst way: to nurture our own dreams which may have been already extinct or never originated… always hold in awe.

Another worst way: A zoo. Where most animals should not live here but now live here happily or miserably, all by a naïve but rather complicated, incredible and brave, cruel as well as fancy principle, I mean the cages. And the visitors, who should have not been able to see these creatures but somehow bought the tickets and came in, they hold different moods and expects, they may be frightened to death but thanks to the cages they will finally feel safe. But after all it’s not anybody’s habitat, -


When we heard CAsette were to return to Shanghai this weekend to play the first The Fever Machine & Friends show of 2012, having passed through last November when they played a great gig with X is Y, we thought it appropriate to seek out the knowledge of a local expert to introduce them to you…

Will, from

"When lead singer of CAssette, Daisy, first walked onstage back when I first caught them, I expected another quirky girl-led group along the lines of Hang on the Box. Well, I was way off; CAssette is in a league of their own, and by the end of the night, had won me over completely.

"A smogsboard of rock, indie pop, with a dab of post-rock there and electronica here, at times Cassette feels like a dark, dreamy, intense cabaret show with the lead singer Daisy Zhao calling the shots. Her voice often souns like its grasping for the next breathe of air - it's sharp, sexy, vulnerable, sultry, mysterious - delicate when it wants to be, but able to turn into a rock squall at any moment. And what a storm her and the band can conjure up. When the clouds finally do clear away you won't know what hit you".

And here's what lead singer Tuanzi had to say when we caught up with her this week:

On getting the band together:

"The four of us are from Beijing,almost the same age. At the very beginning, when we were still university students, my very first band just broke up ,the guitarist and i found Kram, now CAssette's guitarist, to form a new band, for which we gave a name Children Alpha and Kram played drums. After graduating, Children Alpha split up, and two years later, Kram found me saying I wanted to start a new band, CAssette. Kram switched to play guitar and we got Wu to play bass and Kraft on drums".

On their sound:

"Sweet, dangerous, with wisdom and love - I think these are key words of us. Smashing Pumpkins plus Blonde Redhead? Sorry we are just too unique to compare with other bands!

"Since Kram and I know each other well and we share the same taste in music with Wu, we haven't really talked much about it… We wrote half of our songs by improvising in the rehearsal room".

On being part of the Beijing scene:

"I think our style is very easy to match other bands. We've played most often with Me too, Street Kills Strange Animals, Perpetual Motion Machine and Resident A, at Beijing Mao, Yu Gong Yi Shan, and, of course, D22.

"CAssette's first show was at D22, and we played the Saturday before the closing night. What I remember most is a cold Thursday night in winter with handful of people in the audience and hot Saturday night in summer with more than three hundred people there - it was hard to breath!

"We haven't got a chance to play at XP yet, but have already heard a lot about the new venue and seen some photos. I think XP seems more intimate than D22"

On why they're called CAsette:

"The 'A' is always in capitals for CAssette, because there is something secretly related to the band, Children Alpha, and our Chinese band name is ????.

"We four people are two girls and two boys, two Geminis and two Aries, two A blood types, and two AB blood types, two with glasses, two without glasses….Ok enough! We have a relatively new song named ???? that we wrote about this; it's the first song we four wrote together, improvising in the rehearsal room - we will definitely play it in shanghai!"



Still working on that hot first release.



Currently at a loss for words...