Gig Seeker Pro


Sydney, New South Wales, Australia | INDIE

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia | INDIE
Band Pop Alternative




"Cut from a different cloth"

YUNYU'S music comes on a T-shirt. Try downloading that for nothing. You can buy her QUIRTz (''the hybrid lovechild of a CD and a shirt'') online or in stores, where it's packaged to fit in CD racks. There's a QR Code on the shirt, see, which fans scan to receive music and other audiovisual goodies direct to their phones.

It's just one element of an imaginative new business model that Yunyu and her manager, Lee McIver, are bringing to an industry that has seen its old ways and wares catastrophically devalued.

Never mind CDs, DVDs, iTunes or Spotify. ''If you want the Church to survive,'' the rock band told fans last year, ''buy a T-shirt.''

Yunyu's first advantage over such shell-shocked traditionalists was almost complete ignorance of the old ways. Born in Singapore and classically trained in a pop vacuum, she came to songwriting ''by accident'', she says, via a passion for manga, fantasy fiction and animation.

After being in Australia for only 18 months, she was persuaded to enter Triple J's new talent competition, Unearthed, in 2002. When airplay gatekeepers Caroline Tran and Richard Kingsmill named her the winner, she had to ask them who they were. And when they suggested she get some gigs, ''I thought they meant gigabytes,'' she confesses.

''You need more musicians,'' was another thing she heard a lot.

''But I felt more of a connection with filmmakers and animators and other artists who saw the medium as stories,'' she says.

''I always felt like a storyteller who just happens to use music as a weapon.''

Renowned manga artist Queenie Chan had become a close collaborator by the time McIver saw Yunyu perform at the Singapore Arts Festival, a few years after her head-spinning Unearthed interlude.

''I was really blown away by the cohesion between the music and visuals,'' he says.

''A lot of musicians use visuals but they don't always connect and they don't necessarily have any meaning at all.''

As a prolific producer and musician with experience across jazz, pop, dance and theatre platforms, McIver had no trouble joining the dots in Yunyu's nascent cross-media paradigm.

''One of the things I said to her was that if we were going to work together, we had to do something that puts value back into music,'' he says.

''Audio data is worthless. People who pay for music, which is the minority, only pay a tiny amount of money anyway. So you have to create something that people want; something that they want to be part of.''

Twisted Tales is nothing as staid and static as an album. ''This is NOT a CD,'' it says on the T-shirt box. It's ''a music-manga-animation trans-media collaboration that propels fairytales into our universe''.

Apart from Chan's manga, the pool of contributors has swelled to include pop culture podcasters (Cool) Shite, animators and filmmakers including the Commonist, Enchanter Films and Hatch Films, and sand artist Brett Bower.

A limited-edition CD will eventually be released, McIver says, and plans are under way for an in-theatre version of Twisted Tales to be launched in 2014. Meanwhile, the ''album'' is more akin to a virtual world, which took its first, critically lauded steps out of the ether at Brisbane's Powerhouse last month.

''Goldilocks is an indecisive airhead who can't figure out that she is the one with the problem,'' wrote reviewer Brice Fallon on the Critical Mass blogsite. ''Dorothy is a cosmonaut lost in space who can't find her way home; The Match-Stick Girl is a drugged-up young 'un who can't seem to get her way out of the back alley, constantly waiting for the next dream.''

None of the Tales have happy endings, Yunyu warned the audience in advance, as they scanned their T-shirts and scratched their heads at the stage strewn with giant pumpkins and fairytale characters. But hers just might, if her collaborative process can do anything to arrest a decline in multiple-contributing media.

''The problem facing the manga industry is the same as music: the creation process is long and expensive and the value is nothing because the consumption time is nothing,'' Yunyu says.

''Queenie spends a year doing a comic book and people see no value in it because they can leaf through it in 20 minutes. So I said, 'How about let's do one together, try to one-up each other on storytelling. I'll twist it and you twist it some more.' Then we'd throw the challenge on to the animators: 'Can you beat that?'

''It's a bit like Mortal Kombat.''

¦Yunyu performs Twisted Tales in Melbourne at Revolver on June 22 and in Sydney at Carriageworks on June 30. - The Age


I had no idea of what I was in for when I signed up to go and see this at the Powerhouse last night. Yes, even after attempting to do some research beforehand. I’m writing this 24 hours after and I’m still a bit hazy.

What I saw was Yunyu’s Twisted Tales, a show that was not quite a concert, not quite a movie, and not quite a biopic-lecture-thing. I quickly figured out that I would be seeing an eerie combination of all three.

We were seated around a stage full of instruments with two big projector screens up high. There was a giant material pumpkin at the back of the stage and cut-outs of fairy tale characters scattered around. It had a Tim Burton-esque feel. It was something you would expect inside a zany, indie art gallery.

The lights dimmed, and after the smoke machines said their piece, Yunyu herself took the stage. She was wearing a leather dress, knee-high boots, and crazy hair. I feel the best way to describe her is ‘wonderfully eccentric’.

Around her were the six-piece band, complete with a rockin’ xylophonist and Mr Midnight, a big guy with a deep voice, as well as the man in charge of the animations that refused to be called anything but ‘The Goat’. They all added to the feel of the show, but unfortunately, they constantly looked a little bored, as though they had somewhere else better to be. I may be right too, a number of them tended to toddle off the stage and not come back for a bit.

After a few songs a steady rhythm was established. Yunyu would sing while her band did their thing; there were animations on the big projector screens accompanying the music, some of them by the anime artist, Queenie Chan; and then after a couple of songs Yunyu would have a bit of a chat with the audience.

In these chats, Yunyu revealed a lot about herself. There was a lot of talk about mother issues and psychoanalysis. It was hard to decide if this was a character or if we were seeing the actual Yunyu. No problem if we were, but the whole event was surreal, and (once again) I felt it was hard to classify what I was seeing onto a labelled shelf.

But hey, maybe that was the whole point.

The writing of the music was amazing. Every song was a re-imagining of a classic fairy tale (Twisted Tales, get it?). Yunyu stated pretty early that this wouldn’t be a Disney movie, and she didn’t lie. We heard about 20 songs all up and I was familiar with pretty much all of the original stories.

They were all great examples of modern takes on the genre. Every character had a personality flaw that Yunyu did very well in analysing: Goldilocks is an indecisive airhead who can’t figure out that she is the one with the problem; Dorothy is a cosmonaut lost in space who can’t find her way home; The Match-Stick Girl is a drugged-up youngin’ who can’t seem to get her way out of the back-alley, constantly waiting for the ‘next dream’. Like Yunyu said, none of the stories had happy endings.

The animations in the background were a good idea. They did seem a little repetitive though, as if they only made 30 seconds for each song and looped them, but they added a new dimension to the music and were always relevant to the song. It wasn’t like at a concert where there’s something playing in the background to appease the eye, it was a genuine part of the show and added to it as a whole.

Speaking of good ideas, I was told beforehand that in order to fully immerse myself into the show I would need to get my hands on one of the shirts at the merch stall. I was confused and thought it was their way to sell more merchandise, but I was mistaken.

In possibly the coolest move in t-shirt history, these had a QR barcode on them. When scanned with a smartphone it gives you access to Yunyu’s music, including old and new songs, and anyone else can do it too. ‘It’s not pirating; it’s sharing,’ she stressed. She mentioned during the show that the shirt talks to you too. I don’t have a good enough phone, but I’ve never talked to a shirt before. I feel the need to buy a better phone now just so I can.

This is a great idea to spread the word about a band and pretty innovative too. It is as though Yunyu hasn’t just created music, a movie, or something else, she is creating an experience.

And I guess that’s probably the best way to describe the events of last night. I didn’t see a movie or a band—I saw an experience. A good experience, though a slightly confusing experience. But I was happy with the show overall and I certainly walked away with something to say.
- Critical Mass

"Yunyu Twisted Tales Tour - The Powerhouse Theatre"

Avant-garde music scares the crap out of me, I will not lie. It can either be really good, or it can be that hybrid musical theatre that makes you cringe with its awfulness and pretentiousness. Facing the Visy Theatre, I was almost certain I’d made a stupid decision to cover this gig, as I laid my eyes upon the cardboard fairytale creatures lining the top of the stage, and the giant pumpkin smack bang in the middle. I’ve never been more delighted to be wrong in my life.

The whole set-up is unique: the opening in the show urges those in attendance to take out their phones and scan the QR codes on our tickets. Finally, after the lengthy intro, the band took to the stage and Yunyu made her presence known to all. Her cute, almost pixie-like look belied a sinister undertone, as her often macabre banter showed her to be quite deranged in her influences for her style. As she herself mentioned, ‘everyone who’s alive is a bit strange’. What amazed me was her ability to act as though she was absolutely out of her mind, and yet keep the (criminally) small crowd entertained and laughing at her nuances and strange tales that never seemed to go where you’d think they would. Never before have I ever seen someone make the theme of death and despair seem so… Entertaining.

But the music! The concept behind much of Yunyu’s songwriting is the exposition of themes from fairytales and old wives tales, exposing vulnerabilities and an underlying horror theme in almost every character. The instrumentation was uniquely quirky, and the band had the sound down to a dime. The only flaw was the environment: the Visy Theatre is rather small, and it took a fair while for the mixers to work out how to dull the brash sound of the drum kit so that Yunyu could actually be heard. Even so, it didn’t really matter: the visual show and the arrangements were more than enough to keep everyone’s minds focussed solely on the fantasy realm where our hostess for the evening was taking us.

Highlights of the set were Lanore’s Song (something of a reply to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven), Bluebeard (about a mean pirate captain), and, my own personal favourite, Dorothy, an absolutely gorgeous song about baby cosmonauts being lost in space. Accompanying these pieces were animations and videos chopped together to create an atmosphere that explored the themes of the songs even more. Although a little too dark at times (literally, not metaphorically), this was the defining feature: giving the audience a context to keep up with, courtesy of the media expert onstage, introduced simply as Wolf.

There was so much in this show to go wrong. The childish thematic. The multimedia set-up. The seven-piece band. The macabre overtones. Yunyu’s over-the-top stage-personified insanity. Yet, save for the early mixing, this all created an atmosphere of pure artistic brilliance. This was no ordinary show. This was something far more transcendent, far more creative and far more beautiful than almost any show I’ve ever seen. It’s a crime that the theatre was half-full, as this is a show to be experienced, rather than reviewed. If Yunyu brings her pumpkin carriage full of crazy to your town, buy a ticket. You will not be disappointed.

Alessandro Oliveira - Press Record


Twisted Tales (2012)
Angel Arias (2010)
Spiked Soul 2006



Yunyu: Biography
A short story about Her Royal Madness, and her twisted take on tales

Yunyu is a musician whose songs range from love to violent murders. Her hobbies include visiting psychosis self help forums and studying murder case files because she finds these things way more inspiring than counting beans.

As a small child, Yunyu’s father would read Grimm Brothers fairy tales to her every night. The difference being that each time he would change the ending and therefore twist the tale. It was this minor, but repetitive ritual that skewed the way Yunyu viewed life forever more.

Her musical career started when her mum named her Yunyu [beautiful rhythms] and auditioned her into a classical music concentration camp when she was three [3]. Like all misfits, she found the classical environment lacking in humour. After countless, merciless tortures she finally tunnelled to freedom using nothing but a very blunt, leadless pencil at aged nine [9]. The trauma of the near death experience caused Yunyu to connect with Zombies and the Spirit world on a deep, personal level. Her musical weapons of choice are many. She plays keyboards, Japanese Drums (Taiko), the gourd flute (hulusi) and also the Gu Zheng - an age old oriental 36 stringed instrument.

Shortly after arriving in Australia from Singapore [2000], Yunyu won Australia's Triple J Unearthed [2002] with her song ‘You Are Expendable’ and subsequently made the 4 Minute Wonder music video. ‘You Are Expendable’ topped the Canadian college Charts for a month helping build awareness of Yunyu’s music in North America and drive sales of her debut album Spiked Soul.

Amidst live shows and invites to Fuse Festival, Peats Ridge, Singapore International Arts festival, it soon became apparent that Yunyu's music was having a clear affinity with lovers of pop culture, comics, manga, Science Fiction and Fantasy.

It was her own love of Fantasy stories, anime and manga that lead her on a path to many appearances at Science Fiction and pop culture conventions where she met creators from various mediums, including film and books. Award winning Novelists Neil Gaiman and Warren Ellis have also mobilised their massive fan bases by blogging about her work.

Through these conventions, Yunyu met and collaborated with Matt Carter, Enchanter Productions, to make the highly successful music video Lenore’s Song – a song that is a tribute and a reply to Edgar Allan Poe’s - The Raven. Matt waved his wand and crew talents from Lord of the Rings and Superman Returns appeared and the video was made.

This clip was an ambitious stop motion film, consisting of 17000 digital stills. By 2007, Lenore's Song video was nominated for various awards and was selected as finalist in the 2008 St Kilda Film festival Music video awards. To date Lenore’s Song has achieved well over 130 000 views on Youtube.

2007 saw Yunyu play the Singapore International Arts Festival where she met her manager Lee McIver through AUSTRADE [Australian Trade Commission], Lee attended her performance and decided to sign her to his management company 10 minutes into the show. Under his mentorship, she began undertaking intensive musical development and started to work on writing for an ambitious new album [Twisted Tales] to be released this year [2012].

While performing as featured artist at the Australian Creative Commons convention Marianne De Pierres, an Aurealis award winning science fiction writer, a long time fan of Yunyu’s work proposed to Yunyu that she write a book soundtrack to her gothic trilogy of Night Creatures, starting with her first book Burn Bright. Marianne’s publisher Random House officially commissioned the work and the book soundtrack “Angel Arias” was released to much online support in March 2011. A follow up collaboration resulted in a secret track for the release of the second book, also titled Angel Arias, in September 2011.

In between these commissions and further live performances Yunyu’s second album [Twisted Tales] continued to grow.

Twisted Tales is an ambitious music-manga -animation album/collaboration, which asks the question, “What happens when Fairy Tales come to live in our modern Universe?” New York Times #1 Bestseller Manga Artist Queenie Chan, who is best known for her collaboration with horror author Dean Koontz, along with leading animators the Common ist, and Lucid Edge based in Thailand and Malaysia join in the foray to create manga and animation to bring Twisted Tales to life. The result is an ambitious multi-media music experience to be released episodically kicking off with the single and awesome animation film-clip titled Dorothy – released in February 2012.

Each song in Twisted Tales is a richly woven tale of a single fairy tale character coming to live in the modern times. For instance Yunyu’s Dorothy has been blown away by the Kansas winds again. This time, she is a cosmonaut who finds herself stuck in space as Yunyu’s version is based o