Since releasing her EP Long Vacation last year Sydney-based synth-pop artist Rainbow Chan has travelled to Asia, toured Australia, had her heart pulverised by love and managed to release a steady stream of remixes and bonus tracks. MERRAN REED speaks to Rainbow about romance, breakups and her debut album, pegged for release next year.
Heartbreak, huh? We’ve all had people we aggressively cared for reach deep within our chests, laugh manically and rip our souls out. It’s a universal experience. But only some are brave enough to put pen to page and document the whole traumatic experience. For Rainbow Chan, it’s a way to survive, to live through the breakup. Bonus track Fruit was released at the start of April and it tells the story of a relationship falling apart.
“Fruit is about when you might be in a really great relationship with someone but just feeling that sense as if you’re falling out of love but not knowing how to control those feelings,” she says. Rainbow’s work is mostly autobiographical, when asked if she’s recently gone through a breakup she answers, jovially, “Oh, I’m always going through a breakup. I try not to make it too obvious that I am writing a breakup song about a particular person.
“’Cos I think maybe the person will hear it and feel sad or offended. I try to do it in an fairly anonymous way, so it’s shrouded in a bit of mystery. It’s actually the only way I can deal with a breakup that’s traumatic, maybe traumatic is a dramatic word, but those heartbreaks when I’m feeling lost and lonely. The only thing I can turn to is making music and trying to make sense of it all, knowing that there are other things in life not just romances.”
Along with sourcing heartbreak as material for her debut album, Rainbow’s travelled over to Hong Kong, where she was born, and to Japan. “It’s like a big family catchup in Hong Kong,” she says. “But that was my first time in Japan, I spent a week in Tokyo, which was really inspiring because I have always been attracted to Japanese culture. The urban landscape is claustrophobic, but there’s is a nice balance between it being hectic and peaceful.
“I wrote a bunch of music when I was travelling. And I collected a lot of field recordings, which will be on the next album. I used my phone so if I heard a little sound I liked I would record it. I recorded the sounds of a train station, or crowd noise or gongs at a temple. So I’ll have it in the background of a track or I’ll take snippets of it and manipulate it and turn it into a percussive element in a song. For me, it’s like a personal memento or souvenir, even if it’s not apparent to the listener, it’s a document of places I have been that I can put into the textual fabric of songs.”
So when can we expect to hear some of these tracks? “You might start hearing some singles towards the end of the year,” Rainbow says.