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Exploration with Ian Chang

Known as the drummer for Son Lux and a founding member of the band Landlady, Ian Chang released his debut solo project in 2017, the visceral and inventive ‘Spiritual Leader.’ Centered on the exploration of the dynamic between human and machine, the EP established Ian as a compelling solo artist with a sound and voice entirely unique to the other musical projects he’s in.

Ian Chang plays Zone One at Elsewhere on 1/3. Ahead of the show, he took the time to answer a few of our questions.

Can you describe your live setup for your solo performance? What equipment do you use on stage?

I’m using a 4 piece drum kit with mesh heads hooked up to 4 Sensory Percussion sensors. I use mesh heads to purposefully divorce the drums from it’s natural acoustic sound, making my kit more of a very complex midi controller. This allows me to use drumming as a way of expressing different sample based sonic environments. The other aspect of my show that I perform using drums is lighting. The sensors are hooked up to a laptop that is controlling 3 moving head lights, and 4 additional LEDs.

Your latest EP ‘Spiritual Leader’ is described as exploring the relationship between man and the machine. How has technology shaped your production and performances throughout the years?

Technology has played a big role in my development as a producer and musician. The EP was actually a direct result of me beta testing sensory percussion. I wasn’t planning on starting a solo project, but it kind of just happened as I was exploring the possibilities of this new technology. I think it spoke to me because I’m always trying to find ways to use technology to make production more performative, and to make performance more sonically detailed and produced.

Aside from your solo project, you are also involved with Son Lux, and Landlady. How have you creativity expressed yourself differently through each project?

All three projects are so different from one another, and I really love that. With Landlady, the process usually begins with a song or a song idea from Adam. The band’s goal is to bring it to life in a unique and honest way. This part of the process is all about the magic that happens when a group of musicians are in a room together playing instruments. I also get to sing a lot of harmonies in Landlady, which is one of life’s great pleasures. In Son Lux, the process is kind of reversed. We spend a lot of time sculpting sonic ideas which become the launching point for Ryan to write a song. It’s a very liberating way to make music because it’s initially free from serving something specific like a song. We experiment until we develop a sonic environment that feels emotionally potent, then the song can develop from that. The solo project has been a real growing experience for me. The process of making the EP was very purposefully limited. I decided that I wanted to do the opposite of what most electronic producers are doing and produce outside of a gridded and sequenced environment. Each track on the EP is a live unedited take with no overdubs. These limitations really helped distill my creativity in a way. It was a pure exploration of how I can translate my voice as a drummer to an expanded palette. Now that the EP has been out for over a year, I can see that I’m only just beginning to find my voice as a producer and a solo artist, and I’m excited to dig deeper.

Who are some of the artists that are currently inspiring the music you’ve been creating?

mmph, Monte Booker, Rosalía, Like A Villain, Low, Jon Bap to name a few.

What’s coming up next for you? Anything we should be on the lookout for?

2018 was one of the heaviest touring years of my life, so 2019 is going to be a big cocoon year for me. All the projects I’m in will be toiling away in secrecy making new sounds. I’m hoping to play a draft of something new in January.

Interview by Kelsey Boyd

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