The walled city of Beijing is better known in the West for its rich history than its music, but Re-TROS could change that with their first ever UK release, Before The Applause.
Formed in the Chinese capital in 2003, the trio – Liu Min (vocals, bass, synth), Hua Dong (vocals, guitar, synth), Huang Jin (drums) – began as a reaction to the local indie scene. “We were not so satisfied at that time,” says Dong. “It was a little boring and depressing. We thought we could do something cool to shock the audience.”
Their latest release adds EDM elements to a post-punk sound that’s inspired by rule book-breaking bands Gang Of Four, Public Image Limited and Talking Heads. The results are wildly experimental and a million miles away from China’s more melancholic post-rockers such as Summer Fades Away and Hua Lun. The key to their creative success? A gizmo!
“A few years ago, we bought a Boss Loop Station pedal and it’s a very interesting tool for us,” reveals Dong. “It’s made our music more diverse and colourful. I really enjoy the process of building songs up from a very minimal riff with the loop station.”
Their aural experiments can be heard throughout the album, but are particularly effective on the minimalist 8+2+8 I, inspired by Steve Reich’s Clapping Music.
Their choice of gadget came from the loop-friendly Battles. “[Their 2007 album] Mirrored really wowed me,” says Dong. “It was totally different from anything I’d heard before. I started to think about trying more musical possibilities, to experiment with breaking the tethers of the typical post-punk style, and express my mind.”
Re-TROS’ progressive vision has also helped raise awareness of China’s musical scene. Dong has noticed a growing number of young bands creating what he calls “interesting music”, and more live showcases, which all helps this trio climb over that wall.
“I hope we’ll make even more interesting music in the future,” he says, “and have even more opportunities to showcase our music to new audiences around the world. But that’s the one of the reasons for forming a band, right?”
Before The Applause is out on September 15 via Modern Sky. For more, see www.bit.ly/ReTrosOfficial.