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Rainbow Chan

Rainbow Chan

Meet musician and multidisciplinary artist from Sydney, Rainbow Chan.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a musician and multidisciplinary artist, working and living on Gadigal Land also known as Sydney. I was born in Hong Kong and migrated to Australia at the age of six, just before the 1997 handover. Being between cultures has significantly shaped my thinking and core values. As a result, the works I make often revolve around identity, language, and place. I love listening to and analysing pop music in our globalised world, with a focus on hybridised sounds.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

She wakes up to the intonations of magpies and suburban traffic. Across the road, gumnuts are crushed between school shoes and asphalt. Today is her day off. On the way to the train station, she grabs a soy flat white and a croissant from the Korean cafe on the corner. A pair of small brown dogs lie flat on the pavement like open halves of a chocolate macaron. The ocean pool is where she’s heading to on this radiant morning. She knows that the gentle, salty kiss of the sea breeze awaits her sunscreened skin. But it will be a while longer on the train, then a bus and a walk, before she’d get there. She naps and has a dream in Cantonese. The city carries on in all colours, shapes and sizes.

 

Being between cultures has significantly shaped my thinking and core values. As a result, the works I make often revolve around identity, language, and place. I love listening to and analysing pop music in our globalised world, with a focus on hybridised sounds.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

Best: The gorgeous weather
Worst: Expensive rent

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Do It Yourself.

 

How did you start your career in music?

During uni, I was making demos in my bedroom and playing small gigs around town. In my final year of undergrad, I entered a song into a music competition held by FBi Radio, a youth-oriented community radio broadcaster in Sydney. The winner of the competition would be flown to Iceland to perform and record music with local musicians. I was one of the winners! I’d say that opportunity really kickstarted my career. Community radio is such a crucial platform for emerging artists. I am grateful for all the ways in which FBi Radio have supported me over the years.

 

I entered a song into a music competition held by FBi Radio, a youth-oriented community radio broadcaster in Sydney. The winner of the competition would be flown to Iceland to perform and record music with local musicians. I was one of the winners! I’d say that opportunity really kickstarted my career.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

My family has always been supportive of my unconventional career choices. A lot of my friends are in creative or academic fields as well, which is helpful because we can collaborate, share resources, and comfort each other when we’re feeling the pressures of our precarious jobs.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

Make meaningful, compelling and risk-taking works, which broaden our cultural landscape. Build communities and use my experience to create opportunities for others.

 

Make meaningful, compelling and risk-taking works, which broaden our cultural landscape. Build communities and use my experience to create opportunities for others.

 

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Midori Takada, an amazing Japanese percussionist, and composer who I’ve been listening to for many years. In 2017, I saw her perform at a historic military fort at Middle Head, one of Sydney Harbour’s seven headlands. It was truly magical and cold. Midori also recently collaborated with Lafawndah in a short film for KENZO called “Le renard Bleu.” She is a real pioneer.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

I grew up with three sisters, no brothers. I also went to a public girls’ school, so I’ve constantly been surrounded by women. My Modern History teacher was a really important figure in my life because she instilled in us the idea of female solidarity from a young age. I think was too young to understand what resisting the patriarchy meant, but this teacher would talk passionately about gender, politics, and society. “Girls, you need to lift each other up!” she’d say. Naturally gravitating towards like-minded people, I feel the women around me are resilient, compassionate, and hard-working.

 

“Girls, you need to lift each other up!” she’d say. Naturally gravitating towards like-minded people, I feel the women around me are resilient, compassionate, and hard-working.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

When I had Myspace in high school, I came across Sui Zhen’s page and fell in love with her music. Not only was her voice incredibly distinctive, but I found her colourful way of story-telling really refreshing. Additionally, it was exciting to see another young Asian female pursuing a creative career. We chatted briefly online as I fangirled over her tracks. Years later, we played a gig together and struck up a friendship that’s lasted almost a decade now. Sui Zhen’s craft is unparalleled. I’m looking forward to her next LP “Losing, Linda.”

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

Björk summed it up once, “Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times.” Conversations about gender equality and fair representation have accelerated in the last five years. I mean, it’s 2019—we know about sexism across all industries. While some dialogues have been more productive than others, it’s nice to see that there are some tangible results. For instance, there are online networks and local workshops, such as MusicNSW, I.C.E Parramatta, Girls! Rock, and NECTAR, which provide musical training for female, trans and non-binary folks. More government funding in these sectors will continue to level the playing field.

 

You’re not going to realise the power and significance of your work until many years after the fact, which means you have to stay self-motivated most of the time.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

You’re not going to realise the power and significance of your work until many years after the fact, which means you have to stay self-motivated most of the time. Hearing younger female artists, especially girls of Asian descent, tell me that I’ve inspired them makes the hard work I’ve put in over the last ten years worth it. I didn’t realise visibility is so important until now. Surround yourself with others who celebrate you. Cherish and cultivate those relationships.

 

 

OBLIVION MV & IMAGES:

Creative by Capsule48
Directed and edited by Anne Berry
Shot by Ian Wong
Styled by Rainbow Chan
Title graphics by hoy0120

 

IMAGES:

Photography: Hyun Lee

Styling: Al Joel

Hair and makeup: Maggie Wu

Soundcloud:

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