GDJYB on being an alternative indie band with an evolving style


GDJYB, abbreviated from Cantonese dish 雞蛋蒸肉餅 (Steamed pork patty with egg) is an alternative indie band from Hong Kong whose unique flair and storytelling has earned them recognition from Taiwan to Iceland. Ten years of existence have presented their fair share of challenges — band lineup reform and a pandemic, for example — but despite their reluctant hiatus, GDJYB hopes to complete a new album in the future. See what they have to say.

With GDJYB, you never guess what’s coming. The first telltale sign is their name: a random choice at first glance, but a tribute to local Hong Kong culture in reality. Then you browse their discography – a list of tracks reminiscent of creative writing prompts, among which are eyebrow-raising gems such as “That Day I Went to His Funeral” and “Durian What What What”.

A band whose goal was to be different from day one, GDJYB adds a surprisingly diverse array of elements to show us just how “progressive” is done. Defying all standards of pop music writing, they weave Chinese opera interjections into a synth-rock composition in “Ideo War,” cleansing our music-programmed palate with contemporary rhapsody. However, this bold means of self-expression might be something of a gamble on today’s thriving music scene, as GDJYB credits it as the reason they “never get popular.” Rest assured that the trio are at peace with their status as designated cult figures – they are driven by a desire to tell a story rather than a wish to generalize.

As part of GDJYB’s ever-evolving creative journey, the 2021 single “而你我都知道一切回不去了 (And You And I Both Know There’s No Going Back)” marks the apparent conclusion of a decade of sins. in Kongese (Hong Kong English), in which lead singer Soft Liu’s Mandarin delivery mixes with an electronic blues instrumental to paint a spitting image of phonograph records of the last century. Is this the start of a new era? We can only find the answer in GDJYB’s new album, release date unconfirmed due to Covid-induced hiatus.

For those who don’t know, who is GDJYB?

We are a Hong Kong indie band formed in 2012 who perform songs in Kongese. We released our self-titled debut EP as an introduction to Hong Kong and Taiwanese audiences. Outside of Hong Kong, we have played many festivals and shows in Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Mainland China, Australia, UK, USA and Iceland.

In December 2016 we released our first full album 23:59 before tomorrow, which won us the title of Best Foreign Artist at the 8th Golden Indie Music Awards in Taiwan! We were also nominated as the best musical group of the 28th Taiwan Golden Melody Awards.

We’ve had some changes in the band – right now our main members are vocalist Soft Liu, guitarist Soni Cheng and bassist Wing Chan.

When and how did your interest in music start?

As many young people would agree, music is an integral part of life. We love to listen to different types of music and crave the feeling of being on stage. Take me (Soft) as an example, I started writing songs when I was very young and honestly I forgot how it started. Creation is never a state of learning, it is a very natural result. When you perceive something to express, nothing can stop you from creating.

How would you describe your style?

We would describe our style of music with the word “alternative”. In the beginning, we were trying to merge the math rock genre with folk music. But after years of trying different approaches, we don’t want to label our creations. Let the music flow naturally.

What is your signature element that sets you apart from other musicians on the scene?

I think it’s the way our music sounds, and the story and the themes we stand for. When we started making music, we wanted to do something different from others, but of course we also had to like it ourselves. While being able to express yourself, you have to be a little different. That’s probably why we never get popular.

What is the first track we should listen to that best defines your sound?

“Ideo War” perhaps? It’s cool and closer to our most recent state of creation – our music has evolved quite a bit from the early days to today.

How long have you been making music?

We started the band in 2012, so it’s been 10 years. Wow!

Do you have any musicians you admire? How do they influence you?

Wing: Toro y Moi is what I’m currently listening to.

Soni: I like The Dinosaur’s Skin, it’s a band from Taiwan. They are so cool.

Do you remember writing your very first song/album? How was the creative process?

Our process has always been very relaxed: sometimes we write the lyrics and the music first, sometimes we create the arrangement of all the music first, then we write the lyrics and the melody. Sometimes we do the first third of the song, put it on for a year, then finish it. Sometimes you can write a song very quickly in a week. There is no specific form.

What does your creative process look like now? Has anything changed?

I guess the only thing that has changed is that we’ve been on hiatus for a while?

How to stay inspired?

Once you have something to say, you will never stop being “inspired”. So whenever we can still “THINK” and there are still ways for us to “EXPRESS”, “LIFE” is our inspiration.

What’s your favorite song you’ve written?

Soft: I think “Lyrics” or “Story” is part of the music, so my favorite song is…. I can’t even choose one. I like “Ideo War”, “Wake Me Up” and “Run! Teens Run!” the most, for now.

What was your most unforgettable concert (good or bad)?

Soft: Iceland Airwaves is without a doubt the most unforgettable music festival I have been to. We used to joke that if one day we could travel to Iceland and perform at a music festival, our lives would be complete. Iceland is a wonderland for me. It is a small country with a smaller population than Shatin, but many famous musicians are from Iceland. People are cool and relaxed, most of them are nature lovers and they love music.

The music festival was also very special: they didn’t set up a big stage like many other music festivals do, but the whole town was the stage. The scene can be a bank, the roof of a house or a fashion store. Everyone in the city could enjoy the music everywhere.

Is there anything new that you would like to experience in the future? Or artists with whom you would like to collaborate?

Due to the pandemic, our group is currently on hiatus. But we’re supposed to finish our next album and release it sometime in the future. Plans never catch up with changes, so we’ll wait and see.

What does music, or being a musician, mean to you?

It is part of our lives. Like how people choose to be teachers or leaders. I think that’s just the way we chose to live: doing what we love.

And after? What are you working on?

In fact, we don’t have any plans at the moment. Because there are too many uncertainties.

Follow GDJYB on Instagram and check out their YouTube channel here.


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