A version of this article originally appeared on Noisey China.
Shanghai-based electronic musician 33EMYBW’s signature is the monstrous arthropod that appears in her latest music video “Golem.” The eccentric video, produced by Chinese visual artist Fang Yang, is a surreal trip: the creature floats against a red, tie-dye-like background, its limbs like unruly braids moving as if they had their own will, dressed with green ribbons with artist’s own face collaged on them.
33EMYBW’s new album Golem dropped on October 19 on the electronic label SVBKVLT Shanghai. Noisey China talked with her about her vision for the album and how it relates to art, technology, and modern reality.
Noisey: So is “Golem”—this self-reflective entity in the video—a metaphor for all the objects and advancements of the modern world, which we see through new technologies?
33EMYBW: Yes. This album truthfully conveys what I feel about the world. I was inspired by reality and deeply influenced by technology, the internet, and the city where I live.
Each song on the album is based on an allusion. How did you come up with all of that? Can you give us some examples?
“Masudi” is “dream,” [Editor’s note*: “Masudi” is the name of the dream-hunters in Dictionary of the Khazars.] “English” is “language,” “Ship of Theseus” is “time,” and these are the three core elements of the album. “Popop” is “duplication,” “Yarsa-gumba” is “devouring,” and “Drum” is “ceremony”—these three [songs] capture the action of the record. [As a whole,] the album explores how a person gains consciousness in a virtual reality. It’s like an instruction kit for “Golem,” created by sounds.
How do you connect occultism with the ACG (Chinese Anime, Comic and Game) culture?
I think it’s human instinct to look for the associations between different things. I’m just like that, especially when it comes to things I’m interested in.
Arthropods come up a lot in your work. What about them do you find beautiful, and do you have any advice for people who are afraid of them?
My goal was to break the barriers between sound and sight, and make arthropods convey that same kind of feeling. When I performed live at my album release party, I felt that the rhythms I was making were similar to the structure of arthropods—that sort of mechanical beauty derived from order. So I started describing my music as a “limb dance.” I also experimented with visuals and graphics on my phone, making collages that produced a similar sensation. Arthropods are the largest phylum in the animal kingdom. Shrimps and crabs are arthropods. They’re still beautiful; they don’t mean to scare you.
If you could talk to Sophia the robot, what would you ask her?
What’s the best dream and worst nightmare you’ve ever had? What’s your favorite clothing line? I have a really cool new song, do you want to sing it?