Interviews

Talking Vietnamese Funeral Music with Sex Tourists

The Sydney band, who feature members of Aloha Units, have just released a demo cassette of dark and brooding synths.

by Tim Scott
22 June 2015, 6:00am

Sex Tourists is the musical project of Sydney duo Darius and Ewan. Born from late night synth jamming sessions, the two started some home recordings that has resulted in a demo cassette that has just been released on their own Trackside Records label.

The three tracks on the tape offer some dark and brooding but extremely catchy music. The vocals on the opening “Birthday Party” brings to mind fellow Sydney outfit Orion, who have also released an excellent demo tape.

Some of Sex Tourists’ inspiration can be found on the Trackside blog which includes a fascinating mix of Vietnamese funeral music that has been ripped from You Tube clips. Beautifully haunting melodies that are unique to Vietnam's Buddhist tradition and funeral rites, the music was almost silenced by communism and war. Thankfully the sad and otherworldly sounds live on both on You Tube and in Vietnam.

Since recording the tape, the band has added their friend Nicola on guitar and is planning some upcoming shows as well as recording a 12” EP.

We sent Ewan (who also plays in the excellent Aloha Units) some questions to find out more about the band and the mystique of Vietnamese funeral music.

Noisey: There is a dark element to your sound. Is this deliberate?
Ewan Finley: It’s not really deliberate, I think it might be a by-product of liking Goth music and recording in the rain.

How did you get into Vietnamese funeral music?
I spent around six months in Vietnam and came across a few different funerals there. My friend and I were riding around a city on the Mekong Delta late at night and stumbled on a funeral procession. It had this weird electric bluesy guitar leading the band. It sounded like a bizarre and refreshing take on the often turgid genres of blues and psych (although I wouldn't apply the label of 'psych' to funeral music).

There is a lot of lamentation about the dying art of traditional funeral music in Vietnam from musicologists and the music on the mix is most definitely not traditional funeral music. It's a more recent development. Bastard music. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the evolution of Viet funeral music and it's something I'd like to look into further. I really know fuck all about it at the moment and there is very little written about it.

Are you able to spot a sex tourist in a crowded airport?
I was at Changi airport once and there was an obvious sex tourist who had saved up enough money to buy instead of rent an impoverished sex slave. There's a really weird area in the airport with a big pond thing with bridges and Christmas displays and he was making her pose on the bridges for photos. It could have been a harmless loving couple, but it looked chat. I think Australians are big fans of sex tourism.

The Sex Tourists cassette is available from the band’s Bandcamp page.

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