GDJYB, abbreviated from the Cantonese dish 雞蛋蒸肉餅 (Steamed pork patty with egg) is a Hong Kong alternative indie band whose unique flair and storytelling have earned them recognition from Taiwan all the way to Iceland. Ten years of being around did present its fair share of challenges — reformation of the band lineup and a pandemic, for example — but despite their reluctant hiatus, GDJYB is hopeful to finish a new album some time in the future. See what they have to say.
With GDJYB, you never guess what’s coming. The first telling sign is their name: a random choice at first glance, but a tribute to Hong Kong local culture in reality. Then you browse through their discography — a roster of titles 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 group whose goal was to be different from day one, GDJYB throws in a surprisingly diverse array of elements to show us how “progressive” is done. Defying all pop music writing norms, they introduce Chinese opera interjections to a synth-rock composition in “Ideo War“, cleansing our programmed palate in music with a contemporary rhapsody. This daring means of self-expression could be somewhat of a gambling move in today’s blooming music scene, however, as GDJYB accounts it for the reason why they “never get popular”. Rest assured that the trio is at peace with their designated cult figure status — they are compelled by the desire to tell a story rather than the wish to go mainstream.
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 seeming conclusion to a decade of sining in Kongish (Hong Kong English), in which the Mandarin delivery of lead vocalist Soft Liu intermixes with an electronic-blues instrumental to portray a spitting image of last century’s phonograph records. Is this the beginning of a new era? We can only find the answer in GDJYB’s new album, release date not confirmed due to a Covid-induced hiatus.
Tuning In: GDJYB
For those who don’t know, who is GDJYB?
We are a Hong Kong indie band formed in 2012 who plays songs in Kongish. We released our self-titled debut EP as our introduction to the Hong Kong and Taiwanese audience. Outside of Hong Kong, we have performed in numerous festivals and shows in Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, mainland China, Australia, the UK, the US and Iceland.
In December 2016, we released our first full-length album 23:59 Before Tomorrow, which won us the title of the Best Overseas Artiste in Taiwan’s 8th Golden Indie Music Awards! We were also nominated as the best musical group in the 28th Taiwan Golden Melody Awards.
We have experienced changes within the band — right now our main members are lead vocalist Soft Liu, guitarist Soni Cheng and bassist Wing Chan.
When and how did your interest in music begin?
Like many young people would agree, music is an integral part of life. We like listening to different types of music, and we yearn for the feeling of being on stage. Take me (Soft) as an example, I started writing songs when I was very young and honestly 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 music style with the word “alternative”. At first we were trying to fuse the math rock genre with folk music. But after years of trying different approaches, we don’t want to give our creations labels. Let the music flow naturally.
What is your signature element that sets you apart from other musicians in the scene?
I think it’s how our music sounds, and the story and themes we champion. When we first 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’s the first track we should listen to that best defines your sound?
“Ideo War” maybe? It’s cool stuff and closer to our most recent state of creation — our music has evolved quite a bit from the early days to the present.
How long have you been doing music?
We started the band back in 2012, so it’s been 10 years. Wow!
Do you have any musicians you look up to? How do they influence you?
Wing: Toro y Moi is what I am currently listening to.
Soni: I like The Dinosaur’s Skin, they are a band from Taiwan. They are so chill.
Do you remember writing your first-ever track/album? What was the creative process like?
Our process has always been very casual: sometimes we write the lyrics and music first, sometimes we create the arrangement of the whole music first, and then write the lyrics and melody. Sometimes we make the first one-third of the song, put it down for a year and then complete it. Sometimes we can write a song very quickly in a week. There is no specific form.
What is your creative process like now? Did anything change?
I guess the only thing that has changed is that we’ve been on hiatus for a while?
How do you stay inspired?
Once you have something to express, 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 is your favourite lyric you’ve written?
Soft: I think “Lyrics” or the “Story” is part of the music, so my favourite song of ours is…. I can’t even pick one. I like “Ideo War”, “Wake Me Up” and “Run! Teens Run!” the most, for now.
What was your most unforgettable gig (for good or for bad)?
Soft: Iceland Airwaves is definitely my most unforgettable music festival that I have been to. We used to joke that if someday we can make it to Iceland and play in a music festival, our lives will be whole. Iceland is such a wonderland for me. It is a small country with a population smaller than Shatin, but many famous musicians hailed from Iceland. The people are chill and relaxed, most of them are nature lovers and they love music.
The music festival was very special, too: they did not set up a large stage like many other music festivals do, instead the whole city was the stage. The stage could be a bank, a rooftop of someone’s house, or a fashion boutique. Everyone in the city could enjoy the music everywhere.
Anything new you want to experiment with in the future? Or any artists you’d like to collaborate with?
Due to the pandemic, our band is currently on pause. But we are supposed to complete our next album and release it, some day, in the future. Plans never catch up with changes, so we will wait and see.
What does music, or being a musician, mean to you?
It’s part of our lives. Like how people choose to be teachers, or chiefs. I think it’s just the way we chose to live: to do what we like.
What’s next? What are you working on?
Actually, we have no plans for now. Because there are too many uncertainties.