Kelly Dance discovered Science Fiction World in a quiet local library at the end of her street in Hong Kong, the magazine that would spur her interest in Chinese sci-fi and ultimately shape her upcoming album ‘Wild Grass’. Four songs from which were previewed earlier this year in her new EP ‘All That’s Gained’. “Science fiction was a way for me to connect with my new home,” says Dance. “I moved to Hong Kong in 2013 and knew nothing about China. I had no-idea what people were into - who their heroes were, what they were listening to, what it was like to grow up here - and those stories helped me understand the spirit of the place”.
Inspiration for ‘Wild Grass’ emerged from her science fiction musings and from living and touring in one of the most rapidly changing countries in the world. Dance traveled mostly alone by train to 15 cities in Southern, Central and Northern China, during her 2015 tour where she played at some of China’s most notable festivals including: Sound of the Xity (SOTX), Midi Festival and Chang Jiang International Music Festival. “It’s futuristic and ancient, alien but down to earth,” reflects Dance on China. “Certain records took on new meaning for me; electronic records like Radiohead’s OK computer but also instrumental acoustic records like John Fahey’s blind Joe Death. So we tried to create something that sonically dealt with futuristic themes but also sounded organic and human”. The resulting album embraces a narrative-led lo-fi folk approach while incorporating the soundscapes of these newer, extreme urban milieus: layered synths, mechanical bells and wandering guitars all simmering beneath simple, unwavering melodies.
Wild Grass and its title track take their namesake from a collection of prose-poems written in 1927 by Lu Xun, the Grand-daddy of Chinese Sci-Fi and one of China’s most prolific cultural critics. The song exposes the hopeless plight of ghosts and demons who denounce their resident hell only to become greater enemies of Man. “Brothers sweet brothers in hell,” Dance implores. “Won’t you tell me what’s on your mind? Is it something that we lost when all the fire went out?”