Taipei’s three-piece indie-rock band Iron House explores a diversity of beats and sounds while preserving a sense of radiant darkness in their down-tempo musical style. With Cheng Han on drums, Kao-Man on vocals and Harry on guitar, the trio take their listeners on a journey of eclectic dream-like sounds and hauntingly beautiful vocals. Iron House formed in April 2014, and has played around 41 shows in Taiwan and Japan. Their latest EP was released in July this year, and the band is now looking to tour China and Japan as well as festivals outside of Asia next year. It captures Iron House’s rock and electro influences, which are channelled into a deeper tunnel of ambient sounds by the dreamy vocals of Kao-Man. Their dark, hazy music is of a similar nature to bands such as Mazzy Star, Daughter, Warpaint and The xx. Seoul Journal intern Paula Dunne talked to Iron House to find out about the band’s history, their music and their plans for the future.
SJ: Let’s start from the beginning. How did the three of you meet?
KAO-MAN : The three of us made our proper connection while we were in the studio. Cheng and Harry are good friends and I am also an old friend of Cheng’s. It was Cheng who thought our sense in music was similar, so through Cheng, we all got together to discuss our music and started to play together.
SJ: What is the meaning behind the name “Iron House?”
KAO-MAN: In Taiwan there are many rooftops made with iron sheets, so we decided to choose a name that could represent the image of Taiwan.
SJ: What influences your music?
KAO-MAN: Mainly people, relationships and the observations of life.
SJ: What bands influence your music?
KAO-MAN: We love many bands and artists from the UK such as Radiohead, The xx, Portishead and Daughter, to name some — we are influenced a lot by them.
SJ: What is your creative process for making music?
KAO-MAN: Our drummer Cheng has brought structure to the band and captures the eclectic sounds, while I turn songs into a deeper tunnel of sound and build up the melodic side of Iron House. Harry has defined the darker side of the band with his psychedelic sound and all this encapsulates the concept of Iron House’s work.
SJ: Which song from your EP did you enjoy making the most and why?
CHENG: Actually, I enjoyed the process of making every song.
HARRY: It has to be “Floating Bridge;” it’s like a magical journey for me.
Kao-Man: “Dreams Shadow,” the second song on the EP . It’s the only song that I sang in English this time. I had a great opportunity to discuss this more with our producer Da-Ma.
SJ: So you sang “Dreams Shadow” in English? What was the reason for the use of another language in your music?
KAO-MAN: Well, we listened to a lot of music from foreign countries and got really influenced by their sound and surprised by their logic for creating music. In the beginning of writing songs, it felt more natural and fluent to sing in English and it actually took work to translate our lyrics into Mandarin. Now our lyrics are mainly written in Mandarin.
SJ: How would you describe your music?
KAO-MAN: It seeks to create a space where anxiety and tranquillity coexist.
SJ: I am interested to know how you make such haunting sounds. What sort of music equipment do you use in your music?
KAO-MAN: On vocals I use Revival Electric, The Synapse and Line 6- Echo Park.
CHENG: I use Ableton Live, Spd Sx and Ludwig Black Beauty.
HARRY: My brain [Laughs]
SJ: What are your favorite songs of all time?
KAO-MAN: Elliot Smith — “Waltz #1.”
CHENG: The xx — “Intro.” HARRY: Radiohead — “The Thief.” (Can Cover)
SJ: Finally, what are the plans for Iron House this year? Will new music be released soon?
KAO-MAN: We are making a music video and writing new songs soon. In December, we’re looking forward to holding an event called “Good Stuff Vol.2” that has invited two other bands from Japan who we have cooperated with before in Taipei. We toured in Tokyo this year and have a chance to do a special event there again in Tokyo next year in either February or March. We recently worked with our Japanese-support guitarist Akira Kadokawa in some of our gigs — we seem to be having more and more chances to play with him again in the future.
Photo Credits: Sherry Huang
Interviewer/ Journalist: Paula Dunne