Twisterella have, in the 10 years they’ve been together, carved out a name for themselves in the local music scene. The shoegaze and noise-pop outfit have built a reputation for their stunning live shows, often dissected into four “acts”, and accompanied by synchronised visuals. A decade into their performances, and the four-piece have finally dropped their long-awaited debut album, Seasons Over The Years. In January, they celebrated their first full-length record with a launch show at Kowloon’s intimate venue Sai Coeng.
Much of their success lies with their producer, Alok Leung. “We recorded the songs in our own studio with very limited experience. What we sent to Alok was rough,” admitted Hanes Cheung – who plays guitar, synth, and programming for the band. Leung is, Cheung added, practically the fifth member of Twisterella for all the work he did on the music post-recording. “He [took the album] to the next level.”
“Alok is very experienced and professional, and asked us about the overall style we were aiming for,” added lead vocalist Karen Chan. “We had to re-do parts of it to reach our expectations.”
This DIY-ethos partly bled into the album artwork, too, as the band “had no money”, said Hanes. Their lack of finances meant they ended up creating their own art for the album.
“We didn’t think anyone should do the art for us without being paid,” Chan, who studied multimedia art in school, explained. “We bought paint, watched YouTube clips, and started a little art jam in the studio.”
“We still had to re-do it a few times, just like when we’re recording the songs,” bassist Sammer Wong added. “The amount of water [you use] changed the way paint flows, so [the artwork] took a long time. It was really exhausting.” Still, the group have been able to take positives from this lengthy development process. “Each time that we’ve had to re-do something, we’ve learned something new. We made it better,” said Hanes. “That’s why I think it was all worth it in the end.”
Their care to detail doesn’t just stop at their debut album, though. Twisterella, who performed at last year’s Clockenflap festival, earlier this month opened for The Week HK, and performed two shows at Taipei and Tainan in Taiwan this weekend. Their reputation for putting on a good show is likely down to their well-rehearsed sets, which are paired with visuals created by Eric Yau Yan, who goes by the pseudonym Crystal Bug.
“Eric has created visual support for many musicians.” said Hanes, when he thinks back on when he first started talking to the sound and visual artist. “He told me he was thinking of working with a shoegaze band. We wanted to [have visuals that matched up] with the concept of the album – the seasons – so Eric suggested we have a four-act show to symbolise the changing of the four seasons. We selected songs to represent each season, and Eric created a visual. The most symbolic scene is the last song, Decay Until Next Life, where he uses a very abstract visual to symbolise reincarnation.”
Their album launch show was just as good as any of their typical shows, too.
“We [considered] the Multi-media Theatre from HKICC’s Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity so that we could add visual projections to the large theatre screen,” Chan said, but added the group had to adapt their set-up for Sai Coeng. “It’s a much smaller space, with a smaller stage, but we could wrap the sides of it [around] to make it into a three-sided projection. My friends told me they never imagined that a live performance could be so cool and stylish.”
Seasons Over The Years is available to purchase from Bandcamp or on all streaming services.