Earsnail is an electronic music duo comprised of musicians Wang Xu and Yan Shuai. Combining their individual approaches to music, the duo is unconstrained by boundaries of genre. Their experimental style reimagines the possibilities of sound and how music can be presented. Under FakeMusicMedia, the two have recently released their debut album, 9999, and locked in tour dates that takes the duo across China. We grabbed drinks with the duo during the Shanghai stop of their tour to learn about their recent musical developments and what we can expect from them in the future.
Having played in bands when they were younger, Wang Xu and Yan Shi have both been interested in creating music even prior to Earsnail. In 2013, the two would meet up and experiment with the production equipment they each had on hand. These early days of experimentation became the foundation for Earsnail. Now, the two’s production style have matured immensely since those early days, with each track filled with richly complex elements. Yan Shi shares that one of his favorite samples is from a field recording of a random saxophonist they met at the park – even though the original recorded sound wasn’t interesting, they were able to take segments of it and integrate it perfectly into a track.
The new album, 9999, is a reference to Beijing’s nickname of “The Four Nine City,” a fitting name considering that the duo sees the album as a compilation of their memories from living in Beijing. For Wang Xu, the most meaningful track on the entire album is “City Bird.” “The song has to do with the place where I called home,” he shares. “There was a tree in front of my house, and during that time, Beijing’s air quality was particularly bad. A few birds made their nest there, and I would observe these birds as they grew and hatched babies. Watching them survive in this kind of environment gave me a lot of different ideas. It made me feel like our lives were not too different from the lives of these birds.” Similarly, their “Ant” track builds on the theme of living in urban environments. The song is a statement about the daily lives of the working class, likening them to a colony ants, continuously working to survive without a moment of respite.
Listen to select tracks from the new album below:
The two share a similar mixed feeling around the current state of electronic music in China. They’re both eager to see more new faces and hear new sounds but also feel a sense of apprehension. “I feel like it’s good that more and more people are interested in this kind of music, and more are willing to try and produce it,” Wang Xu comments. “But at the same time, I feel like people are very impatient in this kind of environment, whenever they start anything they’ll first think about whether or not their work will succeed or be recognized by others.”
As their tour nears the end, Earsnail has toured through a number of different cities across China. The duo has been documenting every city along the way. “Of course, every city is different,” Wang comments, expressing an eagerness to revisit certain cities on their tour. “I’m curious about the changes that these different cities have undergone over the years. The plan is to snap some photos and also keep my ears open to try and find interesting sounds to sample in these different cities.” Concluding their China tour, Earsnail will be stopping by Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai. Click here to purchase tickets.