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Premiere: “舞狮 Lion Dance” by Ian Chang

We discuss process and the new electronic-pop album, 属 Belonging

“舞狮 Lion Dance,” the lead track from musician/producer Ian Chang‘s first full-length album 属 Belonging, thrums to life with a beat that marries the mechanical and the organic. As the song develops, amassing energy and emotion, Chang grows sampled percussion into an intimate narrative—an awakening of sound and structure. The drummer may best be known thus far as a member of Son Lux and Landlady, or as a versatile collaborator with Moses Sumney, Matthew Dear and many others, but 属 Belonging (released digitally on 24 April, with vinyl released on 29 May) will likely change that.

“The initial inspiration came from the lilting rhythms of a drummer on a Chinese New Year Lion Dance video I found on YouTube,” Chang explains to us of the “舞狮 Lion Dance” origins. “I was really drawn to how angular yet relaxed his playing was, I hadn’t heard anything quite like it, so I wanted to find my way of expressing that feel. I started by grabbing several samples from a different song on my album, ‘Swarm,’ which is a short improvisation that is chock-full of unique sonic moments. After mapping the samples to Sensory Percussion and building a kit around it with some other percussive samples, I experimented with ideas at the kit until the foundational themes emerged.”

Among the album’s nine predominantly instrumental electronic-pop songs, “舞狮 Lion Dance” was the last to be finished. “I also feel like this song is representative of my production style and encompasses the breadth of sounds on the album,” Chang says, “so it sets a precedent for an adventurous and diverse experience” as the album opener. 属 Belonging propels outward from the single—at times dipping into the rare vocal feature from KAZU, Kiah Victoria and Hanna Benn. Chang originally imagined the album to be voice-free, but these collaborations blossomed along with the sonic palette.

Belonging album art

“I’m lucky that I’m in bands where every members’ own ideas and curiosities complement and inspire one another to serve a collective whole,” Chang says of his musical tenure. “I’ve learned so much from my peers over the years and my own taste and creative tendencies are shaped by those I’ve worked with closely. One of the most valuable skills I’ve developed through collaboration is how to communicate my creative ideas clearly and to create with intention.”

“Intention facilitates direction and momentum in the creative process and, when I’m in the driver’s seat working on my own music, I’d be lost if I hadn’t spent time working that muscle,” he continues. “On an objective level, one thing that I do really differently when making my own music is that playing and recording acoustic drums is not a part of the process at all. The inception of making my own music came about organically when I was beta testing Sensory Percussion in 2015. It really upended my creative process and is still a central part of how I make music. Now that it’s been a few years since I started using it, It’s begun to feedback in to the bands that I’m a part of as well.”

Amidst all of his commitments and creative output, Chang explains, “I get a lot of good ideas in the shower or in the 30 minutes before I go to sleep. However, when I’m home, I never work late at night. I try to structure my day so that I work on music every day from late morning till early evening. The routine helps me stay productive without burning out.” With such productivity delivering compositional experiences like “舞狮 Lion Dance” and the album’s beautiful first single “Audacious,” we can all look forward to what comes next.

Hero image by Shayna Fontana


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