ABOVE: RAINBOW CHAN
Sydney-based synth-pop artist Rainbow Chan’s new EP, Long Vacation, couldn’t have been assigned a more appropriate title. “I had written enough material for a very dark album in 2011 but fell in love with someone who inspired me to be carefree and to not be afraid of showing my playful self,” explains Chan.
Playful is right. Over the course of the EP’s five tracks, Rainbow Chan’s airy arrangements traverse a bubbly landscape of romance and whimsy. “The spark for Long Vacation came from us watching too many Japanese TV dramas from the ’90s. Their soundtracks were saccharine and melodious, a wonderfully nostalgic blend of R&B and J-pop,” says Chan, whose palette often draws from the sounds of her childhood. “I wanted to capture that feeling of being sun-kissed and hazy after you’ve awoken from an afternoon nap in the sun.”
The EP also marked a new direction in songwriting for the artist. “I wanted to refine my songwriting and production. I’d write on guitar or piano, then deconstruct the song’s fabric by warping organic sounds and blending them with electronics,” she says. “While at times syrupy, I feel the songs are more hard-hitting than my previous work.” This new approach is clear on the dreamy “Skinny Dipping,” whose retro-leaning production mixes carefully plucked guitars with a gleeful 1950s-esque melody. “I wasn’t afraid of writing more upbeat and visceral music,” says Chan. The music was also inspired by Japanese actress Momoe Yamaguchi, who shed her fame and stopped performing in 1980. “Her amazing, naff dance moves encouraged me to write something that had more of a groove,” says Chan.
Things aren’t always fun and games for Rainbow Chan, however. She also brings a sense of drama to her arrangements as her voice dips and weaves around the bubbly beats. “These songs are a vacation from the daily grind. Maybe they are a vacation from responsibility, or fear, or love.” Yet, like any vacation, it has to end sometime. “Haircut,” in particular, has an ephemeral feel, as if Chan’s holiday can only go on for so long. And, as it turns out, things didn’t end well for the relationship that inspired the record. “Sadly, my heart had taken too long a vacation from the boy who saw the growth of these songs. Upon my return, he was gone.” Take the whole trip by listening to our exclusive stream of Long Vacation below.