No Luck Club on the Road to Prosperity
- Interview with Trevor Chan of No Luck Club
No Luck Club on the Road to Prosperity
Hip-Hop artists tour Canada
By Ben Taylor
Epoch Times Vancouver Staff Nov 09, 2006
PHOTO: Vancouver based Chinese Canadian Hip Hop instrumental group No
Luck Club (From R to L) Trevor Chan, his brother Matt Chan, and Paul
Besen AKA Pluskratch. (Rebecca Blissett)
Vancouver-based Chinese Canadian hip-hop instrumental trio No Luck
Club are setting out for the far east - of Canada that is, sharing
"Prosperity" with the people. Consisting of brothers Trevor and Matt
Chan and master turntablist Paul Belan (a.k.a. DJ Pluskratch), the
group's super-fresh album, Prosperity, which just hit the stores, has
already caught the attention of the most unlikely of listeners.
Ninety-something surviving head tax payers have been tweaking their
hearing aids to tune in to NLC's "Our Story," a powerful track which
was in part inspired by the experiences of the Chan family; the
brothers' great- grandparents were separated for decades by the
discriminatory 1923-1947 Exclusion Act.
NLCs busy Trevor Chan made time for a chat with The Epoch Times ,
covering everything from racial discrimination to the future
probability of turntable battles between DJ robots and humans.
ET - The name No Luck Club was formed partly because of the lack of
luck in the industry, true?
TC - That wasn't the intention but unfortunately it's turned into a
self-fulfilling prophecy! The NLC name was a spur of the moment
decision - we needed to call our project something when we sent out
our demo. I guess it was an ironic, pseudo-hipster take on the Joy
Luck Club. A regrettable decision, but what can you do?
ET - So do the titles of your albums reflect where you are at
artistically and/or in the industry?
TC - The album titles simply refer to the Chinese gods of good
fortune: Happiness, Prosperity & Longevity. We had a 3-album recording
deal so we decided to make a trilogy. This was more of a writing tool
to help us structure the themes and organize the sound bites we use in
ET - How has the track "Our story" been received so far?
TC - The reaction has been great. CBC Radio 3 got behind it really
early when we played them a draft version of the song right before the
federal election. But things really picked up right before we
performed at the Vancouver Folk Festival this summer. I believe Sid
Tan (Vancouver head tax redress activist) told a bunch of people in
the Chinese language media about our song - next thing you know we're
being interviewed by all the Chinese dailies and appearing in Ming
Pao's weekend magazine.
Our album comes out Nov 7 and early reviews from Eye Weekly & the
Globe and Mail have all mentioned the song. G&M in particular seemed
to focus in on the head tax issue which is great because the article
appeared in the entertainment section - not the usual stomping ground
for redress discussions. It'll be interesting to see how people react
to the song with the latest round of media attention.
ET - What do you make of the Chinese Canadian Community groups, like
the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC) winning the battle
against the Chinese Communist affiliated groups in Canada such as the
National Congress of Chinese Canadians (NCCC)?
TC - I'll be honest - I don't keep up to date with the politics
involved in CCC groups. However, I did manage to wander into the NCCC
redress event when they were in Vancouver last November, 2005. I
needed a break from working on our record so I thought I'd see what
was going on with the redress movement since we were making a song
about it. I wasn't too impressed when I found out that the people
holding this meeting was in favour of pooling all the redress money
into an "education" program. My . radar was on high alert when I
noticed that more than half the meeting was wasted on photo ops and
people patting each other on the back. It definitely had an air of
cronyism. No wonder the Liberals lost the election-who in their right
mind would form an alliance with these clowns from the NCCC? I read
about their fishy background later on but at the time I just brushed
it off as the usual Chinatown political tomfoolery.
ET - The Epoch Times is banned in China and its editorial series Nine
Commentaries on the Communist Party has sparked over 14 million
members to quit the Party. What are your thoughts on the state of
Chinese communism today and the Chinese people living in Mainland
NLC's Brand new albulm "Prosperity" (David Order Wong)TC - I wouldn't
know, I haven't been to China in over 10 years and I'm sure much has
changed. I don't go out of my way to seek indie Chinese news sources
and I certainly don't trust the "mainstream" press coverage. Seems
like most of the news you hear about China relates to its economy.
It's like the rest of the world views China in one of two ways: either
as a mass consumer market to which to sell goods or a cheap labour
market that will take away manufacturing jobs everywhere else. I don't
think Mainland Chinese are really viewed as individuals - they're just
this abstract concept of 1 billion persons.
As for the communist government, I figure they finally got a clue over
the years. They probably realized that they should follow America's
example: by bringing economic prosperity to the masses, those at the
top will have that much more to skim.
ET - Is there a Chinese hip-hop scene in Canada/ North America/
globally and have you connected with some of them?
TC - There are artists of Chinese descent creating hip hop but I'm not
sure if there's necessarily a "scene". Even if there was one we'd
probably stay away from it. It's the Groucho Marx philosophy: we
wouldn't want to be a part of any group that would have us as members!
We've always wanted to work with the best people possible, regardless
of race. However, it's always great to hang out with other Asians who
create music - there's this unspoken "knowing" of the struggles
involved in convincing our families that we're not going to ruin the
lineage with our "career choice".
ET - Are you guys known in China? What do you think of the hip-hop
scene in China?
TC - No... but we'd very much like to play there one day and then
hopefully we will be known in certain places. However, I'm not too
familiar with China's hip hop scene. The only people I've heard of are
from Hong Kong: LMF and DJ Tommy the turntablist. But I've always been
curious about the underground music scene. I just want to know what
the kids are into - irrespective of genre. Although I've heard for
years that there's a big punk rock scene in Beijing and that's where
we should go to discover the more edgier arts & indie scenes.
ET - What do you think of turntablism and sample-based music? Has it
peaked? Where is it going? Do you think it will lead to computers
winning most of the Grammys in 2010?
TC - Sample-based music isn't going anywhere. It's getting much easier
to create and the tools are widely available. If anything, I figure it
will become more ingrained in the creative process. As for
turntablism, it has nowhere to go but up! After all, it is a pretty
marginal art form to begin with. Turntablism has always been more of a
performance art and there really aren't that many artist records when
you compare it to other sub-genres of music.
Besides, the music business is undergoing an unprecedented seismic
change and only a fool would predict what the future sound will be.
However, I seriously doubt a computer will produce the hits of the
future - I've got more faith in humanity and the listening audience.
The only thing I'm willing to say is that the Grammys will probably be
even less relevant in 2010 than they are today because music audiences
will have fractured that much. There are already enough artists and
good music outside the established system; what is changing is the
ability to help people find that music.
ET - Will Human DJs have to battle robot DJs in the future? Have you
ever had to battle Robo-DJs yet? Are you training for this now? What
is the training like? Gong-Fu? Chin-ups? Special Diets? Secret
TC - Probably not and I'll tell you why. No robot could have
envisioned the use of a record player as a musical instrument in the
first place - it's too impractical and illogical! Does not compute.
Only crazy humans could come up with something so wacky. I'll place my
bets on the human spirit any day of the week.
For tour dates and other NLC info visit: www.noluckclub.com