As I set myself the goal to interview bands from each country in the world, obviously, I set myself up for disaster in some cases. Hongkong is a separate country in some forms and not in others. Yet it is a region with a separate identity and a different history. It flies a different flag and is the stomping ground for many creative, interesting bands who balance the west and east in their art. XieJia is one of those bands.
XieJia has been around for a long time and has gone through many incarnations. Their style shifted, and so did their names and line-ups, but the group remains. The topic of their homeland is complicated, but their passion for music is not. Thanks to Michael Leung, for taking the time to answer my questions.
How is XieJia doing, and would you be so kind as to introduce yourselves (so it is clear who is answering)?
I am Michael Leung, the guitarist from XieJia. We are now recording a new single, which will be released around late 2022 to early 2023. However, for some reason, our members are now living in two separate countries and will not do live performances in the next few years.
How was the band started, and can you tell us a bit about its connection to the previous bands Orthon and Dark Vampire? Why did the name change?
Dark Vampire was formed in 2002 and disbanded in 2006. Some of the band members reorganized the band and changed the name to Orthon due to the change in the music style. Afterwards, Orthon was disbanded in 2012, and XieJia was formed by some members of Orthon. The music style was changed evidently from symphonic black metal to extreme black metal if we compared the music style from Orthon and the early XieJia. However, I think XieJia is a special case that even though the line-up and music style has obviously changed, we didn’t change the name of our band. Most of the new members agreed to use XieJia as the band name during this decade so we continued to use this name to represent our band.
As I understand, you’ve gone through quite some changes in the lineup; how has it affected your sound?
Our line-up has been frequently changed until 2020. It has caused some significant changes in our music. In the beginning, our music is strongly inspired by some traditional black metal and death metal bands like Dimmu Borgir, Fleshgod Apocalypse and CHTHONIC etc. Due to the change in our line-up, our music has become more diversified. We are now inspired by some metalcore and modern metal bands like Trivium, Periphery, DEVILOOF etc.
Your last release was ‘Order of the King’ from 2016. What can you tell me about the themes and stories you are telling through your music on this record?
The central theme of ‘Order of King” is mainly about some traditional stories and Histories about wars in the Orient. We hope our audience can know more about our homeland through our music.
What is your writing and recording process like as a band?
We usually jam in the rehearsal room and record the demos at home. Afterwards, we will modify the demos and re-record it and send the tracks to sound engineers for mixing and mastering.
You’ve released some new music this year; what is the direction you are taking XieJia in from here?
As I have mentioned, our music style has strongly changed to be more modern and diversified due to the change of our line up. Both of the tracks that we’ve released this year can strongly show that, especially our newest track, Mourning The Apocalypse. This track contains some metalcore-like breakdown, Orchestral, and clear chorus that we have never tried before. Hope that can let our audience feel fresh to our music.
I wanted to ask you about the theme of Chinese folklore. Can you say something about how your origin in Hong Kong explicitly finds room there?
This question is a tough question. Due to some historical factors, sometimes we strongly agree we are part of Chinese folklore and sometimes we think we are a bit different or even an outsider from the traditional idea of “Chinese folklore”. That’s why some of our early music expressed a strong connection with the theme of Chinese folklore which our newest music didn’t. Our newest music mostly focuses on some more general ideas on human beings such as greed, betrayal and wars etc. since we don’t want to just focus on the theme of Chinese folklore. We would like to show that we have a broader and more international understanding of our world. However, such ideas are still strongly connected to the idea of some Traditional stories and Histories in the Orient or the “Chinese folklore”.
How does, in your opinion, the Hong Kong metal scene relate to that of mainland China? Do you feel like a Hong Kong band or a Chinese band?
From my point of view, I don’t really think Hong Kong metal is related to mainland China musically. Most of the Hong Kong metal music theme is about Hong Kong or the global. It shows that what the Hong Kong metal musicians care about are either our homeland Hong Kong (due to some historical reasons, there are some differences between Hong Kong and mainland China in some sense) or the whole world.
I don’t think we are a Hong Kong band or Chinese band since I don’t think distinguishing bands by their geographical area is appropriate. What I would like to say is that we are a black metal band on planet Earth and we appreciate musicians and audiences around the globe.
Can you say something about the scene in Hong Kong? How did it get started? Which bands are really worth checking out?
To my mind, the scene in Hong Kong is getting much better (if we compare it to the past 20 years). However, I think it’s a global trend due to the growth of the internet. We can easily share our music on the internet nowadays. Also, there are tons of new musicians in Hong Kong who put a lot of effort into their works. Unfortunately, due to the strict restrictions of live performance (due to Covid-19) by the Hong Kong Government, the live music industry is undergoing a hard time, and many live houses are closed down. It’s strongly affected the scene of independent music in Hong Kong.
There are quite a lot; here are some personal suggestions: The ancient metal Gainorva Jason kui (a solo guitar artist), Meowmeow, Mourning, Thy Truth, NiLiu, Relinquish, Soul of Ears, and Uchu Yurei.
Do you use traditional instruments in your music? From some of your videos, it seems you do.
Yes, we have tried to use an Oriental traditional instrument called Zither in one of our track ‘Kings of Hell’. Also, we will try to use more traditional Japanese instruments in our upcoming tracks.
I’m fascinated by the looks of the band in ‘corpse paint’, as it is not the typical black metal look. Can you say something about the aesthetics of XieJia? (this picture in particular)
We took reference to some black metal bands’ outlook in the early years. However, due to the intended change of our music style, we have abandoned the traditional black metal outlook and have some casual dressing during performances.
What are your future plans? When can we expect a new release?
As I have mentioned, we are recording a new single which is about a famous Japanese historical event, Honnō-ji Incident. The progress of the recording is almost reaching its end, and we are excited to release this track. We hope the song can be released from late 2022 to early 2023.
If XieJia was a type of food, what would it be and why?
I will say XieJia is “Swiss Chicken Wings” which is a famous food that can be found in Hong Kong. It strongly represents the culture diversity in Hong Kong, expressing the Western and the Eastern Culture. As the “Swiss Chicken Wings”, our music reflects the diversity of cultures such as the Orient, Japanese (The instruments and the myth, story and history inspired the theme of our music) and Continental Europe (The origin of black metal) etc.