Formed in Taichung in 1998, We Save Strawberries is one of the more popular indie bands in Taiwan and one of my personal favorites. Their style can best be described as eclectic, drawing from all kinds of sources such as folk, light rock and electronic pop. Their lead singer Labi Wu (吳嘵萓) has a soft, feminine touch and is the focal point of the band’s sound.
Releasing their debut album, Solar System (太陽系) in 2002, the band took another eight years to release its second album, Feather River (羽毛河) in 2010. The long period between recordings was due to some members spending time in the military (Taiwanese men must serve two years) while others spent time overseas while attending college. Labi Wu has said that the time away allowed the band to develop away from each other, leading to more complex melodies and mature lyrics.
Talking about the band’s progress over the years, lyricist Labi We explained, “We had a lot of passion when we recorded our first album, but we hadn’t refined our skills and we did not have a lot of equipment. Some of our lyrics are inspired by things that are upsetting, but that are difficult to discuss face to face. You don’t want to fight about it, but you can sing about it. And if you sing about it, more people end up hearing your point of view, anyway.”
As these selections show, it’s very difficult to pigeonhole We Save Strawberries into any musical category. Their versatility separates them from most bands, not only in Taiwan but throughout East Asia.
Here’s hoping it’s not another eight years until their next album. Taiwan has one of the most innovative music scenes in all of Asia and We Save Strawberries is one big reason why.