Artist Profile - Wednesday Wu - Singer of Bad to The Bone - Taipei, Taiwan
Updated: Sep 11, 2019
Wednesday is the singer of Taiwanese rock band, Bad to the Bone. Known for her lavish costumes and theatrical make-up, every day is a performance whether on the street or the stage.
After studying fashion in Milan, Wednesday tells Street Style Planet Earth about returning to Taipei and conceptualising her love for fashion and music into Wednesday and Bad to the Bone.
“Everything about Bad To The Bone is my real life story and feelings. Each lyric is a cross-section of life, a movie scene. Inspiration comes from Nick Cave & The Bad and Seeds, Einstürzende Neubauten, film, art, literature and much more. We blend new elements and experiences with our influences and experiment to create something that must stand up as being unique.
“Dressing up has many levels of meaning to me. It’s far from simply superficial. It allows me to identify with myself - I don’t exist without my style. It’s an antidote for the frustrations and difficulties that day to day life throws up. Life itself may not always be so beautiful but you can create and wear your own beauty. Fashion is my antidote and my guiding star.”
Sadly, Wednesday’s image can sometimes come at a price. On the evening of September 8, 2016 she was requested by staff to remove her make-up before entering the MRT (Underground) Station. The excuse given was that she might frighten children.
“I didn’t dare to enter the station for a few weeks after the incident. The feeling, her expression and tone from that night were still in my mind two years later.” Nevertheless, Wednesday’s personal vision of style was undeterred and unchanged and after making a complaint, the company sincerely apologised.
“Ignorance can lead to disaster if not dealt with. People think that I’m pretending to be the devil, which I find very interesting! It’s not so easy to be a freak - Halloween isn’t every day to me but after a few years, I learned how to turn off the sniggering and nasty comments. If we learn to respect people we don’t understand then we all have room to advance. You have to use your heart to overcome.”
Street Style Planet Earth asked Wednesday about the foundation and beginnings of her fascination with music and style and her forthcoming plans for her band.
How did fashion and music become an integral part of your life?
The most romantic thing for me is to slowly grow old with the things I love. My style of dressing is influenced by music culture. Fashion and music affect me as one. I’ve always been fascinated with the beauty of musicians costumes, groundbreaking art and underground movies. Wim Wenders said "Every picture can be the first shot of a movie." In turn each record can represent a cross section of your life, revealing how you choose to live.
It is only when various artistic expressions are connected to each other that culture can reveal its most beautiful side.
When you are happy, you listen to music. When you are sad, you begin to understand the mood of the lyrics and sounds. I began composing with my boyfriend Travis and the arrangements made my words grow out of my soul. I don’t want to recreate the past. My music is like the style I wear, and I won’t compromise for popularity. Music must be like an axe that breaks the ice in people's hearts. If you can't dream, then become your own dream.
Beauty is not a formula. It interacts with the individual's vision and attitude. It is unpredictable. This is the fun part. Art, Fashion and appearances should be diverse. Understanding how to appreciate culture from every angle will stop you falling into the trap of compliance.
Do you remember some of the earliest fashion moments?
I can’t pinpoint any dramatic singular life experiences that formed my style. From Goth, Rock, Punk, Alternative to Trip-Hop and electronic music - many styles have influenced me. B-Movies and Literature too. I can’t say I belong to any particular ‘style tribe’. If I had to say something, I’d say Avant-garde. I’m not interested in trends, I’m interested in being playful with garments and textures to create something never seen before. I’m interested in opposites - like mixing metallic fabrics with with softer more romantic touches like mesh and lace.
You need to know that you are the author of your own life. You don't need others to tell you how to write the script. Everyone is born an original. Why do you become a replica of others when you grow up? It’s important to have the guts to wander and let go to achieve freedom.
I went on to study at the Instituto Marangoni in Milan. I remember my tutor saying, "If you can, then go abroad! Take the ability of the Taiwanese people to the international community." So I started a local fashion fashion magazine with my partner and featured many Taiwanese creations. Before returning to China, I was invited to work for an Italian art and fashion magazine. The person in charge said to me: "We must make a sound for art and step out of the footsteps to make the sound continue."
So I decided to go back to Taiwan and make a voice for myself. Coincidentally, upon my return, I met the Taiwanese brand Plain-Me with the same philosophy and goals and have been the design director and partner for 6 years.
What do you recall as some of your earliest arts and culture memories?
I’ve never been attracted to mainstream culture. Only unique performances resonate with my own existence. My easiest inspiring memory was the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine. I immediately began researching and studying music from all eras, paying close attention to their fashions.
Something important to me is being alone. Outside of working hours, I usually stay away from home for a long time, so that I can have the opportunity to appreciate life more and absorb culture.
What are some of your earliest live music memories?
Unfortunately not so many foreign bands come to play in Taiwan as we would like. When I was young I didn’t have much money to see bands either. So it was a big deal for me to see Placebo as my 1st gig. Along with my friends, we made some hand drawn animations for the band that we managed to give to the drummer. I wasn’t sure if the band ever got to see them but after some time they wrote to us. That was a really exciting moment.
When did you start watching live music regularly?
About five years ago. During that time more live venues have opened, but there seems to be a drop in the numbers of Taiwanese listening to independent music and sadly many new venues don’t last long and closures are impending. However, more music festivals are happening and this is good because it gives independent bands a platform to play alongside more established acts.
How did you transition from music fan to lead singer in a band?
After meeting Travis, the guitarist and co-songwriter in the Bad To The Bone, he encouraged me by telling me my voice was unique. I was actually an introverted person but decided top have a go at making music with him. I was frightened and apprehensive to stand on stage to perform but with the help of the band, I was encouraged to present what I had created.
I hope to transmit my vision into the eyes and ears of the crowd, and bring the audience into my night cinema. I want them to feel then scenario that I am creating on stage.
I began performing in 2018, and I realised that many fans are like me - people who are silent but can actually enjoy and become part of something that is not silent.
What do you remember of your first Bad To The Bone gig?
It was a big music festival and I was really nervous that no one would watch us! I spent the day putting out band stickers and taking to everyone that I could in the crowd. It was a big stage and new experience but we battled through and received some great applause. As I heard the clapping, I was able to relax - an unforgettable memory.
Are you able to find an appreciative and understanding audience in Taiwan?
Playing rock music in Taiwan is very hard and involves a degree of hard work. There are many bands but not enough independent music fans. Without no financial support, promotion the the band has become a big problem. That’s not to say we don’t enjoy the interest and support we have gained so far. It’s perhaps more rewarding when people find out about you and come to your gigs with very little promotion.
What are your hopes and dreams for the band?
To release our album, and receive some government subsidy to promote Taiwanese music overseas and perform in other countries. It’s not about the glory of success. Its’ the opportunity to gain spiritual support and connect with a wider audience.
Some of your favourite live music moments with the band?
Every moment when I got a round of applause is a great moment! When I was performing at the Macau Literature Festival, I saw poets of all nationalities in the audience paying close attention. I even sang to the director of the Festival. I cried, the fans cried and I kept crying! Our songs can seem quite dark, dealing with depression, yet many fans tell me how they have impacted positively. I’m very touched by this and hope to continue to allow listeners an exit and escape through my songs.
Where did you find your clothes?
I use the internet a lot to find brands I like and often customise them. I’ve discovered many niche brands platform of Dollskill such as Clubbexe, Current Mood, J Valentine, Jaded London, Jackalope Land, Nixi Killick, Elise and Fred.
Brands I love but can't afford are Dilara Findikoglu, Gucci, Discount Universe and Alexander Mcqueen. I need to be fascinated by clothes to relieve the pressure of life and increase my motivation for survival.
What is your favourite dress or accessory?
I cherish most of my costumes but the most treasured ones my wedding rings. I used to have no feelings about love. I used to be alone until I met Travis, the other half of my life. He gave me such a long-lasting confession, that I will wear his ring, accompanied by his love song loop to the end of my life.
Where is the best place to see live music is Taiwan?
Legacy, The Wall, Revolver, Little Place, PIPE, Taichung Cave, Tainan, TCRC. Music festivals such as Awakening, Marine Music, Dagang Singing, Monster Blood, Unlimited, Mud Sprouting. Also worth checking out is StreetVoice, a poplar independent streaming platform in Taiwan.
What other alternative/underground bands can you recommend in Taiwan?
U&I, Keeshi, Lao Wang Orchestra, The Roadside Inn, 寞 Uterus, Old Broken Ramie, Warm Winter Flower, Song Dehe, Vulnerable Girl Group, Innocent Cooperative, Meixiu Group, Sue Five. You can discover many more on SreetVoice.
What do you do for fun?
I often visit my favourite stores and designer friends: Damage, Mega Treasure, my own brand shop Plain-Me, hair stylist friends, black goose, Hairmosa, Lab, Wind Salon.
I love to eat noodles at Yonghua’s Lehua Night Market and around the Minquan West Road MRT station. A great place for friends to meet.
Key Wednesday & Bad To The Bone Influences
Folk such as John Jacob Niles’ ‘The Maid Freed From The Gallows’ to Nina Simone, later Nina Hagen, Sinéad O'Connor, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Einstürzende Neubauten, Death In June I finally arrived at and became fascinated by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. He still continues to be one of Bad to the Bone’s major influences.
I listen to a lot of contemporary indie rock too like Laura Doggett, Lewis Del Mar, AURORA, Fever Ray, George Ezra, Gin Wigmore, The Growlers, Placebo, Isaac Gracie, Jamie T, Portishead, Wildhood, Fat White Family, Blaenavon, Cat Power, CocoRosie, Easy Life, Findlay, Gus Dapperton, London Grammar, Of Monsters and Men, Slaves, Sundara Karma, Wildhood, Zella Day, The Dawn of MAY and Ailbhe Reddy.
I also marvel at the works of like Kytten Janae, Anny Wang, Tara Dougans, Ernesto Artillo, Katie Scott, Emmanuelle Houdart.
Animation: La Planète Sauvage, Blame, Suzan Pitt. Directors Jan Švankmajer, Terry Gilliam, David Cronenberg, Charlie Kaufman.
Films: Liquid Sky, Blade Runner, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Black Mirror, Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy.
Photography: Ren Hang, Synchrodogs
Books: Laughable Loves, Howl, The Yellow Wallpaper, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, 30,000 地 (I don't know English book name), L'Étranger, The Invention of Solitude.
Shot on location in Taipei, Taiwan.
Words & Photos by Al de Perez
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