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Get to know Aristophanes

The Taiwan-based MC blending industrial beats with socially conscious rap

  • WORDS: DAVID RENSHAW | PHOTOS: NUPHAR BLECHNAR
  • 6 February 2017

There are countless artists out there on SoundCloud, just waiting for someone to stumble on their latest mix or productions. So if one of the world’s most respected pop auteurs happens upon your page, you’ve got to thank your lucky stars. That’s exactly what happened to 26-year-old Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes. She was discovered by Grimes who, after hearing her mix of heavy electronics and furious rhymes, got Aristophanes to feature on 2015 album ‘Art Angels’. Since then she’s toured with Grimes and Sigur Rós and worked with Arcade Fire’s Will Butler on her debut album. Speaking from a cafe in her home town of Tapei, Aristophanes (real name Pan Wei Ju) seems dazed by the journey she’s been on. She tells us about her local hip hop scene (“they don’t think I’m part of what they do”) and how she’s instead found a circle of unlikely collaborators from festival-headlining rock stars like Butler to experimental producers like Jam City and Sonic Deadhorse. “It was exciting to work with Will, I learned a lot” she says.

Butler produced five tracks on the album, out later this year with Grimes producing the title track. On it, she channels stories inspired by technology, sexuality and acts of humanity. Its title is a Mandarin word that roughly translates as ‘Human Becomes The Machine.’ “The relationship between humans and technology is really interesting,” she says. “The album’s not all about robots, though. What’s important to me is how humans behave.”

As an advocate for LGBTQ rights, Aristophanes says the biggest challenge to young people in Taiwan is the government’s less than progressive approach to sexuality. In Grimes, though, she’s found a kindred spirit: “we’re closer now than ever,” she says. When asked who she would most like to work with, Aristophanes mentions a 17-year-old producer she recently found online (“He’s only got 200 Likes on Facebook!”). Looks like together, she and Grimes are uniting the misfits of the world. One DM at a time.

‘人為機器’ by Aristophanes is out now on Big Picnic Records

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