do you know about grimes' favorite taiwanese rapper yet?

With a name that came to her in a dream and a feature on Grimes’ 'Art Angels,' meet mysterious Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes.

by Francesca Dunn and i-D Staff
11 January 2016, 2:45pm

Aristophanes is the human behind the almost demonic sounding guest vocals on Grimes' new Art Angels album. The breathy bars on "Scream" come from the heart, soul, and vocal chords of the Taipei born and raised rapper, who describes her city as "sexy, unrevealed and full of magical realism." With only five years of music-making under her belt, she recently quit her job teaching creative writing and has been working with Japanese producer Lidly -- as well as the Taiwanese Sonic Deadhorse -- rapping in Mandarin about themes that span love, desire, and politics. "I want to write about the freedom and isolation of being human, longing for love and being overwhelmed by uncontrolled desires, as well as political themes reflect the situations of my country." Taken from her forthcoming debut album, No Rush To Leave Dreams EP, take an exclusive listen to new single "The Peach Blossom" and enter her warped world. Here are 10 things you should know about Aristophanes...

1. Rapping wasn't always her dream job.
"I wanted to be a novelist many years ago."

2. The name Aristophanes came to her one night in a dream.
"Somebody came in my dream and asked me to spell this word. I did it correctly in that dream and everything stayed vivid even after I woke up. I think this happened because I was really into Greek philosophy and culture these days. After that, Aristophanes became my stage name."

3. And her nickname, 貍?", was given to her by friends.
"It's a nickname given by my friends in my first time visiting Japan. They said the shape of my eyes looks like raccoon dogs which occur in Japanese folk legend a lot."

4. She isn't a fan of the Taipei rap scene.
"I rarely hang out with rappers here actually. Of course sometimes I listen to stuff online, but it's hard to find anything interesting. I think the hip-hop/rap scene here is still growing and may change in the future. I would love to see more original styles instead of just copies of famous artists. Most rappers here don't pay enough attention in production. Some of them just get a beat to spit on without understanding it, without knowing how everything works, and without knowing the difference between interesting production and something dumb. They think about their career (or becoming famous) more than the music. But things started to change in the past two years, and more and more local producers seem to be collaborating with local rappers, which is making rappers being conscious about the production."

5. She found performing with Grimes refreshing.
"I felt really comfortable on stage with Grimes and the stunning dancers. I had never performed with any girl before that and it was so great."

6. While Eryka Badhu is her all-time favorite artist, her favorite Taiwanese musicians right now are...
"Sonic Deadhorse. He is brilliant and smart -- one of the best Taiwanese electronic producers. Some of his stuff sounds like Aphex Twin and Venetian Snares but he has his own vision, which is really unique. And Prairie WWWW, who are my favorite Taiwanese band. Their music reminds me of Animal Collective but with an even more soulful and spiritual sound. The live performance is mind-blowing as well!"

7. Grimes discovered her on SoundCloud.
"She found me on SoundCloud and sent me an email to ask for collaboration. I had no idea who Grimes was before I read the mail and Googled her name. Then I listened to her previous album and I enjoyed it a lot. So I said yes, and that's how everything started."

8. Her lyrics in "Scream" are quite about sex.
"When I got this beat from Grimes and heard her screaming in that track, I decided to write something about screaming. To me, the progress of writing this song was not getting inspired by anything, it's more like to swim in my imagination and embrace something underwater which I can't even tell what it is. I think that's why it's dark. There are many kinds of screaming. The main concept I want to portrait is like, someone has been stressed out for a long time, and he/she has been enduring everything until everything is unbearable, then he/she screams. That situation happens in our real lives, our jobs, relationships, and most interestingly, sex. I think it's sad but beautiful."

9. She raps in Mandarin Chinese and language barriers don't bother her.
"I don't think there's a totally efficient and 100% correct way to communicate with each other even in the same language. Everyone is a delicate and vulnerable system independently, and everyone has their own language growing inside their life. Misunderstandings happens, and it can be interesting. That's why I don't consider the boundary of language an annoying fact."

10. The best piece of advice she's ever received is to not be mad at the audience.
"It's the best, but I'm still mad at the audience sometimes... I don't take my good advice."


Art Angels
francesca dunn
music interviews
tai pei