I am Robot and Proud

Call & Response: I am Robot and Proud

Who doesn't love Wavelength? On top of being the go to event every Sunday night and still being PWYC (did they invent that abbrevation?), it's the place where our beloved Broken Social Scene was born (a very cool fact that is criminally absent from the band's Wikipedia page).

Wavelength's 450th show is a huge festival running all weekend. The festival's highlight for me will be a set by I am Robot and Proud Sunday night at Sneaky Dee's. Toronton resident Shaw-Han Liem has been making beautifully written and produced electronic music for most of this decade and he is a bonafide superstar in Japan.

I spoke with I am Robot and Proud about the title of his latest record Uphill City, touring Japan and what Wavelength means to him.

blogTO: Our last chat with you was back in 2005. How has life been treating you since then?

I am Robot and Proud: Pretty good! I have been travelling a bit and playing my music in a lot of interesting places!

In that interview, you said it was most fun "to try and use a variety of different sounds and make them sound like they belong together". Is that still your preferred process or have you changed things up a bit over the years?

That kind of experimentation is still a big part of it - but I've also been playing a lot more with other musicians (both in the iarap project, and in other bands in the city). so there is a lot more live playing on the more recent records, and also in the live show now as well.

Why is your new album called "Uphill City"?

I guess the idea is that the city is really great or very difficult, depending on which part of the hill you are on.

I see you recently did a tour of Japan. What were the highlights of that trip? Any crazy stories?

I have toured japan before, but this was the first time I was able to bring a band with me. Jeremy Strachan and Jim Guthrie traveled with me and were my band for that tour - so it was great to explore the country with some friends from home. Our first show was a big outdoor festival at the foot of Mount Fuji in front of thousands of people and we were pretty terrified - I ended up screwing up a very noticeable part of one song and wished I was dead. But we laugh about it now. The other highlight was definitely the food!

What's your current live set-up? I saw you were part of a Tenori-on tour - do you use one of those on stage?

I'm using Tenori-on regularly as part of my live show now - its a great way for the audience to feel connected to the music, because it is so visual.

Do you still live near Trinity Bellwoods? What are your current favourite spots in Toronto?

I still live in the same place - and rarely leave the house these days haha.

Have you ever lived elsewhere? Has touring made you think about moving to another city?

I have lived my whole life in Toronto. I'm lucky because playing music lets me visit other cities and meet interesting people and experience a lot of other cultures - but I always have a sense of relief when I get back home.

What do you think of the current "electro-house" craze? Have you ever made any "dance friendly" tracks?

I've done some remixes and collaborations that are maybe a bit more "dance friendly" - it's fun for me to do that kind of thing once in a while but it's not where my interests are in general.

What can people expect to see/hear/feel at this weekend's Wavelength 450 festival? Will you be playing with a full band?

Wavelength has always been a great place to hear new music - every week there is something interesting happening. The festival is no exception and there are great bands playing every night - even more so there is this sense of community that surrounds that group of people and the dedication they put into their events. For our show on Sunday, I'll have some additional musicians helping me out on stage and we are looking forward to it!

Wavelength 450: Night Four
Feat. Foxfire, Vowls, I am Robot and Proud, Thank You, Mi Ami
Sunday, February 15
Sneaky Dee's
431 College Street
Doors 8pm
Cover $10 (or PWYC)

Call & Response is a series of Q&A's with bands/artists from or playing in Toronto. Photo: I am Robot and Proud's Myspace page.

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