Meet Sandy Yang (playing Alex’s Bar on December 27)

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine informed me that he was booking shows at Alex’s Bar and asked if I wanted to help set up a night. I said, sure, and now it’s actually to happen on Thursday, December 27. It shouldn’t surprise anyone who reads this blog that I’m filling one of my favorite venues with friends.

I’m really excited that my friend Sandy Yang will be on the bill. She’s played with the famously conceptual band, The Red Krayola, and various noise combos. But only recently has she been playing as a solo artist. I caught her deconstructed take on rock as a solo artist not too long ago at The Smell, accompanied by the guys in HowardAmb.

Here’s your chance to get to know Sandy a little better before she hits a slightly bigger stage next week.

MW: I’ve seen you play with a few combos, but have only recently seen you play a solo set. Have you always been writing and playing more individual work?
SY: I have always been writing, but before now I only played one solo show in L.A. and that was in the ’90s! Before meeting Mayo Thompson, I was multi-tracking on my 4-track cassette recorder. I approached him to do an independent study at Art Center and that’s how we met and that’s how I got to play in The Red Krayola. The only thing I’ve released solo is a 5-song instrumental EP put out by Sun An on his label CD-Rt.

MW: I know you grew up with O.C. punk, but your solo work seems more East Coast to me, with noise and No Wave elements. Where did these come from? And if I’m totally wrong, let me know where I left the tracks.
SY: Hmm… I’m not sure. The shows I saw in my youth were post punk and well into the hardcore scene by then, I guess. As for growing up with punk in a historical sense I think that was before my time. But if we’re talking about it in terms of a “punk” sound, I don’t think I embraced O.C. punk or was influenced by it except by certain friends in local bands as individuals. I do remember growing up listening to Black Flag, Descendents, Minutemen, Laughing Hyenas, Bad Brains, Government Issue, Public Enemy…

MW: What’s your musical relationship with the HowardAmb guys? How much of their accompaniment is written out or just jams?
SY: James Hamblin and Stefan Scott Nelson are the two members in HowardAmb and I’m lucky they are willing to accompany me. What they usually do is very complicated–and highly recommended, by the way–so it’s fun to play something straightforward with them. We played together recently when I opened for their show at The Smell. They’ve been a great help to me adapting my recorded songs into a live set. Much of what’s on the recordings has been omitted to the bare bones of the songs. There hasn’t been much improvising. The bass is played straightforward and exactly as I recorded them and the drums are very close to the recordings as well. Last year, Tom Watson and I played a few shows together with this similar set of songs but we were two guitars.

MW: How close are you to releasing a new collection of songs?
SY: I have 13 songs I’ve finished recording and mixing. I’d like to release it soon so I can move onto new songs. The next collection I hope will not sound anything like this group, but who knows.

MW: Finally, do you remember being in Giant Robot magazine?
SY: Of course I do! Do you mean the fruit carving article or when we did the Chinatown article? That was before any of the galleries moved in, and those were early issues. What an interesting time in L.A. that was.