Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011




Tuesday, February 15, 2011

a little press

here's an article about ji mo de, bai yan and our show tomorrow at squidco records!

copied and pasted from the wilmington star news...

Bête Tête brings its experimental sound to Squidco

Published: Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 11, 2011 at 2:50 p.m.
"All good art is the result of an experimental attitude," said Brian Lang, half of the highly experimental Wilmington music duo Bête Tête. "I'll just put that on the record."

"Not that we do good art," added Lang's brother, T.R.

"Well, yeah," Brian said with a laugh. "I'm saying we do."

As it pours rain outside, the brothers are discussing making music that's way outside the box. T.R. said the downpour reminded him of time spent in Ganzhou, China, where he taught English from 2006 to 2008.

Bête Tête's ambient music is rich in world flavor, namely Chinese, and comprises a wealth of ideas, with pieces of conversation or car horns bouncing up against synthesizer progressions.

"I would say that experimental is a fair term," T.R. said. "Every time I sit down I'm experimenting. Both of us think the same way. We're trying to do something that's fun and interesting. It's an experiment to get to that."

Translating their live recordings to a live show often involves a myriad of instruments, and you can see the process in action when Bête Tête performs at Squidco in Wilmington on Wednesday, Feb. 16.

"It's chaotic, schizophrenic, the way we put together our shows," Brian said.

Bête Tête's name, pronounced "bet tet," means "stupid beast head in really bad, broken French," T.R. said. "I liked it because it sounded like a bass drum and a snare."

The group's albums, most recently "BÁI YAN," were both recorded in China while T.R. taught. He initially went to China for adventure and to teach English, but began to feel uncomfortable with the endeavor, in part because he felt like he was getting more out of the experience than the students he instructed.

The university was located in a rural area of Ganzhou, six hours from Hong Kong. There, he slowly got to know locals who were friendly and lived in a loud and raucous fashion, especially in their love for setting off firecrackers. People would look at his face, fascinated by his blue eyes. Some locals referred to him as a big, white monkey.

"That was their word for me. They say we look like big, white gorillas," T.R. said with a laugh. "It was derogatory. They say we have big noses."

Not being able to speak the language was intense, and for several months a depressed T.R. rarely left his house. It was also monsoon season.

"It's intimidating because (you can't communicate) and so many people want to talk to you," he said. "They're really curious."

T.R. learned Mandarin soon enough, and found himself immersed in the culture and enjoying it. It resonated with him artistically because of the patterns of sounds in China.

"China is really noisy," he said. "Everywhere you go there's noise: people blasting techno at stores, people yelling at each other in the street, firecrackers. They do ancestor worship traditionally in that country so making really loud noises or putting mirrors on your house scares off ghosts that try to suck your soul."

During the time he was depressed, T.R. found himself making Bete Tete's first album, "JÌ MÒ DE," which means "to possess loneliness." It was recorded in a stream-of-consciousness process based on daily life living in Ganzhou. He used a university computer to shape an album made from field recordings he captured using his cell phone and a camera of conversations and even one of his students singing at a competition. He also bought an ehru, a Chinese violin, and played it on the album.

Later he recorded "BÁI YAN" using the same university computer. It's a tapestry of collected sounds and dialogue, beats, synths and vocals that's as much DJ Krush as it is Talking Heads.

"One of the reasons I signed on for another year (at the university) was that I had all this music on a university computer," T.R. said. "I (also) wanted to stay because it's awesome being over there."

He spent the next year teaching, working on music and traveling. Toward the end the second album wasn't complete so he stole the hard drive and backed everything up on a portable hard drive. Back in the States he dropped the portable hard drive and lost everything. He consoled himself by playing shows, and began to write a new show every month with Brian.

Returning to the album project much later, he turned to the stolen hard drive and found that the material had actually been there all along.

"Surprisingly, ‘BÁI YAN' turned out exactly like I wanted it to," T.R. said. "I was shocked when I plugged in the hard drive I took from the university and it had everything on it. It was one of the greatest moments in my life."

Both albums are for sale at Squidco and come in their own handmade packaging.

Here’s a little more conversation with T.R. and Brian Lang of Bete Tete,who’ll be playing at Squidco 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1 6.

What is the origin of the name Bete Tete?

T.R. – I liked it because it sounded like a bass drum and a snare. When I first started recording under that name I was recording with FruityLoops electronic music software, a beat program. It has a choppy percussive sound it.

Brian – It sounds like a gated snare (like an Eighties drums sound) It sounds like someone turns up reverb and turns it down real quickly. Phil Collins pulls it off live.

With making the music on your own as well as the packaging you’re obviously very DIY.

T.R. – We both feel the manufactured things are not as special. It’s like getting a handmade card, a valentine. If you like the music it’s a very tangible way of connecting to it. There are tons of people who do stuff like this. We live in a culture where we’re all producing, especially in the music world. It’s not like there are people who make artwork and there’s a massive amount of consumers. There’s just a massive amount of people producing things whether its high art or low art or whatever.

And technology enables all of this.

T.R. – I like the idea of everyone taking control of their own satisfaction and their own happiness. Technology enables that to happen more conveniently. If we did this 20 years ago, there’s so much effects, that was completely a studio way of producing music back in the day where you have all these effects racks and running them into a big board. To produce what we did with all the effects going on we would have had to have a whole studio full of equipment. I guess there are many arguments about it, that it takes away something, but I think anything that makes producing something more expedient.

Sometimes computers in music is looked down upon, like the synthesizer in the 1970’s, when it’s really just another tool.

T.R. – I was born in 1982 and the sound of a synthesizer resonates to me more strongly than the sound of a guitar. I love old 80s soundtracks. Sonically its really deep, more fascinating to me. I think that’s a big influence on us at this point like Giorgio Moroder who did “Cat People” and “The Neverending Story.”

Brian – I’ve been listening to a lot of KD Lang lately. And the Stevenson commercials.

T.R. – “Yeah car commercials. I worked for the census over the summer and I didn’t have a CD player in my car and if it wasn’t for La Grande and the Stevenson Honda Acura commercials I think I would have gone insane. I came to the point where I’m either going to be bombarded with this commercial every five seconds on the radio or embrace it for what it is.

How is it influential?

T.R. – You know how they do commercials and there’s all these effects on it? There’s always a flanger when they want to grab your attention. It sounds like you’re speaking through a tunnel or they put a slap delay on it. Stevenson, Stevenson, Stevenson.

Computer software makes those ideas much more feasible now. Is that going on with the new material?

T.R. – A lot of the newer stuff will start, (for instance) I’ll start out with someone saying a word and stretch into a note in the computer which is why I like working with a computer because you can (mold like clay) sounds. It’ll start where you have a rhythm of this loop or something and Brian will come in with a guitar line or we’ll think of a vocal line. It happens organically and hands-on. I think people have the tendency to think of using a laptop in music as cheating sometimes. When we use our computers to play live I use a controller that’s just like grid that becomes like a drum machine. You’re controlling what you’re playing in the computer like you would an instrument. It’s just a different tool box. Brian’s musicality enabled us to be able to play this live. I often picture myself as the engineer, produce. He’s writing melodies now but I’m giving him the sounds to write the melodies.

And for the live show at Squidco?

T.R. – The show at Squidco is electro-acoustic. We’ll be generating sounds electronically in a laptop using controllers, Brian playing a saxophone, I play the erhu (Chinese violin). It will be a whole host of things. I think we’ll be running our vocals through a boom box to give them a nice distorted sound. In the past we’ve done straight up acoustic sets, a whole band together with cello and keyboards.

Brian – With live shows we don’t try to recreate exactly what’s on the album.

T.R. – I feel like an album is its own thing and a live show is its own thing. We’re moving more into the area of playing more off of “Bai Yan.” We’re recording a new album with Brian pretty much writing most of the music. It’s a little different. Brian has a different writing style than I do.

Brian – Each (new) song starts off differently, playing around with whatever particular instrument and then layering other stuff on top of it. No matter what instrument we’ve played, even the guitar, we didn’t want it to sound like a guitar. We want to mess it up somehow, make it sound weird. Since a kid we’ve been hitting stuff trying to make noise.

T.R. – If we had to take out kitchen utensils to the show we would. The tools you’re using to produce something are just the tools you’re using to produce something, as opposed to them dictating what you produce. If I didn’t have anything that made sound other than a cappuccino machine I’d use it to make (music).

Sunday, November 7, 2010


purchasing instructions...

choose which album you are buying. there are 3 options here. each one has it's own shipping figured into the cost. adding more than 3 copies will increase your shipping to around $10. you will receive a payment request from us. all items ship upon payments cleared.



BÁI YǍN (this option allows you to purchase both albums with one shipping rate at a reduced price, a.k.a. special sale - note if you ad more than one copy you are purchasing both albums for as many copies as you request)

shipping will be tacked on, and is 5.80 usd to cover fluctuating shipping costs.

our first album.... JÌ MÒ DE (pronounced "gee mwa duh")was recorded in jiangxi, ganzhou, china during the winter of 2006 while i was on holiday during spring festival. ji mo de means to posses loneliness, and is a play on verbal structure i came up with in mandarin. it was recorded in a stream of conscience sort of way. the songs appear in the order they were conceived, and to a large extent were recorded and written at the same time. everything but the guitar and vocals was cut and pasted in a collage sort of way. the songs are reflections on my daily life and acquaintances in the city of ganzhou. i always viewed it more like sketches our poems about things happening around me there translated through the way it sounded to me at the time.
track listing;
1. who to go to
2. your gifts
3. little emperor
4. teach me english and i'll give you my love
5. unimind
6. bull in china
7. i am the monkey
8. e-mail for my baby
9. the empty side of the bed
10. dig a whole
11. ji mo de

our second album...
(pronounced "buy yawn") was recorded from 2006 - 2007 in jiangxi, ganzhou, china. it is heavily influenced by chinese traditional, chinese modern pop, american southern hip hop, american folk & pop music, noise, techno, clubbing in china, heavy metal, grind, and the sounds and sights of asia. it is a double album in cd format, and in digital format is divided into two parts like a movie with intermission.

it features field recordings from all over china, and personal home recordings of conversations with friends and lovers i did using my digital camera and cell phone. it was recorded on the computer that was provided for me by the university i was teaching english at using a 2 dollar microphone, and digital software; fruity loops, and cubase.

before i came back to the states it was unfinished, due to the fact that i had to steal the hard drive on my computer from the university, and a hard drive crash back here in the states. i painstakingly peiced my intended vision back together this year after 3 years of tinkering with the order, and sifting through the archives of my recordings. it's taken me 4 years to complete this album!
track listing....
part 1/ cd 1
1. shenzhen bhuddists (chanting for money)
2. evolution
3 - 4. baiji
5. 20 pepsis later and a bag of chips
6. running man
7. qing mei zhe ma
8. chinese girls
9. pablo neruda
10. star hustler
11. middle aged mao

part 2/cd 2
1. big pearl
2. snowing in shangri-la
3. andrea
4. in ad ream
5. tibetan street musicians singing in an italian restaurant
6. one hundred flowers
7. police station restaurant
8. sterling and tawny
9. fuck the grape
10. lunch is over at jiangxi ligong dao xue
11. wo hao lei
12. chinese popstars
13. fight a bear