1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the musical project?
Laang is a solo black metal project that I describe as “terror black metal”, drawing influence from both atmospheric and melodic black metal combined with dissonant and heavily-effected soundscapes reminiscent of horror soundtracks. The music is inspired a near-death experience that I had in which I felt I had an experience with a form of horrifying otherworld or afterlife. The music and lyrical content is directly based on this experience and explores the experience from induction to emergence from this otherworld.
2.In 2018 you had released your first full length, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical style you went for on the recording?
When writing the music for this album I wanted to combine sounds that were both aggressive and melancholic. I wanted to find a medium in the sound that would convey these feelings of terror, but also hopelessness. It was a fairly difficult task to accomplish as melancholic music frequently necessitates heavy emphasis on memorable melodies, while the “horror” style relied heavily on atonal and nearly chromatic riffing with several clashing notes played simultaneously or in quick succession. This is nearly a contradiction of the melancholic style. I experimented with layering these elements together to create the sound of Laang.
3.You refer to your musical style as being 'terror black metal', can you tell us a little bit more about the term?
I selected this term because I felt that what separated the music that I was writing from other subgenres of black metal was this heavy use of horror-style elements. I wanted to create a genre of music that sounded like a nightmare. Through the use of ambient sounds and soundtrack-style soundscapes low in the mix I wanted to create a feeling of dread that would make the music darker than simply playing strange chords with tremolo-picked leads. What I wanted to convey with my music was this feeling of terror that I felt. I feel that in order to properly represent the concept of Laang I needed to take the music a step further, creating what I call “terror” black metal.
4.According to the bio you spent almost a year in a coma after a car jacking that went wrong, what kind of inspiration did this have on the musical style that you play?
Perhaps there was a bit of a typo in the bio, I was only in a coma for a couple days. The incident itself took place nearly a year before the bio was written, now nearing 2 years ago. While I was in this coma I experienced a different world of sorts. I sometimes refer to it as an afterlife, and sometimes simply as an “otherworld” experience. In truth I don’t know exactly what it was. But this world that I experienced was so unlike anything else I can imagine. It was a world that was infinite, yet empty. There weren’t based physical constructs, no light, no darkness, it is best described as a plain of existence. This world was infinite and far beyond description or comprehension, and I was completely isolated in it. It’s hard to conceive true isolation, but what I felt was an eternity in which I was the only consciousness. It was an absolutely crushing isolation. Yet as time passed, I felt this growing sense of dread that somehow I was unsafe, or I was being watched. This feeling grew more and more strong as time passed until it was an oppressive and inescapable feeling of terror that was best described as maddening. It’s difficult to describe in English, but it is this feeling of terror that I have tried to convey in the music.
5.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you have explored so far with the music?
The lyrical content relies heavily on metaphors of the ocean and water. As this world didn’t abide by essentially any “rules of reality” it’s difficult to properly explore it linguistically. By exploring it through metaphor I’m able to consider both the description and feeling of the world as well as my own emotions. Frequent themes are the sensation of “drowning in nothing”, or being pulled beneath the waves, reflecting both the feeling of creeping dread as well as feeling myself give in to this fear. I use the tides to reflect the sensations of movement within this world, as well as the ebb and flow, and eventual dissipation of my feelings of hope. I also explore the topics of dread, the feelings of being pursued, and the overwhelming sensation of fear in what I could best describe as an abyss.
6.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Laang'?
Laang is a simple word meaning “Cold”. Despite its simplicity, I believe that this word is very descriptive. It can be interpreted to convey the idea of isolation, darkness, and death. A lyric that will be featured on the second album translates to “When I return to the depths cold is all I will feel; cold is all I will be”. This is probably the best representation of what the word means to me. Cold is the absolution of life, maybe even the physical embodiment of entropy. I actually chose the Cantonese spelling “Laang” instead of the Mandarin “Leng” because I thought that it may make it easier for foreigners to pronounce.
7.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
The artwork on the album is the work of Den Unge Herr Holm, a fantastic Norwegian artist. He combines oil paints and ink to create some very unique works of art, and I have been a fan of his for quite some time. Quite a lot of his work is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, and this piece is no exception. I find my experience to be similar to some descriptions in Lovecraft’s work which heavily emphasizes the description of things beyond human comprehension and description, and that are not constrained by our conventional perceived laws of physics and logic. The artwork also beautifully conveys the feelings of darkness, horror, destruction, and the concept of something beyond comprehension.
8.With this project you record everything by yourself, are you open to working with other musicians or do you prefer to remain solo?
Correct, everything on this album was entirely done by myself with the exception of the track “Ji” which featured guest vocals by “Heathen”, an underground metal vocalist. For the second album I am interested in featuring another vocalist on a song, though I am unsure of who. I have actually reached out to two vocalists that I would like to feature, but unfortunately due to time constraints on their part I think that this will not happen. There are a few other artists I am considering asking, so only time will tell. Instrumentally I would like Laang to remain solely me in the studio, simply because I feel that others may not be able to write music properly inspired by the experience simply because they didn’t experience it themselves. While others could likely write similar-styled music, it wouldn’t be as organic to me as it wouldn’t be directly inspired by the experience and would feel cheap in comparison. However, I would love to include a wide range of musicians for live performances to help give more life and character to the music live.
9.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of black metal?
I have been incredibly surprised to see that the reaction has been predominantly positive. I have received several positive messages and comments from fans that have been so supportive, and I consider myself honoured to have received such support from them. A year ago I never expected Laang to be where it is now, and I am so grateful to everybody who has made this possible so far. There have of course been some people who don’t like the music because of the use of synthesizers and occasional clean vocals, but if I can’t spend time worrying about people who dislike the band, because they don’t matter. What matters is the people who support the music, and being sure I can deliver the best possible music and experience to them to thank them for their support.
10.Where do you see yourself heading into as a musician in the future?
Hopefully continuing to grow! I have been a musician for most of my life and would like to go as far as I can, releasing more albums and performing in as many countries as possible. We have our first international tour in June, and hopefully will have more to follow after that. Only time will tell, but I hope that our future will be positive.
11,What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
I am primarily influenced by shoegaze and post-black metal bands such as Alcest, Harakiri for the Sky, Agrypnie, and Sylvaine. I also listen to lots of other bands like Numenorean, Woods of Ypres, Katatonia, Chthonic, and many more. I admittedly also listen to quite a lot of industrial and classical music.
12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Thank you very much for taking the time to interview me, I really appreciate the opportunity. I would also like to thank you for reviewing Haiyang, I’m always very humbled when people take an interest in my music. To any people reading this, I hope you will take the opportunity to listen to our music, and hopefully I’ll be able to meet all of you at a performance in the near future. Thank you all very much, it is greatly appreciated.