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Transcript: Getting in the mood for love with Rainbow Chan

Up Next: Ep 4 - Getting in the mood for love with Rainbow Chan

Courtney Ammenhauser: The Sydney Opera House acknowledges the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, traditional custodians of Tubowgule, the land on which the Opera House stands. We honour the long Gadigal history of gathering and storytelling, and acknowledge the strength and resilience of First Nations people and communities past and present.

Rainbow Chan: And sometimes there are songs that I write that are just for me. I can't sing them, no, they’re too special, they're too painful, they're too sacred. But I sing them in the shower. I sing them when I'm walking down the road about to catch a bus, and I sing them for the people who remain in my heart, even though they're no longer here.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Hey I’m Courtney Ammenhauser and this is Up Next, your ticket to the most exciting artists and performers coming through the Sydney Opera House doors. Join me backstage as we chat to a spectacular lineup of artists who are making waves on one of the most iconic stages in the world. Together we’ll uncover who’s up next, and how this moment in time is transforming the next 50 years of arts and culture.

In 2020, Wong Kar-wai’s cinematic masterpiece In the Mood for Love turned 20. To celebrate the iconic work from Hong Kong, three innovative Chinese-Australian performers reimagined it as a shimmering audio-visual dream. The show, In the Mood, was streamed live from the Opera House across the world in the peak of Covid lockdown and then returned! For a special one-off in-person show for Vivid 2022.

Sound: Music from In the Mood

Today we’re chatting with Rainbow Chan, Australian vocalist, producer and interdisciplinary artist originally from Hong Kong. She’s better known for her deeply original pop music and eccentric artistic expression. But she showcased the breadth of her talent as one of the performers and co-creators of In The Mood. She describes it as one of the most special experiences in her life. 

Behind the stage of the Opera House, Rainbow and I got cosy and had a chat about her first time performing at the Opera House, bringing Hong Kong cinema to Australian audiences and all things love and loss. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: I want to start at the beginning of your career. When was it that you knew that you wanted to make music?

Rainbow Chan: I think I was always gravitating towards performance and music, and I used to make little dances and make my family watch me do little performances in the lounge room. But I think there was a moment where it really clicked and I took it more seriously. I guess I sort of imagine that it could be a real future for me. I guess in high school when I entered the talent quest 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Oh huge! 

Rainbow Chan: Oh, man, it was exhilarating, I think. And it was the first time I'd like I entered it in the kind of my junior year doing hilarious dancing to Christina Aguilera's dirty.

Courtney Ammenhauser: My gosh, your childhood is mirroring mine.

Rainbow Chan: I think I'm pretty sure the school took, like, VHS videos of every single year. And I asked them actually recently whether based or had a copy, and I think someone's destroyed it. So I'm both relieved, but also devastated. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Oh no! Yeah. 

Rainbow Chan: But yeah, I think it was like year nine. I'd written my first song, original song, and I performed it in front of the school and it actually it was like, girls, I'd never talk to my grade. Suddenly, you know, came up to me in the car and I was like, “Hey, I really liked your song.” And then I think that kind of gave me a little confidence boost, but also saw the power of music to connect me to people. And, and that was really special. And I kind of just became a bit addicted to that kind of whole process. And I think that's when I really wanted to go, “Hey, I'm going to make I feel like I'm going to make music for the rest of my life.”

Courtney Ammenhauser: Yeah. Wow. From a talent quest. 

Rainbow Chan: Yep. That's right.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Oh I love that. Going back to like when you first started Post Talent Quest, how would you describe your early style of what you were making in in those early days?

Rainbow Chan: In the early days, I think I just really wanted to Bjork. I just really, I felt like, I was I was just obsessed over and I at uni, I did my honours paper on her and I just loved her artists vision and her, I guess her her imagination. I mean, I didn't even need to describe how amazing she is. I think everyone knows how amazing she is, but I think I was just really struck by her ability to translate these abstract landscapes and psychological, I guess, states into a very specific musical vocabulary, which she had invented herself. So thinking in particular, like volcanic beats that she would make or string parts that would be reminiscent of Icelandic fisherman songs and how she was able to craft that into a very specific style and always push at the boundaries. So I think even though my music didn't necessarily sound like hers, I always adopted her ethos and her vision, and I think I was. That really played an integral part in how I wanted to approach music and embed aspects of identity, being a female producer into my practise. So I think when I first started out, I would say I was less confident in those kind of conversations. Maybe I was testing out a lot of the ideas, but then over time it actually became more formalised as particular like themes that underpinned my practise. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Yeah. And in that kind of evolution as it went on [00:05:14] what do you think influenced that? Do you think it was just like confidence and experience, or were there other things that kind of helped evolve the practise?

Rainbow Chan: It was a bit of both. I think inevitably I think artists always influenced by their life experiences. I think also as a pop musician, you're generally drawing from autobiographical sort of encounters, so that that's always like the bed of a lot of my songs in music. But honestly, I think it actually was a reaction to how I was perceived maybe by the public or by, I guess, music journalism at the time, like ten years ago. I think maybe at that point we hadn't really developed a very sophisticated language around identity, and particularly as someone who's a woman and of Asian descent in Australia, I felt like I was very much pigeonholed into a particular category and the descriptions that were used weren't necessarily reflective of what I was actually making. And it was maybe more stereotyped or kind of, you know, I couldn't be divorced from my body and the way that I looked, which at that time I felt was very unfair. I was like, my songs have nothing at that point really overtly to do with being Chinese or but it was always a point of conversation, but not in a way that where I where it was on my terms, if you know what I mean. And so I found that I actually then that's why I said I kind of almost formalised it as a starting point so I could reflect those conversations back on to the person who might be asking me those questions and then make it more of a dialogue where it was more mutual and where I could actually challenge maybe some of those preconceptions or amplify them in a way that a bit get gets a bit ridiculous or, you know, where actually generates more conversation. That is more about diaspora, really, about migrant families, migrant individuals and that place of sort of not belonging really to either cultures which have kind of been immersed in and having to navigate that. But at the end you kind of create these really interesting hybrid identities or conversations that connect with people in other ways.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Yeah, it sounds as though you almost like taking your power back, being like, if you want to have this conversation, I want to lead it, actually.

Rainbow Chan: Exactly. Exactly.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Yeah, love that. We're going to talk about the show that you performed at the Opera House in a bit. But before we do that, you've actually performed here a few times. Can you tell me about the first time?

Rainbow Chan: I believe it was in primary school at some sort of dance eisteddfod. I was possibly dressed as Pebbles from the Flintstones. It all becomes a blur. Even after that, there were I was in like children's choirs when I was young. So I think there were a few times where I'd performed in a like a big mass choir. But yeah, the Opera House was always, you know, it's such an iconic place, you know, in not only the Australian imagination, but internationally as well. I think when I was in Hong Kong, like the Opera House or something that, you know, we would associate with like Australia, the place we're going to move to. So it was cool to be in there and performing. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: What were your thoughts about the Opera House before all of the choir performances?

Rainbow Chan: I think the Opera House has the image of being quite I guess in a way, you know, it's a bit elitist. Opera is, you know, historically designated for a very particular type of audience. And so. I guess. It was something that, you know, I might have looked from afar and gone, Maybe I don't belong in that place or I'm not sure if I can go there kind of thing. But then to be able to perform in there was really great to kind of smash that trope around what, what this institution means. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: It's internationally recognised. So it's like, you know, everyone sort of has this idea of it even though. 

Rainbow Chan: Yes 

Courtney Ammenhauser: We don't all get to actually go in. 

Rainbow Chan: No that’s right. It's just, you know, like I think people go, Oh, what's that pointy white building in Australia? In fact, my youngest sister in year five, I still remember she made this assignment and it was about Australian landmarks and she picked the Opera House and she created a hat that was made out of felt that had that was like stuck to a bucket that she could wear on her head anyway. So, you know, it's just, it's like something that, you know, is in everyone's vernacular. Interestingly from the outside, maybe, but like, I don't know how, you know, I don't know how diverse of a of a of an audience maybe would be on the inside of it. 

What's exciting is that there is a shift maybe in the in the voices that are represented in the programming of the Opera House. But also. Yeah, the audiences that are coming to the opera house, I think that the there has been I guess, I guess a recognition in maybe the the kind of I guess, yeah, like historically what this place means and who it's for and stuff. And I think, you know, a good push now to really to think about the future and and having this place be more inclusive.

Courtney Ammenhauser: So I'm keen to hear about the digital work In the Mood, can you tell me about it? 

Rainbow Chan: So if you're not familiar with the film in The Mood for Love, it's about two people who live in an apartment block and they are married, but not together. There are two separate couples, but they realise over time that their partners are cheating on them with each other and it's about them kind of reconciling the affair and in the process they sort of fall in love with each other, but they don't want to be unfaithful to their cheating partners. So yeah, it's the tension about this love that can't exist.

Sound: Live recording of In the Mood

Rainbow Chan: It was this kind of serendipitous moment where border closures were happening. This movie was about not being able to not be able to have the intimacy with someone that you yearn for or love, but also in the in the context of everything that was happening in the world. And there were a lot of changes in Hong Kong at that point. It was a really special moment to go. Hey, let's make a tribute to the filmmaker Wong Kar wai and also Hong Kong. So I'm from Hong Kong. That's my birth place. The producer of the show Alistair Hill, Alistair also has roots there too his family. His mum's from there. So that's where their initial conversation came from. And then Marcus Whale was also involved. Obviously, he was the the other lead, Eugene Choi and Sophie Penkenthmengyoung.

Courtney Ammenhauser: So you gave a lot of like context of the time in which you did that production. How natural did it feel as a creative choice in that moment of your career? Outside of, I guess. The events of the world. 

Rainbow Chan: It was probably the most ambitious project that I'd ever done and probably still is really my career. I think the timeline also was quite tight. It was about five weeks between the conception and when it was going to be performed. And what was really interesting I think, was the format of a digital livestream, something I'd never done before. To this extent where there were like multiple cameras involved were in the Joan Sutherland Theatre, you know, and it was but it was a completely empty audience. So there was an uncanny feeling of, you know, you're being watched, but there's no immediate feedback. And as a performer, that's really disorienting. And the other quirk was Marcus and I could not be next to each other because of the COVID restrictions. So we were always five metres apart and we had to figure out ways to represent the moments of intimacy and and connection between the two characters of the film. But physically, we literally had to be five metres apart, so we had to come up with creative sort of camera cutting techniques to make it look like we were next to each other. And some like projections and animations, but it was really fun. It was like problem solving for this format. But it also allowed us to reflect some of the really specific cinematography in In the Mood for Love, particularly the use of like, historical objects and, and mirrors and windows and glass to shoot through the camera. I always being kind of refracted through objects. And then you see the figure that's always sort of distorted a little bit or warped. And so we were able to achieve some of those really iconic moments in the film through the camera techniques on the digital screen, which, you know, is not as easily achievable in a live context in a theatre.

Courtney Ammenhauser: And what was your relationship to Wong Kar Wai's films before doing this? Were they in your home growing up? 

Rainbow Chan: Yes, they were less so when I was a child, but my parents were always using Wong Kar wai as like a way to describe when something was too arthouse for them and they couldn't understand. Just kind of lived to in my imagination as this kind of enigma. But as I was older and particularly as I was, you know, going back to the earlier conversation of like me reclaiming my cultural heritage and my identity, Wong Kar wai became so and that was quite important because, you know, he was making all these really beautiful films that kind of crossed over into the mainstream, or at least in the kind of western world. And I found him a really interesting figure that was expressing a lot of social, cultural sort of tensions through a the stories. And I felt like very connected to that style of storytelling, which I do in all of my pop songs, basically. So yeah, Chungking Express was, is one of my favourite films. Ever. Just love the colour palette of his work and the I guess the slowness. But also everything he does is like poetry. So. Yeah, I, I always loved his work, so it was such an honour to be able to be part of this project.

Courtney Ammenhauser: And it was first live streamed in 2020 right in the middle of lockdown, an empty theatre bringing this show to Australian audiences and being Chinese Australian performer from Hong Kong. How did it feel to connect the cultures in that way?

Rainbow Chan: I think it was a really special time to present this work with the world, sort of being on pause and having to stop you know, what everyone's used to doing. You know, we're so used to being productive. We're so used to having this mobility. And it was a moment to actually stop and reflect on what was important in life, you know? And for me, one of those things was family. But it was really hard because a lot of my family in Hong Kong and I couldn't see them. So I think.

What our production was able to do, I think from conversations afterwards was allow other Australians to have those sorts of conversations around in particular I think around diaspora and sort of people who have family elsewhere to, to think about I guess that longing and distance for home and what home actually means. And I know in the story of In the Mood for Love is more you know, it is more about love, but there is subtext there about belonging and identity. And I think, you know, as Australians we live on stolen land. That is a very you know, that is a conversation that's ongoing. So I think, yeah, it's generated. I think the work has generated dialogue with in particular with other people who are Chinese Australians and who have Wong Kar Wei as part of their imaginations growing up and, and I guess connecting people in those, in those kind of communities, but also a bit broader I think as well. It's just about kind of migration and place. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: What kind of reactions did you get after it was streamed online? I mean, you didn't have that audience feedback, but did you get it elsewhere? 

Rainbow Chan: This is one of I think this is one of the most special experiences I've ever had coming off the stage. I keep using that word special, but I really do feel like this this particular production will always have a very important part in my life. I felt it was really strange. After we finished the performance, there was no audience applause. It was just completely empty. And, you know, it was just like, All right, and we're done. And like, the lights kind of turned on. And it was really anticlimactic and very strange. And I walked back to the green room and turned on my phone and I received all these messages on WhatsApp from my family in Hong Kong who had been livestreaming it. And I didn't realise that they, you know, they actually gathered at a dinner and watched it together and I just burst into tears. It was the best response I could ever get in that moment where we were so distant, it was it was suddenly together, you know, it was just like I was embraced by by those messages and that. But yeah, it was just, it's been really positive the reaction and we were a bit nervous because it's such an iconic film and we knew that, you know, we couldn't just do a copy of it and we had to kind of inject our own original, I guess, take on certain aspects of the film. So I think we've created something that's a bit hybrid. A bit, yeah. Like has generated kind of extra conversations and that's been really, really fruitful. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: You're invited back in 2022 to perform it again at Vivid in person in front of an audience. What's it been like starting although of a back from you five eisteddfod the choirs you know and then to moving into that moment. 

Rainbow Chan: It was pretty damn cool. Yeah I think yeah. Like it was just I miss that feeling of sharing, you know, I think and I think a lot of performers have felt this way as well after COVID and actually finally being able to perform to a live audience again is that that that is such a privilege and it's such a sacred space to have that shared embodiment of a time and place together. And so I don't take it for granted anymore. I used to be like, Oh, you know, I've got a show. Coming out here, I go to work. And now it's like, Oh my goodness. How special is this? So yeah, it was just fantastic. And because it was just a one off show as well that I really, you know, I think we really put our all into it. And what was really challenging, I guess, but also rewarding, was now how do we translate something that was made for the digital screen back to a live theatre context? 

And so one way we went about this was we had a big scrim that covered the entire front of the stage so that projections of the digital work, certain parts of it, could then be superimposed over the top of our live moving bodies that was behind the scrim. And so there was this very intertextual layer which was beautiful and helped to still reference the filmic language that we've drawn inspiration from for this work. And, you know, subtitles were so able to be used because it's such an important part to the original film In the Mood For Love. I think they really play with typography, poetry as text that appear on the screen at certain key moments in the film. So yeah, to be able to translate that to a live audience was really great. We also did something a little bit, a bit whimsical, where we in the show, halfway in the show we actually left the stage and we went around the back, unbeknown to the audience, and reappeared in the crowd. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Fun

Rainbow Chan: And there were spotlights on Marcus and I, and we sang a duet together from either side of the theatre on the stairwell, and I could hear audible gasp.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Yeah I was just about to say what was happening in the audience?

Rainbow Chan: They were like [gasp] And that was beautiful as well. And so and then from that point we ran back onto the stage and it was great because it was like the, the, I think we took the liberty in like making the performance immersive and really like using the whole theatre because the first time we did it we were collapsed onto a 2D screen. So this time we really wanted to make it 3D and alive.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Yeah in the thick of it. It sounds like you've put a lot of time and energy into this project and no doubt you have. What influences did you take away from that project that you're bringing into your new work? 

Rainbow Chan: So I had written some music actually just a little just before the project started, and that was the song “Heavy” and “Doing Word,” which were both developed further for the show. And at that time I was listening to a lot of Mandarin and Canto pop of my parents generation, which actually corresponds with the kind of timeline of In the Mood For Love. So after the show, I really built upon that material and I guess reflecting on the role of nostalgia in identity formation and used the power of ballads and melancholy as a trope to explore the next record that I made, which was called “Stanley.” And it was an ode, I guess to to these yeah, to these ballads I had listened to growing up, and in particular a song called Teresa Teng. Then like one who's like the most famous singer in East Asia. She's just very like, everybody knows who she is. And she tragically died at a very young age at 42 from an asthma attack. So she's got this kind of tragic cultural legacy, but like, yeah, like a huge, huge following. So, yeah, the record was looking into the role of melancholy and really sappy love songs, but also I was fascinated about the role that language and music, how they interact in Chinese music because Chinese is a tonal language and so your melodies can't just dance around. They have to conform to how the language is spoken, the tones of the language. And so I notice that Cantonese and Mandarin music have very particular melodic contours because of the the language. And I took that as a way to actually then write new songs. And even though most of my songs are English, it was just playing with that tension between word and sound. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: We've been speaking about matters of the heart a lot, and I have a confession. I first came across your music when I had a very sore heart, and I found a lot of comfort in it, particularly your track “nest.” And I'm interested to know where do you find comfort in those moments of heartache and of love and loss? 

Rainbow Chan: I find comfort in actually vocalising my pain. Going back to that first sound quest, I had experienced my first heartbreak at 14. And it was like something. It was just like looking back on it now, you know, it was the worst pain I'd ever felt. It was just so I guess maybe when you're a teenager, everything's a bit more amplified as well. But I'd never experienced that kind of heartbreak before. And and since, you know, I've gone through lots of other things as well and, you know, have become quite resilient. But I think when it's the first time your heart's broken, that's something that's just such a shock to the system that you never really quite forget what that feels like. But I found writing music was a way to survive, was my way to navigate that pain, a way to navigate things that I felt were, you know, unfair or confusing and has always remained a tool for me to to ask questions when the world is just too chaotic. And there's, you know, sometimes there is no answer. It is just chaos. And to just take a moment to hold space for those complexities. So the process itself is very therapeutic for me. And sometimes there are songs that I write that are just for me. I can't sing them, they’re too special. They're too painful, they're too sacred. But I sing them in the shower. I sing them when I'm walking down the road about to catch a bus, and I sing them for the people who remain in my heart, even though they're no longer here.

I feel like that's why music has existed since, you know, time and also group singing. I think ways that particularly women have used song to pass on knowledge, to create community, to express solidarity. The power of vocalising is healing, is very healing. And so what has been so magical about writing these songs for me is having moments like this where I meet people in the future who, you know, I never imagined another person would listen to my song. You know, it's just this when I write it, I don't necessarily think about what how it's going to travel and what the life of it is going to be afterwards. But when it comes back to me in this form where someone's gone, it's helped me through this time or, you know, I connected with this. It's always such a it's such a it's such a surreal moment. It's like these things I experience can connect with other people and and become their own story and, you know, have their own life. I find that really, really beautiful. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: You've taken so many interesting pathways in your career so far, and you seem to keep finding new and exciting ways to reinvent yourself into practise as an artist. What's next for Rainbow Chan?

Rainbow Chan: What I've really appreciated, I guess, reflecting back on my career so far is the more lateral ways that my practice have evolved across different disciplines. I think, you know, when I first started, I imagined, you know, a very typical kind of conventional pop music career where I'd be a recording artist and I'd tour and, you know, try and get bigger and bigger and bigger and expand in that way, going more vertically. Right. 

But I think that for me was, you know, over time, I didn't feel like that was as interesting and not sustainable as well. And what I've loved is actually going horizontally across and meeting different people, collaborating with different people across different fields of working in the visual arts, worked in theatre, I'm a teacher as well, so I teach at unis. All these different elements of my practice has really enriched, I think, my creative life. 

So the next big project I'm working on is trying to reimagine a collection of folk songs from Hong Kong, which I have been introduced to. Well, I was introduced to it a couple of years ago. So the story was that my mum is Weitou which are the first settlers of Hong Kong, and she can speak a dialect which is actually disappearing. It's sort of a little bit it's related to Cantonese, but it's a dialect that is sort of on the brink of disappearance. And a couple of years back, I asked, Mum, can you teach me the language? And she was like, You know what? I think there are some songs in language that you could probably like learn, and that would be easier for you to to understand not only just the words, but the lifestyle and the kind of the stories and you know, yeah, like you get a more holistic understanding of the culture. 

And so I reached out to some elderly Weitou women in Hong Kong who know this music. And from there, it's just been an explosion of knowledge that's been passed down to me. These women are like in their eighties, nineties, and they didn't receive a formal education. Everything for them was oral tradition. And so they learnt through songs and stories and through like crafts, like embroidering and weaving. And it would be women only sort of shared spaces where they would exchange this craft and knowledge. 

They were also in arranged marriages. So one very specific thing I've been learning is bridal laments, which are marital mourning songs that women would sing before they were married off. And it was a song cycle that lasted three days where they would sing in front of their friends and family and actually cry. It's called to its weeping songs. And they would cry because that once they were married off, they were symbolically no longer part of this family. They were kind of separate. And and then also when they were, you know, they'd never even met. They grew most of the time on the wedding day. They'd see the groom for the first time, and then they would always be an outsider to that family, too, as well. 

So these bridal laments, mourning songs are so incredibly sad and they're sung in the dialect and they reflect the landscape of the of Hong Kong pre-colonial days. And it is just so rich in history and identity and women's voices that have not been documented very well, and still it's not mainstream knowledge at all. So what I've been doing is, yeah, relearning my songs but also trying to, I guess see similarities of that kind of liminality. As someone living in Australia with Hong Kong descent and, and, and trying to work out for me in my generation what this liminality means. But what's been amazing in my practise now is that it's kind of come full circle. Like I've now able to reteach the songs to my mum who didn't know how to sing the songs. And I imagine that, you know, hopefully I can teach it to the future generations too. And this project has been particularly rewarding in that it's connected me to a lot of other people who've experienced similar things, women who with indigenous knowledge, who have, you know, passed on these oral traditions. And yeah, just just seeing parallels, even though it's very, very different. But like parallels between these stories.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Gosh, those songs sound so devastating.

Rainbow Chan: Yeah, it's very devastating. And but I guess I'm trying to, again, harness that the power of the pain to actually express also the resilience of the women. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Yeah. 

Rainbow Chan: And and also thinking about the resilience of the culture and the resilience of the language because it's not yeah, it's not dead. Yeah, it's sleeping. It's it's fading. But hopefully through, you know, making these songs like I guess I'm doing it as a, like a multi-pronged project. I have an aspect of it which is more about conservation, preservation, but then there's another aspect where it's more generative and creative, where I'm turning them into club songs or I'm turning them into, you know, something that might have autotune on the vocals. What's going to, you know, like kind of connecting it to the aesthetic and the sonic palette of my authentic self, and then that then connecting to a contemporary audience and then allowing those songs to have a revitalised sort of existence. And that's been really cool.

Courtney Ammenhauser: Yeah, for sure. As we've been recording this, you were listed as one of the 40 under 40 most influential Asian Australians, and we've talked a lot about what's influenced you, what's influenced Rainbow, but what's it like being told that you're now somebody doing the influencing? 

Rainbow Chan: I think I feel like, you know, there's always going to be a moment of kind of feeling like imposter syndrome and being like, wait, am I actually that influential? And I think it is also, you know, in these sort of awards or acknowledgements, you know, you don't ever you never, you know, represent everybody. Like, you know, there's so many other people that could be on this list. So it really is like a little bit of luck as well in being selected. But, you know, there is hard work. I obviously put a lot of effort and thought into my practise, so it's cool. But yeah, to know that there's a privilege there. And a bit of a platform to promote other people as well, lift other people up is really satisfying and really rewarding. So I think especially my teaching and mentoring practice, I try, you know, to, to empower other people and give them the skills to tell their stories. So yeah, I think if that's the influence that I can have, then that's great. It's great to have more diverse voices, more inclusive stories being told. So if I can contribute to that, then yay!

Courtney Ammenhauser: You're talking about platforming other people. And we always like to find out who you think would be Up Next. So I'm interested to know which artists or performers do you have your eye on or do you think ones to watch?

Rainbow Chan: I have so, oh I have so many people that have really struck me as like doing something really innovative. Anne So there actually, well, was one of my old students, but on their own path now, fantastic performer. They rap in Korean and English, and their music is just so rich in its electronic soundscapes, in its grittiness. But then they sing with the most pristine kind of Mariah, Mariah Carey style, like Mauresmo vocals as well. So there's a really interesting mix of references and and styles that Anne So creates in their music. Also Indira Elias, incredible songwriter, beautiful vocalists. Her songs are just they. When I first heard them, they just sound like they were classic songs that had been written or already that I already knew somehow, but was just like unfolding in these, like, really like, poetic ways. Every single line, every single melody just kind of floated into my ears this ethereal energy. I love her music. And yeah, she is a great performer as well. 

And also, Ida Warhol, harpist who and vocalist who was actually the harp player in in the mood again really just my goodness I would say probably my favourite songwriter performer Shallow released much music yet if at the time of this recording I don't think any music yet, but please look out for her music. I think she's just she's literally my favourite performer. Singer, vocalist, harp player. Incredible. 

Courtney Ammenhauser: Definitely one to watch. Thanks so much for coming in today.

Rainbow Chan: Rainbow Oh my pleasure, thanks Courtney.

Courtney Ammenhauser: That was Rainbow Chan, vocalist, producer and interdisciplinary artist. In the Mood is available to watch online for free, on the Sydney Opera House streaming platform at 

In the next episode we’ll be hearing from Sydney actors Rahel Romahn and Lily Balatincz, who star in the brand new production of Peter Scahffer’s Amadeus, opening at the end of this year. 

I’m Courtney Ammenhauser and this has been Up Next, a podcast from the Sydney Opera House. 


From Audiocraft, the show is produced by Bernadette Phương Nam Nguyễn mixed by Glen Morrow, executive producer is Selena Shannon, with support from Alison Zhuang. 

From Sydney Opera House, Head of Digital Programming is Stuart Buchanan, and Digital Programming Coordinator is Georgia D’souza. 

The Up Next theme music is by Milan Ring. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.