Everytime Li Chien steps on stage, he brings a massive amount of energy. The genre-bending senior thinks of his music as “enthusiastic,” and doesn’t believe his music can be held down to the usual binaries of music. Chien, a wiry Washington D.C. native, is influenced by a wide range of music from American rap to Japanese electronic.
“I produce whatever genre I’m into at the moment so right now it’s what I like to call underground trapwave,” said Chien in reference to his self-made genre. “A lot of hazy pads, quick drum hits, slurred rapping and 90’s culture that was brought over from Japan like anime and video game music. What I really want to do is combine trap rap with modern electronic music.”
Experimental by nature, Chien made his Denison performance debut in the fall of 2013 as a freshman. His performance electrified the crowd, and he has brought that same presence to all of his performances since. Beyond just DJing other people’s music, his own creations have improved drastically since coming to Denison.
“Denison has taught me a lot about traditional music,” said Chien. “Before I took a music class my sophomore year, I had no idea what a key was. I was just making beats on my computer and I used all of the white keys together because I thought they sounded better than the black keys. Now, after three semesters, I’m making all of this tonal music I had no idea I could even make.”
Over the summer, Chien interned at House Studio in DC this summer. He linked up with another aspiring rapper and had a mind-blowing session that he says has changed his music perspective entirely.
“Even though we made different musical styles and came from different backgrounds, him and I clicked when he first heard my beat,” said Chien. “You could see the ideas immediately pouring into his head and it didn’t stop until we were finished. I loved the whole process so much that after the session was over, I knew what kind of music I wanted to make next.”
As far as what to expect for DDay, Chien doesn’t want people to get too complacent.
“I’m going to play a few electronic tracks,” Chien said with a smile. “And a rap about dim sum.”