This is the kind of thing you dream about – discovering you have hidden talents. Like finding buried treasure in your backyard, or perhaps a cache of secret weapons or super powers hitherto unknown. What would that feel like? What would you do with your gifts?
If you’re Dawn Lintern of the band Das Fluff, you start singing. Or I should say, you keep singing, only louder, stronger, tougher than you’ve ever sung before. And then what happens is you record, you travel, you perform and you sound just fricking awesome. Even if you don’t get a chance to blow out the windows.
See that was the scenario at Das Fluff’s last Hong Kong gig, which was an afternoon tea session at Saffron Bakery in Stanley. It was such a surreal experience, I’m not sure what I should write about first: the fact that YO could rip-stick in the plaza while I enjoyed some live music (a first for therockmom – I like!); my double shot drink order – a chocolate shake followed by a craft beer – or watching the reaction of the crowd as they wandered in for skim milk lattes and realized there was a dark, edgy pop duo performing in front of the DJ booth. Over by the One Direction posters and just across from the Captain Fantastic pinball machine. On a pop culture scale of weird meeting quaint, Das Fluff amongst the Southside crowd placed them on the same color pallet as David Bowie popping over to Bing Crosby’s place to sing ‘Little Drummer Boy’. (It’s on YouTube and worth a look.)
Lintern’s last FB post from HK called her visit ‘the most challenging gigs of my life’, so all credit to her and Christian Ruland (keyboards & visuals) for taking us on. There might be pockets of coolness down around Sai Ying Pun or out in To Kwa Wan, but collectively, as a city, we are seriously uncool – Josh Groban kind of uncool – and to be honest, we’re pretty uptight. You know, Das Fluff got harassed about the noise, during the soundcheck. And this is after they turned the amps right down, in case the sound waves blew out the bakery’s picture windows. Apparently, that can happen if you’re not careful.
But still, I was damn glad to be there. With my shake and my beer, with the family in tow, and with EO asking: why do you need to go out and see music when you’ve got the internet? Blasphemous child! As God is my witness, I vowed, I will change her mind – one gig at a time.
Even better, I got to chat with Lintern after the last set about her music (it comes from a dark, angry place), her influences (Bowie, The Cure) and her path to Hong Kong (enter Sean Hocking from Saffron). Our conversation brought me round to my opening thought and the really cool part of the afternoon: finding out how she discovered her voice.
Lintern had been in a number of bands in her late teens and twenties, but she said she’d always been quite shy, had never really explored the boundaries of her voice. It took a visit to a voice coach to convince her that she had serious pipes. Add in her training in yoga, which helped with her breathing, as well as finding the right musical partners (Ruland + Steve May on guitar), and Lintern arrived at a place where she felt confident enough to push the envelope.
For someone like myself, who can’t sing a note, I find that fascinating – this idea of finding your voice, literally and figuratively. Lintern said it was a complete surprise to discover. And, even now, she’s still working on her sound, still figuring out what she’s capable of, while also trying to strip things down and find the essence of the song. She’s overcoming her shyness by challenging the audience and getting in their faces. She said she likens it to inhabiting a role – of a character I’d describe as an electro-damaged chanteuse. Marlene Dietrich meets Lene Lovich meets Siouxsie Sioux. “Brace yourself,” she told the audience, with a very British comic edge. Yes, not exactly a Sunday afternoon acoustic vibe. So unfortunately for us in the bakery audience, Lintern had to tone down her set to accommodate the place and the crowd. Got to watch out for those picture windows after all.
But we’ll take what we can get. And we’ll look forward to louder, stronger, tougher things to come.
Find Das Fluff at:
Then watch and learn:
If you want to find out what Saffron has in store for the live music scene in Hong Kong, get on their mailing list via: http://saffronbakery.com/