On her last prolonged visit to Taiwan, Edmonton roots singer Dana Wylie began seeing herself in the big, black stray dogs that roamed everywhere on that island in the East China Sea.
“They were a commanding presence, these black stray dogs,” said Wylie. “But they seemed to exist on the edge of society, just like the foreigners who live there.”
As one of those ex-pats, the singer who performs with her band on Thursday at The Matchbox in Red Deer, began feeling similarly marginalized while living in Taiwan last winter.
It’s not just the different language and culture that were isolating factors, said Wylie, but the fact “you’re visibly a foreigner in a country that’s not quite the multicultural mosaic Canada is.”
Still, on her second extended stay on the island of 23 million people, the 30-year-old did her best to dive not only into the ex-pat music circuit, but also into Taiwan’s own folk culture, where songs are often sung in the Hakka dialect.
And through this she believes she gained some insight into the local music scene and how Taiwanese songs can relate to the policies of a country that makes it difficult for foreigners to gain a permanent foothold.
Wylie, a determined traveller, has been known to satirize some of the peculiarities of Western society in her own music. For instance, her tongue-in-cheek song Getting Ahead from her first album Almost There . . . is about folks who are too busy making money to have sex, so they buy babies on eBay.
Wylie maintains this tune, which made it to No. 3 on Edmonton’s folk-roots chart, isn’t so far-fetched. She once read a British article about folks who are too harried for regular romance, so they have their babies through in vitro fertilization.
Some tunes from her about-to-be-released third album, Something is Going to Happen Here, are more personal, including Sorry, Baby. “I usually don’t write breakup songs,” said Wylie, but this one was based on her life.
She had previously toured Western Canada with her English musician boyfriend, whom she met in Taiwan, but acknowledged, “we’re no longer together.”
What Man Can Do contains the line “something is going to happen here,” which is referenced in the title of the new CD that was recorded at Edmonton’s Norwood Studio. Wylie likes the idea that something can happen anywhere. “It’s a road song about touring and being with your bandmates and friends playing music. . . .
“With music, there’s no money, no security, no guarantees, but music can be magical.”
The Dana Wylie Band plays with special guests The Doll Sisters at 7:30 p.m. (Doors open at 7 p.m.) Tickets are $20 from Ticketmaster or The Matchbox box office.