Date: Jan 23rd 2014 3:43p.m.
Indietronica visionary thruoutin (pronounced like the three words thru, out and in) commands a diverse sound that ranges from catchy indie-folk ballads to cacophonous ambient drones. Now a stalwart of the capital’s experimental music scene, thruoutin originally hails from New Orleans.
Since landing in China five years ago, his music has evolved significantly, absorbing the language, rhythms and instruments of his new home. In fact, when I first heard about thruoutin from a Chinese scenester, he was described as “a foreigner doing underground music on a laptop and a pipa,” an instrument thruoutin had never seen before washing up on our fair shores.
“Before coming to China, I was doing a lot of DIY basement shows. At that time, it was just laptop and vocals,” says thruoutin. “The biggest influences China has had on my music are the addition of the pipa, field recordings from around China, traditional instrument samples and Chinese lyrics.”
These Chinese elements are now central to thruoutin’s tracks and live shows. The four-stringed pipa figured prominently on his 2012 debut EP, Dots, melting some of the sonic palettes of traditional Chinese folk music into a hotpot of indie influences. But even in his approach to a classical Chinese instrument, thruoutin keeps it DIY: “I basically listened to pipa recordings and tried to replicate them, then added in techniques from bass guitar.”
Check out thruoutin’s live acoustic performance of “Travels Above Me,” the opener off Dots for a taste of his unique approach to the instrument. With his swift pronounced fingerpicking and warbling narration, he achieves something akin to the pop-folk of early Mountain Goats.
On his sophomore EP, Apricot Station, thruoutin draws on a completely different well of inspiration: “Dots was more of a collection of lyric and beat-oriented songs I had written …