- Rochelle Beiersdorfer
Sexyhand is a Kittenish Crew with a One-Word Attitude: Cool.
In this Temper contribution, we chat with the Liuzhou-based indie rockers Sexyhand赛西翰 about their music, philosophies, and fashion senses.
Sexyhand (赛西翰 | sài xī hàn) is a gang of bohemians who create multi-genre jams that are both upbeat and cynical.
See the China Temper posting with minor edits and a different title here.
Listen to Sexyhand赛西翰 on either Spotify or NetEase Music.
All photos courtesy of Sexyhand赛西翰.
Sexyhand (赛西翰 | sài xī hàn) is a gang of bohemians who create music that speaks to the current times, viz., where no one wants to sacrifice their life to a menial and/or high-pressure job, experiencing a life crisis regularly is normal, and, even though we are more connected now than ever before, most of us experience a sense of unending loneliness. To put in another way, Sexyhand is a quartet that composes jams where the main ingredient is unpasteurized relatable emotions, sprinkled with a dash of apathy, a pinch of cynical wit and marinated in a strong carpe diem attitude. A Sexyhand song is a flavorful sonic snack that’s salty, sweet and oh so spicy.
And what about the name?
“Right when the band was starting up the guitarist and I were really into skateboarding,” vocalist and guitarist Wang Tongsheng (王童生 | wáng tóngshēng) explains, “I suggested we call ourselves Surfer, but the guitarist didn’t think that sounded cool enough, saying it was even worse than langshou. I didn’t think langshou sounded that cool either.” So, like any kid who grew up during dial-up, Wang did a straightforward translation and eureka, Sexy (浪 | làng) hand (手 | shǒu) was coined.
Besides still being about coolness, the name has taken on a whole new meaning since its creation. Namely, one of togetherness, being original, creating music that Sexyhand deems as cool, and bringing some joy to the people around them, and maybe even a good laugh. “While in Beijing, [I] bumped into a foreign guitarist...” Wang Tongsheng continues to tell Temper, “when we got to talking about our own bands, he asked what my band is called. I said Sexyhand. He laughed for a very long time and then said ‘I would never use it for my own band.’ Although I can’t understand what Sexyhand meant to him, I hope later after watching us perform and hearing Sexyhand [he] will think this name is cool.” Cool, indeed! We just suggest you don’t google it, unless you’re into tomfoolery and wankery.
Possessing that indescribable musical oomph, Sexyhand’s works are sonic doodles of the most brilliant color tones. From acoustic sonnets, psychedelic surf pop to rocking ska-punk jams, Sexyhand’s discography toys with a plethora of genres, and the lyrics are just as eclectic. Brimming with wit and sarcasm, lyrical concepts range from every mundane thing imaginable to profound confessionals of heartbreak, commonplace anxiety and breaking theatrical 6th walls. Spirited songs like “玛丽亚 (Sister Maria),” “冰冰可乐” and “给宿醉吉他手的歌 (3 Bottles of Corona)” express nagging anxiety, apprehensive dialogue and just wanting to drink a cold cola or giving a message to a hungover guitarist. Instrumentally, Sexyhand’s tunes are mostly upbeat and fast paced, paying homage to such oddball, eccentric bands as Oingo Boingo and The B-52’s, but with a total millennial misfit vibe.
Sexyhand’s philosophy is what our grandparents pester us about, i.e. quintessential millennial apathy, rejecting the status quo and wanting a rock’n roll lifestyle. “I love rock’n roll. I don’t want to go to work,” Wang Tongsheng replies on behalf of the band when asked about their objective. High energy, pop-punk anthems like “妈, 我不想上班 (Mom, Pay the Bill)” where the Chinese directly translates as “mom, I don’t want to go to work” makes that blatantly evident.
Officially formed in 2018, Sexyhand’s beginnings actually started a year earlier. At the time Wang Tongsheng, not knowing how to open his Ren Mai (任脉 | rèn mài) and Du Mai (督脉| dū mài), discovered that composing music was a spring of promethean fire. The first sign of Sexyhand’s formation was when Wang Tongsheng met Sen Lin (森林 | Sēn lín) at his favorite spot to practice guitar and write songs, his college park. “Because the campus didn’t have any place where we could freely go and use, and Liuzhou frequently rains, Sen Lin and myself usually ended up in the [campus’] car garage,” Wang Tongsheng says.
With legit humble garage band beginnings, the rest of Sexyhand’s origin story blossoms like any other band’s history. Members come and members go. The current lineup was solidified when Wang Tongsheng met Bengbeng (蹦蹦| bèng bèng) through a friend and became acquainted with Liuzi (六子 | liùzi) at a music festival where Liuzi was covering drum duties for a metal band. Considering Liuzi’s drum skill as –you guessed it— cool and appreciating the originality in his compositional style, Liuzi has been managing Sexyhand’s rhythm section ever since. Bengbeng, on the other hand, took up bass duties after the original bassist decided to appease his father’s employment demands instead of continuing with the band. “The arm cannot twist the thigh,” Wang Tongsheng figuratively remarks while talking about the original bassist, “he went home [and we] met Bengbeng through a friend during this window of vacancy. She’s now the band’s pet.”
A major component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ren Mai (任脉 | rèn mài) and Du Mai (督脉| dū mài) are two of the Eight Extraordinary Meridians (奇经八脉 | Qí jīng bā mài) in the human body. According to a quick google search, Ren Mai starts near the kidneys and runs around the front of the body while Du Mai runs along the back. They meet at the mouth and are the only two channels, or 经脉 (Jīngmài), with acupuncture points. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the thought is that without opening up these two channels pain and sickness will occur throughout the body. So, unlocking your body’s Ren Mai and Du Mai allows for a healthy and balanced flow of yin and yang. #TemperTeachings
MUSIC AND FASHION
The first band with a member to tell us that they actually enjoy dressing up, Sexyhand’s fashion style is zany, artsy and ironic. We mean that lovingly. Adorned in everything from retro dress shirts and plain white tees to jeans and leather skirts, Sexyhand’s band members proudly wear their own senses of style, and understand the importance of aesthetic. “People who seek fashion I understand as aesthetic pioneers,” Wang Tongsheng says, “regardless of if it’s clothing pairings or makeup and accessories or [even] musical styles…and choreography… We want to make these things more beautiful not for the sake of being different from others, but to seek the satisfaction of feeling good inside ourselves without being influenced by others.” This sentiment of positive self-image is echoed by his bandmates. “Of course,” replies the band’s guitarist Sen Lin to a question about fashion as self-expression, “for instance, when other people ask you about where your individuation is reflected.”
Individuation means the method by which an individual becomes their one-of-a-kind self. Basically, what makes someone unique, personality-wise. #TemperTeachings
When performing, Sexyhand makes statements not just through the rhythmic ruckus they’re pumping out but also by what they wear. “What I usually wear [on stage] is a good-looking dress. It’s a pink collared polo, [which] concurrently possesses both male and female characteristics,” beams Wang Tongsheng, “I really like this dress. It symbolizes a break with gender stereotypes, which is cool.”
Wang Tongsheng isn’t the only one whose stage attire is rioting the status quo. “I used to wear prison clothes,” Sen Lin tells Temper, “…what I wanted to talk about at that time was that the whole environment was like a prison, there was no free thinking, little encouragement for innovation, and only living and working by the book would be recognized.”
Now? He explores the depths of his fashion sense by matching complementary colors and wearing things that others wouldn’t dare to be caught dead in.
Bengbeng, Sexyhand’s string slinger, also partakes in flaunting her multicolored wild self, but with group awareness. “I will understand what the other members are wearing and match [them],” Bengbeng asserts, “the theme is unity.”
“I’m the simple one,” he laughs when responding to a question about the significance of what he wears on stage.
Talk about a motley crew of cool cats.
Sexyhand is based in Liuzhou, or, as the band puts it “an industrial city of fine scenery and fresh and sweet air.”
Want to see Sexyhand in person and escape the nauseating humdrum of adulthood?
Sexyhand’s next appearance will be on November 18th at厦门RealLive And Books in the port city of Xiamen. Because of the current resurgence of COVID-19 in China, last minute show cancellations and rescheduling are possible, so please keep an eye on the band’s Weibo for any show updates and to see when they’ll be in your neck of the woods. #scrolldown
Sexyhand’s music is lively, whimsical and pokes fun at the dullness of modern life. These tongue-in-cheek tunes will raise your spirits as much as get you grooving. In a world where there’s more to bemoan than be merry about, Sexyhand is a deep breath of fresh air, metaphorically speaking.So, inhale deeply and jump around because it’s time to rollick. And we just have one thing to say to that: Cool.