The Hsu-Nami Storm Back Again with New Album

The Hsu-Nami, a progressive rock band that features an electric erhu as its melodic focus, was founded by Taiwanese American Jack Hsu. Based in NYC, this band combines the sounds of traditional Chinese folk music with a strong rock component of heavy guitar riffs, melodic bass guitar lines and punctuating drum beats. has featured Hsu-Nami previously, and since then, they’ve done some very interesting things including having one of their songs featured in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, touring Asia and Taiwan, playing at the ever-popular CMJ Festival, and releasing their sophomore album, “The Four Noble Truths.”’s Ho Chie Tsai revisits with Jack Hsu, the man behind the vision of Hsu-Nami and its dynamic erhu performance, to hear about what they’ve been up to, as well as their upcoming new self-titled album release.

hsunami2H: Hey Jack! Glad to chat with you again! This is your first release in years! I know you’ve been busy with occasional performances of your own, organizing other visiting Taiwanese band performances, and personally helping out with the Passport to Taiwan Festival in NYC. What else have you been up to?

J: Actually, it’s pretty ridiculous. Our last release was seven years ago for the album “The Four Noble Truths” in 2009. The other day, I realized it has been that long and it blew my mind. Where did the time go? Our band members, Derril Sellers (bass) and Dana Goldberg (keyboard), recently got married. John Manna (drums) is working on a super successful game development company, and Brent Bergholm (guitar) is in a successful punk rock band The Battery Electric. Anyways, these past seven years, some of the highlights with Hsu-Nami were touring the entire country of Taiwan twice, playing at the largest festival in Shanghai and Beijing, and going on a few dozen tours and festivals all over the United States and Canada.

H: What was your inspiration for this particular album? And, hoow would you describe your sound now?

J: This is our third album, seven years in the making. We self-titled this album with our band name “Hsu-Nami” because this album represents what our “sound” is like. Our band started in 2004 and after all this time, we truly know what we want to put in our album. The song titles are based on Chinese folklore mythology and Chinese constellations, as well as Taoism ideologies. You ask why we based our music on these ideas? It is because our music doesn’t have any lyrics; we are all about painting pictures and sound-scapes for our listeners with our technical skills to let people imagine what the music represents in our Asian rock and metal music.

hsunamialbumH: From a creative standpoint, where does the composition of one of your pieces start? Do you start with some erhu melody, then build around it? Or is the American “rock” the start, and then adding the erhu sound?

J: That’s a great question, and the answer is both. We are a 5-piece band and have different ideas coming in from five different directions. Everyone has ideas for songs, riffs, melodies, so we just threw all these ideas together. That’s why being in a band is so much fun–you never know what the final product will sound like exactly.

H: You’ll be releasing the physical CD album in Taiwan exclusively. What’s the story behind that?

J: We are releasing our album in Taiwan under our friend The Chairman‘s label “DGS Records”. This album has to be released via physical CDs in order to be nominated in the Taiwan Golden Indie Award for 2016. We are releasing the album everywhere else “Digital Only” because, come on, you, I, and everybody else knows this: This is 2016… nobody buys physical CDs anymore.

hsunami1H: Anything else you’re working on lately?

J: This past year I have been working with so many amazing and talented musicians and arrangers based in New York city to add little touches to this album. I found this super talented Pipa musician Sylvia Jiahu Shen, also a Shakuhachi (Japanese flute) player Kaoru Watanabe, Shamisen (Japanese Guitar) player/vocalist Sumie Kaneko to add more color and different feels to a few of our tracks. Finally, I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Andres Marin, a super gifted producer/arranger, to add an entire orchestral arrangement. We were able to mix the strings with recordings from my personal studio with me on the Violin, Andy Lin on the Viola, and Hwa Chow Oliver Hsu on the Cello for the track “Reincarnation”. This album is the perfect and true Hsu-Nami album that I’m extremely proud of, and I cannot wait for people to hear it when it comes out on June 30th!

H: Well, good luck to you and the crew! Thanks for your time today!

J: Thanks!


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