Writeup by Jocelle Koh, Translations by ?te

Introducing our new format ‘Liner Notes‘, where we dig deep with artists and creatives about the meaning behind their song lyrics; dredging up the subcultures and backstories that exist straight from the source. Many of the artists featured are more than just creators; they are bridges that have the ability and willingness to share their culture across languages. So lend them a listening ear, and you just might gain more than just a new song recommendation.

Bedroom pop artist ?te (pronounced Whyte or 壞特)’s chill sound not only surpasses genres, but also language. Mixing elements of R&B, Jazz, Bossa Nova and more into her lo-fi, cosy atmosphere, the singer-songwriter effortlessly croons her way across works that switch between English, Mandarin and the Taiwanese dialect.

The mysterious artist shared that it was most natural to her to express herself in this mixture of languages due to her environment and experiences.

“Mandarin and Taiwanese are my mother tongue and I grew up listening to a lot of English songs. When I write stuff they just come to my mind like bang!”

The work most representative of ?te’s mishmash of influences comes on groovy track “Seh Ah Seh”. Brainwashing listeners with the words “Seh Ah Seh”, ?te’s sensual voice brands itself into ones’ brain as she swiftly and deftly moves from Taiwanese to Mandarin and then English.

Meaning “circling around the same place”, “Seh Ah Seh” was written when ?te (who works in the medical industry) found herself in a continuous rut.

“I wrote this song half a year ago when I was still running internship in the hospital. Life in that environment was full of pressure and I felt myself like a hamster in a cage, running the wheels and doing same things every day.”

While the song does focus on particularly frustrating moments in life, it is also a poignant depiction of the process of growth and change for young adults like ?te. She shares that her favourite few lines of the song were the following:

我懷念 簡單的煩惱 I miss the simple times When troubles were simple
我懷念 不用偽裝的微笑 I miss those sincere and big smiles
我懷念 犯 錯總有人罩 I miss the times when people back me up when I get into trouble
懷念 每個嘮叨5 每個擁抱 I miss those hugs and nagging from my loved ones

As she was only truly able to appreciate those small acts of kindness while she was at the grind, her nostalgia is particularly apparent in this part of the song. “When you grow up we all have to face more and more challenges and take on more responsibilities. When trouble comes you start missing those lovely days”

Translation

seh ah seh1 想袂轉去2 I wander aimlessly Feel like going home
我 seh ah seh, tryna make them love me
我 seh ah seh 毋知袂去叨位3 I wander aimlessly Don’t know where I should go
我 seh ah seh
我 seh ah seh

身體不聽使喚4 My body is failing me
腦袋 一片空白 My mind goes blank
Same life, boring work, same people
Those shitty things that annoy you, fuck them all

我懷念 簡單的煩惱 I miss the simple times When troubles were simple
我懷念 不用偽裝的微笑 I miss those sincere and big smiles
我懷念 犯 錯總有人罩 I miss the time when people back me up when I get into trouble
懷念 每個嘮叨5 每個擁抱 I miss those hugs and nagging from my loved ones

我 seh ah seh 想袂轉去 I wander aimlessly Feel like going home
我 seh ah seh, tryna make them love me
我 seh ah seh 毋知袂去叨位 I wander aimlessly Don’t know where I should go
我 seh ah seh
我 seh ah seh

Tryna make friends with people
Tryna be nice to assholes
You look happy but you don’t
You don’t tell the truth cuz they don’t wanna know
Fakes smiles, white lies and dead eyes
Those shitty things that annoy you, fuck them all

我懷念 簡單的煩惱 I miss the simple times When troubles were simple
我懷念 不用偽裝的微笑 I miss those sincere and big smiles
我懷念 犯 錯總有人罩 I miss the time when people back me up when I get into trouble
懷念 每個嘮叨 每個擁抱 I miss those hugs and nagging from my loved ones

我 seh ah seh 想袂轉去 I wander aimlessly Feel like going home
我 seh ah seh, tryna make them love me
我 seh ah seh 毋知袂去叨位 I wander aimlessly Don’t know where I should go
我 seh ah seh
我 seh ah seh

我 seh ah seh 想袂轉去 I wander aimlessly Feel like going home
我 seh ah seh, tryna make them love me
我 seh ah seh 毋知袂去叨位 I wander aimlessly Don’t know where I should go
我 seh ah seh
我 seh ah seh

我 seh ah seh 想袂轉去 I wander aimlessly Feel like going home
我 seh ah seh, tryna make them love me
我 seh ah seh

Glossary

1 踅啊踅(se̍h ah se̍h) : Wander aimlessly [Taiwanese]

2 想袂轉去 (siūnn bē tńg khì) : Feel like going home [Taiwanese]

3 毋知袂去叨位 (m̄ tsai bē khì lo uī) : Don’t know where I should go [Taiwanese]

4 身體不聽使喚 (shen ti bu ting shi huan) : My body is failing me [Mandarin]

5 嘮叨 (lao dao) : Nagging [Mandarin]

Follow ?te on Spotify to hear more of her chill bedroom pop, and show her some love via her Instagram!