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Since the late 1990s, Hsiang-Yi “Doris” Yeh has served as the leader and bassist of Chthonic, a Taiwanese metal outfit that utilizes the traditional Asian erhu. The band shreds, but its members have a more important mission: supporting internationally recognized independence for Taiwan from the People’s Republic of China.
The members have been a voice for Tibetan freedom as well — vocalist Freddy Lim, who doubles as the chairman of Amnesty International Asia Pacific, met with the Dalai Lama in 2009 in advance of a “Free Tibet” benefit concert — and they remain outspoken in support of the Uyghur people of China.
That would be solid enough as a day job, but Ms. Yeh, who has appeared on the cover of GQ Taiwan, also moonlights as a sex symbol. Maybe China should rethink that whole blacklisting thing…
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Genre: Symphonic black/death metal
What difficulties have you faced as a woman in a metal band?
Changing clothes! As a girl, you always need privacy to change or do makeup, but you can’t do it like boys do in the dressing room. So I always need to find a “toilet” to do this. If the toilet is clean, then I’m lucky, but if the toilet and floor are gross, then it makes me feel bad for a whole day.
What excites you about adding erhu to extreme metal?
In our music, there’s always some sad part of the song, and the hena (erhu in Taiwanese) is like having something magical to elaborate so many complicated emotions that we can’t express by normal instruments.