A sunny May afternoon. A cool breeze gently rustling the trees on the mountain. A large grassy yard, where friends chat together, aunties welcome you with a wide smile, and children run around. It’s a perfect day here in Taiwan, made even better with Huan Huan (緩緩) and their music

That late afternoon, the Taiwanese indie band played a selection of songs from their newest EP while the sun was bright in the sky. (They had also invited two of Coco’s high school friends to play a few songs.) Behind the four members — vocalist Coco, guitarist Myles (or in Chinese, 包子), drummer Yi Jen, and bassist Stone (石頭) — the small audience could see the high-rises of Taichung City peeking from in between the trees. As the afternoon deepened, the live music swirled around alongside the smell of fresh grass and the early summer air. 

A few months earlier, EnVi sat down with Huan Huan at their agency’s office, situated on a side road near Taipei 101. During our calm evening conversation, we talked about their most recent album, their songwriting process, and the songs they would recommend to EnVi readers. 

Slowly, Slowly

Spring had arrived in Taiwan when we sat down to chat. But since it’s Taiwan, it was quite warm and humid that day, even though the sun had disappeared a couple of hours ago. Inside of the office, soft lighting gently colored the desks, the computers, and the posters on the walls. Music played in the background as the band members (dressed in unfussy colors like black, gray, and tan) chatted among themselves in hushed voices before our interview began. 

Based in Taipei, Huan Huan (緩緩) began with vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Coco in 2016. A year later, drummer Yi Jen joined; most recently, Huan Huan added bassist Stone to the group. Guitarist Myles completes the four-member band. 

In Mandarin, huǎn huǎn translates to “slowly.” “I thought of this name while taking a shower,” Coco revealed, her voice soft and steady, as she explained how she decided on the band’s name. “At that time, I though the repeating characters [緩緩] were cute, so I shared it with the group members, and [they] said it was great…” A moment later, she added, “And maybe because my movements are slow,” so the name “Huan Huan” has a touch of her personality as well.

As one of the most senior members, Yi Jen stepped in to reflect on the band’s beginnings versus now. A challenge all those years ago was not having a lot of music out in the world. “In the early days, no one [knew] us, so I think that during the group formation process, you will not know whether you are good enough…and whether you can continue to create,” she said openly.

Huan Huan’s journey kicked off with their first single album in 2017, titled 緩緩 — their name. In this compact body of work, they featured two tracks: “Dying Love,” which clocks in at six minutes and 40 seconds, and “A Waste of Time,” which nears 10 minutes. Two more single albums followed between that first published project and now. Charlie arrived in 2019, while 藍色的房間橘色的人 (English title: Blue Room Orange Person) made its appearance in 2022. A smattering of singles and two full-length albums — the nine-track Water Can Go Anywhere (2020) and the 10-track When the Wind Came Across (2023) — rounds out the diverse discography of Huan Huan. 

Image courtesy of Huan Huan.

With the experiences of a seasoned band like Huan Huan, all the members have their favorite parts of being in the group. “For me, there is one favorite moment from the beginning to now, which is the moment when the work is just completed,” guitarist Myles said. “And there is the performance, when the audience is very connected with us [and] they feel very content.” 

Stone also spoke about the band’s fans, especially when fans wait for the members’ autographs or just to chat with them all and say a simple hello. “Fans sometimes say that because they have listened to our previous works before, those works may have accompanied them, such as [through] their high school or college years,” he noted, explaining this moment in greater detail. “This kind of thing made me feel like I was involved in the lives of different people, which [makes] me feel amazing…” As Stone pointed out, Huan Huan’s music touches other people in ways that the members themselves don’t always think about. 

Drummer Yi Jen took time to reflect on their performances, too. “I feel that at the moment of the performance, I actually often observe the state of the members and the audience,” she said. “Because I am the drummer, I can see everyone, and then there is…the feeling of everyone being together in this atmosphere…” Yi Jen added. 

Although her three other bandmates chose performance-related memories, Coco decided to go back to the very beginning. Her favorite moment is the “time when everyone is writing songs in the group practice room, and then [we] come up with an exciting idea.” This synergy, she noted, is “very precious” and “very special.” 

Experimenting With Many Colors

Speaking of writing songs, Huan Huan had a few songs in their catalog that they would recommend listening to first. Stone and Yi Jen both voted for “瀏海被風吹得整個飛起來” (English title: “When the Wind Came Across”), which closes the album of the same name. Starting off with a simple theme on an acoustic guitar, Coco’s breathy voice and the light instrumental create a captivating — and calming — image. “When the Wind Came Across” encourages listeners to find beauty in the now and in the little things. 

While the bassist and the drummer chose a calm song, Myles favored two of the band’s “catchy” tracks. The first one he picked is a song sung in Taiwanese called “彼日的下晡” (English title: “The Afternoon”); meanwhile, the bouncy “不哭不哭” (English title: “No Tears”) was his other choice. Coco became the happy middle, selecting both “When the Wind Came Across” and “The Afternoon.” (In response to Myles, she had also joked: “Ok, then I will choose two songs, too.”) 

Most of Huan Huan’s songs begin with Coco. “I think when I usually write a song, I spend a long time on it,” she mused. “I [feel] that it [is] a bit like solving a problem, trying to find out what else [the song] could become.” But when asked about her favorite parts of the songwriting process, harmonies come to mind first. “I also like to compose harmonies. When I compose harmonies, I feel that I can be in a very free mood,” she said. Meanwhile, “The most challenging thing is probably to complete the song and work with the group members to bring the song to the next level,” Coco added. 

Bassist Stone also jumped in, noting, “The most challenging thing, I can add, is that our lyrics and music are all written by Coco, but when she is writing, the lyrics and the music she writes will remain in a somewhat ‘no makeup’ state.” Other artists might “roughly demo the arrangement,” he pointed out, but Coco’s process is usually to sing by herself, often while playing just the guitar. When the track moves into the group idea stage, “We have to think about what’s the best style of the song,” Stone said. For Huan Huan, this means considering what “best suits” the meaning and the vibe of what Coco created.  

But finding this “best” way to arrange the track is rarely easy. “How to find the most suitable [arrangement] is very difficult because sometimes the style that comes to mind at the beginning is like a piece of clothing that looks good when you first put it on,” Stone explained. “But maybe the most suitable one is someone else’s style. You never know till you try,” he emphasized. “So it will take a while of exploration to know.” 

Image courtesy of Huan Huan.

Myles added some thoughts about the band’s creation process, highlighting that “改變” (English title: “Change”) is unforgettable. “There will be some conflicts between the music types that everyone likes, or the way to make music, so how to integrate them…and achiev[e] the picture in Coco’s mind is indeed the most difficult,” he said, noting that this was the experience behind making “Change.” Plus, as Myles also pointed out, “As the production process progresses, you may have new experiences…you may have other insights.” 

Regardless of the challenges the members face when making their music, they are of one mind when speaking about what type of music they want to try next: Dorian mode, otherwise known as a less sad minor key. It’s a “certain key in music…I am very interested in it” Coco explained. Nirvana, for example, uses Dorian mode in their discography, Myles added. 

Originally, Huan Huan came across the brighter Dorian mode because it appears in older Taiwanese songs, such as those by Qi Qin or Qi Yu. However, “[Dorian mode is] difficult because it will have a unique color, and if you use this color for every song, then [they will] feel very similar,” Stone noted. But if anyone can tackle the whimsical Dorian mode, it’s Huan Huan. 

The Healing Music of Huan Huan

Last month, Huan Huan embarked on their “Huan Huan Tour Vol. 2,” also known as 緩緩到你家 (huǎn huǎn dào nǐ jiā). Translating to “Huan Huan Goes to Your House,” fans signed up to host a performance at their house. As a result, Huan Huan went to (or will be going to) houses — and apartments — to play intimate concerts in Taipei, New Taipei, Taichung, Pingtung, Taitung, and even an island off of the southwest coast of Taiwan called Xiaoliuqiu. 

When Huan Huan performed in Taichung, a county in central Taiwan, it was a characteristically warm yet pretty perfect day. And the large front yard they were playing on? It belonged to one of Coco’s high school classmates’ parents, making the early summer concert even more special. The audience, filled with children and 阿嬤s (grandmothers) alike, settled on the covered patio in front of the house, laid down picnic blankets on the grass, or stood underneath the tree parallel to Huan Huan’s set up. 

As the band’s fans sipped green tea from paper cups, Huan Huan filled the surrounding hills with their music. Although the concert was less than a 15 minute drive from the highway below, Huan Huan provided a much-needed escape from the busyness of life. From the jazzy “一次跨兩格階梯” (English title: “Two Steps At a Time”) to the dreamy “夢中的電視機” (English title: “Dreaming About You”) and the energetic rock track “熱浪” (English title: “Heatwave”), the band gifted their fans comfort and a home through their music. 

While our interview happened a few months before their Taichung performance, Huan Huan did share what goes through their minds during a concert. “I feel like I’m meditating,” Coco said, speaking up first. “I will always imagine a completely dark place” and then sing, the lead singer and songwriter added. Myles, too, prepares himself mentally. “I would imagine that [I’m] telling a story to the audience,” he told EnVi. “I found that it will be easier [to] focus…and it will look more natural.”

“Huan Huan Tour Vol. 1” started late last year and continued into March of this year. Their first tour took them to Taichung in December and then again in January, while they performed in Taipei in November and February. To conclude their concert series in Taiwan, Huan Huan wrapped up in the southern county Kaohsiung in March. In between their Taiwanese west-coast tour, the band even flew to Japan for a show in late December of last year.   

For both tour volumes, Huan Huan focused on their most recent album, When the Wind Came Across. The title of the album is the same name of the final track on the project, yet, this song was “actually the last song written,” according to Coco. “I felt that the name…gave me a picture of daily life,” she added. And so, Coco “want[ed] to use such a picture to run through this second album.”

(EnVi saw a picture when listening to the song for the first time, too, as we wrote in this article: “Imagine summer is coming to a close. You’re walking on the cooling sand, your toes tingling a bit as they get briefly buried in the sand. The sun is setting, and the reflection of pinks and blues and oranges blends together among the peaks and dips of the waves. Maybe there’s a small breeze playing with your baby hairs.”) 

But if you want the best place to listen to Huan Huan’s music — especially When the Wind Came Across — then listen to it when you’re traveling. Just like the album artwork, which features a person wearing gray headphones and looking out the window of a train, the band encourages listeners to slow down, breathe, and be in the moment. In fact, the “designer came up with [this idea] after listening to our music,” Coco revealed. “Maybe Huan Huan’s music is very suitable to listen to when moving.” 

Taking In the Slow Moments of Life

From their first single in 2017 to their newest 10-track album, Huan Huan’s music tells the stories of our everyday life. Like Stone pondered, some of their songs make listeners feel like they are on top of the world — a soundtrack that boosts their confidence. Huan Huan’s discography is “very life-oriented and feels like being with everyone,” he continued. Coco added that she believes Huan Huan’s sound is “Soft, but tough, and then bright.” Meanwhile, Yi Jen said modestly, “I think the melodies of some of our songs [are] very catchy.” (EnVi would recommend the playful “Mrs. Archi” for those looking for “bright” and “very catchy” songs to add to their playlists.) 

Myles concluded their thoughts, musing, “I have a more special description because in the early days, Huan Huan was actually a band with a bit of shoegaze and then a bit of post rock style. Then, as our life experiences evolved, [Huan Huan] slowly became what it is now.” Like their name, the four members aren’t in a rush to get anywhere particular. Instead, they focus on creating songs that are “very realistic and reflect the face of life.” Healing and understanding are at the core of Huan Huan.  

As the night grew deeper, we wrapped up our interview by asking the four bandmates which of their songs mean the most to them. Coco chose “Water Can Go Anywhere,” the flowing track from the 2020 album of the same name. “Even till now, it can still remind me of the mood I felt when I wrote this song,” she said. “I feel quite moved when I think of this song.” For a more recent release, Coco also pointed to “When the Wind Came Across,” as it is “a song that recently recorded my life in a very honest way.” 

Images courtesy of Huan Huan.

Stone and Myles selected their tracks based on the songwriting. Myles chose “I Better Be On Time” — Huan Huan’s most popular song on Spotify with over 1.3 million streams. His reason? “I think Coco’s lyrics have always had one very powerful thing, that is, she actually writes them all,” the guitarist noted. “I Better Be On Time,” in particular, is relatable to “problems that people are dealing with at some point.” 

“When the Wind Came Across” was also Stone’s pick “because, to me, there are a few lyrics in it that make me feel that it is really well written,” he said. “It is a feeling of unconditional love, and every time I hear it, I feel very touched.” Stone continued, adding that there is a “I will love you no matter what” feeling. There is a feeling of being accepted and knowing that you can live with your flaws and other people’s, too — it’s what makes us human. 

Lastly, but certainly not least, Yi Jen chose “夢露” (English title: “Monroe”) from their album Water Can Go Anywhere. “I think the current state of my creation of that song is that I am trying various possibilities and rhythms,” the drummer detailed. “And for me, that song is a new breakthrough in creation,” she added. As Yi Jen concluded, “the impression is quite deep” as a result. 

Fast forward to that sunny May afternoon in Taichung again, and the auntie who hosted the concert is chopping up two giant watermelons for everyone to share. Cell phones are out; smiles are on every face; and the watermelon chunks are being passed around. It’s slow — yet bright — moments like these that Huan Huan capture through their music. The band encourages listeners to just soak up the present as best as they can. Like when you’re eating a piece of fresh watermelon outside in the summertime — the crunches and slurps and juices dripping down your chin and all. 

*Writer’s Note: Translations courtesy of Eric Yeh.

Keep up with Huan Huan on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and their website.

Want more Taiwanese artists to add to your playlist? Check out EnVi’s interview with hip hop artist Majin here!