The Wanderer

Another Wanderer Special Edition

Bert Li’s Golden Hours

Today marks the beginning of the next lunar calendar. Happy New Year!

To honor of the holiday we had the pleasure of a conversation with awesome up-and-coming Colorado musical act, Bert Li. Bert is an Asian American singer/producer that grew up here in Denver.

His pop EDM styling is as fresh as it is uplifting. And music that makes us smile is something we can all use a bit more of these days.

Bert recently released his debut EP, Golden Hours, and it’s dope, so The Wanderer decided to reach out and pick his brain.

We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did having it. Without further adieu, here’s Bert Li and his Golden Hours:

The Wanderer: Tell us about Golden Hours.

Bert Li: Golden hours is an 8-song album I wrote and produced over the summer of 2020. I wanted to capture the feeling of the end of a summer vacation, when we look back at its highs and lows and ultimately reach a sense of closure over what was a really great and memorable time.

Of course, these ideas definitely featured undertones of quarantining and the pandemic – I for one spent a lot of my time at home reminiscing and looking back on summers past, and eventually finding peace with the fact that this summer was going to be very different.

TW: Do you have a favorite song on the album?

BL: My favorite song probably has to be Feelionaire, mostly because of the production. The bass drops really were modeled after one of my biggest influences, Illenium. Illenium, by the way, also happens to be a Colorado native!

TW: Which song was the most difficult to produce?

BL: The most difficult song was definitely Welcome to My Chinatown. I wanted to honor the lyrics by using drums and instruments characteristic of the Asian heritage the song was representing, but creating those sounds definitely forced me out of my comfort zone. I had to use new technologies and software, and it was also difficult writing the lyrics themselves!

I really wanted to capture how I grew up as an Asian American in a white neighborhood. It required me to be more vulnerable about myself than I normally am. It definitely took a lot of digging, but I’m happy with what I came up with in the end!

TW: Which is tougher, singing or producing the tracks?

BL: For me, singing is the toughest part. It takes the most skill.

Production can be learned through a couple hours on YouTube, but singing well and on-key is something that only comes with years and years of training. I, of course, had no such training. No amount of vocal processing could truly bring out the magic you hear in the world’s most popular tracks.

TW: Did you play instruments on Golden Hours as well? If so which?

BL: All of the instruments are created with a VST, which is a virtual synthesizer.

TW: When listeners jump in what’s the song you recommend they start out with?

BL: I think Golden Hours or ILY2 are two great songs to start out with. They are both emblematic of the positive vibes I want to leave my listeners with.

TW: Speaking of positivity, your music is extremely upbeat and affirmative, dare I say happy. Do you have a dark side and will it appear in future projects?

BL: I think negativity is required for us to feel positive. You have to know what it’s like to be sad in order to truly experience being happy! I started out with the happy side of things because it’s easier for me to tap into, but definitely expect future projects that deal with the yin side of my yang you see so far, especially as I get to courage to explore those sides of myself.

TW: How does being Asian and your culture and heritage affect the music you create?

BL: I think my Asian heritage really is reflected, sometimes subtly, sometimes very loudly and clearly, in my music. The drums, especially the kicks, are similar to the Chinese drums or Japanese Taikos common in traditional Asian music. The lead instruments are oftentimes flutes or artificial plucks that were inspired by a Chinese instrument called the gu zheng.

I also care a lot about the balance within the production, making sure the low bass and the high treble work together in harmony, which I feel is a very Asian design principle to adhere to.

TW: What about college? How does university life transpose itself in your music?

BL: College gave me a lot of experiences and reflections to write lyrics. I’ve been growing up a lot during my time at school, and I am glad to have my music as a way to document that.

TW: Back in the day you began releasing music under the name Last Night In Alesia. What made you decide to drop that and go with your own name?  

BL: I started out making music under the moniker because I wanted to emulate some of my EDM heros, Illenium, Said the Sky, Slander, Dabin, and so on. . ., but I realized after awhile that my sound isn’t firmly kept within the Future Bass genre. I realized that I wanted to make music that reflected who I am, so I dropped the stage name and went with my own.

TW: Who are your creative influences?

BL: I get a lot of inspiration from Future Bass artists like Illenium, Said the Sky, Slander, Odesza and Dabin. I also really like the vintage electro sound from a small group called Midnight Kids. Lastly, I get a lot of pop influences from singers like Halsey, Post Malone, and mike. That’s why I don’t think my music sits firmly in the genre of EDM or pop.

TW: Who’s your dream collab?

BL: Illenium, easy. He’s my biggest hero! I absolutely love his music and his production.

TW: What’s next for Bert Li? What comes after Golden Hours?

BL: Currently, I am working on a couple tracks that will be released throughout spring. I am still discovering my sound and where I sit as an artist, so expect to see me moving with the new releases coming as soon as Valentines day!

TW: How do 5280 Geek readers best support your music?

BL: Listen, and let it tap into happy memories. From day one, my mission has been to make music that makes you happy.

Check out my music, and leave with a smile. That would be the greatest compliment anybody could give me. Thank you so much for giving me this chance to spread the love.

TW: Is there anything I haven’t asked that you’d like to communicate with our readers?

BL: I’d love to hear your thoughts about the music, the good, the bad, the ugly. Give it to me. I am always looking for constructive feedback.

Bert Li is an incredible artist and an all around fantastic human being. Check his music on Spotify and connect with him on Insta.

That’s it for this extra special edition of The Wanderer. Thanks for checking in. We’ll see you out there again soon.

Until then, keep reading and listening, and as always, stay geeky.

Interview by John Andreula.

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