For us, the central staircase within the Art Gallery of NSW signifies the activity and joy of the space.
It is usually filled with bustling attendees eager to move to their next site, or stopping to admire Ugo Rondinone’s clockwork for oracles behind it. Yet when Rainbow Chan is about to perform for Together In Art, it is empty and untouched in the stillness of the moment. The second that Rainbow steps down towards the landing, the staircase is no more – it becomes her stage and hers alone.
Rainbow Chan is an artist whose authenticity and playfulness are conveyed through her music. The simplicity of a singular voice and instrument evolves into layering loops and echoes that fill the Gallery. Through the colourful reflections of Rondinone’s work behind her, we peer into her artistry and into the song itself. The beauty of ‘Melt’ as a song of vulnerability, tenderness and melancholy, from her latest full release Pillar, holds its place deservedly amongst the art.
To the New Age Noise Collective, Rainbow is a phenomenal mentor, supporter and friend. Since the collective’s early days as All Girl Electronic, she has held classes and teaching sessions to share with young artists her ideas, techniques and practice. There is no better feeling than huddling around her equipment during a session to hear her talk about her experiences and her music. Her control yet playfulness with her gear is almost second nature to her, and the ways in which she weaves vocals and effects open up what music and creativity means for the arts and for us.
Whether it is due to the poignancy of cultural influence or simply the exhilaration of love, Rainbow has always remained so open about her conceptual thinking and experimentation with the individual self through sounds. Her melodic transparency has stayed with us beyond the classroom and into our own practices, emphasising that there is no one ‘real’ way to make music.
Rainbow has continually inspired artists to step out in their own time and acknowledge the presence that they can hold in what seems to be a daunting industry. She has helped us recognise our voice, the power that it has and what it can transform into. She has shown us that if you believe in yourself and your own art, your voice will be heard.
NANC is a safe space and haven for learning and emerging artists that is championed by people like Rainbow who are generous with their time and knowledge and are genuinely supportive. It’s a small sanctuary of for music lovers and makers and Rainbow can be paralleled to the cool aunty who visits us with warmth and love and tells us her stories about different places and experiences that we are yet to discover on our own.
People like Rainbow Chan help us to recognise the presence that we hold and the power that we are yet to yield; that what we dream of and all of the things that we aspire to are completely possible with a little bit of belief in our own voices and the space that we all deserve.
Written by Tanwee Shrestha and Jenny Trinh from the New Age Noise Collective