Given his dual career paths, it’s safe to say Freddy Lim has experienced a unique cross-section of global culture. As the frontman of Taiwanese symphonic black metallers Chthonic, Freddy has played to screaming headbangers the world over; as a member of Taiwan’s parliament, he’s been at the forefront of his country’s current focus on independence, progressive policies, and youth-oriented action.
But given that Freddy is one of the most prominent Asian metal musicians in the world, we wondered how much the current wave of anti-Asian crime and sentiment in America — much of it centered around resentment against the Chinese over belief that they somehow orchestrated the COVID pandemic — affected him, both as the frontman of a massive metal act and as a politician.
“As a band, as far as I can recall, we never really got this kind of discrimination when we’ve toured the US,” Freddy told The Pit while discussing Chthonic’s new live album. “We have heard some stories from our Taiwanese-American friends and fans before, but personally we rarely faced this kind of situation. In 2013, during our North American tour, we were threatened by so-called Chinese students — mostly hired hands, Chinese agents. My security and tour manager were quite close to shutting down our show, because we got some threatening e-mails saying that if we go onstage, they’re going to kill us. They were quite nervous, but we continued to tour. Even among Asian communities, there are some very intense relationships, so I think it’s a bit difficult for us to easily answer this kind of question.
“But what I do want to say is that in the US, movements like Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate really inspire Taiwanese people,” Freddy continues. “We always look up to the democracy of the US — we feel like the US is an improved, developed democracy. We look to countries like the US when we are debating in the parliament about, say, same-sex marriage, and use a lot of debates that have happened in the US before. We have your experiences to convince the anti-LGBT rights people.
“But even then, you still have the courage to face your problems,” he says. “You have the courage, the guts, to face the problem, like racism issues. You know you are not perfect. And that makes the Taiwanese feel like, even the US, even Western democracies, require introspection. You always want to improve yourself. You have the courage to face your own problems. And the things that we should look up to are not only what your democracy is about, but their courage.
“Even in Taiwan — we’re the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage, and the first to face issues of aboriginal rights. We are a very progressive country in Asia, and some people think that’s enough. But I say, look at the US. They are very invested in democracy, but they have all kinds of problems, and have all these different movements that want to keep moving forward and make society better. There are lots of young people who want to make your democracy better.
“There are thousands and thousands of people who come out to try and connect, and make your society better — that inspires a country like Taiwan, so far away. We need to do more.”
Chthonic’s 2021 Megaport live album is available for preorder.
Words by Chris Krovatin