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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt’s newest band, The Deltamen, discuss their debut self-titled EP

Vanderbilt’s first all-Asian band shares about their formation and the story behind their songs.
The+Deltamen+prepare+for+their+show.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Dodge+Wang%29%0A
Dodge Wang
The Deltamen prepare for their show. (Photo courtesy of Dodge Wang)

As summer approaches and the days of laying in the sun and driving with the windows down draw near, it’s time to be looking for new music — a soundtrack for your summer vacation. Luckily, The Deltamen, Vanderbilt’s first all-Asian band, dropped their debut EP on May 12. The pop-rock band is made entirely of Vanderbilt students, including first-year Joey Lau and sophomore Dodge Wang as co-lead singers, first-year Trevor He as bassist/keyboard, sophomore Finn Li on the drums and first-year Steven Yi on guitar. The band has drawn inspiration from a wide range of influences and the vibrant music community on campus, motivating them to put out their own music. 

The band formed at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, when co-lead singer Lau met the other co-lead singer, Wang, at AT&T while getting a phone. Lau had previously posted his indie music on the Vanderbilt Chinese students’ WeChat, and Wang recognized him and introduced himself. 

“Are you the guy who posted the music?” Lau said when recounting his conversation with Wang. “I’m a musician as well, why don’t we form a band?”

From there, they went on to connect with Li through mutual friends, and then a few months later, Yi joined the band. While classically trained as a pianist, He picked up bass in order to help the band reach their full potential. 

“Two weeks after my first rehearsal learning bass, we were on stage rocking,” He said. 

After bringing the band members together, they spent hours trying different band names while hanging out at Hank Ingram House. They wanted the name to capture something they all had in common.

“We realized that all of us are from the same delta area in China, the Yangtze River Delta, centered around Shanghai and neighboring cities,” He said. “[Lau] came up with the name The Deltamen, and immediately we knew that was it.” 

After their name was settled, the band had to decide what type of music they wanted to create, as all the members had vastly different musical tastes and experiences. Some started with pop backgrounds, while others were more familiar with classical music. Additionally, some members preferred covering songs, while others wanted to write their own music. The band found their sweet spot by combining members’ distinct styles. 

“Now, the style we play is a common area between all five of us,” Lau said.

The Deltamen’s debut EP cover. (Photo courtesy of Joey Lau)
(Joey Lau)

The Deltamen soon began working on their 5-song debut EP. The EP includes “Xiao Lu,” a Mandarin-pop song, written by Wang, and “On The Spot,” a country-inspired song written by He. Lau, who wrote “Let’s Talk” and “Fragile,” cited Peach Pit and Paul McCartney as influences in his writing process. “Fragile” was written in response to the MSU shooting, and deals with feeling fragile when difficult things occur. The last song, “Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf” is an instrumental cover of the theme song to a children’s show of the same name. 

“The last [song] is a Chinese cartoon classic,” Lau said. “It’s the all-time favorite Chinese children’s cartoon. Every single kid knows it.”

In terms of what to look out for in the EP, the band prides itself on the high quality and production level of the music, while also presenting a new and distinct sound. Because the EP is available on American and Chinese streaming platforms, the band works hard to create music that appeals to both audiences and creatively shares their experiences.

“As far as I know, we’re the only Asian band around [Vanderbilt],” He said. “We are confident that our audience will like our stuff. And the most important thing is that we love the songs ourselves.”

While their EP didn’t come out until May 12, the band had their first show in September 2022. The members recount the time as being one of their best and hardest moments as a band.

“My guitar pedal ran out of battery thirty seconds into the first song,” Lau said. “I was kneeling on the ground trying to restart it during the show.”

Not only that, He also realized that his bass was having issues.

“I was having fun and jumping around, and then I looked down and realized that the cable had dis-attached,” He said. 

The band made it up by having a fun time, dancing around the stage and keeping the audience laughing with them. 

“The audience absolutely loved it,” Lau said. 

In the months since the show, the band has worked hard to continue practicing and putting out music while also balancing their schoolwork. The band has had conversations about how to keep producing music while also prioritizing classes and taking advantage of the opportunities Vanderbilt gives students. One way The Deltamen do this is through using Vanderbilt resources specifically related to music. The band has recorded all of their music in Sarratt. 

As summer begins and members go their separate ways, the band will continue writing and practicing together over Zoom. They’ve begun writing new music and look forward to putting more out after the summer. The band also aims to perform more in the fall.

“We would love to get a charity Vandy rock concert going,” He said. “This is a great community and we love to give back to it and have people enjoy our music.”

The Deltamen are excited to keep creating music and build their audience within Vanderbilt and abroad. Keep an eye out for their music and upcoming performances.

“We have a three-year window,” He said. “I want to make it big. Here in Nashville, or back in China, I want us to be a thing.”

 

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About the Contributor
Claire Gatlin
Claire Gatlin, Former Life Editor
Claire Gatlin ('24) is a student in Peabody College studying human and organizational development and political science. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, reading and rollerblading. You can reach her at [email protected].
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