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Non La is the musical project of DJ On, a Taiwanese-Vietnamese multi-instrumentalist who uses relentless pop hooks, earworm melodies, and Weezer-esque guitar solos to explore queer storytelling. Sometimes soft, sometimes loud, but always emotionally honest, Non La’s music is bold, clear, and dynamic. Fans of Car Seat Headrest, Japanese Breakfast, and Seth Bogart projects will not be disappointed.
Based in Vancouver, Non La has played prominent festivals throughout Canada, including Wonderhorse Festival in Whitehorse and Sled Island in Calgary. At home, they continue to share the stage with popular acts such as Peach Pit and 90s queercore icons, Pansy Division.
Building upon their 2021 release Not in Love, which largely focused on longing for a romantic relationship, Non La’s most recent album reckons with what happens when that desire becomes a reality. Like Before is a 12-track alt-pop meditation on long term relationships, the difficulty of recognizing care in routine, and the struggle to do better than whatever maladapted form of love your parents were modelling. Despite the universality of these themes, Non La brings a specifically queer focus to the genre including tracks discussing meeting your partner in a bathhouse and how/if to ever tell your family (“Dark Room”), and the conflicting insecurities (“Hurtful”) and reassurances (“Like Before”) that arise from non-monogamy.
As the crush of Not in Love deepened into the romance of Like Before, the band’s musicality has shown similar growth. Rich, nuanced, and more self-assured, the sound on Like Before combines the band’s notorious energy and grit with a new sense of tenderness, resulting in some of the most vulnerable and hard-hitting songs in Non La’s repertoire. From the soaring vocal melodies of “Into the Water”, to the dark, contemplative grunge of “I Don’t Want to Know,” Like Before is simultaneously intimate, loud, soft, and scathing. With this album, Non La provides another crucial contribution to Canada’s queer rock milieu.
Keeping it in the Mint Records family, Like Before was recorded at Choms, a studio co-operated by Franco Rossino and Nick Short of the band DUMB.