Musicians more than most have to know the score, literally. And drummer Mattia Cecchetto and guitarist Armen Simon Pour Ahmadabadi know the score. The two Italian musicians played together when they were 3-year-old toddlers. They have performed as a band for almost a decade, and moved to China in 2018, where they worked for different bands, and also wrote and produced songs.
In 2019, they met Alip, a singer-songwriter from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. They hit it off, exchanged contacts and soon after they decided to form a band.
"We've been trying to start a new band, and we already wrote songs. I wanted to have a Chinese singer to join us to write Chinese lyrics, which could help us reach more fans.
"It took us five seconds to realize that Alip was the singer we were looking for," recalls Cecchetto.
"It's interesting that even if we and Alip grew up in two different parts of the planet, we realized that we were listening to the same music when we were teenagers," says the drummer, adding that they also like Alip's song voice and performing style.
They named the new band Titian after the name commonly used by Tiziano Vecelli, the Venetian painter during the Renaissance. He was Alip's favorite painter.
The band enjoyed a breakthrough after performing in the reality show, Strawberry Man, which was launched by Modern Sky and premiered on July 16 at online streaming platform Youku. Titian is among the 24 indie rock bands competing in the show.
"We were pretty excited, Titian is a new band and have the opportunity to be part of a TV show. It can be a huge exposure especially in a country like China," says Cecchetto, adding that the recording of the first three episodes were "terrible" since the band had never been in front of cameras and "the stress was very high".
"Fortunately after the third episode, we finally felt more confident, and we started to have a lot of fun," he adds.
In the first episode, they performed their rock song called Self Reborn. According to the drummer, they wrote the song for their old band but never had the opportunity to use it until Titian was formed.
"I think in some ways Titian's sound was born with that song. It was the sound we used then as a reference for all the rest of the band's songs," says Cecchetto.
Though the reality show is still going on, Titian has become one of the most popular bands. Right after their appearance, the band gained a huge fan base and letters and messages poured in.
One of the most touching ones came from a female fan. She said that Titian's music is "helping her through a very difficult moment in her life". "It is incredible for us to be not just making our fans happy with our music but also being in, some kind of way, therapeutic for some people," says Cecchetto.
Alip, from Karamay, in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, already had a fan base for his band, Bear Biscuit, which he co-founded along with his classmates in high school in 2003.
"Compared to Bear Biscuit, Titian is like an evolution. Musically, the expression is very sharp and clean," says Alip. "When I perform with Titian members, it feels familiar and even better."
As a new band, Titian hasn't had any official tour yet, but they played a few shows in Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, Guangzhou in Guangdong province, and Chengdu, in Sichuan province.
"Our goal with Titian is to reach as many people as possible with our music, and hopefully we can create a community of musicians that help each other and pursue the same dream," says Cecchetto.
"I don't personally want Titian to be just an island separate from every other band in the music scene. I would like to build bridges between artists because it is with connections between artists that the music panorama grows and gets better."