There’s a story behind my last name. Di Gioia means from Gioia, which is short for Gioia Tauro, the seaport municipality in Reggio, Calabria, Italy where my grandfather was abandoned by his birth parents as an infant. He was literally left on the steps of an orphanage, with a hand-scrawled note identifying him by his first name as his only official document of existence. With few options open to them, the orphanage gave him the surname Di Gioia. Today, all of my grandfather’s descendants carry this name that signifies our origins in a town and a culture that, two generations on, is far removed from our life in Canada.
Melissa Gan has a story about their name, too, one that resonated with me as soon as I heard it. Gan, who records and performs as respectfulchild, gets their stage name from the literal translation of their Mandarin name, 敬兒, given to Gan by their grandmother at birth. Gan describes respectfulchild’s music as their “…quiet way of seeking meaning in 敬兒 again,” after growing up in the Canadian prairies, culturally estranged from their origins and name.
在找::searching::, respectfulchild’s debut full-length record, is a musical distillation of Gan’s personal exploration into identity. Its seven instrumental looping soundscapes move as their titles suggest: “Twirl”, “Trickle”, “Drops”, and “Float”; they are filled with “Wonder” and “Glitter” and mark “Time” as if it were an ephemeral by-product of Gan’s journey.
respectfulchild describes 在找::searching:: as “…opening more questions than it can answer”, to which I would add it also fills previously undiscovered voids in the Canadian musical landscape. 在找::searching:: is released on Coax Records, the label founded by Rae Spoon to celebrate their love of music and provide a home for individuals underrepresented in the music industry. It’s heartwarming to know that Gan’s journey of searching and finding has led them to Coax. I don’t know whether they have found meaning in 敬兒 again, but I, and anyone who listens to 在找::searching::, will find deep connections to the music behind the respectfulchild name.