Swarrm, progressive rock with a twist ?

Around  one month ago, Djang San asked me if Subtropical Asia would like to be involved in the Beijing Underground  music days that he is organizing. His suggestion was that we presented a band that we like and make an interview. Among all the bands from all the labels in China I felt a band that deserved some recognition and exposure is SWARRM. SWARRM is a band that looks and sound so experienced that every time I see them around small underground venues in Beijing such as Temple and School I ask myself: “why are these guys playing here?” I mean, their sounds may be too heavy for most of the people and they for sure don’t have the fresh young attitude in sound and looks to strike young kids in a search for a band to be devoted to. No! SWARRM is mature, dark, moody, violent and decadent. A power trio that fusions heavy rock with a touch of progressive and noise.

I had a very short and direct chat with GAOXIAFENG, the charming guitarist/aggressive riff machine of the band to know more about him and the band, here it goes:

First, can you introduce yourself? Name, age, born & raised place?

“My name is Gao Xiao Fang 38 years old I was born and grew up in Beijing”

how long have you been playing music?

“I have been playing music for 18 years”

and how long has SWARRM been together?

“SWARRM was founded about 1 year ago”

Are u married? do you have kids?

“I got married, I have two kids”

Why do you use makeup? It looks gorgeous! but are there any other special reason beyond looking fabulous?

” I love make up since I was 20 years old, first make-up was a hobby for me, not that I want to express anything else I think”

What does the name SWARRM mean ?

“SWARRM means SWARRM of worms”

As I am a musician I know that you guys are highly skilled and experienced artists, so what brings you guys to play in small bars and venues? Are you doing this for fun?

“We’re not very picky about where we’re going to play”

Any plans for recording and tours?

“We are going to have some singles and tours this year. When ? Im not sure”

Cool! Thanks for you time.

“You are very welcome”

Listen to Swarrm here:



Interview – Nocturnes 曳取, Making lines and codes in China.

Hi Nocturnes, can you introduce yourselves and your music?

Hey, we’re Nocturnes曳取, an Indie-Electronic band based in Beijing. Weidu sings and Dave plays some instruments. We’re really interested in the idea of combining live music with a more electronic DJ-like setup, bringing a more performative element to electronic pop music. If you like Coldplay, Bonobo or Foals then you’ll probably see elements of those bands in our work. In Beijing, we’re probably most similar to Nova Heart or Da Bang’s newer material.

Nocturnes曳取是一支来自中国北京的独立电子乐队,乐队有两名成员:萎度,主唱/作曲/作词;大卫,吉他/编曲/制作。他们的音乐动情迷人,氛围感和沉浸感极强,将现场音乐和DJ set融合在一起,乐迷认为兼顾了Foals的情怀力道,Bonobo的灵动迷幻,以及Coldplay的流行张力。

Why is your band called Nocturnes? How did you two meet?

Dave: I came to China in 2015, and had a short-lived band called Palaces that broke up soon after I arrived. I needed to find someone to work with, but I had grown a little jaded of playing in bands and wanted to take a more commanding role with music in terms of instrumentation. Vocals were a weak point of mine so I posted an ad on Douban.com to find a singer. I had tons of replies, despite how terrible my Chinese was at that time, but one voice in particular stood out, Weidu’s. While everyone else was striving to have that high Mandopop style voice, Weidu had her own very unique tone. She had never written a song at that point, but I still knew she was the one I needed to work with.


People talked to me about your band and I listened to your album on bandcamp and liked it, what is the album about? Can you tell us more about it?

Dave: Our album is called Lines Written in Code, our debut LP. We spent a super long time on this, really trying to make everything consistent, and to give the album its own distinct sonic signature. Having a cohesive set of songs was very important to us, and we were still making changes up to the very last minute. In fact, one of our favorites on the record, Free Falling, was added about a month after everything else was finished and sent for mastering. I just knew it was the perfect addition to the album.

大卫:这张专辑叫做《密眸》,是我们的第一张正式专辑。我们花了很多心思在上面,想要为大家呈现一个属于曳取,有辨识度,同时调性又非常统一的整体声音感觉。专辑中我们最喜欢的一首歌是Free Falling《自由落体》,这首歌是最后一刻加入专辑的,当时直觉告诉我它属于这张专辑。

Weidu: I’d like to say I’m very proud of this album. It’s our first LP that we dedicated so much, maybe over one and a half years? Every time I listened to it, I was trying to think about where we were and what we were doing at that time when that song was born, haha. Lyrically, the whole album, I mean every song delivers a specific thought of mine, what I’ve been thru, and what I’ve learned from that experience. So yeah, it’s like a secret message for every song, such a valuable gift from last year, something to remember when I get old, haha.


What’s your favorite music to listen to? What was your favorite album in 2018 so far ?

Dave: I listen to quite a wide range of music, so picking a favorite album is pretty hard. In terms of Chinese releases, I’m a big fan of Hiperson’s new album. They recorded the whole thing on an 8-track apparently, and it just gives it this really cool, punk aesthetic. As a producer, I am incredibly guilty of listening to cheesy mainstream music and taking it apart to study and learn from. In that regard, Charlie Puth’s VoiceNotes, which just came out, is amazing. It has this really cool throwback R&B sound and it gives his music this nice edge versus his first album, which was way too sickly sweet for me.

Listen to the album here.

大卫:我听得挺杂的,所以选一首最爱的专辑太难了。中文的话,海朋森的新专挺好听的。8首歌一气呵成的感觉,有朋克的真和美在里面。但作为一个制作人来讲,我不得不承认自己很喜欢听主流的,甚至被认为很俗的流行歌,比如Charlie Puth新出的VoiceNotes就很好听,我觉得比起他的第一张专辑来说,这一张偏复古的R&B感觉很酷很潮。

Weidu: I don’t have a specific genre to listen to, usually I just browsing personal recommendation song list from Xiami.com, that could range from electronic music, to indie rock, to rap, maybe. Personally, I think the album, I, from WAV, it’s Canadian indie band, really stands out.


Are you planning to record an album in 2018?

Dave: We just released our album in December, and I think the process aged me about 10 years, so we’d like to take a break from albums for a bit! That being said, we’re always writing songs, and we’re putting the finishing touches at the moment to a new single, and a new EP. I’m pretty excited about this new EP, it’s a lot groovier (not in the Austin Powers sense) than our album, probably inflected a bit from Charlie Puth’s album like I mentioned earlier. My partner refers to the new single – called Any Kind of Mood – as the perfect soundtrack to a Kung Fu movie, so if Jet Li happens to be reading this, get in touch.

大卫:刚在去年12月发了专辑,感觉老了十年,想缓缓。但其实我们一直都在写新歌,为每首歌找到属于它们的位置。下一张EP我很期待,会更groovy一些(这个单词无法翻译哈哈),估计是受到了Charlie Puth的影响。我女朋友说我们的下一首歌Any Kind of Mood《私人情绪》,简直是功夫片的绝佳配乐。所以李连杰先生,如果您看到这篇文章了,和我们联络一下,谢谢您!

Weidu: We’ll release a new single in this July, and a new EP next year. The new single is called Any Kind of Mood, probably the best lyrics coming out from me, a lot of fans like it when we test play it live, during the tour. And for the EP, we really tried to put in the groovy songs that are different than the previous album, so I’m really looking forward to it.

萎度:我们会在7月发一首新单,在明年发新的EP。新单叫做Any Kind of Mood《私人情绪》,恨不得是我写过最满意的词了吧,哈哈。在巡演和很多现场试着演了一下,很多人喜欢。对于下一张EP来说,我们尽可能把手上最优质的作品放在一起,所以我满怀期待。

How did you start music and why? Which instrument did you start on?

Dave: I got into music a little late, picking up the guitar at 16, and heading to music college completely unprepared at 18. For me, it was the only thing I never got bored of. I tend to flit from thing to thing pretty quickly, but music has captivated me from the start. I realized soon after I began that I was never going to be the most technical, so since then I’ve tried to pursue individuality in sound instead. I started with guitar, which is still the only instrument I really consider myself any way proficient in. I took up piano a couple of years later. This year marks 10 years since I picked up an instrument in fact. I’m not sure I would ever have imagined myself playing this kind of music on the other side of the world 10 years ago!


What’s your favorite thing about playing music in Beijing, how does it compare to other countries in the world?

Dave: Beijing is unlike anywhere else in the world for music. Back home in Ireland, music so often is in the background, a complement to a night of drinking, instead of the main focus. Here, people are so much more willing to give their attention to bands, even completely new ones. I’ve been at school bar where new, objectively terrible, bands have taken to the stage, and people still give them their time. That was the case with us 2 years ago, when we were super super shit, and it’s something I still hold dear to me now. China has the best music audiences in the world.


What’s your favorite Chinese band/artist/song you would like to introduce to the rest of the world?

Dave: I truly believe the stage is set for the first Chinese bands to become globally famous in the near future, especially with the achievements of bands like Re-tros recently. I think the most accessible bands for foreign audiences would be Nova Heart, Future Orients and Glow Curve, and I’m endlessly badgering my friends back home to listen to all three. One of the reasons we hope to be more successful in the future is to shine a light on the great scene here. China often has this perception of not being cool, and that’s something we’d really like to break.

大卫:我认为第一批成功的中国乐队,会在国际舞台上越来越耀眼。就国际化程度来说,重塑雕像的权利,Nova HeartFuture Orients,发光曲线都是非常厉害的。我不停地向自己家里的朋友推荐这些优秀的乐队,让他们知道,中国,真的很酷啊。

Anything you want to add?

Dave: We’re really looking forward to playing with Swarrm on the 20th! It’s been quite a while since we’ve been in Temple, and we’re looking forward to getting back there.






Interview – Sino Hearts, from Vienna to China

Hi Sino Hearts Can you introduce yourselves and your music, what’s new since the last time you played a « Beijing Underground » event ?

I think last year we played at Yue Space


Where did your name Sino Heart come from ?  I think I didn’t ask last time….

I wanted to have a name which related to something chinese for an european group.because we were a viennese band before.


What’s your favorite music to listen to these days ? What was your favorite album in 2018 so far ?

Recently I bought lots of records,including some compilations of us 60s lost garage/beat bands and my favourite album so far is <Evil Spirits> by The Damned

最近买了不少六十年代美国车库音乐的唱片,没人听那种。今年最喜欢的是THE DAMNED的新专辑<Evil Spirits>

Are you planning to record an album in 2018 with any of your musical projects ?

We finished our full length album<Leave the World Behind>on Jan and it was recorded in Beijing and produced in Germany,recently it will be released via Monster Zero Records/Bigmic Records in Europe,via Waterslide Records/Target Earth Records in Japan,via RubyEyes Records/D.O.G in PR.C

今年我们将在欧洲日本和中国一起推出我们的新专辑《把世界抛在脑后》,欧洲LP将由Monster Zero Records/Bigmic Records 联合发行,日本版CD将有 Waterslide Records/Target Earth Records 中国大陆将有D.O.G发行

Zhong Wuli, you stayed a while in Austria, I saw a video of you playing somewhere in Vienna a few years ago, what was it like to play rock n’roll as someone from mainland China in that environment ? What di you like/dislike about the experience ?

Well I’m straight from austrian punk rock scene and I went there when I was teenager and started music career with Frankenstyle(77 punk band from vienna) at the beginning,but somehow I’m mandarin native speaker too,so we did a china tour in 2011 crossed 18 cities and It’s the first time for us to really getting involved to chinese music scene.

I’m never selling those Chinese Identities to European because the real audience won’t buy it anyway,the real deal is how good your music is.Through speaking fluent german and viennese,my european friends normally won’t relate me to mainland china.Being asian face in europe music scene is very dope ,cuz you are the only one.haha

The experience I like about european scene is their cultural tradition,I have number of elder friends who were the first wave of 60s garage or 77 punk movements in the uk,germany,austria and our generation isn’t like much different than them.You could dig everthing on your own and every genre of music has its own system which never exists in china so far.china is everything just chaotic.

What I dislike europe is the media,what they report are always very negative about china and being chinese abroad is so awkward all the time,but I totally understood it too,cuz the real social conflicts don’t exist so brutally in the countries like austria or switzerland.


The interesting fact is that there are lots of very young audience when you play in beijing,there is fresh energy amoung them.In europe,the audience sometimes could be elder,but normally the european audience really understood the music background and much easier to communicate with.

The Passion and Wildness at rock shows is the same thing,I don’t see much different between china and any other countries.


What’s your favorite Chinese band/artist/song  you would like to introduce to the rest of the world ?

Cosmic Project is a chinese group I recently dig and musically they are quite bizarr but creative.

最近发现了Cosmic Project,很不错,很有想法的乐队,看了他们西雅图KEXP电台的录像感觉很东方。


Interview – Strike on the South Wall

Strike on the South Wall

Interview by Natharb.

What does your band name mean and how did you choose it to represent your music?

We were looking for a name that could represent our music and attitude. My proposal was “Sewer Rats”, but fortunately our guitarist came up with 撞南墙, which roughly translates to “Strike on the south wall”. The name comes from a Chinese saying: One does not come back until he/she has destroyed the south wall. The south wall is imaginary and the whole idiom means to be extremely stubborn, not listening to any critique or advice.

How would you describe your sound in non-musical terms?

We would like to see the scene become tighter, with strong bonds among bands and mutual support, also with new bands and artists. We are tired of seeing bands that get to the venue, play their show and leave straight away without a care about the other artists with whom they’re sharing the stage .

What is something the audience might not realize about your band at first glance?

The audience might not realize that we are actually quite into politics and social issues.

What are some bands you think The Beijing underground music scene should follow more closely ?

We are biased on this. Being ours an emerging band, we believe that the scene should give more attention to emerging bands and encourage them to continue playing music and getting better.

Where would you like to see the Beijing music scene go in the next few years? What would you like to see more or less of in the Beijing underground music scene?

Our sound is rough and strident, not much for its heaviness but mostly because of the amount of mistakes we make while playing. Vocals are a mixture of nails on a blackboard, stepping on a lego and kicking your nightstand with your little toe.

The band will play at School Bar as part of the “Beijing Underground Summer Music Days” on the 20 of June 2018, don’t miss them !

Interview – DFA 89

DFA 89

Interview by Natharb.

What does your band name mean and how did you choose it to represent your music?

DFA89 means Death From Abba Eight Nine. Just kidding, really it means Def Funk Abdul Eightynine. Only joking, it means Don’t Fuck Around, Eight-Nine. No, but seriously now, it means Deus Fidelis Anus VIII IX. Just joking, it really means…

How would you describe your sound in non-musical terms?

Rolling down the side of a mountain in an MRI machine.

What is something the audience might not realize about your band at first glance?

We’re not naked under our robes. Our cello player actually knows what he’s doing. We rehearse.

What are some bands you think The Beijing underground music scene should follow more closely?

Liberate Haze. Hugh Reed. Electric Lady.

Where would you like to see the Beijing music scene go in the next few years? What would you like to see more or less of in the Beijing underground music scene?

I’d like to see it go on quite a mundane caravan holiday to Dorset, buy some over priced fudge, get in an argument over which radio station to listen to, and then not talk to itself the whole way home. I would like to see more stoats and less lamas please.

The band will play at School Bar as part of the “Beijing Underground Summer Music Days” on the 20 of June 2018, don’t miss them !

Interview – DJ Boss Cuts

Interview by Natharb.

What does your band name mean and how did you choose it to represent your music?

For my previous Winter Days interview I revealed that it was channelled from my spirit guide after drinking ayahuasca.

How would you describe your sound in non-musical terms?

Earlier this year I travelled to Nashville and Memphis and discovered that deep-fried food is more popular than Jesus. One night in Memphis I had Skillet-Fried Pie: First take an iron skillet then dig out some chunks of butter and heat it up until it forms a deep pool of saturated fattiness. Then grab a wedge of pecan pie and fry it up until it gets crispy. Finish it off by dumping half a tub of ice cream on top and serve.

What is something the audience might not realize about your band at first glance?

For the Boss Cuts band – that its members cover every continent except South America. We are on the look out for someone who do capoeira. As for DJing – that I am spending my retirement fund on records. If in the future you see a guy on the street sleeping on a pile of records slap him and then buy him a jianbingguozi.

What are some bands you think The Beijing underground music scene should follow more closely?

A couple of years ago I went to Fuji Rock in Japan and wondered why the bands don’t come to China. I asked Freddy (drummer for Boss Cuts and Oldy Baby) and Han Ning who runs Painkiller and they said that there isn’t yet a critical mass in China. Sure there are 1.35 billion people here but only a minuscule number go out to see live music. A couple of months ago Ernesto Chahoud and JJ Whitefield from Poets of Rhythm DJed at Dada and the turn out was underwhelming. JJ almost singlehandedly brought about the whole funk/soul revival in the 90s and 2000s and yet the dancefloor was mostly empty. Freddy’s other theory is that people aren’t willing to spend money on things they don’t know. So go out and see bands you’ve never heard of and give them some money.

Where would you like to see the Beijing music scene go in the next few years?

More rockabilly, surf, garage, and psych. These styles are really popular in the US, Australia, and Europe. Bands like Guantanamo Baywatch, Shannon and the Clams, Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds, Black Angels are constantly touring but unfortunately it is unlikely that they would come to Beijing. When I started Boss Cuts I had no idea whether people would like it or not. Same with DJing. Some nights it works, other nights it bombs. One night at School a very drunk Natharb said to me “Boss Cuts was never meant to happen”. I took that as a compliment. Doing something different is risky but why be a lemming.

What would you like to see more or less of in the Beijing underground music scene?

I’d like to see fewer foreigners doing cover music. My China rule is ‘Would I Do This at Home?’

DJ Boss Cuts will play at School Bar as part of the “Beijing Underground Summer Music Days” on the 20 of June 2018, don’t miss them !

The Artists at the Loreli Affordable Art Market

3 of June 2018 at Yue Space.

Made in Collaboration with Loreli, the Affordable Art Market Showcases a large number of local artists from China. Here comes the Summer 2018 Affordable Art Market !

I’m an illustrator and artist, I make drawings, prints and conceptual artworks. By using drawing as a primary medium, I make work that deals with love, fear, betrayal and human relationships. I create compositions and settings that generate tranquil poetic images that comments on the absurdity on human relationships.
Artist name: Tallin
Tallin is a visual artist and illustrator working and living in Beijing. Her works remind you of that one summer when you were a child– carefree and full of dreams.

Artist name: Guxia.
My work talks about urban city life styles, fashion, music and subcultures. My interest lies in exploring city landscapes and local life styles from different cultures. Using water color and photography, I record things that inspire me while traveling.


 Li Yan (Demon)

Yan is a designer and illustrator working in Beijing. She illustrates folklores using traditional Chinese symbols such as dragons and swordsmen. 

Cai Ya Yi:
Anna Gale:
Anna Gale is a freelance illustrator and patch-painting zinester. Her artistic process comes from her background in craft studies, which involved getting her hands dirty. She stays true to that style today by hand-drawing each illustration and arranging them together into a cohesive body of art. Her style is inspired by the bold black lines seen in the old-school traditional style of tattooing, another love interest of hers.

Anna Gale 是一名独立插画师, 补片手绘师,原创独立杂志作者。她的艺术风格来自于研究手工工艺制作的背景——手上总是占满颜料。她秉持着纯粹的手绘艺术,并将它们凝聚到一起编织成完整的艺术作品。她的风格受复古传统纹身黑色粗线条样式的启发,当然,创作纹身图案也是她的另一大爱好。

BURY THE BONE is a series of zines about places you’ve heard of, places you’ve been and places you’ve never known to exist. Issue one explores Beijing’s hutongs, health tips and hidden hot spots. Issue Two revisits Beijing during the hot hot heat that summer time brings, from late night eats to the people you see in the streets.

BURY THE BONE 是一本系列独立杂志。她记录了一些你听说过的地方,你去过的地方或甚至你从未意识存在的地方。系列一探索了北京胡同、当地中药偏方、还有隐藏在胡同里的特色小店。系列二重温了北京那个酷热难耐的夏天、夜市小吃和擦肩而过的街头过客。



毕业于北工大壁画系(fine art),伦艺(camberwell college of art, MFA illustration)插画研究生在读
毕业设计漫画《云上之国》(on the cloud)正在进行中
大学期间及毕业后作为freelance illustrator工作

“人具有动物性&动物具有人性” 的主题


Hole in the Wall is a collective founded by illustrators Jinna and Shui. They create illustrations inspired by Beijing’s underground culture, displaying them as zines, wall murals and prints. Overwhelmed by the vibrant energy of the city, they wanted to document the young, the excited and the lost. Hence the first issue of their zine was born. Since then they have taken part in various creative events and have published two more issues focusing on bars, hutongs and their inhabitants.

《Hole in the Wall》是一本由Jinna 和 Shui这两位插画师联合创办的插画小合集。他们的创作取材于北京地区,并以独立出版物、壁饰、插画作品等形式进行展览。



Aurélien Foucault is a photographer whose images oscillate between documentary and fine art.
His varied body of work ranges from late-night punk bars to artistic nudes or the peaceful mountains of Xinjiang.
More of his work can be seen at www.foukography.com

Liuba Draws (Liuba Vladimirovafollows her passion and pursues a career of freelance illustrator and artist. Living in Beijing for more than six years now, it has become a new home for Liuba, with amazing experiences and a deep love for the city, which she wants to share with everyone. People both visiting or living in China are excited to discover all the quirky things they love about this country hidden in the art of Liuba Draws. Right now Liuba is developing her own brand, Liuba Draws, with a number of products such as prints, cards, keychains, magnets and calendars that she sells at various markets and stores. Liuba is also available for personal and business commissions. Please visit her website for more information. www.liubadraws.com 


and more…








The Beijing Underground Summer Music Days, what is it ?

Organised in partnership with several cultural organisations in Beijing, The Beijing Underground Summer Music Days aims at showing the diversity of music and culture in the Chinese capital.

Spread on many different days and events the Beijing Underground Summer Music Days involves several organizations and venues such as Loreli, Spittoon, BLKGEN, Sub Tropical, Rock against jams, School Bar, Yue Space, Temple Bar as well as many artists, musicians, and more.

Be sure not to miss these events and celebrate the beginning of the summer in a different way !

Part 1, 3 of June:

The Loreli Affordable Art Market.

Part 2, 3 of June:

The Beijing Grand Slam at Yue Space.

Part 3, 19 to 23 of June:

The Beijing Underground Summer Music Week at Temple.

Part 4, 20 of June, School Bar “Rock Night”:

Part 5, 20 of June:

Spittoon presents: Spittunes.

A Poetry and Music Collaboration – 28th June Yue Space.

More details will be given little by little on social media and more so don’t forget to follow us !

The Beijing Underground Summer Music Days ! The Art Market !

The Beijing Underground Summer Music Days are coming, a lot of events of music and art, more informations will be told soon !!!!

Here is the first part of it, the Loreli Affordable Art Market.

It’s all coming in June, don’t miss this !

3 of June, The Loreli Art Market.

More infos about the artists participating and more details will be announced soon, stay tuned !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!