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:

http://music.163.com/#/artist?id=12874598&userid=359893953

 

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.

大卫:我2015年来到中国,当时自己有一个叫做Palaces的乐队,但是很快也解散了。我需要继续乐队的生活,但这次不想要传统意义上的乐队,而想在编曲和器乐上做更多突破。于是我在豆瓣上发帖想要找一位主唱,萎度的声音很特别,不同于主流/流行女声,所以在第一时间吸引了我。那时萎度还没有原创作品的经历,但我就是知道这就是我要找的人。

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.

萎度:我为这张首专感到很自豪。所有歌陆续完成也花了一年半的时间吧,确实放了很多心血在里面。每次听每首歌,都能想起来当时创作时的情景,当时的我在干嘛,我在想什么之类的。歌词上来说的话,每首歌都代表了一个我自己的想法,当时我的经历,以及我从中的收获。总的来说,每首歌都是一条密讯,是去年给自己最棒的礼物,老了以后可以回忆青春用啊,哈哈。

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.
https://nocturnes-china.bandcamp.com/

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.

萎度:我没有钟爱的某一种风格,随心听歌,虾米个人推荐就够。2018年刚刚过去一半啊,非要说比较喜欢的专辑,WAV的《I》,很出色。

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!

大卫:我在16岁才学的吉他,应该说比较晚了。18岁去大学学音乐的时候,也没有完全准备好。我做很多事情都没长性,但吉他是我无论如何都不会烦的事情。从一开始,我就知道我不会是那种技术流人士,所以更想从创作方面找到自己的声音。虽然之前也学过钢琴,但是弹吉他已经十年之久。确实在一开始的时候,完全没有想过有一天自己会在中国继续音乐生涯。

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.

大卫:北京当地的独立音乐和世界上任何一个国家的都不一样。在爱尔兰,音乐尤其是独立音乐是不被人重视的,但这里很多年轻人愿意买票去看一些哪怕是很新的乐队。我去过School看过很烂的乐队,但是观众还是给他们鼓励和掌声。我们自己两年前的现场也不堪入目,但是现在进步了非常多。中国的观众是最棒的!

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.

大卫:我们很期待20号与Swarrm同台!距离上一次去Temple已经有些日子了,所以甚是想念。

 

 

 

 

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

上次这个主题演出是去年在乐空间

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.

当时想找个有中国元素的名字,因为那会儿还是欧洲乐队。

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.

因为出去的比较早,其实玩音乐是直接跟着欧洲节奏开始的,当时2011年跟当时在维也纳的朋克乐队FRANKENSTYLE中国巡演了18站才开始跟国内音乐人有接触,但是我从来没有因为本身中国人而在欧洲打上那些所谓文化旗号,因为根本没人看中这些,一切都是欧美标准要求音乐,而通中文以及德文其实又是一种加分,因为又多了两个世界的选择。

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.

北京总体来说还是很年轻的观众,而西方更多是各个年龄段的都有。摇滚乐本来也就是青年人的东西,所以开心就好,没什么中西方比较的

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 !

“Macondo” an album review/interview

The First Macondo album is out, and it’s called “Macondo”.

So here we are now and Macondo is about to release there album on the night of the 27 of January 2018 at Yue Space in Beijing and I got the pleasure to receive the album and listen to it before most people will.

So what is Macondo you ask me ?

Well Macondo is a band formed by 5 musicians living in Beijing and coming from countries as diverse as China, England, South Africa, and America.

It was Scott, the guitar player in the band who sent me the 5/6 tracks, then later while listening to the music it’s Matt, the drummer in the band who gave me some explanations about the album.

Here’s what he said:

“The album drums were recorded at Kun studios and everything else has been recorded and mixed either in Gerald’s or Scott’s bedroom – The process has been painstaking to try and convert drums recorded in a day into a professional sounding album and the band, especially Gerald, has really achieved that and learned a lot from it. The album itself consists of 6 songs of length ranging from 4 – 10 minutes and consists of the band’s earlier material – an evolution from a more conventional instrumental band sound to an increasingly electronic and progressive sound.”

We went on having a small conversation:

Matt: Gerald’s laptop where most of the magic happened. (Gerald is the keyboard player).

Matt: One of the speakers:

DS: cool pictures that’s nice.

Matt: His blind dog Lucy – his main companion throughout the mixing period.

DS: Blind ?

Matt: Yeah his dog is blind.

DS: Is there a concept behind the albums or the songs ?

Matt: It’s a journey – kind of interstellar but loose ended – we wanted a sci-fi feel – it’s difficult to give the album a quick narrative because there are no lyrics so we’ve kept it open ended.

DS: What’s the meaning of title of the first and last songs ?

Matt: The first song means “The Beginning” in Afrikaans.

DS: Yeah I thought it was a title in German.

Matt: The last track name is taken from a line given by Paul Atreides in the Dune film – we wanted an open ended message of resistance – pretty much against meaningless or general existential crisis.

DS: To me it feels almost like one very long track, it feels each track is responding to the one before.

Matt: Yes it was definitely important that each track responded to the next.

That was a big consideration during music and mixing to give it a journey feel.

DS: Yes it feels like a Journey, this album should be called “Journey”, not Macondo !

Matt: Haha Shit ! It’s too late now :-).

DS: Can you tell me the meaning of the title of each other track ?

Matt: 

Seek – searching for meaning

Nebula – a title reflecting the spacey / interstellar journey feel of the song.

City of mirrors – we thought it reflected the song in a cool way and referenced the novel.

New home – new beginnings.

Long live the fighters – Carrying on regardless of anything.

DS: What Novel ?

Matt: 100 years of solitude. the name Macondo came from a fictional town in that book.

DS: You mean “1000 thousand years of solitude” ?

Matt: Oh Christ yes, I always make that mistake.

DS: But what’s the link between the music and the city of Macondo ?

Matt: No profound link – our precious bassist Sebastian is Colombian and it was his idea. For me it gives a conveniently mysterious and open ended name to a post-rock band (no lyrics :D).

DS: Precious ?

Matt: Haha *previous – not precious.

Although, he is of course precious.

DS: There are a few bands called Macondo does it bother you ?

Matt: Doesn’t bother us

DS: Alright.


So what do I think about it ?

In order to really get into the music I listened to the album about ten times in the last few days and tried to concentrate on each track.

There’s a lot of Pink Floyd in there, I can’t deny it, especially from the Dark Side of the moon/The Wall period. I love Pink Floyd, it was always one of my favorite bands, so in this album I find a bit of this psychedelic and progressive rock I’ve always loved.

But there is something else, something from post rock bands like Mogwai and what adds to this music is the possibility to dance to it or dive into the feeling of positive melancholic nostalgia it gives you.

The electronic element in the music is there, but to me it doesn’t define it, it is just there to support the melodies and rhythms while the guitar still seems to be one of the most important element in the album and drives most melodies.

It’s a good album, it’s a journey, you can go to sleep or work while listening to it, or you can listen to it on the bus, in the subway, anywhere really, it accompanies you while you’re trying to escape from your daily life.

It also shows you don’t need too much production or money to make something sound good these days (see pictures at the beginning), you need dedication, passion, creativity, and a lot of work.

The last track is definitively my favorite one.

On a less positive note, I wish the album was called something else, I’d say it deserves an identity on its own, and I wish there was a story built around it, because it feels like a story is being told but you’re not sure which one.

In brief Macondo is band that deserves to be supported, so you should go to Yue Space on the 27 of January 2018 and enjoy the music while you close your eyes and dance to the rythm.

Article by Djang San.

 

 

 

Ko

N: So, Ko.

Ko: It’s so funny that you are interviewing me. It’s so weird.

N: You’ve been in Beijing for how long?

Ko: Like a year and five months.

N: What brought you here to Beijing and what were you doing while here?

Ko: Well, so I was living in Chicago before I got here and my friend who I was in this cult with back in 2005-2009, he opened up a performing arts school in Yizhuang and he wanted me to, kinda, oversee the performing arts so I came out here to help him. I was only gonna stay for about 6 months but I ended up staying longer.

N: Why did you stay longer?

Ko: I really liked Beijing and China is very interesting because it’s like a weird sitcom everyday. Weird stuff happens.

N: What were some of you favorite spots and interests in Beijing?

Ko: All the different people. Everyone acts very different here than they do in America so that in itself is super entertaining. And then obviously going out to shows in the Guloudajie area is always fun. The nightlife here is completely different that in the States.

N: Any favorite spots?

Ko: Obviously like Temple Bar has always been great. School Bar is really cool, and Modernista, DDC, and Yue Space.

N: Have you been playing shows the whole time you’ve been here?

Ko: When I first moved out here I was really excited to play shows. I did my Yes Mistress project two weeks from moving to Beijing. It’s my weirdo electronic project and I did that at Temple Bar. That was my first show here. I think it was a Wednesday night or something like that. The first show I saw was at School Bar, Round Eye, and some old punk rock band from the 80’s and a couple other local Chinese bands. It was all original music and it was such a high energy show. And then I saw Chui Wan, who I had never heard a sound like that.

N: And so what have you been doing since your Yes Mistress electronic project?

Ko: So I’ve been playing solo, as Ko, for months, doing loop pedal stuff. I have a Boss RC-30 and a couple of effect pedals for my vocals and stuff. It was hard for me to find people to play with as a band. It had never taken me that long to find people to play with as a band. Like, if I move to a new city I find people to play with in a couple weeks and in Beijing took me a year. Now I’m playing with you, Daniel from Boss Cuts and Frankie on drums, who’s mostly in the Wudaokou scene. It’s nice to have a full band and I feel really bad leaving as soon as we are starting to get things going, but, I gotta do what I gotta do.

N: You gotta do what you gotta do. Can you tell us some reasons why you are going back to the states?

Ko: I came from a very very lush music scene where you can go to 50 million music shows a night and there is a huge D.I.Y. scene. You can go see a band in a basement and then go see a band in a really amazing venue right after it. The scene for female artists is such a booming thing right now, and really inspiring. So I think it’s best for me to go and be a part of that and be part of the ever-growing music scene. I miss it a lot.

N: What were some bands and stuff you did over there?

Ko: I had two bands and was touring and played SXSW. I was doing a lot and my bands back home were really good at kicking my butt and getting me to do shows and I’m always glad after playing the shows. And another thing why I’m excited to move back was recording other artists. I have a couple 7-inch recordings on Joyful Noise Recordings and those were all done in my apartment, mixed and recorded by me.

N: Who have you recorded?

Ko: I discovered enjoying recording in Beijing so I recorded my friend, Jordan Darling. And I had the best time ever and realized this is what I wanna do, so I got a music residency back home so I’m going to be curating shows and also saving money to go to school for audio engineering. Honestly, there is not a lot of women out there, and if there are I never really see them out there, I always see males running sound and doing shows and recording. I think it would be really good to be aggressive in getting my foot in the door to be a female audio engineer. Who cares if I have a vagina? I am good at what I do and passionate. That’s all anyone needs anyway.

N: So you are planning to ultimately go back to school?

Ko: Yeah, go back to school, but might be a thing where I do an internship in a studio and might fall into a job that way. But I really don’t know other than the residency, everything is up in the air. But that’s the fun in it, trying to find what I’m gonna do next. I’m not really scared anymore, now I’m just excited to see the next step.

N: So do you have a last show before you leave?

Ko: Yeah, the last show is January 20th with a full band playing at Yue Space (Beijing Underground’s Sweet Winter Music Days and Loreli has a market before and we are the first band, starting at 8pm. It’s early for most people, but it’s a Saturday so I think people will come early. My last show in Beijing.

Check out
Joyful Noise : https://www.joyfulnoiserecordings.com/Ko
White Moms : https://whitemoms.bandcamp.com/

Beijing Underground : https://www.facebook.com/groups/beijingunderground/
Loreli : https://www.facebook.com/Lorelichina/

 

Russian Roulette, punk from Beijing.

Hello Russian Roulette, can you introduce your band  ?

Hello we are Russian Roulette from Beijing

Can you describe your music style  ?

Our music is a mix of old school punk music and new school punk music. At the beginning we played old school punk music and some hardcore, but our vocalist has a bad throat and no singing techniques for screaming. Time passed and we changed our music style to an easier type.

Where did you get your band name from  ? What is the idea behind it  ?

I got our band name from a TV series names “Huo Lan Dao Feng” which is a story about the army. In the TV series they play a game of Russian roulette. It’s a killing game. In your round you need to use the revolver with just one weapon shooting on to your head. If you don’t die, you are the one winner and survivor. Our performance style is kind of suicidal so I think the name is very suitable for our gambling time. And I have been stoned on the stage many times:)

What are you trying to express with your music ?

Our music’s goal is about trying to tell about our contemporary life. We are students mostly who are in a gap between being mature and immature, suffering the pain of love and stress of life. We use our music to display our life and show our positive attitudes toward it. Sometimes we are defined as ‘fake punk’, nevertheless my point of view to define a punk is ‘do what you like and like what you do.’

What do you think of the Chinese music scene, what are your favorite Chinese bands/Foreign bands/artists ?

Chinese music scene is sometimes bad but I think it is rising now. Many key words such as ‘healthy punk’, ‘punk suddenly’ start to appear in our life on the internet and our life.

However just like overseas punk music is a minor aspect in the field. But an admirable thing is that more and more teens start to go to live houses to enjoy a show. Especially because of a big tv show, hip hop music becomes mainstream above all kind of business music. My favorite bands are Greenday, Sum41, Simple plan, some pure punk music bands. And some J-rock bands like 04limitedsazabys, good4nothing and Off Spring, 10feets. As to Chinese bands we all like Summer Sunshine, Recycle, Reflector, SMZB and Brain failure, some mainstream of Chinese punk rock band.

Do you already have an album out  ? It is in preparation  ? What can you tell us about your plans in 2018  ?

We had a single last year. And our new EP is under preparation and we started to record recently. It will have 3 of our latest songs, that is what we want to display and express through last year. And we will have a tour in May, including 12 provinces, you can focus on our Sina Weibo account @RussianRoulette俄罗斯轮盘赌

 

Is there anything you want to add  ?

We wanna show our special thank to Beijing Underground for inviting us to perform. It’s a very professional and earnest host and website. Support your local first and enjoy your show.

Hangnail: Street Punk.

Can you describe your music style ?

Hi! This is Shaofei from hangnail. Our music style is more like street punk and old school punk.

Where did you get your band name from  ? What is the idea behind it  ?

We all agreed that we want it to be kind of scary when we named our band. Not only for showing the rebel spirit also for the real situation of punk music, so we name it hangnail. if you want to know the meaning, just look at your hangnails from your fingers.

What are you trying to express with your music ?

Our music reflects our belief. We think that things that shouldn’t be forgotten have been forgotten, such as punk music, the situation of punk music is getting worse and worse. Our songs are more likely expressing the attitudes than describing the real life.

What do you think of the Chinese music scene, what are your favorite Chinese bands/Foreign bands/artists.

I’ve heard that the rock music in China is developing well but in my mind it is getting more and more difficult: seem like most of players just want to copy the foreign culture without analyzing the situation that we are in. Deliberately imitating is a shame, so if you ask me, I don’t have a favorite band or artist, I mean, I would listen to their music but they won’t touch me deeply, and I wouldn’t imitate any of them. I would have my own stuff. It is about values.

Do you already have an album out  ? It is in preparation  ? What can you tell us about your plans in 2018  ?

We’ve already finished eight songs including street punk, old school and ska. Our first EP is being prepared and we are still saving money for it. Now our demos can be found online but they are not completed. Our plan of 2018 is finishing five new songs and maybe a little tour in China. I guess we will just let it be.