Xiamen Sunset Sessions

Xiamen 厦门 is the coastal sister city of Te Whanganui-A-Tara, Aotearoa.

Following our first foray to the coast in 2015, Kiwese returned this month with Womb and Strange Stains to hang with local indie huns Cheesemind!

Chris: “Omg, this is like, so L.A.”
Everyone: “Yeah, this is sooo L.A.”
NB: *everyone lives in Wellington / no one has actually been to L.A*

Majestic palm trees raise their arms to the sky along the south coast of Xiamen Island. Above is only bright blue, while the road to the beach is lined with vert ramps of lush green grass. Sunshine beams warmly upon us as we wander towards the beach, cold drinks and ice-creams in hand, our New Zealand skin relishing in sweaty sunkisses veiled by the ozone layer. Down at the beach, pairs of brides and grooms dot the edges of the water like seashells washed up on the shore, the tide curls around boulders as pre-marital moments are snapped by photographers as far as the eye can see. The water is some of the warmest we’ve ever swum in.

From slinking down Cat Street 顶奥仔猫街 (literally a street full of cat merch, cat themed restaurants and cat art) and relaxing in the peaceful sunroom of our beautiful hostel, to devouring mouth watering Min cuisine with new friends, Xiamen was a dream.

We caught a sleeper train to Xiamen from Guangzhou, where we performed as part of a series of events hosted by the legendary Dao of Dumb Sound Records. With an extra day ahead of the show at Real Live, we arranged with local band Cheesemind to do an acoustic video shoot at sunset. We’d just been hanging out with their fellow QiiiSnacks Records buddies Howie, Jinbo and the peeps from Neinor Gas Mus in Guangzhou. Xiao Q suggested Bailuzhou Park, located on a small inlet in the north of the island.

Womb - Airplane

Guitarist Soda and percussionist Zee were waiting patiently with an acoustic guitar and cajon, the last minutes of sun seeping through the trees in a wide orange smear. Singer Xiao Q was on her way from work. Under the direction of Chris, iPhone camera prowess of Laura and Cooki, Womb launched into their first song, an acoustic version of ‘Airplane’ from their 2015 self-titled EP.

Cheesemind - 失眠邀请你 (Insomnia invites you)

The park was scattered with elderly people and children on their evening walks, as well as a few runners pacing the periphery. Q arrived with a big smile in a gorgeous floral dress just as the sun disappeared from sight. Cheesemind launched into a track from their latest EP, “失眠邀请你 (Insomnia invites you)” Out of sight is Haz, Cooki and Laura illuminating the band with cellphone lights. This song became an anthem on our tour, the chorus refrain of “喝啤酒,喝啤酒 he pijiu, he pijiu” (drink beer, drink beer) all too fitting.

Womb - When the Night Breaks Up

Sunset Sessions became After Dark. The square next to the grass patch we were filming in soon beamed into life, bright lights shining down from the stadium and attracting ayis into formation like moths to a flame. It was almost 8pm, we only had five minutes to shoot another song in relative silence before the boomboxes started up for the ritual evening dance. Too late. But we kind of love this version of ‘When the Night Breaks Up,’ the clatter and din of people, speakers, footsteps and chatter in the background encompasses the vibe completely, if you listen carefully, the music from the square actually sounds like some kind of stringed refrain from the song itself.

After the shoot, we all went for dinner, a delicious feed of local Hokkien delicacies that warmed us to the core. Xie xie, Xiamen.

Womb in Xiamen. Photo by Q.

This collaboration was made possible with generous support from
the Wellington Xiamen Association.