mr sterile Assembly Return to China

Hui lai le! Sharp-tongued, offbeat noise punk duo mr sterile Assembly are back in the Mainland as part of their mammoth 2019 “Orange Time” tour. You have been warned.

mr sterile Assembly is a noisy bass and drum duo composed of Wellington-based musicians and lyricists Kieran and Chrissie. Self-initiated and self-organized, mr sterile Assembly has mutated through various bodies of sound since being spawned into the world in 2001.

This is not fast food, easy listening – it is a constantly evolving feast of self-expression and confrontation that has been lovingly cooked, served and shared across the world over the years, with each incarnation then replenished and re-created in a Happy Valley kitchen-side practice room before setting out on the next tour.

Existing outside the confines of popular musical paradigms, mr sterile Assembly offers unusual, stimulating flavours, complex in nature yet composed from a base of unpretentious and accessible local ingredients. With just a drum kit, a loud bass amp and two vocal mics, mr sterile can generate immediate ruckus that makes people contort their bodies and minds in strange ways. An acquired taste.

The band are now well into their three-month “Orange Time” tour across Europe and Asia, spanning the Czech Republic, UK, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Korea and Japan.

I get in touch with Kieran on WeChat, his account still active from our last tour in 2016. Chrissie is able to activate WeChat on her phone only after receiving QR confirmation from a verified user with a Chinese ID card. The pair have reached Guangzhou, the starting point for the China leg of the tour.

Orange Time is a visual and thematic idea for the next group of songs for the band,” says Kieran, “as global indicators warn of the impending challenges in the now and near future, it seems many still live like there is no risk ahead.”

“Orange can be a sign of danger in nature, a warning to avoid poisons, berries or bugs. Orange is also a fairly universal warning sign in areas of construction/destruction and danger. Orange is hard to miss, to avoid the warning signs is a sign of superior stupidity.”

“The idea that this become a theme to develop came from the reading of many books of Donna Haraway, Timothy Morton, Kim Stanley Robertson and others. It’s an active look at what may well be before us all without buying into dystopias and apocalyptic fantasies – this is happening, the warning signs are here, better get active.”


mr sterile’s orange aprons designed by Kalya Sowden. Yogyakarta, 2019.

With increasing regulations and red tape slowly squeezing the livelihood out of many small music scenes across China, 2019 is not an easy time to be international artist in the Middle Kingdom. Touring without a promoter can also be challenging, as Kieran has discussed in a recent article on the mr sterile blog.

Ardent practitioners of DIY ethos, self-initiating everything from recording, promoting, graphic design and releases through Skirted Records, it’s a good shout mr sterile Assembly aren’t all that interested in “easy,” preferring to dance with challenge and chance opportunities face to face.


We approached the booking of this tour like we had done previously: where would we like to go? where have we got friends? where is the good food? where have we been in the past and can continue to grow connections?

– excerpt from Balance like an Octopus by mr sterile, June 2019


Lashings of bass. 劲Power Livehouse, Guiyang, 2016.

For the band’s second round of Mainland sonic disruption, they are assisted by the good folks at QiiiSnacks Records, Ryan from Sense Records in Wuhan and long-time Beijing-based, Temple keeper Michael Marshall.

Set to perform six dates across from south to north, mr sterile will perform in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Beijing before concluding the tour in Korea and Japan.

“It’s been a really interesting reminder about navigating the Human in projects like this,” writes Kieran over WeChat from a Guangzhou soundcheck.

Touring internationally often means putting your faith in people on the other side of the globe, some of whom you may not even know. We entrust them with our music and spirit in the hopes of achieving a common goal and returning the favour one day on home soil.

“We are constantly inspired on our travels when we come across communities who proactively and independently set up spaces, make resources and provide opportunities to their direct community in a DIY spirit,” says Kieran.

“We have very limited access to much of the contemporary adventurous music being made across China back at home in New Zealand, so visiting seems like a brilliant way to learn about these things.”

In a world dominated by systems set on dividing us, these relationships have become all the more vital. Let the earth-wandering adventures of mr sterile Assembly provide inspiration to this form of connection.


mr sterile Assembly at (the now defunct) Loft 345, Guangzhou, 2016.


China Tour Dates 2019

Sat 3 August – Guangzhou, Brasston w/ 人民广场

Sun 4 August – Shenzhen, 红糖罐 Public w/ Help

Thu 8 August – Wuhan, Prison w/ PLC

Fri 9 August – Beijing, DDC w/ 浪之 + 花墙 + MFmachine

Sat 10 August – Beijing, Temple w/ Showhand + 4 Channels Club

Tue 13 August – Beijing, School Bar w/ Car Drop + Boss Cuts