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Favourite Releases 2016

The other day, while sunbathing on the lawn of a Melrose flat, my friend and I began thinking about the diminishing human element involved in post-internet music consumption.

When I was at high school, I basically lived at Slow Boat Records and Real Groovy – music havens where I’d browse for hours, listen to CD posts, purchase records, get recommendations from staff, find out about new releases from posters in the window, pick up gig guides and buy tickets to upcoming shows.

I remember getting up at dawn to bus into town and be amongst the first to hear Stadium Arcadium the day it was released in New Zealand. I remember staying overnight outside the ticket booth, flanked by fans draped in sleeping bags, eagerly waiting for sales to open for their first Auckland show. This was about ten years ago now.

Nowadays, you can be a fan without ever leaving your front door. With the exception of buying The All Seeing Hand’s Sand to Glass on vinyl at the door of their album release show, I bought all this year’s featured albums online, without even talking to a single person.

The internet means accessibility has grown but human contact has reduced. But the creation, sharing and consumption of music is still an immensely personal thing. These albums create the soundtrack to so many aspects of our lives, they speak to our own experiences or the experiences of others and make us feel things more deeply. Let’s continue to feel, express ourselves and connect with others.

I’m so thankful to all these artists for producing these works and sharing them into the world, where they can be shared and distributed in an instant across the globe.

In no particular order, here are Kiwese’s favourite releases from New Zealand and China in the Year of the Monkey 2016.

Header Illustration: Ali Pang


The All Seeing Hand // Sand to Glass

(MUZAI)
Wellington, NZ

The All Seeing Hand finally gave birth to Sand to Glass in December and oh yesyesyes, it has been worth the wait.

In their first album to feature predominantly English lyrics, Sand to Glass showcases Marks’ politically pertinent wordsmithing, encased in industrial metal clanking by drummer Ben Knight (Rogernomix, Unsanitary Napkin) and those trademark, turbo charged electronic power ups from scratch master Alphabethead.

It is perhaps their most ‘pop’ record to date, if The All Seeing Hand could ever be considered so, with tracks like Lizard Brain and Swarm standing out as previously released singles and indicating a shift away from the more abstract compositions of Mechatronics (2013) and Fog and Debris (2014) and towards a tighter sense of songwriting.

Listened to this on repeat while biking through the smog of Chengdu, the soundtrack to this environmental apocalypse.

Favourite track: Dog Eat Dog


Hu Yang //  Xu Huai Ruo Gu

(Be Sure)
Beijing, CN

My friend Liu Xing introduced me to Xu Huai Ruo Gu earlier this year and I was immediately hooked. Released digitally on the Berlin/Shanghai techno label Be Sure, which is home to brilliant offerings of mixtapes from artists such as Art’s Difficult (ELVIS.T) and Shanghai techno queen MIIIA.

Formerly known as NiChiFanLeMei, this Mt. Emei born Beijing-based producer creates a kind of brutalist, no nonsense techno – all muscle, no fat.

Possibly my most listened album of the year, suitable for furiously bike riding to a destination or scrubbing the kitchen and getting that shit clean as hell.

Favourite track: Restricted


Orchestra of Spheres // Brothers and Sisters of the Black Lagoon

(Fire Records)
Wellington, NZ

FIRELP430 Death And Vanilla - EP LP SLEEVE

Brothers and Sisters of the Black Lagoon is a psychedelic serving of tunes, many which have been part of the Spheres mind-melting live set for the past few years.

Their knack for combining the everyday with the otherworldly is evident throughout the album: Let Us Not Forget, an eerie prayer of reminders before leaving the house, the intensely danceable South East Asian inspired jam Anklung Song and their fast-paced Zombie Zombie cover Rocket #9.

Bubbling with sounds both organic and electronic, voices both chanted and spoken, influences both local and extraterrestrial, Brothers and Sisters of the Black Lagoon is a tasty, special brew from my favourite band of Wellington weirdos.

Favourite track: Anklung Song


Duck Fight Goose // CLVB ZVKVNFT
押打饿《未来俱乐部》

(D-Force Records 大福唱)
Shanghai, CN

Duck Fight Goose have teamed up with producer Lv for this smashing record on D-Force, their first release in four years, the soundtrack to interplanetary cyborg dancefloors.

CLVB ZVKVNFT is bursting with imagination and inspiration, combining elements of breakbeat, acid house, synth pop and techno into a cohesive string of 12-tracks. Busy yet uncluttered, frantic yet disciplined. A triumph.

Favourite track: 《马》


Unsanitary Napkin // Patriotic Grooves

(Zero Style, Always Never Fun, Limbless Records)
Wellington, NZ

FASCIST VOLCANO
SPEWING
MOLTEN SHIT

Patriotic Grooves is a fast and furious fuck you from Wellington punk trio Unsanitary Napkin, formed in 2015 and fronted by guitarist/vocalist Hannah Salmon a.k.a. artist Daily Secretion, who is well known for her zines, gig posters and album art in collaboration with other Wellington-based bands.

The 12-tracks of the album are punctuated with broadcast radio beeps and sound grabs from white, male New Zealand politicians and media identities. Incredible, machine-gun-like drumming from Ben, who forms a blistering rhythm section with Rupert on bass.

As the album’s defining image of Donald Trump being annihilated by a rainbow beam from a winged vagina (the sticker version shaped like a sanitary pad) would suggest, Patriotic Grooves is comprised of vaginal blasts of anarcho feminist anger directed towards the chauvinistic and conservative peaks of society.

Brief and intense.

Favourite track: Feminine Odour


iimmune // Abnormal

(D-Force Records 大福唱片)
Beijing, CN

Melodic, dramatic and emotional. Thoughtful compositions reminiscent of Four Tet and Aphex Twin, Abnormal is the beginning of Bobo’s metamorphosis from film scores to dancefloor ready techno.

Keep an eye on his electronic label Prajnasonic and stay tuned for next year, when the bass will drop.

Favourite track: 鲸鱼-


So Laid Back Country China // Sin Cristales

(Self-released)
Wellington, NZ

“I’m too busy drinking / all of the time”

In September, I found myself sitting in the bath tub of a five star hotel in Auckland, up to my tits in hot water and drowning in anxiety. Like my mind was smashing itself into the ground, stuck in a violent wash cycle of negativity, trapped underwater in a swimming pool covered by an immovable tarpaulin. I felt like I was going to rip my own face off.

Sin Cristales brought me back to earth, having articulated such emotions to great effect. Grateful. xx

Favourite Track: Ballad of Calm Arms


Yue Xuan // Entrance & Exports
岳璇《Entrance & Exports》

(Mo Records)
Beijing, CN

Entrance & Exports is a remix of Yue Xuan’s beautiful piano album In & Out from 2015. Bringing together producers from around China such as MHP, Broken Thoughts, Hong Qile, iimmune and Cvalda onto one impeccably well-crafted compilation (which was initially available as a free download on Douban), the remixes span Minimalist, Post-Rock, Drum & Bass, Techno, Glitch, Drone, Hiphop, Experimental, Ambient and IDM, bringing a whole new electronic take on the original.

Entrance & Exports and accompanying national Remix Tour is a fine example of how this young composer is utilising the resources and connections around her to produce something new and exciting.

Favourite Track: Nine of Swords (Cvalda Remix)


Mermaidens // Undergrowth

(Flying Out)
Wellington, NZ

Mermaidens have come a long way since those first acoustic demos four or five years ago, with Undergrowth released in March establishing them as a staple of the Wellington indie scene.

Enchanting mermaids conjuring “dark witch rock” from the dense scrubland is as psychedelic as it sounds – lurking with hidden dangers, the title-track Undergrowth gradually flows from a slow and dreamy creek into a thrashing, rocky river, a structure many of the songs take on the album. There’s certainly something of the occult about these mermaids, whose reverb drenched vocals often take form in first or second person: “I’m a corpse on the beach / I’m a thing / send me out to sea,” pulling the listener deeper into their imagined natural world.

The undergrowth is a mysterious place barbed with the grit and sharpness of gorse, as well as the strength and unruliness of deep roots. Look forward to new material in 2017.

Favourite track: Under the Mountain II


DOC (Dalian Obscure Club) // Northern Electric Shadow
DOC 《北方电影》

(D-Force Records 大福唱片)
Dalian, CN

There’s something in the water up in Dalian…

I hadn’t even heard of the Dalian Obscure Club until copies of Northern Electric Shadow turned up on CD and vinyl at NU SPACE.

The power of crashing waves, the fluidity of rising tides, the delicacy of swirling rockpools – this is understated, beautiful ocean-inspired math-rock. A fresh breeze of sea air!

Favourite track: 加百利布吉 Gabey’s Boogie


Males // None the Wiser

(Fishrider Records)
Dunedin, NZ

A burst of sunny South Island power-pop. The long-anticipated follow up to their debut MalesMalesMales in 2012, None the Wiser is full of so many bright, catchy riffs and uplifting falsetto parts that wearing sunglasses should be listed as a prerequisite for listening. A set of wonderfully crafted guitar songs.

Favourite track: Chartreuse


The Fuzz // The Root of Innocence
法兹乐队《童心之源》

(Maybe Mars 兵马司)
Xi’an, CN

This upbeat, chorus-soaked indie rock record is possibly the most Maybe Mars-y Maybe Mars release to date – you just know Yang Haisong has been here.

The audience were quietly bopping along when The Fuzz came to Chengdu on their enormous album release tour in early 2016. Then when Sijiang from Hiperson came out to help them sing《控制》, the crowd exploded with cheers and turned into a sea of moshing bodies, it was beautiful.

Favourite Track: 《控制》


Peach Milk // Finally EP

(Self-released)
Auckland, NZ

Peaches and cream are my favourite kind of lollies. So perhaps it is inevitable that I would be into this new young Auckland producer, who dropped her first EP earlier this year. Peach Milk’s music sounds like her name would suggest – sweet and smooth.

Look forward to her sound evolving in the new year.

Favourite track: Heretic


yourboyfriendsucks! // Episode 1
yourboyfriendsucks!《第一季》

(QiiiSnacks Records)
Guangzhou, CN

Six-tracks of candy-coated indie-pop from our Cantonese speaking friends yourboyfriendsucks! Opening with a tribute to Just Like Honey by the Jesus and Mary Chain, how can I not love this? Surprisingly clean production for QiiiSnacks Records (formerly Full Label), known for their DIY lo-fi recordings.

Perhaps the biggest travesty of 2016 is the dissolution of ybfs!, as the lead singer Zoey has moved to Europe to study. Episode 1 is in fact the final episode. Boo!

Favourite track: Stay or Stay Away


Higher Brothers // Higher Brothers Mixtape
海尔兄弟 // 《海尔兄弟》

(Self-released)
Chengdu, CN

higher-brothers-mixtape-cover-art

“来嘛来嘛来嘛差一位 ~ ”

Perhaps I’ve included Higher Brothers Mixtape here more for their impact rather than my own personal taste, but their skyrocket to fame and influence on the local scene this year is certainly noteworthy. If Fat Shady put Chengdu hip-hop on the map, Higher Brothers CDC rappers Masiwei (马思唯), Dz, Psy.P and Melo, have dabbed themselves to the top and become one of Chengdu’s, if not China’s most iconic hip-hop acts.

This 19-track offering is a searing blast of arrogance and attitude delivered in a mix of lightening fast Chengduhua and American slang. Whether or not elongated trap beats are your thing, or that each track repeats the chorus about five times, tracks like 《野猪儿》 and 《尴尬》 have attained anthem-like status and established hip-hop as the biggest sound in Chengdu.

Now managed by Asian hip-hop agency 88 Rising, Higher Brothers have taken Chengdu hip-hop to an international level of “worldwide shit.” As collaborations with international artists such as Harikiri, Charlie Heat, Bohan Phoenix and J.Mag roll in, I look forward to their sound maturing more in future.

HIGHER.

Listen on Xiami.

Favourite track: 《尴尬》


Commended:


Singles:

  • CA1XR //  爱在一方(Future Disco V.I.P)
    Chengdu, CN

  • Cut Off Your Hands // Hate Somebody
    Auckland, NZ

  • Womb // Feeling Like Helium (demo)
    Wellington, NZ

  • Hiperson // 追和等
    Chengdu, CN


Next year we can look forward to…

Debut record from Chengdu indie babes The Hormones, the sophomore album from South Island songstress Nadia Reid, something trippy from Beijing no-wave masters Chui Wan, minimal techno stylings from atmen, the debut record from Kunming electro-punk wastrels South Acid MiMi Dance Team, potentially music from new Maybe Mars signees Lonely Leary and Dream Can  perhaps even something from those mysterious Dunedin-based creatures Elan Vital and Kolya

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Dying to Be Here: Interview with Alpine Decline

“A dream of a shopping cart left in the street in a desolate wasteland is stuck on repeat,” sings Jonathan Zeitlin on Alpine Decline’s latest album Life’s a Gaspa record that echoes the dystopian smog world of Beijing.

Alpine Decline is Beijing-via-Los Angeles husband and wife rockers Jonathan Zeitlin and Pauline Mu. Self-described as “psych, shoegaze, noise rock and ’90s indie, without sounding too much like any of those,” Alpine Decline are currently touring their seventh album Life’s a Gasp across China with long time confidante, producer and bassist Yang Haisong.

Kiwese caught up with Jonathan ahead of their gig in Chengdu to talk about touring and synthesisers in a WeChat conversation littered with baby smoking Hitler emojis.

Pauline Mu, Jonathan Zeitlin and Yang Haisong.
Pauline Mu, Jonathan Zeitlin and Yang Haisong.

KIWESE: Hey Alpine Decline! Where are you guys?

JONATHAN: We’re driving up from Nanning to Guiyang right now and it is fucking gorgeous. Pauline and I are essentially nature-oriented people living in a city that is the antithesis of natural, so this lush landscape really moves us.

Rad, how was the show in Nanning? 

Nanning was great. I think in places that don’t get as many touring acts coming through, the thrills are a little bit more palpable. A strange room and a strange feeling, like someone might bar the doors and some shootout might happen, or evil spirits descend… this is the perfect vibe for us to play.

“Playing for ten people ready to freak the fuck out is often more fun than 200 people who are only listening with one ear.

 

Can you tell us about your tour bus and crew? Sounds huge!

We’ve been on the US get-in-the-van trip quite a few times and will be doing it again in October with Carsick Cars and Chui Wan, but this is the first time we’ve had a van to tour in china, instead of riding the rails. It completely changes the nature of the expedition – in a way we are temperamentally well suited for.

We brought our baby and a babysitter, so that adds two bodies. There’s the three of us in the band, Xiao Bao running sound, our old friend (and veteran of the earliest P.K.14 van tours) 黄师傅 minding the details, and our very trusted driver. For awhile Nevin from Genjing Records/Maybe Mars came along. Little Monster rolled with us from Shanghai to Nantong and that was max capacity.

Logistics aside, I love ripping down the road. I like stepping out of the car in the middle of nowhere. I like the whole ‘Peter Pan leading a pack of gypsy children out into the wilderness’ vibe.

1.pic
Riding in the Alpine Decline tour bus. Image / Alpine Decline

This is not the first tour Alpine Decline for little Roland, right? He must be almost ready to join the band as the fourth member haha

This is his fourth tour. He did Australia when he was six months old, then the China tour for our last album GO BIG SHADOW CITY and the subsequent US/Canada tour. He’s pretty natural at it. He gets on really well with everyone and can tolerate the dirty language and rough living pretty well.

With kids, I find you create reality for them… they don’t come into the world with a set of expectations of how things are gonna be. So taking him on tour at first was about us being brave, not about him understanding what’s up. We just felt like it was a bad narrative in the long term to say “we used to tour and make albums and then you were born so it all stopped.” We felt like he could have warmth and support and a reasonable measure of stability and safety while still coming into Pauline and my world, joining our lives and our family.

4.pic

What’s the best thing about being on tour? 

There is a lot of wildness on tour; wild thoughts, the crazy feeling of being cut loose, the daily encounter with my fight-or-flight instincts. You meet crazy people and seem to be endlessly celebrating something, I don’t know what. For us, we are very focused on the shows, because getting in a room with people and playing music every night, there is a possibility we will get somewhere interesting, and that’s really the only reason to tour.

Of course we get tired, nerves frayed and maybe lose perspective of reality a little bit. But I’m going to reach a place every night where the moment opens up and freezes and we are all intensely present for some fleeting interval. so 辛苦? 辛苦我可以收。(hardship, hardship I can take.)

Welcome to Chengdu, what’s your impression of this place?

Chengdu and these western parts always leave a very deep impression on us. Of course in Chengdu as everywhere you witness the crush of development, but there is a kind of frontier vibe that comes on this far from the eastern seaboard that strikes me as romantic.

Would be great to have an Alpine Decline synth set in Chengdu!

Aw, I would have loved to do a synth set in Chengdu! When we were planning the tour and figuring out where we could do the synth stuff, I just didn’t know if there was a community interested in that kinda thing…

I wouldn’t say there’s a ‘community’ but certainly individuals who have an interest.

Yeah, I find on tour there is pretty intense interest in the modular synths and people just trying to contextualize asymmetrical music in general, so that after the synth sets we are basically spending about a half an hour talking to the crowd, showing them the synths and explaining stuff.

We use the synths during the rock set too, so we also have gotten people who come out even though they aren’t interested in guitars or rock, but read somewhere about the synths.

2.pic

If it’s not too mafan, are you able to tell us about your synths for all the synth nerds out there?

Ah, so basically we built two boxes and filled then with different modular synth components from a variety of sources. Eurorack is basically a format, a set of standards, so people can build synth components that will be compatible with other peoples modules. so we have basically a collection of oscillators, filters, VCAs, envelope generators, utilities, etc that we can patch together to create any sound we imagine.

We don’t have any presets or memory banks, it is nearly impossible to perfectly recreate a sound, so every night on tour the synths are slightly different, their ambience a little slippery and sorta every variable. plus they are a lot lighter than lugging around big vintage synths like the last tour haha.

I read in an interview that you recorded Life’s a Gasp in a makeshift studio in the mountains?

I think the place was originally going to be like a western style residential neighbourhood in the mountains past Badaling, northwest of Beijing, but the government moved some factories out to the adjacent valley and the place was more or less abandoned by the ten or twelve people that built houses there. Surreal, kind of ghostly, maybe some abandoned dogs, but with the ruins of unrestored Great Wall snaking along the ridgeline. We kinda had a sound design in mind and wanted to find a very big room where we could record drums, guitar and bass live together, and one of these houses became available to us. So we moved there for a week and were able to create a really different, closed-circuit kind of habitat for this part of the recording process.

IMG_20141026_221025

So you guys are rolling in Guangxi right now, a far stretch from L.A. You’ve been in Beijing for a decent few years now, do you still align yourselves and your style with the L.A. scene at all?

No, we don’t align ourselves with the L.A. scene at all. Actually, I don’t have a clue what’s been going on in L.A. the last five years at all. Even before we moved here, we were feeling very disassociated with the music scene, pretty aware of the distance between what we were looking to do and the territory around us.

It might be a little different on a personal level for Pauline, because she grew up there, but especially for me just kinda drifting through from more remote parts, L.A. just seems like a fantasy to me, even when I lived there.

I’m originally from a small town in north-eastern Ohio, a sort of farmland about an hour outside of a big collapsing steel town.

There are brilliant musicians in L.A… I’m in disbelief I had the opportunity to call them my friends and whip up some music together… but we had a different plan when we started Alpine Decline and after about a year knew it wasn’t right in L.A.

L.A is known around the world as the mecca of music and film production, so no doubt full of people trying to make it big. Do you find any parallels between that and Beijing?

The scale is really different. People seeking to make art come to Beijing, but the leading industry in Beijing is politics, not art. In L.A., its almost exclusively entertainment, like a coal town with screening rooms instead of mineshafts. Truthfully, L.A. is really just film and TV, so playing music there is still a little outside… unlike New York or Berlin, perhaps.

I don’t know what “making it big” would look like in China. We didn’t think that was an option here, which was part of the appeal.

Thanks Jonathan!


Alpine Decline Poster small chengdu

Alpine Decline play NU SPACE Chengdu this Saturday with support from the almighty Hiperson!

购票请长按下方二维码:
Press & extract the QR code below for tickets on Zaomengshe:

qrcode-335737-50-purchase-335737-0

Alpine Decline ‘Life’s a Gasp’ China Tour 2016

天津 Tianjin 6.1 周三 13club

合肥 Hefei 6.2 周四 On the Way(大摩店)

南京 Nanjing 6.3 周五 欧拉艺术空间

宁波 Ningbo 6.4 周六 CMK

杭州 Hangzhou 6.5 周日 酒球会

上海 Shanghai(模块合成器) 6.7 周二 Shelter

南通 Nantong 6.8 周三 The Void

义乌 Yiwu 6.9 周四 隔壁

上海 Shanghai 6.10 周五 育音堂

温州 Wenzhou 6.11 周六 米房cei

厦门 Xiamen 6.12 周日 Real Live

泉州 Quanzhou 6.13 周一 动物世界音乐公社

东莞 Dongguan 6.14 周二 红糖罐(769店)

珠海 Zhuhai 6.15 周三 九号仓音乐工厂

广州 Guangzhou(模块合成器) 6.17 周五 Loft345

广州 Guangzhou 6.18 周六 191space

深圳 Shenzhen 6.19 周日 B10现场

南宁 Nanning 6.21 周二 侯朋现场

贵阳 Guiyang 6.23 周四 劲 Livehouse

重庆 Chongqing 6.24 周五 MAO

成都 Chengdu 6.25 周六 NU Space

西安 Xi’an(模块合成器) 6.27 周一 光圈

西安 Xi’an 6.28 周二 光圈

洛阳 Luoyang 6.29 周三 喜堂

新乡 Xinxiang 6.30 周四 Sub Ark

北京 Beijing 7.2 周六 School Live Bar

北京 Beijing(模块合成器) 7.3 周日 fruityspace

襄阳 Xiangyang 7.8 周五 Vox

武汉Wuhan 7.9 周六 Vox(武昌店)

Beijing Noise Rockers Head for Chengdu: Interview with Lonely Leary

Lonely Leary are a Beijing-based three-piece post-punk/noise rock band from Shandong. They incorporate fast drums, muddy baselines and rough guitar noise in a pursuit to create a relatively violent sound. 

NU SPACE has invited them to Chengdu to play a show this Friday 10 June with local favourites Hiperson!

Kiwese caught up with the band members Qiu Chi 邱驰 (bass/vocals) Song Ang 宋昂 (guitar) and Li Baoning 李保宁 (drums) to find out more… 

Lonely Leary photo

Back in 2012, three college students entrenched in boredom were practicing their instruments alone in the secluded district of Changqing, Jinan. Initially the band set about covering a few simple punk songs, as well as post-punk bands such as Joy Division. They adopted the name “Lonely Lili” while playing spontaneous rock shows on campus. Later due to job changes and academic activities, the band was suspended.

In 2014, all three members moved to Beijing and Lonely Leary was reborn, trading ‘Lili’ for ‘Leary,’ a tribute to Timothy Leary, the creator of LSD. With a new name in a new city, the band began rehearsing and writing songs in pursuit of their own punk-oriented style. During the summer of 2014, the band performed prolifically at School Bar, XP and other rock clubs, gradually gaining a small and loyal following within the grungy confines of the Beijing underground.

I took a 19 hour train ride from Chengdu to Beijing last September for two reasons: see the first stop of the Shocking Pinks world tour with Wellington-based independent touring label A Low Hum and pick up Orchestra of Spheres for their epic China tour with Lady Lazer Light.

The Shocking Pinks show took place at the notorious hutong dive School Bar and was supported by two local acts – one of them was Lonely Leary, and they totally kicked ass. Scatty basslines, frantic drumming, possessed vocals, screeching guitar… A week later, I saw them play again at Temple Bar. Again, excellent.

Beijing has provided the Shandong-born trio the perfect environment in which to hone their songs and their live performance, with what seems like endless bars and livehouses to play at on a regular basis.

NU SPACE is proud to present LONELY LEARY, the post-punk/noise-rock trio tipped by critics as the most exciting new band out of Beijing this year.

lonely leary school bass
Playing support for Shocking Pinks. 18 Sept 2015. Photo by Kiwese.

KIWESE: You guys are from Shandong. Can you describe what Jinan is like for those of us who don’t know?

SONG: Changqing is basically a beautiful place. I think it’s more suitable for old people rather than youths to live there.

QIU: There was originally a village or wasteland. You know, the university and college downtown couldn’t take so many students after enrolment expansion over the years, so the government transformed the villages into campuses and sent a large number of students there. The campuses are isolated by mountains and we have to take illegal taxis to go to other places. There is also a commercial center with many low-cost shops, stalls, internet bars and small hotels for lovers.

Music hobbyists can learn to play guitar and drums in some instrument shops. They used to form bands and cover “Beyond”. There were over a hundred Beyond cover bands I think.

LI: The first time I met Song Ang he was playing guitar in a cover band in an instrument shop. He hated the songs they played, so we began to play together while learning our instruments. Qiu Chi joined us after graduating, then we became a trio and began to cover some punk bands. Our playing technique was poor then.

You started out covering punk bands. What were some of the first songs you covered?

Under Baby, Joyside and Ramones. Including some “punk songs” by Hedgehog.

What is up with the drummer situation?

We have some drummer adjustments recently. Wang Jianan played drums for the last half of the year. She is a student at Beijing Film Academy with a good sense of drum playing. She created many amazing drum riffs in new songs. The only problem she has is technique – it’s a little hard for her to play the fast songs perfectly live and in recording, after all, she hasn’t played for that long.

So she will study and practice the basic skills and techniques, and the original drummer Li will take the place of her at present. Li plays fiercely like a drum machine.

Li Baoning on the drums at XP. Image from XP's Douban.
Li Baoning on the drums at XP. Image from XP’s Douban.

You moved to Beijing in 2014, how does the city influence your music?

QIU: I simply took playing in a band as pastime in Shandong. At that time, I didn’t know much about making music as an amateur. After graduating and being in Beijing in 2012, I separated from them because they were still in Jinan. I think Lonely Leary was about to dissolve then. However, I saw lots of lives in Beijing and was attracted by its dynamic rock’ n roll atmosphere. There are so many fresh bands who studied and vied with each other – they created the scene together. I was encouraged by them and got the enthusiasm to continue Lonely Leary. Then the other guys came to Beijing soon after, so I had no excuse to stop the band any more.

SONG: I think Beijing is a high-speed city with bad environment and people here are restless. I knew nothing about the city beside music before I came here. I didn’t know what to do then and always felt anxious and confused. In fact, three of us all get this feeling and deeply affected. The violent sound of our music has close connection with the situation. Sometimes the bad moods also get the band into trouble. That’s terrible.

LI: Beijing has more bands and lives than I had ever known in college. You know, most bands in Jinan are metal and pop, as well as some folk singers. However, in Beijing, there are many bands whose temperaments are quite same as us, especially in XP Club. I can learn from them at close range. At the time, I thought I would die without regrets if I could perform in XP, ha-ha!

2015.01.24 China Lonely Daydream Night Lonely Leary in XP. Image from XP's Douban.
2015.01.24 China Lonely Daydream Night Lonely Leary play at XP. Image from XP’s Douban.

Tell us about the new album, how is that coming along? Where are you planning to record it? Will you release it independently or with a label?

Qiu: Making an album has been our dream for a long time. We decided on it at the end of last year as we think we have enough songs now. In fact, we didn’t think too much on writing songs at first, no uniform style or concept was carried through. Many songs didn’t sound the same because they are written in a different period. It really troubled us then! So we tried to preset a theme for the album to keep our creation in a controllable range. It makes the new songs clearer. We also changed some old songs based on our preset concept. Some old songs have been abandoned.

SONG: Some of our songs have been in an indeterminate state for two years before we reached our preset concept. Fortunately, they finally morphed into the shape that we’ve described in our introduction.

LI: Our demo recordings are very simple. We used an iPad to record and mix to get the finished product that you hear on Douban. They have no details or good tones, just a standard of “clear enough to hear.”

Our ignorance towards “real recording” caused this undesirable lo-fi sound. Now we are learning and rehearsing a lot to be ready for the formal recording. Then we probably try to contact labels which are reliable and have interest in us.

You play fairly regularly in Beijing. What are your favourite venues to play?

SONG: We all love XP Club. We can often perform with the bands we like there. I prefer to Old What after XP closed. I feel comfort in its simple and rough environment.

QIU: I would like Old What better if the sound is improved. I like School Bar most now.

LI: We used to play XP a lot because it was close to where we lived. Now we go to School Bar most often.

XP. Image from XP Douban.
XP Club. Image from XP Douban.

Who are some other bands you really like in Beijing at the moment and why?

QIU: We all like P.K.14 and Snapline. Alpine Decline is my recently favorite.

SONG: I like Alpine Decline as well. I also recommend Death Narcissist and Bedstars.

LI: I like Re-TROS and Supermarket, also Dr. Liu and the Human Centipede and Soviet Pop.

Your music reminds me of Joy Division and The B52s, as well as more recent bands like Thee Oh Sees and Re-TROS. What bands have had the biggest influence on you?

QIU: David Bowie, The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, P.K.14 and Sun City Girls have a deep ideological influence on me. SavagesMars, DisconcertsSleaford ModsMika Miko are my favourites recently. I love their basslines.

SONG: I recommend A Place to Bury Strangers for their destructive lives, firm basslines and manic guitar noise. Sonic Youth brings me inspiration on playing guitar, I’ve learned their tuning and tone a lot. I also like the teen spirit sound of Big Black and Spacemen 3’s psychedelic guitar.

LI: Old post-punk bands like Joy Division, Sort Sol, Talking Heads have influenced so many people for their tension of contradiction.

Have you come to Chengdu before? What impressions do you have of this place?

QIU: I went four years ago. I think People’s Park is a funny place and I love “LengGuo ChuanChuan”.

LI: I went last year. I didn’t go to too many places, but I think some temples here are very good.

SONG: I have never been to Chengdu. I think it may be a wet place.

Anything you want to say to people coming to the show in Chengdu?

QIU: All I want to say are painted on the poster. Really fantastic design ha-ha!

LI: Hi, Person!

SONG: We are three plain dealers from Shandong. Welcome to come and see us!

Lonely Leary’s alcohol of choice?

QIU & SONG: Jingjiu. Absolutely!

Li: I prefer pineapple beer.

Welcome to Chengdu, thanks guys!

We’ve never been out so far for a live show before. Thanks NU SPACE for inviting us!

Hiperson Lonely Leary poster

WHEN:
Friday 10 June 2016
Doors: 8pm
Lonely Leary: 8:30pm
Hiperson: 9:30pm

WHERE:
明堂创意工作区·NU SPACE
成都市青羊区奎星楼街55号
NU SPACE, MiNTOWN Studio Community
55 Kuixinglou St, Qingyang, Chengdu

TICKETS:
Pre-sale: 60RMB
Door: 100RMB
http://www.zaomengshe.com/c/325233

们可以给我们介绍济长清是一个什么样的地方吗?

宋:长清是一个山清水秀、环境优雅的地方。适合养老,不大适合青年人居住。

邱:其实这里原本是村庄或荒地。前几年大学扩招后,市区里的学校装不下那么多学生,于是偏僻的村庄就被改造成校园,大学生们都被送到了这里。大学被山隔开,各自孤立,出行要靠黑出租。中心地带有唯一的一个商业区,非常热闹,分布着许多商店、地摊、网吧和家庭旅馆,都特别便宜。这里也有几个琴行,教音乐爱好者们弹吉他或打鼓;他们其中有的学成了就开始组乐队,以翻唱Beyond乐队为主。大学城里应该有过上百支Beyond翻唱乐队。

李:我第一次遇见宋昂就是在这里,他当时正在一个琴行给某个乐队弹吉他,他不喜欢他们当时翻唱的歌。我们认识了之后就开始一边学乐器一边玩。邱驰快毕业的时候才加入进来,这才凑齐了三大件正式排练。我们当时技术有限,就翻唱一些朋克乐队。

你们一开始翻唱那些朋克乐队的歌?

地下婴儿、Joyside以及Ramones。还有刺猬,我们翻过他们一些比较朋克的歌。

们现在的鼓手情况怎么样

鼓手目前有一些调动。最近半年在打鼓的是王迦南,她还在电影学院上学。虽然打鼓时间不久,但是她的意识很不错,在新歌里编排了很多有趣的段落,带来了新的节奏。只是她目前基本功要欠缺一些,应付现在快速的歌的演出和录音有点吃力。所以她现在会先去练习基本功和技术。现在在打鼓的是我们最初的鼓手李保宁。他打得比较凶狠,像鼓机一样。

2014年从山搬到北京去。北京的音格有什么样的影响?

邱:在山东的时候,我玩乐队的心态其实还是自娱自乐的成分多一些:当时一方面对做音乐不是很懂,比较业余,再加上我2012年就毕业来到北京,和仍在济南上学的他俩两地相隔、没法排练,所以本以为之后乐队差不多就解散了。不过到了北京之后我经常去看演出,才知道这里的摇滚乐气氛是多么活跃:这里有很多年轻的好乐队,大家互相学习、竞争,共同创造了这个场景。我很受鼓舞,就重燃了做乐队的热情。正好他俩很快也毕业来到了北京,再也没有什么不继续玩下去的理由了。

宋:我觉得北京的生活节奏很快,城市挺脏,人们也都挺躁动。刚来到北京的时候,对这里我除了音乐之外一无所知,也不知道要做什么,经常会感到无所适从和迷茫。这种情绪其实我们三人一直都有,也在一直都在影响我们的创作。音乐中暴躁、焦虑的成分都和这些有关。但一些时候颓丧的情绪也会让乐队陷入困境,这就比较糟糕了。

李:北京有更多的乐队和演出,让我了解到很多上大学的时候未曾了解的东西。在济南的时候大部分乐队是金属或流行摇滚,还有民谣,而北京和我们气质相同的乐队就要多很多,尤其是在XP,可以近距离学习很多东西。我当时觉得要是可以在XP演出一次就一生无悔了,哈哈。

们开始创造一张全长专辑,可以给我们介绍一下这个过程吗你们安排在哪里录音?要独立发布或者跟一个厂牌在一起?

邱:做一张专辑一直都是我们的愿望。考虑到歌曲数量似乎差不多够了,所以从去年底开始正式计划这件事情。其实最早写歌的时候想得很少,只是比较无意识地从当时零碎的音乐喜好、动机或生活经验出发去写歌,没有考虑太多关于统一风格或概念的问题。这使得不同时期的歌听起来好像差异会比较大,我们也经常陷入苦恼。所以我们之后开始尝试先预设一张专辑应有的主题和概念,给自己一点限定。这样,新歌创作的目标会更加明确,同时旧作也被重新编排,也有一些直接被舍弃掉了。

宋:之前没有明确想法的时候,一首歌可能两年都处于不确定的状态,改个十来种方案也没有结果。还好最近的修改都在基本朝我们所设想的风格发展,就像我们的介绍中描述的那样。

李:我们之前的录音方式多少有点草率,基本是用iPad进行录音和混音,成果就是豆瓣小站上的那些歌。它们顶多能达到“听清”的标准,谈不上细节和质量。之前我们对真正录音知之甚少,对音色的把握也比较欠缺,准备不足。这是一种不得已的Lo-Fi效果。现在我们正通过学习和排练为真正的录音做好准备。当我们准备充分以后,会尝试联系对我们的作品有兴趣,同时也值得信任的厂牌。

们经常在北京演出。你最喜演出的地方是那些?

宋:我们都很喜欢XP,那里好像跟我们的气质比较贴近,也经常能有机会和自己喜欢的乐队同台。XP关门了以后现在喜欢老What多一点,那里原始粗糙的感觉很好。

邱:老What要是声音能好一点我也会更推荐。现在最喜欢去的还是School。

李:XP当时离住的地方近,我们就经常去。现在是School去的最多。

你喜欢的居住在北京的乐队与音乐人有哪些?

邱:P.K.14和Snapine是我们共同喜欢的乐队。Alpine Decline我最近很爱听。

宋:我也喜欢Alpine Decline,还有Death Narcissist和Bedstars

李:我喜欢重塑雕像的权利和超级市场,然后就是人体蜈蚣和苏维埃·波普。

的音乐让我想起来Joy Division, TelevisionThe B52s, 有比较现代的乐队Thee Oh Sees和重塑雕像的 最大的影响的乐队是那些?

邱:David Bowie、The Velvet Underground、Joy Division、P.K.14以及Sun City Girls是在思想上对我影响很大的乐队。Savages、Mars、Disconcerts、Sleaford Mods、Mika Miko是最近影响我比较多乐队。我喜欢这些贝斯声音靠前的歌。

宋:我最近很喜欢A place to bury strangers,他们有破坏力的现场表演、结实的bassline还有狂躁的吉他噪音;然后是Sonic Youth,他们在吉他弹奏上带给我很多灵感,我也研究了很多他们的调弦方式和音色;Big Black傻冲楞的少年心气我也很喜欢!还有Spacemen 3,我喜欢他们厚重的带药味的吉他。

李:Joy Division、Sort Sol、Talking Heads这类老的后朋克吧,他们影响了太多的人。我认为他们的音乐有种矛盾的张力,在内部爆发,在外部控制。

成都?你们对成都有什印象?

邱:四年之前来过一次。我觉得人民公园有趣,冷锅串串很好吃。

李:我去年来过,去的地方不多,有几个寺庙我觉得不错。

宋:我没来过,可能会比较潮湿?

们想对来看Hiperson x Lonely Leary NU SPACE演出的人

邱:想说的都画在海报上了,很棒的设计!哈哈。

李:Hi, Person!

宋:实在山东人乐队,值得来看!

Lonely Leary最喜的酒是那

邱/宋:中国劲酒!

李:我喜欢喝菠萝啤

欢迎你们来成都!谢谢!

我们第一次到这么远的地方来演出。谢谢NU SPACE的邀请!

Haere Mai Nevin Domer: Getting Genjing and Maybe Mars bands to NZ

From heading DIY record labels, playing in punk bands, averting lyrical censorship, booking dozens of tours and crowd surfing on them, to speaking on music panels, Nevin Domer is one of the most dedicated people in the Beijing underground today. Kiwese caught up with him to see if there’s anything in store for us over in New Zealand.

 
So Genjing Records initially started as a way for your band to get stuff out there, but what was the impetus for broadening out to the local/international scene? Just love? 
I originally started the label as a vehicle for releasing music from my own band ahead of our European tour. I realized that vinyl never really went away in underground scenes abroad and was emerging again as the preferred physical medium for fans and collectors so if Chinese acts were planning to travel abroad they should have records to sell. It also became apparent to me that it functions as a bar for media publications who will take bands with vinyl releases more seriously then those with CD only. I was working with a lot of great bands in China that were starting to have more and more opportunities to play abroad and I decided this was a way I could help them. It definitely isn’t for money but out of a desire to have fun and see the scene here reach it’s full potential.
Genjing Records. Est. 2011. From the Genjing Records website.
Genjing Records. Est. 2011. From the Genjing Records website.

God Bows and Pairs! The 7″ split is intriguing. You check out a release from the band you like and are immediately introduced to another one, is that the general idea or does it have other merits than that?The concept of a split release is an old staple of the punk scene and something I grew up on. When deciding what sort of objectives I wanted to achieve with Genjing I was really interested in creating a bridge between the scene(s) in China and those abroad. For me a split release is a great way to connect two bands who can help introduce each other to their own fans and therefor gain from each others mutual support. The same is true for two labels doing a co-release. In the end our underground culture will only thrive if we help each other!

God Bows / Nevin / Carb on Carb. Mao Livehouse, Nov 2012.
God Bows to Math / Nevin / Carb on Carb. Mao Livehouse, Nov 2013.

Can we expect any Genjing bands to come down to NZ this year or are we just too far away? What are the challenges for Chinese DIYs to tour Aus/NZ, it seems the only acts that come are state funded? 

I hope so! I’m putting more energy now in producing, distributing and promoting releases. I want to create a platform and opportunities for bands but leave a lot of the logistics for touring up to them. Pairs has toured NZ and several Chinese bands have been to Australia — Alpine Decline is going there the end of January for several shows. Hopefully after the split release with Pairs and God Bows To Math more fans in NZ are aware of the Chinese scene and a foundation will start to be built for more Chinese bands to tour there and conversely for more NZ bands to come to China! It is expensive but I wouldn’t count on the state to fund anything interesting. It’s our culture we need to work and build it for ourselves.

Alpine Decline at XP. Image from livebeijingmusic.com.
Alpine Decline at XP. Image from livebeijingmusic.com.

Are Genjing releases available anywhere in NZ?

I am talking to several stores and distributors there and plan to have most of the Genjing releases available there by the spring. Things are going forward with Flying Out hopefully they will be able to get my stuff in all the stores you mentioned (Death Ray in Newtown, Slow Boat Records on Cuba Street)!

…and your current favourites in Beijing?

At the moment my favorite act in Beijing is the Molds, but they’ve been my favorite for a long time! I am also really into Alpine Decline whose new album is so so good. Besides that, expect to hear some new music from young bands both in Beijing and across China coming out on Genjing over the next few months.

Liu Ge of the Molds. Picture from Time Out Beijing.
Liu Ge of the Molds. Picture from Time Out Beijing.

…For venues I split my time pretty equally between School (for punk rock), XP (for experimental) and Temple (for getting wasted, haha!)

The Bennies from Melbourne kicking it at School in Yonghegong, Beijing. Nov 2013.
The Bennies from Melbourne kicking it at School in Yonghegong, Beijing. Nov 2013.

People can check the Genjing websiteFacebook and Twitter pages for updates or , if you can’t wait – order directly from PayPal. Thanks for the support and don’t forget to also support your local scenes!

Xie xie Nevin!

Nevin is originally from Baltimore, USA, and has been helping Chinese bands with a variety of shit since 2009. He is the founder of Genjing Records [根茎唱片], Chief Operating Officer at Maybe Mars [兵马司] and the guitarist of Fanzui Xiangfa [犯罪想法]. Chur bol!

(Article photo graciously pinched from Wooozy.cn)