Tag Archives: china tour

Interview with Andrew Wilson from Die! Die! Die!

Genjing Records and Maybe Mars are bringing New Zealand noise punks Die! Die! Die! for their second ever tour of China! This year we are very happy to welcome them to the south-west, including shows in Guiyang, Chengdu and Chongqing.

Kiwese had a chat with frontman Andrew Wilson over the phone a couple of weeks ago in Auckland, where he’d just finished class and was preparing to head to London…

Guitarist and vocalist Andrew Wilson and drummer Michael Prain started playing together in bands in high school, forming Die! Die! Die! in 2003 and immediately shaking things up with their fast-paced, abrasive sound in the New Zealand underground. Once they released their first EP Die! Die! Die! recorded by the legendary Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, Shellac, Big Black) in 2005, the band found themselves touring the world for several years, and have basically been touring, releasing music and creating seas of aggressive mosh pits ever since.

London-born Rory Attwell brings a healthy dose of British badassery to the line-up on bass guitar. Having been active in bands and recording studios for over ten years, Attwell has worked with bands such as Yuck, Palma Violets, Veronica Falls and The Vaccines and also recorded Die! Die! Die!’s latest EP aboard his boat recording studio moored off a wharf in East London.

Die! Die! Die! 乐队2003年成立于新西兰南岛第二大城市达尼丁。吉他手兼主唱Andrew Wilson和鼓手Michael Prain在中学的时候开始一起玩儿音乐,也做了几个噪音和车库乐队。在成立了Die! Die! Die!乐队后,他们以快节奏和粗厉的声音震动了新西兰地下音乐场景圈;并且迅速在国际舞台上引起了关注)。自从著名录音师Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, Shellac, Big Black)录制了他们的首张同名专辑,Die! Die! Die!就在巡演、发布新专辑和创造令人着魔的疯狂现场中一直前行。

来自伦敦的贝斯手和制作人Rory Attwell把他的英式风格带进来。他十年多一直活跃在各种乐队和录音室里面,也录音和制作了一百多个乐队包括Yuck, Palma Violets, Veronica Falls和The Vaccines。2015年在他的位于在一个伦敦船上的录音室Attwell Recordings,他录了Die! Die! Die!最近发行的EP.来自伦敦的贝斯手和制作人Rory Attwell把他的英式风格带进来。他十年多一直活跃在各种乐队和录音室里,也录制了一百多支乐队包括Yuck, Palma Violets, Veronica Falls和The Vaccines。2015年在他位于伦敦的一艘船上的录音室Attwell Recordings,他录制了Die! Die! Die!最近发行的EP.

Hey Andrew! What are you studying at university?

I’m studying a degree in sustainable business. Basically learning about making business ethical and sustainable, how we can achieve long-term economic, environmental and ethnical benefits. Its something I’ve gotten quite interested in, I’m concerned society has gotten pretty wasteful, pay gaps and gender inequality…

It is quite funny though, going to university now, I didn’t finish high school. I just wasn’t into school at the time, but was into playing in a band.

What kind of environment did you have as a teen playing music?

It was amazing really. At first we practiced in my mum’s basement, and the neighbours would never complain. Dunedin was quite empty at the time and we managed to get our own studio at this record label called Arclife, which was a giant open warehouse above a café. These things we took for granted at the time. The places to practice were ample, which is quite different to Auckland, though we are really lucky here too.

Me and Michael live here in Auckland. Rory who plays bass lives in London. Me and Michael get together and write music every week.

die-die-die-polaroid

How did Rory end up joining the band? 

In 2012 we were booked to do a European tour, we had Michael Logie playing bass, who was in Opossum with Kody Nielson and couldn’t do both at the same time. I’d been good mates with Rory for a couple years and he joined on bass so we could still go on tour, it was really fun!

Can you tell us about Rory’s recording studio on a boat?

Quite a small world actually – Rory works on this boat with the studio in the hull. Huge – same as the Tug Boat in Wellington. My cousin used to live on this boat in the UK and the guy who owns it is my cousin’s kid’s godfather! We will record in London before coming to China.

My cousin’s band is gonna open for us in London on this tour. He runs a record store in England called Hot Salvation – DIY punk stuff.

The first time I saw Die! Die! Die! play was at CALH 2010, it left a huge impression on me. What are some particularly memorable gigs that come to mind for you?

Definitely the first HDU show in Dunedin. Around the same time I saw The Dead C when I was really young, about 14 or 15. Then I guess seeing shows in Wellington like The Coolies and The Mint Chicks when they first came down from Auckland when I was like 17 or 18. Blonde Redhead, we had the same manager. I remember seeing The Boredoms in New York. Seeing Mogwai for the first time was a really amazing experience, because I’ve been listening to them for years and have heard about how great they are live. To have a band live up to expectation was very validating and cool.

 

I remember when Shihad mentioned Die! Die! Die! as an exciting new band in Rip It Up like ten years ago. That comment gained a lot of traction and switched a lot of people onto your band. How do you think the internet has changed the way people discover music?

Music has changed dramatically and people are making really diverse music everywhere, touring network and the internet. There are so many bands and so much music, people share their own music a lot now too. I personally get into music if trusted friends recommend it to me. Rory got me into a lot of cool bands that he’s recorded such as Evans the Death and Veronica Falls.

You are pictured wearing a The Future is Female t-shirt in a recent band photo. How do you think the music industry could do more to get behind feminism and LGBT issues?

Diversify your audience and your line up bills. I think that’s a massive part of it. That was quite an important thing with Die! Die! Die! when we started. We got so busy and kind of forgot about our core values. When you choose what bands you play with you diversify outside your scene. Some people are really anti multi-genre shows. But coming from a punk background, I used to go see hardcore shows which were just five hardcore dude bands. That’s what got me into seeing other kinds of bands, because I was feeling quite disassociated with that kind of thing.

欢迎到中国来!Michael Prain (drums), Andrew Wilson (guitar, vocals), Rory Atwell (bass)
Michael Prain (drums), Andrew Wilson (guitar, vocals), Rory Atwell (bass)

You guys came to China in 2011, what were your impressions?

That was probably my favourite tour ever, which is why I’ve been so excited to come back. The food was amazing, it was culturally different to where we’d been touring, like the US, NZ, Australia and Europe. In China it was cool to play to a whole new audience who had never seen a band from where we were from. It felt like we were doing something quite new. My favourite thing I’ve ever done, musically.

It seems many fans have accessed your music through live shows. What draws you to touring?

We definitely were a touring band for a lot of the past ten years. I think touring and playing live is a really good way to communicate. I think it’s what we always thought a band was supposed to do, obviously we were really inspired by Fugazi. We didn’t really have much else to do really when we started out. It is fun playing to new people in new places.

Anything to say to the fans in China?

Please come! I think we’ll have a really good time!

Cheers Andrew!

DDD_chinataiwan_poster CN

Die! Die! Die! have toured internationally many times and graced the stages of festivals around the world, including Incubate (Netherlands), SXSW (USA), CMJ Festival (USA), Generic Festival (France), Soy Festival (France), Tour De Chauffe Festival (France), Phono Pop Festival (Germany), Immergut Festival (Germany), Maifeld Derby Festival (Germany), XYEAHX SOMMERFEST (Germany), Deaf Row Fest (Germany), Great Escape (UK), Homebake (Australia), Meredith Music Festival (Australia) Offset Festival (USA), Off The Radar Festival (NZ), Camp A Low Hum (NZ), Homegrown (NZ), Big Day Out (NZ), Rhythm & Vines (NZ), Southern Amp (NZ), L’incourt Festival (Belgium), Hefei Music Festival (China) and soon to be Concrete and Grass in Shanghai.

Die! Die! Die! 已经在新西兰,澳大利亚,法国,西班牙,意大利,克罗地亚,德国,斯洛文尼亚,斯洛伐克,荷兰,英国,爱尔兰,中国,日本,美国,奥地利,捷克,瑞士,比利时,卢森堡,丹麦,希腊,挪威举办过巡演,把他们很强烈的声音带到过很多国际著名的音乐节包括包括Incubate(荷兰), SXSW (美国), CMJ Festival (美国), Generic Festival (法国), Soy Festival (法国), Tour De Chauffe Festival (法国), Phono Pop Festival (德国), Immergut Festival (德国), Maifeld Derby Festival (德国), XYEAHX SOMMERFEST (德国), Deaf Row Fest (德国), Great Escape (英国), Homebake (澳大利亚), Meredith Music Festival (澳大利亚) Offset Festival (美国), Off The Radar Festival (新西兰), Camp A Low Hum (新西兰), Homegrown (新西兰), Big Day Out (新西兰), Rhythm & Vines (新西兰), Southern Amp (新西兰), L’incourt Festival (比利时), Hefei Music Festival (中国) 和将来的上海混泥土音乐节。

They have released the albums Die! Die! Die! EP (2005), Die! Die! Die! (2006), 7” split with High Dependency Unit (2007), Promises, Promises (2008), Form (2010), Harmony (2012), S W I M (2014) and What Did You Expect EP (2015).

他们发行首张专辑《Die! Die! Die! EP》 (2005), 《Die! Die! Die!》 (2006), 《7” split with High Dependency Unit》 (2007), 《Promises, Promises》 (2008), 《Form》 (2010), 《Harmony》 (2012), 《S W I M》 (2014) 和 《What Did You Expect EP》 (2015).


Die! Die! Die! play NU SPACE Chengdu tomorrow night!

Die! Die! Die! (NZ)
Support: Stink Mouth (Chengdu)

Tues 12 September 2016
9pm start

NU SPACE
ADD: 成都市青羊区奎星楼街55号

Tickets 60/80RMB
Presales on Zaomengshe, QR code for tickets link.

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What Did You Expect? Die! Die! Die! Return to China in 2016

Die! Die! Die! 来!来!来!Hold the press, New Zealand noise-rock / post-punk trio Die! Die! Die! are returning to China for the first time in five years for a ten date tour!

It’s a sweltering Thursday afternoon here in Chengdu and I am still nursing a strained neck induced by overly aggressive head banging at the first annual Punkfest CDC 成都朋克音乐节 at Morning House 早上好 last weekend. Speaking of overly aggressive head banging and sweatiness…

DDD_chinataiwan_poster CN

Die! Die! Die! are such a great band. Their live show is an almost cathartic experience, the relentless thrashing and collision of flying bodies, the unpredictability of vocalist/guitarist Andrew Wilson as to when he will careen off stage. Just thinking about Michael Prain’s drum intro to A.T.T.I.T.U.D. makes me feel like sporadically pogoing into people.

The band first toured China back in 2011 with Tom from This Town Touring, paving the way into the unknown for other NZ acts to follow. This time, with London-import Rory Attwell (Test Icicles) on bass duties, the band will be brought over by Beijing-based punk tour overlord Nevin Domer from Genjing Records and Maybe Mars for ten dates across Taipei, Hong Kong and the Mainland.

With the new high speed rail from Guiyang to Chengdu making things possible, the Die! Die! Die! train is storming west to play Guiyang, Chengdu and Chongqing, plus the main southern and eastern centres! YEAH!!

DIE! DIE! DIE! CHINA TOUR 2016

09/07 (WED)
Revolver, Taipei
Support: Slack Tide, Wayne’s So Sad
NT500 (presale and student price) / NT600 (at door)

09/08 (THU)
Focal Fair, Hong Kong

Support: SECTS, The Bollands
150 HKD

09/09 (FRI)
B10, Shenzhen

Support: Atta Girl
60/80RMB

09/10 (SAT)
Loft 345, Guangzhou

Support: TBC
40/60RMB

09/11 (SUN)
Power Livehouse, Guiyang

Support: MiChe
50/70RMB

09/13 (TUE)
NU SPACE, Chengdu 

Support: Stink Mouth
60/80RMB

09/14 (WED)
NUTS
Livehouse, Chongqing
Support: The Wallflowers
60/80RMB

09/15 (THU)
VOX Wuhan
Support: Birdstriking, AV Okubo
60/80RMB

09/16 (FRI)
Yugong Yishan, Beijing
Support: Birdstriking
80/100RMB

09/17 (SAT) 
Concrete and Grass Festival, Shanghai

DDD_1
欢迎到中国来!Andrew Wilson (guitar, vocals), Rory Attwell (bass), Michael Prain (drums)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

Orchestra of Spheres in China | EP. 2 CHENGDU

The second instalment of the Orchestra of Spheres x Lady Lazer Light China Tour Doco sees us arrive in the spicy heartlands of Sichuan!

Kiwese stomping grounds! Chengdu baby!

Also on Vimeo!

It’s the second day of the national October holiday break, and we’ve just taken a 19hr overnight train from Beijing to Chengdu.

After arriving at the Chengdu Music Hotel, we chucked back some egg pancakes 煎饼 and a hot sour noodle 酸辣粉 round the corner on Minzhu Lu (R.I.P.). Back in my neighbourhood, I ran back to my house for a quick shower and change of clothes – having been in Beijing for the past three weeks, it was so good to be home and see all my friends, along with this amazing band from Wellington that I had been raving about for the past year!!

The Spheres were playing the headline slot on Day 3 of the second NUART Festival, a three day music, art and tech extravaganza that takes places over two streets and stages, featuring both local and international acts and artists. They played on a street stage built of bamboo to an enormous and adoring crowd of people young and old. Quite simply, Chengdu has never seen anything like it.

The quiet old street of Minzhu Lu, next to where the gang were staying, will be demolished to make way for a music hall complex.

That includes Morning Bar 早上好, our local watering hole and the venue for the Chengdu after party. Following the festival, Lady Lazer Light set up her projector and eyeballs and Riki presented his techno/juke project Cave Circles for the second time on tour, ultimately pushing his soundcard to the state of kaput. My beautiful friend Su from the electronic label atmen had just come back from Germany and brought her minimal techno vibes to the party.

As usual, Morning Bar was bustling with all sorts of friends. I found Riki eating spicy chicken wings with a reggae band from Guizhou at 3am in the morning.

Morning Bar has since been walled off and left to decay, the glass windows and wooden fixtures have been extracted and recycled by local workers, the eateries and stores have ended their decades long business to move elsewhere. When I walk past the old place on Minzhu Lu my heart sinks, now an empty shell of what was such a joyful hub of drunkenness, music and good times.

But when I glimpse over the blue retaining wall and see the Orchestra of Spheres poster still stuck to the alcove outside, I know that is a memory that can never be demolished.

Love you Chengdu, next stop: CHONGQING!

x

Orchestra of Spheres in China | EP. 1 Beijing

 in

It’s finally here… Beijing, baby!

In the first instalment of our five-part China tour series, Orchestra of Spheres reunite with Lady Lazer Light in Beijing and wreak havoc at School Bar, Temple Bar and Brother’s BBQ Tribe in Feijiacun.

For those who prefer Vimeo, click here!

Featuring interviews with Nevin Domer of Genjing Records, Liu Fei of School Bar, Wang Fen from Baxian Fandian, Dan Lenk from Death Narcissist and more.

Stay tuned for EP 2: CHENGDU tomorrow!

Poster by Hannah Salmon.
Poster by Hannah Salmon.

Lady Lazer Light Casts A Spell Over China: Interview with Erica Sklenars

Wellington! 惠灵顿!

Erica Sklenars a.k.a. Lady Lazer Light is in the capital this week for two talks about her art residency in Beijing and touring with Orchestra of Spheres around China.

Kiwese caught up with her ahead of tonight’s first talk!


The last Lady Lazer Light show I saw before moving back to China was in collaboration with long time pals Orchestra of Spheres.

It was a cheap $10 gig at Valhalla – a grungy, hole in the wall on Vivian Street downtown Wellington, which having survived several different eras of management had remained popular among the metal, bogan and experimental community for it’s diverse billing, excellent beer selection and outdoor area provisioned with old car tyres and miscellaneous lounge furniture.

It was mid-2014, a rough time for Wellington music punters with the closures of popular inner city venues Mighty Mighty and Puppies. San Francisco Bath House had been renovated into ‘San Fran’ – a yuppie, tapas-catering ghost of it’s former self that had halved it’s capacity due to safety concerns – the packed out balcony and wall-to-wall mosh pit had become a thing of the past. The city was thirsty for a good show.

The Valhalla line-up included some of Wellington’s favourite acts, who were not greatly affected by the venue closures as they were accustomed to playing in unconventional spaces around town. Throat-ripping turntable noise trio the All Seeing Hand had arrived home from their national tour and were supported by their good mates Orchestra of Spheres, experimental folk yodeller Seth Frightening, and visually enhanced by the Queen of Psychedelic Projections Herself, Lady Lazer Light. The stage was a whirlpool of colour and sound and the bar was packed with familiar faces, with Valhalla regulars happily drinking alongside the refugees of less fortunate venues.

In the second set of the night, the Spheres took the stage in inimitable style – festooned with the finest eyewear The $2 Shop can buy, armed with one-of-a-kind wooden and tin instruments and oozing with the bizarre stage presence that has earned them a cult following throughout the country. The crowd surged forward, ready for the cosmic rhythms.

Orchestra of Spheres and Lady Lazer Light. Valhalla, June 2014.
Orchestra of Spheres and Lady Lazer Light. Valhalla, June 2014.

As Lady Lazer Light sprayed forth her kaleidoscopic beams and the Spheres chanted a mantra about iPhone chargers, the sensorily satiated crowd swayed shoulder to shoulder as one, united by a brilliant display of colour and sound. If the desired effect was group hypnosis – they certainly succeeded.

The show was a spiritual experience for the city – the buzz around Valhalla, the friendliness and happiness of all the people who had come to celebrate and support, it was a truly magical night. Orchestra of Spheres and Lady Lazer Light were the gems in Wellington’s creative crown, and we all bowed down in ecstasy.


Around the middle of last year, things really started to fall into place. I was emailing Dan from the Spheres on an almost daily basis and we were gradually putting together the pieces for a national China tour. The dream was coming to life, everyone was excited.

KIWESE: “Are you guys bringing Lady Lazer Light?”

DAN: “Erica Sklenars is going to be in Beijing for three months on an artist residency!! So we’ll bring her along for the trip.”

KIWESE: *faints*

Last year, Erica was selected as the Wellington Asia Residency Exchange (WARE) artist-in-residence at Red Gate Gallery in Beijing, a programme jointly run by Asia New Zealand and the Wellington City Council. Visual artist/zine overlord Kerry Ann Lee and punk photographer John Lake are previous recipients of the grant and have both previously featured on Kiwese.

Kiwese had the privilege of working with Erica on several projects around China, including the epic Orchestra of Spheres x Lady Lazer Light China Tour, a techno party in a Feijiacun BBQ shack, an impromptu music video shoot with Kunming disco-punks South Acid MiMi Dance Team and a VJ show for Lost in Space at .TAG, an electronic music club on the top floor of one Chengdu’s tallest buildings.


The morning after the second Orchestra of Spheres show in Beijing, I awoke with a heavy hangover to find Erica passed out on the couch at my friend’s tiny flat in Beixinqiao, wrapped in her screen as a blanket and surrounded by noodles of projector cables and chargers. A Lady Lazer Light bomb had exploded in the lounge and ground zero was beautifully chaotic. This chick is crack up.

Despite being a fan of her work for years, I’d actually never met Erica Sklenars before she arrived in Beijing last September.

During my time with her in China, through all the madness, set-ups, pack downs, instant noodles, Jingjiu, overnight train rides, WeChat frenzies, gaffer tape, raves, laughs, cries and hangovers, she became a very dear friend, one who I have enormous respect and admiration for as an artist, improvisor, communicator and genuinely wonderful human being.

I am so pleased to finally feature her here on this humble blog.

Lady Lazer Light and Kiwese. Dali, Yunnan, China, October 2014.
Lady Lazer Light and Kiwese. Dali, China, October 2015.

KIWESE: Sup Sklen, how’s it going?

SKLENARS: Fab!

As Lady Lazer Light, you’ve been a staple visual collaborator in Wellington for many years. Can you tell us a bit about your current set up in Dunedin?

I’ve been living between Dunedin and Wellington a bit this year with various projects, but I’m technically based in beautiful Port Chalmers, Dunedin, living and making work in Chick’s Hotel.

What’s the deal with Chick’s Hotel at the mo?

They closed a couple of weeks ago, went out with a bang with a number of awesome farewell gigs, including Shifting Sands and The Clean sending us off on the final night.

I’ve been away since then, but word on the street says there is a killer recording studio developing downstairs…

You were based in Wellington for many years, how have you found the transition to Dunedin life? My only experience with the music scene on my trip there was a seedy late night karaoke bar, where I realised Seven Days by Craig David is actually really hard to sing.

Haha! I have only encountered YouTube karaoke down there… but may have heard something about such bars.

I’m finding it quite different, a bit more chill, a good place to reflect on my practice and on my high-energy, chaotic last few months of travel.

There are some really cool things happening there in the music scene, some awesome new and old bands, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to collaborate and perform. There is actually some REALLY great music happening there at the moment.

You’ve mentioned Élan vital before. Could you name some other acts you’re digging in Dunedin?

Yes, Élan vital are super awesome. A member from that band is also in Death and The Maiden, who I have worked with in the past and they rule. Another member has started an awesome band called Terrified. There are so many I love… Astro ChildrenOpposite SexEmbedded Figures, I’m missing some out I know.

I collaborated with Repulsive Woman recently, she played alone outside an old Free Mason Lodge and the audience watched/peeped on her from inside through a camera obscura I constructed. She plays One Direction covers.

You were in Beijing for three months and really thrived in it. Do you have any favourite spots for music and art in the city?

I:project Space is a super awesome artist run space. I went to a few cool events at Aotu Studio 凹凸 for art/book launch/music.

For music – School, Dada and Temple!

What do you miss about China now that you are back in NZ?

I miss the food of course! I loved it all. I miss being able to order a bunch of different dishes – I’m terrible at making decisions on menus.

I miss always having an exciting new place to go! There’s one particular dish I would get that was kind of an omelette thing with sprouts and noodles, it was soo good for late breakfasts. And the shredded potato!! So good.

I miss the friendly faces around where I was living, going on adventures through different villages to find art supplies, taking several forms of public transport to go somewhere, the amazing friendly people I would meet that would extend so much help and kindness despite us not speaking the same language.

Lady Lazer Light at the Poop Clothing Mall. Beijing, September 2015.
Lady Lazer Light at the Poop Clothing Mall. Beijing, September 2015.

The Spheres tour was so bloody fab. Do you have a particularly standout gig?

Too hard to choose! I loved the BBQ party in Feijiacun because that was in the community I was living in.

I loved the NUART Festival in Chengdu and the after party at Zaoshanghao, so much fun! I loved every city and show for different reasons, I can’t pick a single fav. I really want to come back and I’m working on some plans, watch this space!

When can we expect to see the South Acid MiMi x Lady Lazer Light music video?

Soooooon!

What would you say to other artists wanting to visit China?

Do it, it’s an awesome place to tour as a band and to make art.

Chur girl, you Sklegend!

Still of Erica and a fan in Chengdu from the upcoming Orchestra of Spheres: Te China Rockumentary series presented by Kiwese in early May.
Erica and a fan in Chengdu – a still from the upcoming Orchestra of Spheres: Te China Rockumentary series set for release in early May.


 

Erica will be speaking in Wellington tonight and tomorrow:

P-LAB: LADY LAZER LIGHT
/////////////////////////
Time: 7:00pm | Wed 13 April 2016 
Location: Pyramid Club
 272 Taranaki Street, Wellington, New Zealand 
Koha entry

For her P-LAB session, Erica will be delving into her world of projected visuals and speaking about her recent 3 month residency in Beijing on the Wellington Asia Residency Exchange.

The Pyramid Club is run by the Sound and Exploration Society.

Read more at the Facebook event page.


International Connections: An artist residency forum
Time: 5.30pm – 7.30pm | Thu 14 April 2016
Location: Adam Auditorium, City Gallery
101 Wakefield St, Wellington, New Zealand
Free entry

Hear internationally acclaimed visual artists speak about their practice and residency experiences in a panel discussion chaired by Courtney Johnston, director of The Dowse Art Museum. The artists – Marc Brandenburg, Etienne de France, Erica Sklenars and Sian Torrington – will share their work and their thoughts about the world versus Wellington.

Berlin-based Brandenburg is the current Goethe-Institut Artist in Resident at the Bolton Street Cottage; Etienne de France, from Paris, is the Massey University Artist in Resident staying at Te Whare Hera; and Erica Sklenars and Sian Torrington are both Wellington-based artists recently back from Asia.


Read more about Erica’s time in Beijing here!

Stay tuned for more from Lady Lazer Light on Kiwese!

http://www.ericasklenars.com

VIDEO: Orchestra of Spheres + Lady Lazer Light | ‘Rotate’ Live in Beijing

Behold! Beijing’s bogan paradise – where no one’s body is a temple and nobody ever leaves sober. Coated with a delightful lustre of Jager, coffee shots and projectile vomit, Temple Bar is discreetly tucked away in an upstairs building off Beijing’s Gulou Dong Dajie. 

Following a packed out show at School Bar the night before, Beijing’s WeChat feeds were wagging about the unconventional stylings that had landed in town.

For night two of their China tour, Orchestra of Spheres and Lady Lazer Light returned with a different set of tunes and even more floating eyeballs, intoxicating the warped minds of Temple even more than usual.

Check out the video of ‘Rotate’ below!

Cheers to Pink at Temple, Georgia Hind and Anton Burian.

Radio New Zealand: Orchestra of Spheres China Tour Diary

Following the Orchestra of Spheres x Lady Lazer Light China Tour earlier this year, Baba Rossa has put together this awesome little audio tour diary over on Radio New Zealand! Have a listen over here!

Header image by 叶熙杰.

Orchestra of Spheres & Lady Lazer Light: Te China Tour Rockumentary (Official Trailer)

The cosmos aligned in 2015. Late in September, Wellington ancient-future funkists Orchestra of Spheres and their long time collaborator in audio-visual overstimulation Lady Lazer Light, embarked on a two-week tour of China. 

Festivals, BBQ joints, furniture moving vans, Jingjiu, high-speed trains, fashion photography, and Sichuanhua… 

Kiwese was stoked to be part of this mind-expanding trip, here’s a preview of how it went down.

Te China Tour Rockumentary, hitting screens on your lap in 2016.

Video Premiere: God Bows to Math + Carb on Carb China Tour Documentary

Time flies! Back at the end of 2013, Auckland DIY bands God Bows to Math and Carb on Carb arrived in Beijing to kick off their tour of China at one of the city’s most well-known venues, MAO Livehouse. I met them, I liked them, and I followed them to Suzhou. 

Feeling inspired by the tour, I interviewed Martin from God Bows and James and Nicole from Carb on Carb and started Kiwese to share such collaborations in NZ and Chinese alternative culture with friends back home.

And so, it is with much sentimentality that almost two years later, the God Bows to Math and Carb on Carb China Tour Documentary is online now. Check it out.

Filmed by the bands. Edited by James. 

Over two weeks, the bands carved through China’s eastern provinces to the south coast, accompanied by their aqua haired Chinese tour manager Vivian.

Rather than just playing the main centres, God Bows and Carbs got the train to the outlying cities of Zibo 淄博 and Zaozhuang 枣庄 in central Shangdong, where the hyped up locals proved that live music has life in the small centres, and that is no crowd too small for crowdsurfing.

I wagged class, bought a train ticket, and met up with the bands again at Wave Livehouse in Suzhou 苏州, a quaint little town full of canals to the east of Shanghai. After the show billed as ‘Kiwi Rock Night,’ we were invited into a neighbouring bar by a local guy called Randy, who we hung out with over free red wine, snacks and fruit! Local hospitality was a constant theme that presented itself throughout the tour. That, and cheap beers. Xie Xie!

Handmade merch sold out, the tour cut inland to Nanjing 南京 and Shaoxing 绍兴, before a show with friends and tour instigators Pairs in Shanghai 上海. No tour of China would be complete without a stop at the legendary VOX Livehouse in Wuhan 武汉, and even Changsha 长沙 got a show in, too. The tour wrapped up the Cantonese-speaking south of Shenzhen 深圳 and Guangzhou 广州, the latter organised by the famously hardworking, lovely folk at Full Label, a collective of friends who love DIY music.

The God Bows to Math and Carb on Carb China Tour 2013 was organised by Tom Mattessi at This Town Touring, check out the interview here.

The tour poster. Art by Nicole.
The tour poster. Art by Nicole.

Big ups to James from Carb on Carb/Papaiti for inviting Kiwese to premiere this documentary!