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…
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
Revolver, Taipei Support: Slack Tide, Wayne’s So Sad NT500 (presale and student price) / NT600 (at door)
Focal Fair, Hong Kong
Support: SECTS, The Bollands
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, andvisually 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.
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.”
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.
KIWESE: Sup Sklen, how’s it going?
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?
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?
Liquid Light Show at Temple Bar Beijing, which Erica participated in. Sept 2015.
Shocking Pinks DJ Set at Dada with visuals by Lady Lazer Light. Sept 2015.
Mos Iocos of Orchestra of Spheres with Lady Lazer Light. School Bar, Beijing, Sept 2015. Image / Live Beijing Music
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.
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?
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!
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
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.
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
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.
Ten years after their maiden tour, Christchurch’s multi-instrumentalist, DJ and lo-fi king Nick Harte aka Shocking Pinks is once again pairing with New Zealand house(party)hold name Ian Jorgensen aka Blink to celebrate the re-release of his 2004 debut Dance, the Dance Electric with a three month A Low Hum world tour, including shows in both China and New Zealand!
将近十年前，来自基督城的多乐器演奏者，DJ和低保真大师Nick Harte也称为震惊粉红色跟新西兰家喻派对的名字Ian Jorgensen 人称Blink一起去做他们的处女巡演。今年，震惊粉红色将由在A Low Hum重新发行他2004年的首张专辑《Dance, the Dance Electric跳舞，跳舞电子》，而且要去大规模国际巡演，包括中国和新西兰站！
Shocking Pinks is a one-man band formed by Nick Harte in 2002. Following a long hiatus from releasing music, Harte returned stronger than ever in March last year with his triple album Guilt Mirrors on Stars and Letters, a Brooklyn-based label that may ring bells for fans of Wellington’s (sorely missed) Black City Lights (R.I.P). Guilt Mirrors echoes the solitude that accompanied the traumatic 2011 earthquakes in Harte’s hometown.
早在2002年，Nick Harte成立他一个人的乐队：震惊粉红色 。随着几年的中断，震惊粉红色回来了比以前更强烈的，去年3月在布鲁克林独立唱片公司Stars and Letters，惠灵顿 已解散的Black City Lights的粉丝应该知道这个唱片公司，发行了三重专辑《Guilt Mirrors罪镜子》。 这个专辑录音了他2011年基督城地震发生的创伤事件和孤独。
Back in 2004, just a year after Myspace was born, Harte released his debut album Dance, Dance the Electric on Pinacolada Records in Christchurch, a small indie label that housed other well-loved acts such as Pig Out and Tiger Tones. Upon positive reception from NZ and international listeners, the Shocking Pinks signed to Flying Nun and released Mathematical Warfare and Infinity Land in 2005, before ditching the ‘The’ and releasing the self-titled Shocking Pinks in 2007 with New York-based DFA Records, run by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem.
During the long empty space in between and his explosive return to the scene in 2014, Harte’s debuthas become a rare and highly sought after record that is longed for with the same collectable reverence as an ancient museum artifact among his international following of lo-fi bedroom dwelling discopunks.
Murmurs of a re-release a few years back on Flying Nun remained unfulfilled, but now in 2015, Dance, Dance the Electric will be re-released on A Low Hum, with an epic international tour and an awesome live band from Wellington to boot!
从他长期的潜伏到他2014年爆炸的归来，他首张专辑《Dance, the Dance Electric跳舞，跳舞电子》已经成为一张十分稀罕的被国际迪斯科朋克粉丝渴望着的唱片，收藏价值就像一个古代的藏品。
几年前有传闻Flying Nun会重新发行这首张专辑，结果没有。可是，今年《Dance, the Dance Electric跳舞，跳舞电子》将由在A Low Hum 重新发行，而且震惊粉红色跟他了不起的乐队要去做全球巡演！
Shocking Pinks live shows have been few and far between in recent years. Last year I was lucky enough to attend the Guilt Mirrors album release gig at Puppies in Wellington (R.I.P). It was an incredible show, with the new Shocking Pinks live band lovingly tossed together with locally sourced ingredients from Secret Knives and a Wellington drumming powerhouse, coming together to form the crunchiest, most perfectly seasoned dish imaginable.
Harte’s crying wails of amplifier feedback swum beneath echoes of bare lyrics decoded from his piles of A4 paper. The Shocking Pinks sound came to life with warm, pulsating bass lines, syncopated cow bell rhythms and razor sharp jazz-precision of the drums.
Both intimate and mesmerising, powerful and confronting, it seemed Harte had completely reinvented his sound and performance style since I first saw him at Camp A Low Hum in 2010. After the show, I immediately set about hunting down the pink vinyl release, eventually tracked down at good ol’ Slow Boat Records.
Kiwese got to hang out with multi-media visual artist, designer and punk enthusiast Kerry Ann Lee at her cozy abode in Mount Victoria, for a rainy afternoon full of LPs, books, ornaments, coffee and fresh cream donuts.
Hey KAL! Tell us about the upcoming exhibition you are involved with in Auckland?
Its called Unstuck in Time, it’s a group show with a bunch of artists curated by Bruce E. Phillips at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts. The exhibition takes its name from Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut and looks at the ideas of dislocation in time in space.
What was your childhood like, growing up in Welly?
Ahh, 1980s Wellington. Yeah. Pretty quiet. I’m the oldest of three, have two younger brothers. I lived in Hataitai most of my childhood and we went to St Mark’s. My parents had the Gold Coin Café takeaway at the top of Willis St, which was the focus of the project I did last year for Enjoy. It was a strange project, returning to that space before they tore it down – the back of the shop was a big extension of my home space growing up.
My Por Por and Gong Gong were involved with setting up a bunch of early Chinese restaurants in Wellington in the 40s and 50s, such as The Canton. My parents’ era was The Shanghai in the 70s. They were extremely minority; heads down working class, you will get that story from so many people and elders; it has shaped the way the community is in many ways.
What are your memories of growing up between school, home and the Gold Coin Cafe?
There was a diverse clientele that used to come to the Gold Coin. As my mum said – “Upper Willis St, Mongrel Mob, skin heads, white collar workers from the Government departments.” For me as a kid, it was more of a quiet observation of these interactions. It’s funny being back in Wellington now because it is heaving with food! Yet this quiet little legacy of original stakeholders remains in the city and Newtown, not just the Chinese community, but the coffee houses and takeaways run by Greek families as well.
“Throwing back the familiar, but with a twist. I like the idea of questioning comprehensions.“
The symbol of money comes up quite a lot in your collage. Kiwi bank notes, Queen Elizabeth’s face.
When I was a kid, I used to count the money at the end of the night. My uncle sent my a five pound note from England when he moved over when I was a kid – it had a picture of Queen Elizabeth and he had pencil sketched it with a big gang fist, spiky bracelet and a punk stud. And I thought “woah, you CAN do that with money!”
Where did you interest in paper cutting stem from?
Initially it came from a love and active interest in collage and punk poster graphics, record art, Dada and a lot of that historic use of montage. I learned the more elegant, craft aspect of Chinese paper cutting later on. I like that punk and Dada were more about upsetting popular imagery, a transformative reconfiguration of paper cutting to both reveal and take away.
“My mum was born and raised here. She still gets the ‘where are you from?’ She’s got a good way about it, ‘Made in New Zealand,with ingredients fromChina!'”
Your work often works to subvert expectations of local, familiar symbols and those of your own Chinese background.
People have different views on it. The ‘oh, it is such a shame’ view which puts the onus on the family to maintain and preserve a rich, heritage culture like pickles in a jar. Then there is also the pressure for a family to assimilate and normalise and do the best they can. But when you assimilate – only bring the desirable qualities into the mainstream space, the ones that could be creative and colourful to add flavour, but not too much tension or dynamic.
[K.A.L leaves the room and returns with a copy of Home Made: Picturing Chinese Settlement in New Zealand, the book she made for her Masters in Design at Massey]
Oh. My. God. I don’t even. Woah. *implodes*
Home Made and a written thesis were the product of that year. It was fifty hardbacks and 100 soft back editions. There are a few things in there that people found kind of useful for research in many respects. The Chinese legacy in New Zealand isn’t read and taught like the ‘colonial founders’ of the country, but credit to James Ng and all the incredible work he has done with Windows on a Chinese Past. It’s insanely cool. It’s hilarious cos it’s so hefty, but so underground.
Lake! Music in a similar way to art, it is so immediate and evocative, immediately transports you to other places and times. Punk, mix tapes, that sense of discovery. It is a form of communication, not just the music itself but the format. How music travels, how art and words move from one place to another, how they affect different people, how they are read, translated and misunderstood.
“I’ve always had music in my life – from always having the radio on and having a Gong Gong that could sing.”
You’ve been to your family’s village in Guangdong, how was that?
My uncle drove from the city and we went way out into the sticks… it was so rural. This place didn’t have roads. Or shoes. It was a total world culture clash. You feel like the prissiest, stupidest, foreign alien. Transplanting myself back into that space was probably the most quiet, reflective time of my life.
What an exciting time to be introduced to China and spat out the other end! The immenseness, the space, the ocean of black hair. This place with weird buildings, twenty million people moving really fast on motorcycles, smoking, ploughing into you drunk and peeing on the street. Wonderful, maddening, dirt covered chaos – that’s whats writhing under the skin of all this gorgeous, sparkly brand new mega city facade.
“In China, things are magnified. A lot of our understanding of Chinese heritage is completely different to what goes on over there.”
I found myself always writing journals and letters home, drawing and documenting to try and take it all in, but the definitions and descriptions don’t matter after a while. My neighbours used to sell illegal tofu jerky from a store in their house, I used to knock on their door and buy my weird snacks. One time my bus stop turned into a pile of rubble. I just went with the flow.
Check out KAL’s video work ‘Shanghai Shorts,’ filmed from her mobile office at the back of the Baoshan bus.
How did these perceptions influence the works in Da Shi Jie/ The Great World: Shanghai Works 2009-2010 [大世界：2009-2010 创作于上海] which you exhibited at Toi Pōneke upon your return?
Destruction, loss, fragility, the beautiful stuff that Westerners find fascinating because it is happening there on a local, day-to-day administrative level. It kind of oscillates between the two China narratives of doom and gloom vs. China is great! Modernise! This is 21st century Empire building!
Did living in the outskirts of a bustling mega city like Shanghai change your perceptions of your own ‘Chinese-ness’?
I’m not a very good Chinese [laughs]. I was actually terrified when I first got the WARE Residency – like, oh fuck – I have never been to China, I can’t speak Chinese, but I am Chinese, how the hell is this gonna work?! Being over here you in New Zealand you are visibly different, especially growing up. Over there I would be outed in a second if I was trying to mimic a bit of basic Chinese, it was an immediate fail. I felt really undercover over there. I feel it reinforced my other identities – of being into punk rock, sci-fi, the privileges and pitfalls of being a Westerner.
“Another analogy I heard from somebody over there was ‘same hardware, different software.‘“
Do you ever feel obliged to tell a Chinese story in your work?
Just my own. You cannot disconnect yourself from where you come from, your community, family and life – but in the end, your pursuit of truth and storytelling is what you’ve lived through. Your choice of fictions, dreams, truths. It’s all up for grabs. People often touch it with kid gloves, the idea of connecting with a heritage culture while not wanting step on anyones toes, or aiming for a sense of ‘authenticity.’ People should create new understandings of that, of what is real, what is authentic for you.
“Things aren’t always clearly defined, things are murky and weird and terrifying and messy and splendid and hard.”
Trust yourself! Don’t listen to anyone else. Be okay with the fact its hard going – it’s part of the delight and sweetness. It’s okay not knowing, but still doing. You are only answerable to yourself. Do the don’ts!
Feel the sweat-dripping, head thrashing angst of post-punk/experimental local heroes P.K.14 and Die! Die! Die!
>>>>>P.K.14 formed in Nanjing in 1997 during the Rotten Generation movement. Their permanent move to Beijing in 2001 and regular slots at D-22 could be said to have sparked the rite-of-passage pilgrimage to the capital that has seen the Beijing music scene grow over the past few decades. Frontman Yang Haisong 杨海崧, who is the only remaining founding member, leads the formidable quartet of guitarist Xu Bo许波, bassist Shi Xudong 施旭东 and drummer Jonathan Leijonhufvud with their dance-inducing, razor sharp rock music laden with the flying saliva of disillusioned youth and urban life.
Check out this Vice piece on them, includes interviews and subtitles.
Video for ‘Behind All Ruptures’ from City Weather Sailing (2008)
‘1984 II’ live at Yugong Yishan in 2012!
>>>>>Die! Die! Die!are about as abrasive as the name suggests. They are a three-piece noise-pop/post-punk/hardcore band from Dunedin, Aotearoa, the home of Flying Nun, their former label. Guitarist and vocalist Andrew Wilson and drummer Michael Prain are the original members of the band, while Michael Logie (formerly of the Mint Chicks, F in Math) has been onboard as bassist since 2012. I’ve seen them a bunch of times over the years and they never fail to put on a fucking incredible show.
Big Stage at Campus A Low Hum 2010, the first time I saw Die! Die! Die!
Video for ‘Crystal’ off their upcoming album S W I M, out 15 August!
Skip Skip Ben Ben and Astro Children are two bands from your wildest grunge-noise-pop-shoegaze-dream. Find them in your nearest garage. BYO booze.
>>>>>Skip Skip Ben Ben was created in the mind of Taiwanese guitarist/songwriter/singer Ben Ben 斑班, one half of the now defunct but brilliant Boyz&Girl of Taipei. After gigging and collaborating with bands on the D-22 scene and “ping-ponging between Taipei and Beijing,” Ben Ben ultimately moved to Beijing in 2011 and assembled the outstanding line-up of Sun He Ting 孫鶴庭(Carsick Cars) on drums and Zhou Nairen 周乃仁 (Birdstriking) on bass. Ben Ben’s folk inclinations are ensconced through her self-recorded, self-released and self-reflective debut LP No-Fi No Fiction (2010), while Sacrifice Mountain Hills (2012) cranks up the fuzz with the rhythmic pulse of Monkey and Zhou. The band are signed to Maybe Mars. Read more about them on Far Out Distant Sounds!
Ben Ben opened for My Bloody Valentine at their show in Taipei and Kevin Shields said some really nice things to her.
>>>>>Astro Children are a guitar-drum duo from Dunedin. They are not scarfies. Childhood friends Millie Lovelock and Isaac Hickey originally formed the band with a bassist, whose departure led to a heightened use of guitar pedals, thicker instrumentation and layered vocals. Check out Lick My Spaceship! (2012) and Proteus (2013), the latter released on MUZAI Records, both are pretty fucking mean. The band also have a single on the compilation It Came From The Attic (2012), alongside Trick Mammoth, of which Millie is also a member. Astro Children have been on hiatus for a wee while, hope they come back from their astrological wanderings soon…
The video for ‘The One We Start With’ features a variety of baked goods.