Tag Archives: indie rock

2017年4月4日|百鬼夜行 100 SPIRITS

100 SPIRITS draws near. In the dark night of Tuesday 4 April, this beastly display of souls will be unleashed!! For one night only, the ancient tomb of Jah Bar will mutate into a crazed crypt crawling with ghosts, as the stage alter is graced by five of Chengdu’s most forward-thinking and innovative live acts.

Behold, the princely masters of SPLORTCH SELECTOR will kick the night into gear with a psychedelic mash-up of robot synthcore and chunky prog basslines, enslaving you into either your greatest dream or worst nightmare.

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Splortch Selector at Blah Blah #003 @ NU SPACE. Dave (bass), Michael (guitar, programming). Photo by c2.

I dare you to Google the word ‘splortch.’ I double dare you to see what that word means when it is turned into a electro-prog-rock-synth-fused musical project.

I first met Michael, the band’s mastermind at Aus-atmen last year. He was one of the last people to leave and partied right through till the soggy rain drenched mud fest of Sunday afternoon, just before the cops came. From then on, I knew he was one of the good ones. He also played guitar and was making beats on his laptop. Since those humble beginnings and a killer set at Blah Blah #003, this bedroom music project has evolved into the three-piece live monstrosity SPLORTCH SELECTOR, which will explode on Jah Bar this Tuesday. What can we expect from this band? Word on the street is their singer is going to throw up on the audience. Get in.

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The Hormones L-R: Xiaoxue (guitar), Zhu Mengdie (vocals), Juan Juan (drums), Ming Ming (bass). Photo courtesy of The Hormones.

After a long hiatus from performance, the celestial sisters of cellular synthesis THE HORMONES are back for their highly anticipated return to the mortal world! Blasting their infectious brand of electro dance rock, prepare to have these synthesized hormones secreted directly into your blood.

It must’ve been September of 2015. This super badass chick walked into the old Morning Bar 早上好 with a bunch of fliers. “这是我的乐队,” she said, handing me a flier and sitting down to light a cigarette. THE HORMONES – CHINA TOUR 2015. This is how I met Ming Ming – and I immediately liked her.

The Hormones are a collective of likewise badass chicks who rock seriously uplifting dance music and quite simply do not give a fuck what you think. Wisps of Karen O, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Foals, delivered with pure power and precision. They are such an important band and I am so excited to see them play on Tuesday night, their first Chengdu show in over a year!

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Ming Ming at the old 早上好。2016. Photo by Kiwese.

KAISHANDAO will take us deeper into the night with bass heavy drum machine smashing and techno-flavoured frequency modulations, wielding an electric guitar and a mystic mixture of brain-warping effects pedals.

Kaishandao got it’s name from a 成语 that Xiaoxin a.k.a LittleNew, the illustrator behind the 百鬼夜行 100 Spirits poster, messaged to me several months ago. She’s fond of a good 成语,but I often have to look them up in Pleco. A not-so-long story short, I came across the word 开山刀 and it just clicked. I love it’s simplicity paired with brutality, the symmetry within the characters and the unified first tone throughout.

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Kaishandao live @ HWG Chengdu. March 2017. Photo by Zhao Haha.

“Do you think Kaishandao would be a good name for my music?” I asked.
“Yeah it’s cool! But you’re music will have to be really cutting edge to use it,” she replied.

I’ve been organising shows in China for two years now, but I’ve played guitar since I was 10. I’m not sure Kaishandao is anywhere near as cutting edge as the friends I will perform with on Tuesday night, but for the first time in many years, I am now proud to perform my own original music for an audience, and in what better place than right here in this crazy city that has brought us together from all corners of the world – Chengdu. Bringing together my dual loves of rock and techno, this is Kaishandao.

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Hiperson at Siguniangshan. Photo Courtesy of Hiperson.

As the clock nears midnight, the patron saints of post-punk HIPERSON will materialize for a rare and glorious performance. Known for their fierce vocals, ear-thrashing guitar assaults and thundering rhythmic prowess, Hiperson’s presence will ensure the spirits are well and truly awakened!

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The old Hiperson logo by LittleNew.

When I was a student living in Beijing, I came across a band from Chengdu who had put some demos on Douban. Just several seconds into 《他打定主意做一个游客》and I was completely hooked, put the demos on my iPod and biked around the city listening to them on repeat at full volume for what seemed like days.

That band? HIPERSON. And they are basically the reason I moved to Chengdu.

It was outside the little Little Bar after The Hormones EP release show when I first met Chen Sijiang.
“Uhh ni hao, ni shi Hiperson de Chen Sijiang ma?!”
“Yes, hi!”
OH MY GOD.

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Chen Sijiang live @ NU SPACE, 2016. Photo by Kiwese.

Since then, they have signed to a big indie label, released their first record, toured the country in a van and even toured Europe. Sijiang shaved off all her hair along the way. Through it all, they have remained 100% humble and dedicated to their music, with a DIY attitude that their heroes Fugazi would admire.

I am honoured to call them my friends, and I am in disbelief that I will play on the same bill as them at Jah Bar this Tuesday. They are the greatest and I can’t believe this is even happening.

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Finally, elevating us to the spiritual homeland of techno, SU will provide a digital nerve massage of hard-hitting, Berlin-inspired beats, taking the DJ decks for a rhythmic full body cleanse right through till the early hours.

I can’t remember the first time I met Gogo, but I am almost certain it was over a doob at the old Morning Bar 早上好 several years ago. She asked what star sign I was.

“Sagitarrius,” I said.
“Me too!”
“Cool, what date”
“12月12日”
“ME TOO!!”
“WHAAAAT!!”

We are bound in an inexplicable bond by the astrological power of the number 12. Techno is what she lives and breathes, and each time she returns from Germany, she brings with her a wave of new energy that washes over those who hear her play.

The first time I collaborated with her was for the NUART Festival after party at 早上好 in 2015, where I brought Orchestra of Spheres and Lady Lazer Light for a renegade show and trippy visual installation. She’d just formed atmen with Xiang and had returned from a long trip to Germany. The night culminated with Riki Gooch (Cave Circles) jamming the drum kit to Su’s DJ set with a bunch of greasy shaokao sticks. It was beautiful. Since then, along with Xiang, we’ve played together at clubs and festivals in an improvised manner.

In a way, this Tuesday night is a coming of things full circle with the return of Lady Lazer Light to Chengdu and Su taking the decks for the closing set of the night. She is the spirit that floats the dance floor, let the frequencies set you free.

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Chunyou 2016. Photo by 仙人张

Overseeing this ghostly procession is the high priestess of visual overstimulation Lady Lazer Light, who has been summoned all the way from New Zealand. Known for hypnotising her audiences in China with Orchestra of Spheres in 2015, she will be floating through Jah Bar and spraying her kaleidoscopic rays throughout the night!

The first time I experienced a Lady Lazer Light show, I can say with utmost certainty that everyone was tripping on acid. It was the closing set of Camp A Low Hum 2012 and Thought Creature were playing on a stage that had materialized out of nowhere. Hypnotic mirroring of hot pink gorillas and dancing Indian women scattered across the screen, amplifying the psychedelic drone of guitars and synths, and sending the remaining punters into that special state of mutual derangement which is so often reserved for the last night of music festivals.

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Lady Lazer Light and Kiwese. Dali, Yunnan, China, October 2014. Photo by Mani Dunlop.

“Woahhh, this is buzzy,” I uttered to no one in particular.

The first time I actually met her was on the Orchestra of Spheres China tour, while she was on an art residency in Beijing. This month she returns to Chengdu, on the back of her second residency at Red Gate in Feijiacun, Beijing, and we are so excited!! Sklenars is our distinguished guest, a total party animal, the queen of buzzy visuals, and we are beyond privileged to have her grace Jah Bar on Tuesday for an all out audio-visual assault of the senses.

Kindred spirits, the time is nigh to sweep the tomb of your wardrobe and unearth your most GHOULISH garb for an unforgettable night of genre-bending audio-visual madness not seen before in these lands. Abide by the ghosty dress-code and be part of the movement! We beseech you, this is a night not to be missed.

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This show is possible due to a culmination of great friends, an incredible local music scene and the desire to create an unforgettable moment in Chengdu music history – a night of barely contained mayhem in one of the most legendary and long-standing venues in town. It exists beyond the confines of genre, background, label, or any of the noise that can get in the way of what is truly important – the music.

2017.4.4

JAH BAR CDC

100 SPIRITS IS LIMITED TO 100 TICKETS!!

80RMB

TICKET LINK:
http://zaomengshe.com/c/654983

Event on Facebook

Far Out Distant Sounds in New Zealand: Interview with Ricky Maymi

Owing to the wondrous power of the innernette, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Ricky Maymi for a few years now. Known to many as guitarist of the notoriously volatile Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Imajinary Friends, Maymi is also synonymous with the promotion of Chinese indie rock abroad, specifically the Beijing bands that emerged in the late-2000s and have since taken off in a cloud of cigarette smoke on Maybe Mars.

I first came across him when I was living as a student in Beijing, astray in the #wednesdayfreeshotsforladies, all you can drink KTV, shopping mall wasteland of Wudaokou, which post-D22 had become a cultural black hole. Beyond the Katy Perry club remixes, I was ecstatic to discover some of the city’s most cherished acts such as Hedgehog, P.K.14 and Carsick Cars on websites such as Josh Feola’s pangbianr, Tenzenmen, and of course Ricky’s blog Far Out Distant Sounds. Even better, all these bands were just hanging out downtown. Salvation.

Years on, in collaboration with Genjing Records all round GC Nevin Domer (who I met at Carb on Carb and God Bows to Math’s Beijing show in 2013), Far Out Distant Sounds has developed into a distribution, promotion and touring agency for some of Beijing’s finest acts.

We’re comrades as such, music nerds that geek out about Chinese indie rock on the internet all day. As such, it was only a matter of time he was featured here on Kiwese. There just had to be something… remotely… relevant… to New Zeal… oh, yes, here it is!!

Birdstriking from Beijing are in New Zealand this week playing two shows in Auckland on Friday 17 February and Wellington on Saturday 18 February.

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Birdstriking @ 凹 Club, Guangzhou, Sept 2015. Photo: Kiwese.

The jewel of the Maybe Mars crown, this triple guitar, noise-punk five-piece have gone from strength to strength over the past few years, releasing their banned in China album Birdstriking (2012) on Anton Newcombe’s label A Recordings and heading abroad to tour the U.S. and UK alongside the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

As remote as you can get, New Zealand seems to be the optimal next stop for Far Out Distant Sounds, meaning things finally seem to be heading south for Chinese indie rock – and I mean that in a purely geographic sense.

We caught up with Ricky to find out more about Birdstriking’s Australian / NZ tour, how he got involved with the Chinese music scene and whether he likes pies or not.

Spoiler: Ricky Maymi loves pies. Thank god.

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Ricky with his son, Otis. Image courtesy of Ricky Maymi.

KIWESE: Where are you right now?

RICKY MAYMI: I’m in South Fremantle, Western Australia. Visiting with my son, Otis and producing an album for a guy named Michael Savage. I’m pretty sure if he was from NZ, Flying Nun would be all over him! He’s got elements of Shayne Carter and Andrew Brough (Straitjacket Fits), David Pine and Matthew Bannister (Sneaky Feelings), James Milne (Lawrence Arabia) and a touch of maybe Alasdair Maclean (The Clientele)… This is our second time making an album of his together. The first one is called Used To Write. Look it up!

Maymi is an interesting surname, where is it from, can you talk a bit about your heritage?

It’s a Corsican name, though my Father was from Nicaragua. He was the kind of guy that shouldn’t be talked about too much, if you know what I mean…?

They made a movie about one of his old business partners, George Jung, entitled Blow. The one with Johnny Depp. Anyhow… I’ve heard there are also Maymi’s in Russia.

You are from San Fran. What was it like growing up there, how did you first “get into music”?

It was always a diverse environment, in every way, in the 20th century. I was raised to be an open minded, accepting person and in SF it would completely work against you to be any other way.

My uncle, Vince Welnick was in a legendary SF band called The Tubes (famous for “White Punks On Dope” and “Don’t Touch Me There.”) He would always be coming back from places like Japan or Europe after touring with someone like David Bowie or The Stranglers and him and my aunt Laurie would always have exotic toys and gifts and cassettes like Hunky Dory (Bowie) or Country Life (Roxy Music) for me and the family – and this obviously made a lasting impression. Vince later joined Todd Rundgren’s band, and The Grateful Dead after that.

My other uncle, Ed Dorn was also a working musician who had played in some fantastic bands like Zolar X and The Aurora Pushups (later The Pushups) and he went on to work on studio projects for bands like True West and many other Bay Area greats. Ed had me listening to things like Bill Nelson and The Human League back in the very early 80’s.

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Young Ricky (right) and friend. Circa 1981. Image courtesy of Ricky Maymi.

“I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up in SF through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s
I believe I caught the tail end of a great cultural renaissance of the 20th century.”

My mother was a huge Beatles fan so there was also no avoiding the British Invasion bands for me as a young child. Her partner after my father is a real folk music lover and exposed me to Bob Dylan, Tom Rush, Paul Simon and all the rest. He also has a huge appreciation for classical music, so I had a fairly well rounded musical upbringing.

I also played Clarinet, Saxophone and Double Bass in school from an early age.

Prior to getting hooked on Chinese indie music, what kind of awareness and exposure to Chinese culture did you have? I know there is a deep-rooted Chinese community in San Fran and a huge Chinatown.

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San Francisco’s Chinatown, view to Oakland Bay Bridge. Image: Panoramio.

Looking back, I had very little knowledge before getting involved with the music scene in China and visiting there, which I have now done several times. All of my life in SF I’d always been drawn to Chinatown – for the food, the art, the people and the culture. Some of the most beautiful people on Earth. A glimpse in to another, older world.

In college in SF I was exposed to more of the history of Chinese American culture through either my theatre classes or my writing classes.

How did Far Out Distant Sounds come about and what was your inspiration for starting it? Does it basically operate as a booking agency/distro for Maybe Mars?

It started as a scrapbook style blog (www.faroutdistantsounds.com), with links to hear the music – just somewhere one could go online and get a sense of what was happening. Not a comprehensive list of Chinese indie bands but a good selection of the stuff that interested me enough to investigate further… Like a gateway drug.

I had hoped the blog would inspire people to do the same, and to some degree, it appears to have done that.

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Ricky with Birdstriking, 2016. Photo courtesy of Ricky Maymi.

What do you look for as a US-based promoter of Chinese talent and how do you go searching for it, with the firewall and all, and various language barriers?

I am not exactly US-based. I’m Earth-based. Also, there is no real scouting going on from my end. I work closely with Maybe Mars in Beijing and when they have a new release to promote and a band they want to tour outside of China, I become involved through a more organic process as this is all done out of love, admiration and respect.

“Everyone involved understands that this movement is distinctly, extraordinarily significant.”

My main focus has been Birdstriking, Chui Wan, Carsick Cars, White+ and Gate To Otherside. Just a handful of the acts on Maybe Mars.

How often do you come to China? Had you visited China prior to being exposed to bands like Skip Skip Ben Ben, Birdstriking and P.K.14 in 2012?

I had never been to China before 2015. I have been there four times now. Can’t wait to go back! I would absolutely live there if I could – I am in love with Beijing!

Beijing is political centre of China and the undisputed mecca for indie music. How do you view this relationship between politics and alternative music?

It definitely plays a hand in informing the artist’s way forward. Gives them something to rail against, but they don’t do that in obvious, trite ways. They are more clever than that…

What’s your personal connection with NZ? 

My first trip to NZ was in February, 2008. I was visiting Shayne Carter, who I had become good friends with after his band Dimmer toured with my band in the US. He arranged for us to go to Dunedin as he knew how much the music from there had meant to me. I got to see Martin Phillipps play a solo set in the park at midday by surprise. I got to know Robbie Yeats and stayed with Graeme Downes for a few days. Caught up with some folks I had already come to know in America, David Kilgour and Bob Scott. I got to see Bachelorette, Die! Die! Die! and Ned Collette all for the first time. Also heard Lawrence Arabia for the first time. It was an epic visit! I had an amazing time and every moment was like walking through a dream.

I’ve been back several times since, mostly to tour with BJM, but once with Steve Kilbey from The Church. Him and I went to Napier as well as Dunedin to perform in addition to Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.

I’ve had the odd relationship with women from NZ as well. Unfortunately, it’s always been just that… Odd! Small country… 😉

Do you like pies?

I, of course, love pies!

In an interview with Slinkrat in 2013, you said “Unlike the rest of the world, [Chinese indie rock] isn’t preoccupied with fitting in to something pre-existing in the entertainment world, which is why it reminds me of Flying Nun in the 80’s.” How do you respond when critics say Chinese indie bands are just imitating Western rock standards, something that could never be directed at Flying Nun bands?

Well, they clearly aren’t listening closely enough and they are judging through the context/filter of Western standards which simply do not apply here.

It’s a bit of passive-aggressive, xenophobic elitism playing in to that perspective as well. Alan McGee said himself that there is no such thing as Chinese rock. So did the NOFX dude. They clearly do not know what the hell they are talking about, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. They see it the way they want/need to see it to suit whatever agenda they have – that’s fine because enough people know otherwise.

“Even The Beatles had to start somewhere, the most innovative pop band on Earth were covering Chet Atkins and Motown hits of the day when they started.”

The bands from China I work with have obvious Western influences such as Sonic Youth, Velvet Underground, modern composers and experimental music.

None of these kids had the luxury of “growing up” with the Beatles or Bowie the way I did, for example. Or the critics, for that matter and that’s what they need to understand when critiquing this stuff.

Context. It’s from another world. You could hand the same influences to a Western band and they will never come up with the melodies Chui Wan or Birdstriking come up with.

Or have the sonic, aesthetic sensibility of Zhang Shouwang (Carsick Cars, White+), because they are a product of a different world who’s culture is largely unknown to the Western masses.

They aren’t really thinking about it enough or taking these prime factors in to consideration, so I believe their criticisms are lazy and uninformed.

I guess an extension of the above question, and I may be projecting here, but in the past, Chinese acts that get chosen to play internationally are ones that possess some kind of quintessential Chinese characteristics recognizable by international audiences or purveyors of “world” music. Those who do not fill this oriental role are labelled imitators of Western music. Comment.

Again, lazy journalism. The safer stuff that is a truer representation of pure, traditional Chinese culture is always going to be prioritized and given the green light for grants funding or government approval. There is nothing subversive about it. Overtly, if at all. It will be more easily accepted in the West because it doesn’t compete with Western art in any way. Its it’s own thing.

Again, the views of these so-called critiques on Chinese rock stem from a Western Capitalist (capitalism=racism) perspective. The white man lives in fear of China, period. Think about it…. That is one reason I love doing this. Challenge what it is people believe they know about an entire culture that they actually are too afraid and pre-programmed to ever learn anything about. Everyone is mad at China for buying everything up but no one is getting mad at the people pushing the product.

God forbid those evil Chinese would take a Western folk-art (rock music) and serve it back in a fresh, not jaded, more intriguing way. It’s just impossible, right? Wrong! 😉

Tell us about your relationship with Birdstriking. Do you remember the first time you heard them, or saw them live?

I  first heard them in Melbourne in August 2012 with my friends Julian Wu and Shayne Carter. Julian is a Chinese Australian and he had just returned from China with a suitcase full of CDs of all these great Chinese bands. Shayne and I happened to be both staying at Julian’s at the time. It really struck us how much Birdstriking had this 3D’s/Die! Die! Die! thing going on!

I first started to communicate with Wang Xinjiu from Birdstriking around this time. He was on Facebook and was studying in Cardiff, so no firewall. After being in touch with Maybe Mars and helping them to sell a bit of stock in SF, they asked me to help set up shows for Carsick Cars, White+ and The Gar in SF and LA. We did this and it went over pretty well.

At the time, Birdstriking’s vocalist, He Fan was also playing bass for Carsick Cars. He was the first one I met in person. In 2014, Carsick Cars were booked to open for Brian Jonestown Massacre in the UK. Shouwang was ill at the time and couldn’t make it, so we had Birdstriking take their place. This was advantageous as Birdstriking’s album, which was banned from release in China for it’s lyrical content was licensed by BJM’s label and his since been properly released worldwide (excluding China) on A Recordings on CD and vinyl.

Since then, I’ve booked and tour managed an extensive North American tour for Birdstriking in 2015. I went back to Beijing in ’15 and ’16  and produced Birdstriking’s new, upcoming album to be released this year.

It is very exciting, a Chinese band playing in NZ without representing the Embassy or playing at a Chinese cultural festival covered in bank branding! How did this Australia/NZ tour come about? Can we consider it a recon mission for future tours?

Talk to Andrew from Die! Die! Die! – they’ve just recently toured in China with Birdstriking. When I was in Auckland in December having lunch with him and Mikey telling them about the AU dates, they offered to help with NZ. Now it’s all happening. Bless ’em! They are solid guys and kindred spirits. BJM were lucky enough to play some gigs with them in Europe in mid 2008.

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Die! Die! Die! play NU SPACE, Chengdu, Sep 2016. GIF: c2.

Favourite Chinese acts at the mo?

Chui Wan, Carsick Cars, White+, Gate To Otherside, Dear Eloise, Mr Graceless, Duck Fight Goose, Streets Kill Strange Animals, Hedgehog, New Pants, Da Bang, Zhan Pan, Future Orients, Skip Skip Ben Ben, P.K.14... the list goes on and on…

Favourite NZ acts at the mo?   

Lawrence Arabia, Salad Boys, Surf City, Street Chant, Avoid!avoid, Prophet Hens, Shifting Sands, Bachelorette, Tiny Ruins. Then there’s all the more obvious ones. The new ones by Shayne Carter, The Bats, The Chills, I’m a long time fan of kiwi indie bands!

Are there any projects you are working on at the moment that you’d like to talk about?

My band The Imajinary Friends has a new album coming out this year featuring guest appearances by Marleen Nilsson (Death & Vanilla) and Stephen Lawrie (The Telescopes).

Also the other band I play in, Brian Jonestown Massacre, are about to release a new album as well.

Hoping to send Chui Wan, Gate To Otherside, Bedstars, Hiperson, Future Orients and Dream Can to the Southern Hemisphere over the next 18 months or so.

What advice would you give to bands (Chinese or otherwise) wanting to look outward, and/or tour internationally in future?

Create a demand for, and culture around your music and make friends with people in the places you want to play in ahead of time. People who can actually help you set up worthwhile shows. Your hometown is bottom priority.

Thanks and happy new year!

Same to you!


BIRDSTRIKING were one of the most important bands to emerge from the Chinese DIY scene based around the legendary D22 venue. The Noise Punk band have been likened to a Chinese Surf City, highlighted by their unflinching obsession with Sonic Youth and the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Birdstriking will play only two shows in New Zealand before their Australian tour with label mates Carsick Cars.

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2.17 BIRDSTRIKING W/ CARB ON CARB, DAILY KENO
@ GOLDEN DAWN, AUCKLAND

2.18 BIRDSTRIKING W/ PRIZEGIVING, MR AMISH
@ CAROLINE, WELLINGTON

TICKETS AT UNDERTHERADAR.CO.NZ for the OUTRAGEOUSLY 便宜 PRICE OF $7 A POP. GET IT.

Not just a girl band: Interview with Ming Ming from The Hormones

It’s that time of the month! Local Chengdu indie-rock band the Hormones 荷尔蒙小姐乐队 will kick off their first ever national tour tonight at Little Bar 小酒馆.

Bassist and lyricist Ming Ming 明明 invited me over for dinner to talk about vengeful elephants in Yunnan, menstrual cycles on tour and the new EP.

The Hormones 荷尔蒙小姐乐队, are a five-piece indie-rock band from the land of abundant greenery Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan.

Keyboardist Xiao Lijing 小李静 and guitarist (plus amazing cheesecake-baker) Xiao Xue 小雪 first had dreams to start a band as kids at primary school. The conglomeration of Juan Juan 娟娟 on drums, Ming Ming 明明 on bass and finally Zhu Meng Die 朱梦蝶 as lead vocalist, the Hormones entered the bloodstream of the local Chengdu music scene in 2011.

The band are about to embark on a fifteen date tour of China to promote the release of their debut EP ‘Elephant’ 《象》 starting tonight at Little Bar, Chengdu and concluding down at VOX, Wuhan on 11 November. You can check them out on Douban.

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Juan Juan 娟娟 (drums), Zhu Meng Die 朱梦蝶 (lead vocals/acoustic guitar), Xiao Xue 小雪 (lead guitar), Ming Ming 明明 (bass) and Xiao Lijing 小李静 (keyboards)

KIWESE: Hey Ming Ming! How did the Hormones start out? 

MING MING: We formed back in 2011. People in China hear a lot of Chinese pop music growing up, ya know? So when we first started the band, we did Chinese pop music, but it had absolutely no meaning whatsoever.

2011年开始成立了。向中国人,他就是听很多中国pop music 长大的,你知道吗?所以你就会去搞,然后我们刚开始我们就去做Chinese pop music 但是一点意思都没有。

The singer we had before worked at a serious bank job and had no way of continuing in the band. So we searched for a new lead singer and found Zhu Meng Die! When we heard her sing and play acoustic guitar, she did Rolling in the Deep by Adele and changed it from 4/4 to 3/3. We could tell she had a unique feeling, and all completely agreed on her. She just gets it – she understands the music and has a feeling for it.

然后主唱因为她work for bank, 很正常很严谨很serious, 所以她没有办法搞乐队。然后我们就再找主唱,search search。。。朱梦蝶, 可以!虽然当时我们听她弹木吉唱歌的时候,她唱的是Adele, 《Rolling in the Deep》, 是四拍, 但是她自己把它改变了三拍。我们听她有一种不一样的感觉, 所以真的觉得她可以。她会懂这种音乐,她会了解,她会感受到。她想干什么就干什么,他觉得没有关系.

How do you compose songs as a band?

I write all of our lyrics. So often it’s the lyrics first, then we will create the music around them. The keyboard could run a loop, then the bass and drums, guitar, and vocals will join in.

我们的歌词全部都是我写。然后,我们就会根据这个歌词来做。所以先写歌词,然后再有keyboard会给一个loop,然后bass, 然后鼓,然后吉他,然后唱。

How do you write the lyrics?

The ideas just come from everyday life. For example, you are having to stand on the bus and there are no seats, you can imagine the bus is like a skateboard! Chinese society can be kind of depressing sometimes, you know? People eating smelly food on the bus or whatever, it’s kind of dirty and gross – but if you keep thinking about how uncomfortable it is then it will be worse. So you may as well make it interesting for yourself!

你去感受你生活,你就会有idea,你就会有感觉。比如说:你做公交车,没有座位了,standing, 你可以把那个公交车它想像是一个skateboard. 中国的那种社会就是很压抑的,你不得不做一辆巴士,然后有可能那个车上的人他可能吃东西很丑,或者很怎么样,很dirty 你很难受,但是如果你想你自己难受你会更难受,你还不如把它有趣一点.

When did you first start getting into music and playing guitar?

Junior high school. I played guitar, then moved to Chengdu [from Leshan] to play guitar at Sichuan School of Music during high school. But I thought the exams were meaningless and I didn’t really like to play the stuff they gave me. I wanted to do my own thing. Like Tan Dun. He uses a violin to make erhu sounds. He uses water and paper. It’s very cool.

初中。我弹木吉他。然后我到了高中我住在成都,四川音乐学院的一个 high school, play guitar. 但是我考的时候不考怎么样。。。我觉得没意思。因为你去copy 没有用。我想做自己的东西。比如说谭盾. He uses a violin to make erhu sounds. He uses water and paper. It’s very cool.

Some of your songs are written in English, tell me about that. 

I think that within a song, English pronunciation is easier than Chinese. There can be strange melodies when you sing Chinese in a song. But eventually I want all our songs to be in Chinese. It’s not a pride thing, it’s that Chinese is our mother tongue – I feel I am in complete control of the language. So I don’t think our songs in English are written that well. Using your mother tongue gets you closer the the meaning you want to convey. I think Chinese is a lot more direct.

我觉得英文的要字儿比较easy,不象Chinese很难。放到歌曲里面有可能这个melody 不好,还是很奇怪。我决定以后所有的歌都用中文。我不是为此感到proud of this,很骄傲。中文是我们的母语。我觉得I can control this language. 完全知道。所以我们的英文歌词写得不好。用你的母语更能接近你想表达的意思。我觉得中文更直接一点。

Why is the new EP called ‘Elephant’?

An elephant can remember everything, if you hurt him, he can remember your smell. 在中国,在云南只有一次,一个村庄 [in Yunnan, China, out in the countryside] people killed a little elephant.

In Xishuangbanna?

Yes, bingo! Xishuangbanna. This baby elephant got lost in the countryside and walked into a village and trampled the maize and wheat crops, so the villagers beat it to death. After some time, a big group of elephants returned and destroyed the countryside.

对!Bingo, 真的在西双版纳。他们傻了一头baby elephant, 因为那个baby elephant 迷路了,它走到了一篇村庄里面去。野生的. 它踩到那些村庄那些麦子,粮食,然后那些村民就把它打死了。打死了过后,过了一段时间,然后那片野生的elephant destroyed the countryside.

Wait, what???

The person who killed the baby elephant went to jail, but his wife still had his scent. So one day when his wife was out in the fields, a group of elephants came and trampled her to death. They could smell the man’s scent on her. She was with her sister at the time, but they only attacked the wife, not the sister.

他去监狱了过后,但是他的妻子有他的气味。他的wife 有一天。。。一群大象就把她踩死了。因为他们闻到这个气味。而且他的wife 和她的sister在一起, 它们没有攻击她的sister, 只攻击wife.

Wait, what?? 

REALLY. I’m still not finished. After that, 在墓地 [at the cemetery], the elephants came and trampled over where she was buried.

Wow. Why does ‘Elephant’ only have three songs, seems a bit short?

I want to do a surprise when our tour ends, I will put all the songs on the internet. It’s actually six, like on the CD.

What expectations do you have of the tour?

When I write lyrics, I hope they will resonate with people. Like when I watch Foals live videos, I am so moved – they make me want to pursue my dreams and never give up. I want [our music] to touch people in the same way, and to have them remember this feeling. I think this is more important than people knowing who you are. I don’t care if people like us or not, if I cared, we’d just play pop music.

我期盼能够。。。因为我写很多歌词,我期盼很多人能够有共鸣。 For example when I see Foals live, 我就会觉得我被感染了,我想我应该有一个梦想,我应该去这样做,我不应该放弃。我要让别人被打动。I think this is more important than people knowing who you are. 他可能记住了这种感觉。我不在乎别人喜不喜欢。如果我在乎别人喜欢的话我就做pop music。

Tell me about the Hormones’ new songs.

One of our new songs is called ‘Red Teardrops.’ You are a red tear drop, turning young hearts red. I think this song is interesting, every person is a red tear drop.

我们有一个新歌,我觉得非常感人的那首歌,《Red Teardrops, 红色的眼泪》 “你是一滴红颜泪,染红青年人的心脏。” 而且Red Teardrops这首歌很有意思,就是我觉得每一个人是一滴红颜泪.

What do you mean by ‘red tear drop’?

At the School of Music, there was a teacher who accused a cleaner of stealing 1000RMB. The cleaner denied it, but obviously the college sided with the teacher. The cleaner was in a helpless position, cleaning toilets for a living, and had no way of paying the money back. So she jumped from a building. When someone accuses you of doing something you did not do and you have no way out. All you want to do is cry. This is red tear drops.

好,我先给你讲。 四川音乐学院有一个工人, a cleaner, 然后有一个teacher 说这个清洁工偷了我一千块,那个清洁工说我没有,然后这个学院肯定需要更爱这个teacher一点,所以这个cleaner 就到了一个不好的一个去打扫卫生,她就很生气,其实这个前的数目不多,然后他就跳楼了。她就为了证明她。 This is unfair. It is not human. For 1000RMB. People pushed her to her death. So I wrote some lyrics about this. 冤枉了你,就说你做你没有做的事情有吗?从小到现在,有吗? 那个时候就是你红色的眼泪。你没有办法说出来,你很生气只要哭。就是这个意思。

Woah.

Yeah.

Any cities you are particularly looking forward to?

I’ve heard VOX Livehouse in Wuhan is very good. I’ve been friends with Liangyi, the singer from Stolen 秘密心动,  since we were classmates in high school. He told me the sound techs at VOX are very quick and professional.

What is the connection with New Noise?

Jeff from New Noise has helped us a lot with contacting livehouses, he sent me the information and let me contact them.

“Yes, we are girls – but it’s not a style!”

horm

How do you feel you are received as an all-girl band?

A lot of stuff comes up. Like a lot of venues have booked girl bands as the warm up act just because they are girls. It’s really strange. Why have they got a heavy metal band opening for us? It’s like when Lydia (Zaomengshe) was working at that company. She’s a foreign woman. Then they sat her with another department because they are all foreigners. WHY??

Some people are stupid but you don’t have to talk to them. Someone on Weibo said “show us your underwear!” It is very stupid.

But an all guys band could go on tour and not have to worry about five girls having their period [laughs].

Who are some of your favourite bands at the moment?

FoalsSavagesGajinSnaplineStolen, Toe.

Thanks, Ming Ming!

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The Hormones 荷尔蒙小姐 National Tour:

Fri 17 Oct           成都 Chengdu, 小酒馆 Little Bar

Sat 18 Oct          重庆Chongqing, 坚果 NUTS Live House

Fri 24 Oct           西安 Xi’an, 光圈 Aperture

Sat 25 Oct         兰州 Lanzhou, 葵 Kui Live House

Wed 29 Oct     郑州 Zhengzhou, 7 Live House

Thur 30 Oct     北京 Beijing, Temple

Fri 31 Oct          北京 Beijing, XP

Sun 2 Nov          天津 Tianjin, 13 Club

Tues 4 Nov        上海 Shanghai, 育音堂 Yuyintang

Wed 5 Nov        杭州 Suzhou, 酒球会

Thur 6 Nov        厦门 Xiamen, Real

Fri 7 Nov             广州 Guangzhou, TU凸空间 T-UNION

Sat 8 Nov            深圳 Shenzhen, B10现场

Sun 9 Nov           长沙 Changsha, 46 Livehouse

Tues 11 Nov      武汉 Wuhan, VOX

You can buy tickets and merchandise on Zaomengshe! Support independent music!

The latest episode of the Sound Stage features the Hormones!

Some TING! 听 #002: Hiperson & Cut Off Your Hands

Hiperson from Chengdu are one of my favourite bands right now. Cut Off Your Hands were one of the first live bands I ever saw in Wellington. They are both awesome.

>>>>>Hiperson 海朋森  Hǎi péng sēn are a rock band from Chengdu, the capital city of the mountainous greenery that is Sichuan. Their super tight rhythms, haunting male-female vocals and balls to the wall guitar riffs create a perfect oasis of melancholic, mosh pit inducing psychedelia. You can listen to them on their Douban page, anticipating some more releases from them soon!

Hiperson having a group hug.
Hiperson having a group hug.

>>>>>Cut Off Your Hands, formerly known as Shaky Hands, are an indie rock back that formed back in 2006 in the sprawling metropolis of Auckland, Aotearoa. Though the band have been on a bit of recording hiatus in recent years, the Shaky Hands EP (2006), Blue on Blue EP (2007), You and I (2008) and Hollow (2011) will tear the roof off of any venue with hyped up intensity. Currently signed to French Kiss and Speak N Spell. You can read more about them on Audio Culture.

Cut Off Your Hands in full flight
Cut Off Your Hands in full flight

Check out this interview and live show with Hiperson on The Sound Stage:

OG Cut Off Your Hands, they know how to put on an incredible live show and were pretty much all I listened to when I was 15:

Official video for Turn Cold, mixed and produced by the legendary Flood!

Have a 听一听! Some ting else next week!