Tag Archives: shanghai

The All Seeing Hand China Tour 2017

Kiwese Presents:
THE ALL SEEING HAND 
全视手
China Tour 2017
With Kaishandao & E/N/T
Poster by Daily Secretion.


这个音乐不是为小清新或者容易伤感的人准备的。
“This is not music for the light-hearted or easily distressed.”
– Soundly Sounds

Kiwese is proud to present The All Seeing Hand x Kaishandao x E/N/T China Tour 2017. For fans of the heavy, strange and transcendental. For adventurous sonic explorers…


The first time I saw The All Seeing Hand was on a darkened high ropes course. It was the last night of Camp A Low Hum 2012 and the remaining punters were floating around in that special state of mutual derangement so often reserved for the last night of music festivals.

Whether it was the three silhouetted figures thrashing beneath an enormous eye, the breakneck, body-pummeling drum rolls, bass-heavy synth screams, or the likelihood that the entire crowd was tripping on acid, there was immediately a sense of the occult about this band.

“Oh my god, what is this?!” yelled someone in the crowd.
“This is mind control!” shouted another.

Was this mind expansion or mind control? Inspired performance art, or visions of the possessed? Whatever it was, that night in the forest, we looked into the eye of The All Seeing Hand and everything changed.

What kind of music is this?

“This isn’t head-bang metalcore, but more an inventive electro-prog which values minimalism as much as collision,” writes Elsewhere, “it’s as likely to come from the writings of Philip K. Dick as it is the music of Bauhaus,” writes Off the Tracks.

From the depths of the Wellington underground, I am ecstatic to present The All Seeing Hand to Chinese audiences for the first time in the most ambitious Kiwese tour yet, spanning over three weeks and ten cities from Inner Mongolia to Fujian.

New Zealand artist Nathan Taare will join the journey as E/N/T, while I will also play support with my new techno noise project Kaishandao. This far out journey will also be documented by none other than filmmaker Illojgali a.k.a Dan Harris!

 

We’ll see you there… tell your friends!!

The All Seeing Hand and that all seeing eyeball at Valhalla 5 July 2014. With Orchestra of Spheres and Seth Frightening.

THE ALL SEEING HAND are a 3-piece from Wellington, New Zealand. Their musical world touches many soundscapes, while being complete in its own language. It is a gateway, opening ears to the sonic environment of machine and emotion, a “menacing clash of electronics, smashing drums and throat-singing, a sound akin to Tibetan monks on speed.”  

Throat singing, frenzied drumming and thundering turntable tones… a pulverizing amalgam of electronic doom, “industrial khoomei,” clash metal and mind-bending sensory sorcery.

Alphabethead is known around New Zealand from many festival and club shows. An innovative turntablist and producer who cut his teeth in the hip-hop battle scene, delving into a diversity of sounds like orchestral gamelan, Inuit folk music, post-punk and electronica. His bass heavy approach in The All Seeing Hand makes for a full body response to the music.

Ben Knight is a pulverising drummer with rhythmic dexterity steeped in relentless energy. Having emerged from the Dunedin DIY punk and hardcore scene in the late 1990s, Ben pushes himself to the verge of vomiting in his commitment to the beat.

Jonny Marks uses his voice as a vehicle to explore timbre and the parts of our brains that language does not inhabit. Having trekked to Inner Mongolia to study khoomei for years, he incorporates techniques of throat-singing with voice box stretching explorations to create an animal human other.

L-R: David Morrison aka Alphabet head (Turntables / Electronics), Jonny Marks (Throat) and Ben Knight (Drums). Image from Undertheradar.

 

各种混乱的怪事。
“Seven levels of fucked up weirdness.”
– Sonic Masala

The All Seeing Hand are worshipped across Australasia for their intense, immersive ritual performances that leave observers in an ecstatic state of wonder and confusion. They are constantly collaborating with artists to create unforgettable displays of costume and projection mapping.

The All Seeing Hand have toured extensively around NZ & Australia, and been described by Flying Nun as “a highly vaunted live act.” They have inspired, conquered and pulverized audiences at festivals including Camp A Low Hum (Wellington), Lines of Flight (Dunedin), Newtown Festival, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival (Auckland) and Now Fest.

They have released the albums《The All Seeing Hand》(2011),《Mechatronics》(2013),《Fog and Debris》(2014) and《Sand to Glass》 (2016)。The All Seeing Hand are signed to UK-based label Muzai Records.

The All Seeing Hand recognises progress
The All Seeing Hand facilitates progress.
The All Seeing Hand is progress.
Extraction is progress.
Conversion is progress.
The All Seeing Hand converts.

You are already part of The All Seeing Hand.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allseeinghand
豆瓣: https://site.douban.com/allseeinghand
网易云: http://music.163.com/#/artist?id=839696
Bandcamp: https://the-all-seeing-hand.bandcamp.com

 

Kaishandao

Transplanted from New Zealand, Chengdu-based Kaishandao has been slashing the divide between the club and live music scenes in Chengdu, playing everywhere from darkened dancefloors to pool parties and dive bars. Coming from a background of garage rock and bedroom cassette recordings, Kaishandao uses an electric guitar, effects, synthesizers and radio noise to create a kind of “dystopian techno drone,” influenced by krautrock, experimental music, Beyoncé and the Poly Centre (R.I.P.)

Disorientating lo-hifi dance music for the lonely hearts and high-wired souls.

https://site.douban.com/kaishandao

E/N/T

Dark, ambient, heavy, deep, post punk, minor, psychedelic, hazy, trancy, intense, afro-goth…..

E/N/T (Otolaryngology) is the musical pseudonym of New Zealand born artist Nathan Taare. E/N/T is sonic art that takes ideas and motivations from noise-rock, post-punk and sound installation to create an intriguing and wonderful collage of moods and movements.

https://entsound.bandcamp.com/


TOUR DATES

09.20
北京 Beijing / School
The All Seeing Hand / Kaishandao / E/N/T
Support:不在话下 (not in catalog)
VJ: C.A.I.N.

09.22
北京 Beijing / Temple Bar
The All Seeing Hand
Support:None & Hind Brain

09.23
包头 Baotou / 为Livehouse
The All Seeing Hand / Kaishandao / E/N/T

09.24
呼和浩特 Hohhot / DeepSwing
Alphabethead DJ Workshop

09.27
呼和浩特 Hohhot / 往事Livehouse
The All Seeing Hand / Kaishandao / E/N/T
Support:R组织
+ Alphabethead DJ Set

09.29
西安 Xi’an / 迷蝶Livehouse
The All Seeing Hand / Kaishandao / E/N/T
Support:TBOR

10.02
成都 Chengdu / NU SPACE
The All Seeing Hand / Kaishandao / E/N/T
Visuals:PLGRM x BiggerCha

10.05
重庆 Chongqing / 坚果 NUTS Livehouse
The All Seeing Hand / Kaishandao / E/N/T
Support:Shity Work
+ Alphabethead DJ Set

10.06
武汉 Wuhan / VOX
The All Seeing Hand / Kaishandao / E/N/T
Support:Milu
+ Alphabethead After Party DJ Set

10.07
上海 Shanghai / 育音堂 Yuyintang
The All Seeing Hand / Kaishandao / E/N/T
Support:解离的真实 Mirrors

10.10
杭州 Hangzhou, Loopy
The All Seeing Hand / Kaishandao / E/N/T
Support:切乐队
Visuals: Kanes

10.11
义乌 Yiwu / 隔壁
The All Seeing Hand / Kaishandao / E/N/T
Support:鸭听天

10.13
厦门 Xiamen, 星空下
哑音乐节 YA FEST

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Favourite Releases 2015

From Wellington stoner country to Beijing glitch hop, 2015 was packed with awesome releases from both New Zealand and China. Here are fifteen Kiwese favourites!

Illustration by Ali Pang.


With Knees of Honey in Goodbye Canyon by So Laid Back Country China

(Wellington, NZ)

So Laid Back Country China (or 很放松乡村中国) is a four-piece band fronted by Harriet Ferry and Michael Keane, former members of beloved Wellington folk/country hooligans Big River Chain and John the Baptist.

Originally meant to be an EP, With Knees of Honey in Goodbye Canyon, is a slow-release trip into wide open country spaces, at once soothing and hair-raising in the sparse layering of instrumentation and vocals.

Favourite track: Open Eyed
https://solaidbackcountrychina.bandcamp.com


No Need For Another History by Hiperson
《我不要别的历史》 海朋森

(Chengdu, CN)

Rejoice!! Our long diet of Hiperson demos streamed off Youku was finally supplemented this year, with No Need For Another History released on Maybe Mars in April. Recorded by China’s post-punk overlord Yang Haisong, Hiperson have re-recorded well-loved tunes such as《他打定主意做一个游客》He Made Up His Mind to Be a Tourist and 《门》Entrance, alongside new material that reasserts their guitar-driven, sharp tongued sound.

Those distinctive stabbing staccato vocals from Chen Sijiang, alongside puns such as “这是通往剧院的大路!” yelled in tandem with guitarist Ji Yinan, in my opinion make Hiperson one of the most lyrically talented bands in China today. Check out the Kiwese interview with Hiperson earlier this year.

Favourite track: 《幕布》The Curtain https://hiperson.bandcamp.com


TANGO by She’s So Rad

(Auckland, NZ)

THIS ALBUM IS JUST SO GREAT!!!

TANGO is a joy from start to finish – really tight songwriting and jangly pop melodies led by the band’s Anji Sami and Jonathan Toy. Nominated for Best Alternative Album at this year’s NZ Music Awards, lost out to UMO’s Multi-Love (also excellent).

Favourite track: Better Off On Your Own https://shessorad.bandcamp.com/album/tango


Chinese Football by Chinese Football

(Wuhan, CN)

China’s national football team is unlikely to score points anywhere, but Wuhan’s delightful indie-pop band Chinese Football are winners!

This year Chinese Football released both a self-titled EP and a self-titled full length album, the latter of which I am rating here. Sparkling TTNG-esque math rock riffs, endearing vocal harmonies and brightness. Forever destined to be compared to American Football, Chinese Football’s music would indeed be suited to cruising around the sunny Midwest.

Chinese Football play Chengdu’s Little Bar on 8 January and Chongqing’s NUTS on the 9th. Yay!

Favourite track: 400米

https://chinesefootball.bandcamp.com/album/chinese-football


Carb on Carb by Carb on Carb

(Auckland, NZ)

Aucklandite indie-emo-pop power duo Carb on Carb released their much anticipated self-titled album back in February, what a pearler! James and Nicole have been busy touring the USA this year, making a lot of new friends and forging their own American dreams.

If you are in the market for odes to beloved pets, sweet riffs and breakneck drum rolls, this is where it’s at. Added 2015 bonus, James released the God Bows to Math + Carb on Carb China Tour Documentary in September, which premiered on Kiwese! Good times!

Favourite track: Phenomenal Ladies https://carboncarb.bandcamp.com/album/carb-on-carb


Mù Chè Shān Chū by Howie Lee
《木屮山出》

(Beijing, CN)

Fresh release from the inimitable Howie Lee, just out this month on Alpha Pup. Beijing blazzzze – Mù Chè Shān Chū is packed with those East Asian samples, clicks and tweaks Lee has become known for. Featuring fresh takes on tracks Sinka and Shang from last year’s also excellent Eastside Sampler Series. Future kungfu swag.

Space Epic by Terror of the Deep

(Wellington, NZ)

‘Cos it makes me feel – – – ~ – – –

– – – ~ – – – so unreal!!’

Oh man. I fucking love Terror of the Deep. Their music makes me imagine walking up Riddiford Street with sunglasses on, blue skies, and a hop in my step. Flax and toi toi. Newtown. Space Epic has a much lusher, texture than TOTD’s previous spare and crunchy bass-guitar-drums sound, with the addition of Tom Watson on keyboard and trumpet. Picks up where Permanent Weekend left off, with a re-recording of ‘When the Planets Align.’

Recorded by OOS’s Dan Beban at Pyramid Club and mixed into the galaxies in 2015. A journey through space, to Neptune and beyond… 

Favourite track: Saturn

https://terrorofthedeepnz.bandcamp.com/album/space-epic


Demos on Douban by South Acid MiMi Dance Team
南方酸咪咪领舞队的小样寄在豆瓣上

(Kunming, CN)

Image from South Acid MiMi's Douban.
Image from South Acid MiMi’s Douban.

South Acid MiMi (Shishi, Weilin + Yixiao) are such rad bitches. Straight outta Kunming, this freaky disco punk trio is leading crowds to the dance floor. I saw one of their early shows in January when I was randomly in Kunming and it was the most refreshing thing I’d been to in ages. They sound like… Grimes? Iggy Pop? Karen O?

These bizarre, addictive beats from three keyboards, vocals, a laptop, LED light poi and various bottles of spirits. South Acid MiMi are gearing up to release an album with Ruby Eyes Records in Beijing next year.

Stay tuned for a Lady Lazer Light x Kiwese x South Acid MiMi production very soon!!

Favourite tracks: NUNUDUGU, Lucy in the Sky With Dolphin, Love is Pain, Disco 女孩, The End, so many!!
http://site.douban.com/southacidmimi/


Seed (single) by Mermaidens

(Wellington, NZ)

Mermaidens are Scrumpylicious incantation creators. Seed is a mean tune. Sounds like discordant fuzzy kelp scum, the three-piece creating a bubble of noise that scares off even those freaky fish with lightbulbs on their head. Look forward to more next year.

https://mermaidens.bandcamp.com/track/seed-single


Loop by Stolen《循环》 秘密行动

(Chengdu, CN)

Stolen (pinyin: mìmì xíngdòng) tore shit up this year. I saw them play a countless number of times around the country, bursting with energy at every gig. After signing to Beijing’s new D-Force Records, they had the opportunity to professionally record in Taipei, producing a more refined collection of their excellent free demos.

Dark, chilling, insanely danceable – with Loop and a huge national tour under their belt this year, Stolen have raised the bar even higher. While one hears Joy Division or Kraftwerk when listening to Stolen, their newer material is more electronic beat based, scatty tech rhythms. The boys have been writing new material up in the mountains, so anticipate more from them next year!

Favourite track: A Glossy Flirt
https://mimixingdong.bandcamp.com/album/loop


Womb by Womb

(Wellington, NZ)

Wellington woodland dream folk. Womb is the solo project of Charlotte Forrester, womb companion of Haz Forrester, who she used to play with in Athuzela Brown. This is really gorgeous music. The echoey vocals remind me a lot of Grouper, while the sparse guitar phrasing in ‘Sounds of Our Voices’ definitely brings Electrelane to mind. Sonorous Circle label mate Sean Kelly mixed and mastered these five lovely tracks with some Seth Frightening magic.

Favourite track: Cosmic Dreaming
https://w–o–m–b.bandcamp.com/


People, Society, Money by Fatshady
《人.社会.钱》谢蒂

(Chengdu, CN)

fatshady
Image from Douban.

Fatshady is the biggest rapper in Chengdu. He entered the hip-hop lexicon several years ago with his track 《明天不上班》, empowering audiences to bunk off work in style. He raps completely in Chengduhua, garnering immediate appeal by opposing the bland, standardised Mandarin of TV, radio, school, officialdom…

While the beats are pretty simple (as if ‘shab shabba Ranks’ could come in at any moment), the rapping is second to none. While I can only understand half of his lyrics, his music speaks to my friends unlike any other artist I’ve seen – because he is using their language. There is no one else doing it quite like Fatshady. Out on C.D.C.

Favourite track: 坝坝球
https://site.douban.com/fatshady


 A. Cushion Plant and B. Gold in Quartz by Team Cat Food 

(Auckland via Wellington, NZ)

February saw a Team Cat Food double release. As with everything these guys have released, I love it. Mellow and vibey electronic textures and beats, with i.ryoko and Seth Frightening featuring on each side. Churrrr.

Favourite track: Cushion Plant, Ponderosa
https://teamcatfood.bandcamp.com/


A Million Farewells by Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

(Shanghai, CN)

Well, this is epic. Shanghai’s famously un-Googleable Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have released this noisy emotional outpouring on Genjing Records. Former So So Modern drummer Daniel Nagels joins ‘Tom’ – Xiao Zhong of Pairs, ‘Katie’ – Sharon Cee-Q with her dreamy vocals, and Samuel Walsh on bass.

‘My Life is Over’ will have your ears ringing, while other more dream pop/shoegaze tracks act as a welcome counterpoint. Beautiful stuff. Vinyl release through Genjing and Tenzenmen, or you can stream it on Bandcamp.

Favourite track: New Day
https://genjingrecords.bandcamp.com/album/a-million-farewells


Elixir by Totems
(Auckland, NZ)

Elixir is certainly the most mature and cohesive Totems release to date, with nine tracks that flow seamlessly from start to finish. Jungle/drum & bass/echoes of his old trap sound that are equally suited to both chilling and raving. Released in December with Cosmic Compositions, Elixir has already had several plays at Kiwese HQ, also known as my lounge. Chur chur!

Favourite track: Echolocate
https://cosmic-compositions.bandcamp.com/album/elixir


And one more…

Multi-Love by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

(Portland, OR via Auckland)

With only one kiwi member, UMO are arguably not even a NZ act. But they get nominated at the NZ Music Awards and also get funding from NZ On Air so whatever. Multi-Love is the follow up to 2013’s II and it is just really fcking awesome!! More groovy and melodic than their previous two albums, with the addition of a keyboardist/back up vocalist.

Favourite Song 2015: Can’t Keep Checking My Phone


…Where it at?

Mirror in Mirror by Skip Skip Ben Ben 

(Taipei / Beijing)

Ben Ben’s new album has been released in Taiwan on Re:Public Records, and I’m eagerly/impatiently waiting for it to come out in the Mainland on Maybe Mars… Check out the preview below. NEED.


 

Many of these artists have released their music on Bandcamp for the criminally low price of ZERO DOLLARS. Koha where you can! Support independent music!

Mian Mian Says

Mian Mian 棉棉 is a writer from Shanghai.

A mainstay of the 00后 Beijing-Shanghai art community, Mian Mian’s confessional blog writings published in On High In Blue Tomorrows《于忧郁的明天升上的天空》 are scattered with bands, albums, films, poems and lyrics, some of which I have collected here for you to enjoy.

There is something about trawling that I like. The thrill of a bargain genetically inherited from an Asian bloodline. The delight in digging through second-hand records in the wooden coffers of Wellington’s record stores. The flick and pluck of counterfeit DVD sleeves in Hong Kong night markets. So the street front pù miàn 铺面 bookstores of China, where cheap deals are recited over a megaphone like a modern day sales mantra, are essentially my spiritual homeland.

Last year, amidst the stacks of dusty, plastic-wrapped reprints of ancient primers and gaudy coloured children’s books, I found a copy of On High In Blue Tomorrows by Mian Mian. Intrigued by the choppy hair and dark shades of the figure on the front cover, I took the book home and entered the personal recollections of a writer, music-lover and survivor of addiction, often dubbed as a New Generation Writer 新生代作家.

Mian Mian On high
Image by Kiwese.

Mian Mian gained a reputation as a post-Mao era, 70后 (born in the 70s) wild child, with the publication of her sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll novel Candy《糖》in 1999, based upon her own life experiences as a party girl flitting between Shanghai and Shenzhen. In the 80s era of reform and opening up, Deng Xiaoping saw Shenzhen transform from a tiny fishing village to a ‘special economic zone’ full of factories, new cash and people from all over the country trying to make it.

In the early 90s, a young Mian Mian ran away from Shanghai to join the action, as with new money brought parties, drugs and hedonism. Heartbreak, hopelessness and heroin followed. In 1995, her parents dragged her out of Shenzhen and placed her in a Shanghai rehab clinic. She published her first book two years later. Candy was published in the same year as Wei Hui’s Shanghai Baby《上海宝贝》, which is also about drugs, sex and parties and also banned in China. The two books are often likened in this way.

Mian Mian’s prose in On High In Blue Tomorrows is colloquial and clear, it reads like a personal journal. It is not heavy with literary descriptions or obscure chéngyǔ 成语 (idioms), which means as a learner, it is easy to read and enjoy.

“My books are not for intellectuals,” Mian Mian said to Jonathan Napack in an NY Times interview almost fifteen years ago, “my readers are in the streets, in a disco, listening to cool music.”

The inner sleeve reads:

棉棉的文字大多关于解放,自我毁灭自我拯救,她自己的生活在最近也经历了“戒烟,戒酒,食素”的巨大改变”

Mian Mian’s writings are mostly about liberation, self-destruction and self-rescue. Her personal life has recently undertaken a huge change with giving up smoking, drinking and eating meat.

The blog entries date from 2005 to 2008, through which she writes about the illness and death of her father, her reflections on her previous life and novels, being a writer, her relationships with friends, the universe and Buddha. Her posts touch on daily life and encounters – trying to give up smoking, going to YY’s club in Shanghai, as well as a lot of movie watching at home.

Below I have included some of the music and films she mentions in these entries written in brown along with my own English translation in black. She often mentions and promotes the work of her friends, which is what blogs are for, right?

Music
音乐
  • Jiang Xin 姜昕

2007年2月4日 
推存我的宝贝姜昕《我不是随便的花朵》!在阳光下听更美!这个像香草一样美好的女孩!
Recommend baby Jiang Xin's album 'I'm An Unusual Flower'! It is even better in the moonlight! She is as beautiful as vanilla!
我觉得人生最幸福的事就是你找到自己想走的那条路,然后在那条路上有很多新密的伙伴,所以我觉得《彩虹2006》这首歌其实想写的事这样的感受,而且《彩虹2006》是一个万能的桥梁,它不是人世间的桥梁,它能连接人于人的心灵和连接生与死,可以连接过去和现在。
I believe the happiest thing in life is finding the road you want to take, then having lots of close friends along that road. I think that's what 'Rainbow 2006' is about. The song is an all-encompassing bridge, not a bridge of the human world, but one that connects people and spirits, life and death, the past and the present.
跟姜昕聊天事一种享受,姜昕的纯净有一种力量,她会让谈话中的那些细节闪闪发光起来。
Talking with Jiang Xin is a pleasure. Her purity has power, she makes the little details come to life.
我问她:你相信爱上是因为对方漂亮,或者有才华,或者爱你吗?她坚定而迅速地回答我:绝对不是。爱情绝对是缘分。
I asked her: "Do you believe in love because the person is beautiful, or has talent, or because they love you?" She immediately responded: "Absolutely not. Love is fate."
她的状态,态度,以及她的歌唱,都是独一无二的。她用她的美丽,她的青春与音乐,爱与忧愁,以及命运,见证了北京那个再也不会回来的“underground”时代。
Her manner, attitude and voice is unparalleled. Using beauty, youth, music, love and troubles and destiny, she bears witness to a Beijing underground that will never return again.
  • Muma 木马

2006年2月21日 
木马乐队成为于1998年,乐队成员由木马(吉他/主唱),曹操(贝司),冯雷(键盘),胡湖(鼓)组成。
Muma was formed in 1998, consisting of members Muma (guitar/lead vocals), Cao Cao (bass), Feng Lei (keys), Huhu (drums)
有的人说听木马很冰凉,但我却认为那是另一个温暖。他们很实在地唱着忧伤,墓穴的青春,美好的年华,奇异的梦境。
Some people say that listening to Muma is cold, but I think it is a kind of warmth. They sing so honestly about grief, buried youth, the good years and strange dreamscapes.
木马乐队的三张专辑,我还是更多地倾向于前面的两张。
Out of Muma's three albums, I am most inclined towards the first two.
记得新专辑里的首歌《如果这的恨一个人那就是我自己》。仅仅只是一个名字,就让我看到他们依旧的固执。新的专辑并不让我失望,因为我已经在深夜里熟悉那样的声调,就如同我了解Radiohead的病态。
I remember a song off the new album called If There is One Person I Hate, That Person Is Myself. It is only a name, and I can see their old stubbornness. The new album doesn't make me lose hope, I'm already well-acquainted with that sound from the depths of night, the same way I have come to understand Radiohead.
在某年的深夜,我还在木马的声音中,在凌乱的大街上,房间里,拾捡我已经破碎的心。
Some years, in the late hours of night, I find myself in Muma's sound, on the streets of disorder, in my room, picking up my already broken heart.
  • Wild Children 野孩子

2007年5月24号 
一直忘了说了,在苏河艺术中心我看野孩子演出,一些下就开始流泪。回来听CD时也是这样。他们是如此干净!
I keep forgetting: I saw Wild Children play at Su He Art Space and cried. Back at home I listened to their CD and cried some more. They are so clean!
  • Sonic Youth

2006年4月6日 
If you want me to
I will be the one
That is always good
And you'll love me too
But you'll never know
What I feel inside
That I'm really bad
Little trouble girl
Remember mother?
We were close
Very, very close
Sha la la you taught me how to fit it good
Sha la la flow down life you understood
Sha la la curl my hair and eye lash
Sha la la hitch my cheeks and do my lips
Sha la la swing my hips just like you
Sha la la smile and behave
Sha la la a circle of perfection, it's what you gave
Sha la la then one day I met a guy
He stole my heart, no alibi
Sha la la he said: "Romance is a ticket to paradise"
Sha la la momma, I'm not too young to try
Sha la la we kissed, we hugged, we were close
Very, very close
Sha la la we danced in the sand
And the water rose - higher and higher
Sha la la until I found myself floating - in the sky
I'm sorry mother, I'd rather fight
Than have to lie
If you want me to
I will be the one
That is always good
And you'll love me too
But you'll never know
What I feel inside
That I'm really bad
Little trouble girl 
-SONIC YOUTH, LITTLE TROUBLE GIRL
我的好朋友Anto... 想起她我会想起这首歌。。。她给我发过这首歌的歌词,而这首歌我以前很喜欢。
My good friend Anto... when I think of her I think of this song... She sent me the lyrics and I also liked this song before.

 

Books
书籍
  • Lotus by Anni Baobei《莲花》安妮宝贝

安妮宝贝
Anni Baobei 安妮宝贝. Image from Smart Shanghai.
安妮宝贝的《莲花》我郑重地推存给大家。这本书我一看就哭。这是本被祝福的书,包含了重要的信息和动人的感情。我是个几乎不看书的人,而且由于我的时间表很满,我总是会翻到后面去看,接着我就开始后悔,这样看这本书是不尊重作者的,所以请大家不像我这么看。
I seriously recommend Lotus by Anni Baobei to everyone. One look at it and I cry. This book is blessed, containing important information and moving emotions. I'm not someone who reads books often and given my busy schedule I generally skim through to the end, but then I have regrets because this way of reading doesn't respect the author. So I implore you not to do as I have.
她写作跟我写作是很不一样的,但是有一点是一样的,那就是我们一直在寻找“意义”,这句话不是我说的,但是我觉得是非常对。
Our writing styles are very different, though similar in the way we are always searching for 'meaning.' This wasn't my phrasing but I think it is absolutely correct.
Films
电影
  • Love Streams《爱的激流》

今天看的另外一部电影也是很沮丧的电影。但非常棒!是美国的独立导演的先驱约翰·卡索维茨的《爱的激流》。
Today I saw another sad film, but it was so great! It was Love Streams by independent American filmmaker John Cassavetes,
这部电影是讲心里都有问题的姐弟俩的故事。非常细腻,生动,有趣,悲伤。我看的时候很沮丧。因为他们演的太好了。导演就是男主角,他太帅了!太爱他了!
This film told the story of two heartbroken people. Exquisite, lively, interesting and sad. The acting was so good. The director is the lead actor, so handsome! I love him so much!
  • Summer Palace 《颐和园》

2008年2月6日 
昨天看电影《颐和园》哭了很久。
Yesterday I watched Summer Palace and cried for ages.

Carmen《卡门》

2006年6月7日 
今天翻到部《卡门》。2004年的西班牙电影。我从没在任何一个文学作品,或者电影里找到一个跟我如此接近的角色,我看这电影看得有点看傻了,因为好多小细节都让我想起以前的我。太奇怪了,而且在最最关键的时刻,她居然跟我说了一样的话:要么你放了我,要么你杀了我,我不爱你。
Today I watched Carmen, a Spanish film from 2004. I never find characters that resemble myself in literature or film, so I was shocked to find so many details that reminded me of the old me. So strange, and at key moments in the film she would speak the same as I did: "either leave me or kill me, I don't love you."

And plenty more. Mian Mian has been pretty quiet on the writing front recently, but you can find her blog (which this book was based on) over on Sina!

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!

Shocking Pinks head for China! 震惊粉红色来中国!

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 debut has 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!

在2004年,Myspace创建一年后,Nick Harte以 ‘The Shocking Pinks’ 之名由基督城Pinacolada Records发行了首张专辑《Dance, the Dance Electric跳舞,跳舞电子》,但现在这个小唱片公司和它原来的乐队Pig Out 和 Tiger Tones已经看不见了。这张专辑受到了新西兰和国际听众的高度评价后,他和Flying Nun签约,然后2005年发行《Mathematical Warfare数理战争》和《Infinity Land无限地》。2007年时,他由纽约LCD Soundsystem的James Murphy管理的 DFA Records发行了同名专辑《震惊粉红色》。

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!

Then there were three. Image from A Low Hum.
Then there were three. Image from A Low Hum.

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.

最近几年震惊粉红色的演出并不多见,所以我去年有幸参加《Guilt Mirrors罪镜子》专辑发行演出在惠灵顿的“小狗”(Puppies)。这个演出棒极了,他新建的现场乐队包括来自惠灵顿的Secret Knives乐队成员和一个又熟知又强大的鼓手。他们三个在一块正合适,像一个很脆爽有完美调味的美食。

Harte的刺穿耳膜放大器的反馈和从几堆纸唱出来的精简歌词融合在一起,夹杂着激情四射的贝斯节奏,切分的牛羚律动和尖锐的鼓点,震惊粉红色的声音就活跃起来了。

这个演出即亲密又迷人,观众面对强大的声场,跟我第一次看到他在2010年Camp A Low Hum音乐节现场时已经完全改变了。演出之后,我马上开始搜索粉红色的黑胶唱片,到底在Slow Boat Records买到了。

Shocking Pinks…Is it shoegaze? Is it lo-fi?

It is dance music. Deliciously hypnotic dance music.

震惊粉红色是什么风格?是自赏,还是低保真?

就是舞曲。了不起的迷幻舞曲。

Can’t wait! See you at the Beijing show.

超级期待,在北京见!

Shocking Pinks NZ/China Tour Dates 2015:

Goodbye, New Zealand! 再见新西兰!

8月28日 Aug 28 – Whammy Bar, Auckland 奥克兰

9月5日 Sept 5 – Puppies, Wellington 惠灵顿

China 中国

9月17日 Sept 17 – Dada (DJ Set), Beijing 北京
9月18日 Sept 18 – School, Beijing 北京
9月20日 Sept 20 – Echo Park Festival, Shanghai 上海
9月22日 Sept 22 – Loft345, Guangzhou 广州

New Zealand 新西

11月27日 Nov 27 – Darkroom, Christchurch, NZ 基督城
11月28日 Nov 28 – Chicks Hotel, Dunedin, NZ 达尼丁
12月   3日 Dec 3 – The Lyttelton Coffee Co, Lyttelton, NZ 利特尔顿
12月   4日 Dec 4 – Barrytown Hall, Barrytown, NZ
12月   5日 Dec 5 – Tim’s Place, Marahau, NZ 玛拉豪

See the full tour dates here on A Low Hum.

情点这里

Vinyl Destination: Interview with Cian O’Donnell from Conch Records

In this content-saturated Internet age of free digital downloads and infinite streaming, Cian O’Donnell is among those still repping the power of wax over at his well-loved shop Conch Records, which has been spinning records in the City of Sails for the best part of two decades. Kiwese caught up with the voice so familiar to George FM listeners ahead of his upcoming vinyl DJ sets at JUE | Music + Art Festival in Beijing and Shanghai next week.

KIWESE: Hey Cian! You are coming over to China next week, how did the connection with Lost Cargo and JUE Festival come about? CIAN: I met a lass called Olivia at Conch in Auckland last year. She never really told me what she did back home, but she’d come in, buy records and listen to a whole bunch of stuff in store, then came to one of the monthlies we organise called The Turnaround. Before she left, I invited her up onto my radio show [Earshot on George FM] to play a selection of young, fresh, Chinese beat makers. The stuff she brought up was so good! We got really good response on the text lines, so talked about doing some kind of collaborative promotion of artists in China and over here. Awesome! Who is she? Shanghai local? She is a promoter for The Shelter in Shanghai – which I’d heard about through people I know that have played there. It’s an old underground bomb shelter, definitely Shanghai’s underground (for use of a better word) alternative club, where different promoters come on and do different evenings, from hip hop to electronica to trap, footwork and whatever, with artists from James Pants to Kode9 and so on.

Listen up Beijing & Shanghai! Poster image from Wooozy.cn.
Listen up Beijing & Shanghai! Poster image from Wooozy.cn.

With JUE I’m gonna be speaking on a panel of four people, including Awesome Tapes from Africa, discussing the importance of communities that grow around important around music-related blogs, venues or events.

“A record shop is more than just a standard retail space – it ends up being a hangout, a communal meeting spot. Bands are formed, friends are made, gigs are staged.”

Can you tell us about the early beginnings of Conch Records? Living in Auckland in the mid ’90s, I was getting tired with finding the same records in every shop. So I started doing small orders with some of the distributors I used to work with overseas, mostly from Europe, then a friend who started the Aotea Square Markets approached me about doing a stall. I used to take down my turntables, two or three crates of records and a suitcase of CDs. It was a real success. After that, my now partner in Conch, Brent Holland, took a space in an old arcade on High Street, fitted it out with everything handmade timber and made it look amazing – it looked like a big packing crate. We stocked a really good alternative selection of Jamaican 7″s, independent hip-hop, quirky house, reggae, Brazilian, Latin… But although it was really loved and respected, it never really made any money. So we started looking for a bigger premises with more foot traffic. At our current premises on Ponsonby Road, it started with a small coffee shop and a few seats out front. Now we’ve managed to expand with a courtyard out back, its licensed and the whole bar and restaurant aspect has kind of overtaken the record store. This year the plan is to get back on track with the retail side. I’ve had the pleasure of going to Conch and thought the food and service was great. Do you think the gentrification of Ponsonby has resulted in a shift in focus from selling records to providing a dining experience? In some respects if we had opened up Conch right from the start eight years ago as a café/restaurant/bar, we would’ve smashed it. Because now, as you say, the whole area has been gentrified and there are just so many restaurants, cafes and bars competing along that whole area. The only reason we have recently changed focus is because we weren’t able to survive solely selling coffee and records.

“You hear all these stories about the resurgence of vinyl and the rest. Yes, maybe in a city of 20 million people where there is a history of vinyl; London, Tokyo, New York

But in little, old Auckland, where Serato was invented and where people like supporting homegrown products, more and more vinyl buyers are going digital.”

In saying that, all of Conch’s biggest sellers have been local releases. Our biggest selling 12” was Manuel Bundy’s Solephonic EP, we must’ve sold about 150 copies. We’ve also sold a lot of local 7”s. There is a label in Japan called Wonderful Noise which have signed up the crème de la crème of New Zealand beat makers. kitchen-slider-slide-3

Drool worthy meals from the Conch menu. Image from Conch.co.nz.
Drool worthy meals from the Conch menu. Image from Conch.co.nz.

You are originally from Hereford, England, how did you end up in New Zealand? I ended up here by mistake actually [laughs]. I was backpacking and travelling around when my visa in Australia was set to run out. That was 1988. I only had enough cash left to get to New Zealand and I had a contact in Wainuiomata. It was raining the whole time and I thought “what the hell am I doing here!” I managed to get a full time job at the old EMI store, where Rex Royale is now on Cuba Street, and got to meet Matt Poppelwell, one of the main DJs around town, who introduced me to what seemed like a third of the population of Wellington [laughs]. A lot of DJs will say they ‘play everything’ and that they are really eclectic, but this guy Matt really was. What were your initial impressions of the Wellington club scene in 1988? It was a bit scary [laughs]. If you went to a standard club, people were still listening to white boy electronic music like Depeche Mode, New Order and Fine Young Cannibals. I left just when the whole Acid House era kicked off in the UK. When I got over here, it still hadn’t really hit. So I would go with my Polynesian mates to some of the Poly clubs – they were playing modern RnB, Brit soul, American street soul… I loved those clubs. Much more black orientated than my white honky roots [laughs]. I grew up listening to Tamla Motown and that. What made you want to move to Auckland? The first time I came to Auckland I met a bunch of people who ran Planet Magazine and they really became my family over here. When I was over in London in the mid ’90s, they called me up and asked me to be the resident DJ in the space we used to live in for a new venue they were starting – the Khuja Lounge. This is back when Auckland was a much more interesting city and people used to live really interesting inner city spaces.

“We had the whole third floor on the corner of Queen Street and K Road for $50 a week.

There was nothing like it. We had old Indonesian furniture, a massive communal weaving table with scattered cushions around it. I’d start at 8pm and play till about 4am, Wednesday to Saturday. For any real DJ, that’s your dream gig, man. On the same floor, we’d opened up a talent agency called Saama Productions, which specialised in signing people from indigenous backgrounds. As a result, the Khuja was a real melting pot of all different styles and characters – everybody from models, actors, comedians and dancers were there. For about three or four years, we smashed it. It was the most enjoyable place I’ve ever played.

Image from George FM.
Selector and collector. Image from George FM.

Right now, Auckland could do with more…? Hmm… People that go on out and play more of a variety of music and take more risks. Venues that actually take time money and effort to put in proper sound systems and maintain them. Less of these kind of Pack Group bars and Mac Brewery Bars, with the same kind of soundtrack, the same kind of crowd. I don’t know if it’s the same in Wellington, but Auckland just feels like it’s been totally whitewashed. It feels like it’s the North Shore and Hamilton transplanted into the city on the weekend… Nowadays people become DJs overnight when their mate gives them a USB stick with 5000 records on it, with no experience or knowledge of any of the music… No time into digging, or money. Everyone’s a bloody DJ nowadays. What are you expecting from your time here in China? Never been to China before, I’ve always wanted to go. I fly out Tuesday night. I really hope this is the start of me being able to come out more regularly. I’m looking forward to everything! Shanghai sounds like such a crazy mix of the modern and old. I love big cities and what they have to offer and the whole energy. Any favourite Chinese beats at the moment? Favourite vocalist out of China is a lass called ChaCha. I’m not sure who is making her beats, but she rules! Favourite locals? Local stuff, whew! Coco Solid, Lord Echo, Julien Dyne, Electric Wire Hustle, Christoph El Truento, my mate Submariner, Stinky Jim (who doesn’t release stuff), Lawrence Arabia… so many, theres a lot of good music coming out of New Zealand! Chur Cian, hope you enjoy Shanghai and Beijing!

logo Read more about Conch Records, Cafe, Bar and Restaurant www.conch.co.nz Check out Cian’s weekly show Earshot Radio on George FM www.georgefm.co.nz | Every Sunday 10am – 12noon (NZ Time) The JUE Music + Art Festival program is here Next week Cian will play at DADA Beijing on Friday 13th March, followed by the Shelter in Shanghai on Saturday 14th!

The Shock of the New: Interview with Jin Jiangbo

Intrigued by the potential for free cocktails and drawn to the purple skyline on familiar, yet dream-like landscapes, Kiwese wandered into the opening of the group exhibition, Signals at Starkwhite Gallery on K Rd back in August.

The latter, the work of Shanghai-based artist Jin Jiangbo 金江波, who has been interpreting the visual language of New Zealand over the past five years and creating a dialogue with both the mountainous beauty of the South Island and the dilapidated factories of Taranaki.

It is 6pm at Little Algiers on K Rd. The cat-from-upstairs nimbly roams around the coffee machine. Jin Jiangbo takes a seat at the table and pours a freshly brewed pot of tea. He seems very much at home here in Auckland – the Shanghai of New Zealand – where he has been flitting back and forth for art and family since first coming to New Zealand in 2009.

IMG_6774

Originally from the fishing island of Yihuan, Zhejiang, Jin Jiangbo grew up near the ocean and holds fond memories of his childhood. “Being in New Zealand reminds me a lot of where I grew up. I think people that live near the ocean have a different temperament to those from who live inland,” he says.

“Where I’m from, the people are called “tǎo yú rén 讨鱼人,” people who make a living from fish, or “tǎo hǎi rén 讨海人,” people who beg the ocean for food. People from Yihuan have a very bold and determined way about them. In ancient times, if you went out fishing, there was no telling if you’d make it back. This affects the character of the local people.”

The personal connection to the ocean is one reason Jin Jiangbo came to New Zealand, as well as the World Famous Outside of New Zealand landscapes. “I’ve been to a lot of scenic places here and have been amazed by its natural beauty, the diversity of geology and landforms; the rich variation,” he muses of his road trips in the North and South Islands, where he captured them through more lenses than one. The mountainous topographies, low-lying mist and rain cloud formations felt familiar to his visions of classical Chinese landscapes.

Unpredictable, 2011, pigment ink on photo rag. Image from Eyecontact.
‘Unpredictable,’ 2011, pigment ink on photo rag. From ‘Dialogue in Nature’ series. Image from Eyecontact.

The resulting Dialogue in Nature (2011) series was exhibited at Starkwhite. “New Zealand was a kind of déjà vu. In my eyes, the scenery possessed the same kind of aesthetic spirit as the mountains and waterfalls of Song Dynasty landscapes.”

Instead of black ink and rice paper, he used analog photography to capture snapshots of these natural scenes before digitally reworking them. “I wanted to reimagine the New Zealand landscape; reshaping it with this visual language formed by my own views of shanshui 山水 painting and the Chinese literati’s understanding of nature and the universe.”

Image from Eyecontact.
‘Silent,’ 2011, pigment ink on photo rag. Image from Eyecontact.
The Rules of Nature. Image from Starkwhite.
‘The Rules of Nature’ interactive visual installation, 2013. Image from Starkwhite.

However, it was not only the scenery that visually linked New Zealand and China for Jin Jiangbo.

2009. The Global Financial Crisis sends shockwaves through the economy; the same year Jin Jiangbo first came to New Zealand through the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth.

The Eurozone needs bailing out. Manufacturing debris and cold concrete walls lie abandoned in China. The large-scale, wide angle photographs in Jin Jiangbo’s series The Great Economic Retreat (2008) act as a document of these deserted factories and buildings, the by-product of massive changes in the China economy.

“At that time, I was looking at the changes occurring in the global economy and how it was affecting places all around the world, as well as Chinese society and politics,” he says, “then in Patea near New Plymouth, I found a dilapidated factory that was similar to the ones in Dongguan, China. This connection gave me a sense of purpose.”

From the 'Freezing Works, Patea: The Taranaki Scene' series (2009). Image via photoforum-nz.org.
From ‘Freezing Works, Patea: The Taranaki Scene,’ 2009. Image via photoforum-nz.org.
“As a contemporary artist, it is impossible to separate the influence of political, institutional and economic impacts on our lives; they affect our behaviour and ability to think.”
Patea
From ‘Freezing Works, Patea: The Taranaki Scene,’ 2009. Image from China Art Weekly.

As an artist, one involves themselves in observing the current social and political situation with their own lens, to re-examine them and make their own judgments.”

Shanghai is no stranger to change. “The 2010 Shanghai World Expo followed the worst of the global economic crisis – everyone thought the economy was going collapse, with the state of the US economy and the debt crisis ravaging Europe,” he says. “But for China, in order to maintain high-speed development, GDP production and large investments in infrastructure… a direct consequence was the printing of more money, which done at such a speed and intensity that has subsequently brought inflation, rising prices, rising house prices and so on.”

The cost of living is an enormous pressure and we have all become mortgage slaves.”

生活成本压力巨大,大家都变成了房贷的奴隶.”

Financial department of a foreign capital television manufacturer, 2008. Image via Artsy.net.
Financial department of a foreign capital television manufacturer, 2008. Image via Artsy.net.

In addition to photography, Jin Jiangbo works with a range of other mediums in his installations under the umbrella of New Media Art.

“It is a dynamic concept,” he explains, “throughout the various stages of history, painting and art has always taken on new forms. For example, in ancient China before written word, we tied knots in ropes [结绳记事] and painted frescoes on rocks to record hunting achievements, to pay homage to ancestors, for marriage and childbirth ceremonies and so on. Then came paper, banana leaves and bamboo, followed by painting on paper and printing with etching presses. And now, in the modern day, we use cameras to photograph and record things. These things are all New Media Art, they are new against the backdrop of history and tradition. ­­­”

“Each form of media has a new interpretation, which bring a new style of language and cultural production, including how WeChat is now used more than email.”

This perceptive observation of modern society is perhaps reflected most acutely in Jin Jiangbo’s 2010 work God, Go Ahead With Chatting,《 天哪,你去聊吧》 – the striking and disturbing installation of a silica internet slave with his face twitching out on a computer screen, while other live screens hover above him.

WATCH: God, Go Ahead With Chatting:

“At the time there were mobile phones, but iPhones hadn’t been widely adopted, so people were still chatting on their computers with things like QQ, MSN, Skype, Facebook and chat rooms,” he says. “The world was enveloped by it. People would be chatting right into the night, myself included – it’s extremely tiring.” 

“A lot of these chat things are full of rubbish, but they provide a wealth of feelers to perceive the outside world. You can sing karaoke or play mahjong with people in chat rooms, some people even take English classes, check in with the stock markets, or even nude chat – all kinds of things. But you will eventually crash, because you can’t be in control in this digital world. So the idea is that before you collapse, the chat notification bubbles will still be floating around your brain, the online world continue on without you.”

As an Associate Professor of Contemporary Art with a PhD from Tsinghua University, Jin Jiangbo spoke of his approach to creating art from an analytical perspective. “Inspiration is sometimes fleeting, a lot of things cannot be considered as inspiration – they are more like a kind of research. I think it is important to study texts and contexts, researching history, news, the political situation – these things will prompt me in finding what I should be focussing on. Instead of a flash of inspiration or a ‘eureka!’ moment – I think dissecting things give me a kind of joy.”

“Art assists you to know this world – more precisely, to cognize a world that differs from what you have seen before.”

Having established links between the Fine Arts College of Shanghai University and friends at the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland, Jin Jiangbo feels positive about the opportunity for collaboration between both staff and students. “People here are very friendly and have a strong appreciation of art and life,” he says of his experience in New Zealand, where his immediate family are now based. “Last year we invited the Auckland School of Fine Arts to attend the Shanghai Design Biennale, the largest of its kind in the design world. Our teachers and students were able to share research on geological change in urban environments and disaster relief measures. It was very interesting for all involved.”

The future looks bright, as he speaks enthusiastically about plans for the 2nd International Public Art Forum to be held next year with the Shandong University of Art and Design and the Hong Kong Institute for Public Art.  “This provides a platform for more international researchers, scholars, artists, critics and curators to come to Auckland and discuss the relationship between public art and cultural development, in New Zealand and rest of the world,” he says of the anticipated event, “it is the highest international honour in the public art world.”

It’s nearly dinner time, the tea pot is empty, so I ask Jin Jiangbo if he has any advice for young artists.

“I am a young artist, too!” he remarks, and I wince at the inference I may have made otherwise. “For those starting out, you need to stimulate your own creativity instead of copying others, or following a path that has already been walked. You’ve got to uncover your own creative talent, your own artistic language… it is certainly a very interesting process.”

Read the full interview in Chinese here

Many thanks to Jin Jiangbo! Additional thanks to Wing for assisting with Chinese transcription and the VUW Chinese Language Club for a little translation help.

Special thanks to Djamel and Alex at Little Algiers on K Rd, for letting me use the café for the interview after hours! Legends!

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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!

Enter the lounge with Kerry Ann Lee

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.

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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.

Home Made Installation.
Home Made Installation (2008), Toi Poneke Gallery. “I find a lot of descendants from migrant families in NZ get this piece – they understand it because its similar in their families – collecting and hoarding random junk as a form of stake hold in settlement.”

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.

Restaurants (2007). Image from the artist.
Restaurants (2007). Image from the artist.

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.

Kitchen Universe (2007). From KAL's Masters thesis.
Kitchen Universe (2007). Image from KAL’s Masters thesis and Home Made book.

“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 from China!'”

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.

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[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.

I recall John Lake mentioning your name during an interview about Up the Punks, tell us about your interest in music?

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.”

Poster for PUNK FEST 1999 designed by Kerry Ann Lee. Image from the Up the Punks archive!
Poster for PUNK FEST 1999 designed by Kerry Ann Lee. Image from the Up the Punks archive!

Growing up in the 80s it was super pop. I will listen to anything. I’m a big John Cage fan… but I also listen to Crass, Screamin’ Jay, Weezer, Nina Simone… My friend Julia in Milan sent me a bunch of records that she put out on her label Vida Loca Records, [puts on a record]. There is whole lot of crazy shit in here. Backyard Burial to the Breeders, to Shanghai Lounge DivasTom Waits, Hanggai, ESG

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.

KAL feat. the Haibao mascot that covered Shanghai during the World Expo 2010. Photo courtesy of KAL.
KAL feat. the Haibao mascot that covered Shanghai during the World Expo 2010. Photo courtesy of KAL.

At Te Papa’s China in the Pacific Forum, you talked about doing the WARE Residency in Shanghai in ’09 during the city’s preparation for the 2010 World Expo.

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.

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Big City Rising. Image from Ocula.
Big City Rising. Image from Ocula.

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.

Double Dragon (2012), Commissioned by Enjoy Gallery for the Wellington City Council's Light Box Project.
Double Dragon (2012). “I was quietly stoked about this one because I managed to get a Chinatown archway in Courtenay Place. These small things within Council perimeters.”

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.”

What are you reading at the mo?

I recently read Slouching Towards Bethlam by Joan Didion. Now I’m reading some short stories by Italo Calvino.

What are you listening to at the mo?

Random classics. $1 discount CDs. Got a great $4 Buddy Holly CD from Grayson for my birthday. This mix I made for Stevie Kaye.

Anything you recommend people check out?

Any advice for aspiring artists?

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!

Thanks Kerry Ann, you da man!

Catch Kerry Ann Lee speaking at the Working the Gap Symposium presented by The Adam Art Gallery, as part of their series of free public events exploring art writing now in Wellington, Sat 9 Aug.

For Aucklanders – Unstuck in Time will be on at Te Tuhi from 2 August – 26 October.

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God Bows to Math make some noise in China

Awesome people, free red wine, glamorous poodles, unexpected blackened chicken feet fished out of wonton soups… Kiwese had a yarn with God Bows to Math guitarist/vocalist Martin Phillips about their latest tour, the underground post-punk scene in China and how to make soup dumplings.

The noise they emit is as raw as a dodgy steak. They play each show with a psychopathic intensity, whether its for two people or two hundred. They have played too many gigs to count, dozens and dozens a year for like five years. Who knows, I’m crap at math.

God Bows to Math is Martin Phillips, Sam Cussen and Tom Morrison – the trinity that was resurrected from the dust of previous bands back in 2008. Over the years, they have ceaselessly toured around New Zealand and Australia, making friends, meeting bands and leaving a trail of deafening amplifier feedback in their wake. It’s that “fuck it why not” attitude that led God Bows to Math [神弓至数学 Shén gōng zhì shùxué] to pummel Chinese audiences with their churning fist full of noise last November, and chat with them over a couple of Tsingtaos afterwards.

From left: Sam, Martin, Tom
The boys from left: Sam, Martin, Tom

I hung out with the lovely folks from God Bows to Math and Carb on Carb after the first show of their eleven date China tour in Beijing. Whether it was the hypnotic drone of noise, the fondness of their Kiwi accents or the effects of drinking baijiu straight out of the bottle, I decided to ditch school, call in sick for work, buy some train tickets and catch them again 1,379km south down the country in Suzhou. The fact that a pair of bands from Auckland had come all the way to China to play music was just too much for me!

“他是Tom, 他是Sam, 我是Martin, 我们是God Bows To Math, 谢谢” [He’s Tom, He’s Sam, I’m Martin, We are God Bows to Math] panted Martin into a microphone of feedback, as he introduced the band after blasting through several tracks at MAO Livehouse. Whether it was saying xie xie after each tweak during soundcheck, Tom approving of the sea-salt cream coffee in Suzhou, finding unidentifiable animal parts in our wonton soups; they were here in China and enjoying the differences that were thrown at them.

Tom with aforementioned beverages at Mao Livehouse
Tom with the aforementioned beverages at Mao Livehouse

What drew you guys to China? It doesn’t seem to be the typical next destination after you’ve toured NZ and Aus?

Not many NZ bands seem to look in that direction. But in Australia heaps of bands do, with the Sino-Australia exchange and Shaun at Tenzenmen there are more links between the two scenes. Plus, Australia is closer to Indonesia so a lot of Aussie bands we know tend to tour South-East Asia as well. There’s a growing feeling about China from NZ too – Disasteradio has toured there and so did Die! Die! Die! in recent years. Getting more than one person to do something like that is tough.

Happy times at Rat on Swamp Dog in Shanghai
Happy times at Rat on Swamp Dog in Shanghai

Tell us about how you guys got hanging with Pairs.

We were introduced to China through Pairs in Shanghai. When Rhys and F came to NZ, Benji [MUZAI Records] and I booked their tour for them – so that’s when the idea came about. Rhys basically used the New Zealand tour as an advertising campaign to get people to come over to China. It was a bit of whirlwind tour, we managed to fit in nine shows over two weeks: Tauranga, Wanganui, Hunterville, Wellington, Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch and a house party in Auckland. It was around Chinese New Year as well so I think they paid a ridiculous amount of costs. It’s pretty hard to convince bands to do that, but those two are always down to do a crazy amount of shows in a short amount of time.

Poster from the Pairs Summer Sweat Tour 2012
Poster from the Pairs Summer Sweat Tour 2012

So the 7” split idea came into fruition from those long road trips down the North Island?

Yeah, Rhys said he knew someone who was interested in releasing a split record so we jumped at that opportunity as well [Nevin Domer from Genjing Records]. We met James from Bomb Shop in the UK through Rhys, as they had released Pairs album over there, and then Shaun Tenzenmen in Australia who again we knew from touring and various people, so along with Muzai, it became this four label, cross-global release.

Split record with Genjing (CHN), Bomb Shop (UK), Muzai (NZ) and Tenzenmen (AUS)
Split record with Genjing (CHN), Bomb Shop (UK), Muzai (NZ) and Tenzenmen (AUS)

Has the split helped you guys get more exposure in China?

Yeah I definitely think so. A lot of it has been Rhys, Tom from This Town Touring, Nevin at Genjing and Dann Gaymer, who have done a lot to promote it over there as well. Same with our album too, it seems a few people had gotten to hear it. Internet wise, we got a Douban page before the tour. We don’t have a Weibo yet, but baby steps! I can’t handle social media, I let Cuss do all the Twitter and that.  

Da boyzzzzz getting ruckus at the show in Zaozhuang
Da boyzzzzz getting ruckus at the show in Zaozhuang

What were your perceptions of the Chinese music scene before coming on tour?

The book Inseparable by David O’Dell. He lived in Beijing in the 1990s, the punk era of bands like Underbaby. It culminates with the rise of D-22 and bands like P.K 14 and Hedgehog, more about the punk and hardcore scene. I know Nevin helped with distro so he would know where to get a copy. I bought mine from Shaun but I think he sold out. [editor’s note: everyone should read this interview with O’Dell]

As far as logistics go, how was touring China for five Aucklanders with no Mandarin?

The whole thing went really smoothly, though when you are on tour, ‘smooth’ takes on a different definition to what it does in normal life, because there’s bound to be things that go wrong. All in all it was definitely one of the easiest things we’ve ever done organization wise because Mattessi took care of most of it then our incredible tour manager Vivian took care of the details. The transport was great – I love China’s fast trains. It definitely beats nine hours of driving. We’ve done Australia where we’ve driven from Melbourne to Newcastle in one day, by the time you arrive at the venue you’re nearly dead and you’re not really in the mood to do a show. Whereas having a nap on the train, reading a book, then having dinner and showing up is definitely a different feeling. We had five people from two different bands on a tour of China, I’m proud that we managed to get there.

Making friends on the road
Making friends on the road

You had studied a bit of the language before coming to China?

“Wǒ xiǎng hē píjiǔ!” [我想喝啤酒, I want to drink beer]. That was a key phrase. I think people were good about me speaking without tones, though I’d like to learn more. It is very difficult to learn a language from books and Chinese pronunciation is pretty tough going. In China I found myself being really drawn into all of the signs and trying to work out the characters!

God Bows with the gigantic poster at Red Sugar Bar
God Bows with the gigantic poster at Red Sugar Bar

Any Chinese food recommendations?

I’m gonna try keep a journal of my efforts to make soup dumplings. It’s a local Shanghai thing. Shēng jiān bāo [生煎包] from Yang’s Fried Dumplings in Shanghai. It’s just incredible and so cheap. I ordered like a dozen of them and a wonton soup as well. Delicious. It’s basically just fat in gelatin, so unhealthy.

shengjianbao

What’s the music scene like in Auckland these days?

I think the scene in Auckland is really healthy at the moment. There seems to be a lot of good bands, more people coming to gigs and enjoying it, which means everything benefits – venues do better, bands do better, people make more of an effort. Though some of the best venues still have trouble keeping their doors open and even when things go well, their share of the night time entertainment audience is still a ridiculously small slice of the pie. I never subscribe to the old Ian MacKaye ‘DIY should be about the music’ vibe, I like going to bars and seeing bands. I like being able to have a beer and watch them. They’ve just changed the alcohol licensing laws and made changes to when bars can close. Whammy and Lucha feel the pinch because they are late bars and have late shows, yet they aren’t the ones that have problems with people spilling out onto the streets and having drunken fights, those are from the shitty clubs which make enough money to stay afloat anyway…

Tell me about your own plans with the China-NZ music relationship.

It’s one of those things that is hampered by a lack of money and a lack of time. I’d like to get some more Chinese bands over here. I tried to convince [Yang] Haisong to get either After Argument or P.K 14 to come to NZ. He appeased me by saying yes but I don’t know if they will [laughs]. That would be a bit of a dream. Hoping to get Nevin’s band Fanzui Xiangfa over at some stage as well. Actually one band is coming in 2015, Guiguisuisui. Most people we speak to are like “woah, whats China like? There’s music over there? That’s crazy!” But China have an amazing underground scene and it would be nice to share what’s happening there. It is fairly easy to find out about the underground scene in America and even Australia, but there’s not much awareness about what’s happening in China. I guess it also has something to do with different mediums, it’s hard to find Chinese bands on Facebook, you don’t have the same avenues for sharing it. We should get links to show people and create a bit more interest. 

Maaaates.
Maaaates.

In recent years there have been a a growing number of DIY bands from NZ touring China, but there doesn’t seem to be a reciprocal effort from local Chinese bands heading to NZ.

I think it has something to do with the size of NZ and the fact that there are more opportunities in China. It’s the same reason it’s harder to get Australian bands over to NZ than it is to get NZ bands to Australia. Carsick Cars have been to Australia heaps. If you had the option to play festivals with some of your favourite bands at home, that’s something you should pursue over going on holiday to NZ. Though if anything people are attracted to the idea of NZ scenery. We lost a lot of money going over to China because we did it like a holiday, but I guarantee you would lose more going the other way. Then there’s the language barrier as well. There isn’t the same network of tour managers in NZ as there is in China. There’s no one who has ever tour managed a band in NZ that can speak both Mandarin and English. Every band we met over in China spoke English a hell of a lot better than I spoke Chinese!

Tightly Wound at Mao Livehouse
Tightly Wound at Mao Livehouse

A few Chinese bands have been funded come to NZ in the past, but they don’t seem to reach the same sort of audience that they do in China. For example, Chinese heavy metal legends Tang Dynasty playing at the family-orientated Lantern Festival in February.

It really depends as a band. It is hard to go somewhere you have never been before and end up in places that you wanna be. I know this band from Germany who got really lucky and ended up booking themselves an amazing tour of NZ playing these underground venues, but it could have just as easily ended up with them playing at the local pub in East Auckland to the wrong people in the wrong environment, billed the wrong way. It is really difficult to know the intricacies of scenes. With metal bands, there would be a lot better places to play than the Lantern Festival, that’s like if we went over to China and played at some sort of NZ cultural event, or even at a televised rugby match, it wouldn’t really feel right.

I guess there needs to be something special to entice bands to come on their own, something they can’t get anywhere else.

The Hobbit. Start a sub-culture of Tolkien underground noise rock.

to be continued…

Deafen yourself and bow down here.

Watch them perform live at Mao Livehouse on Youku, though you might have to sit through a KFC ad first.

Now check out the interview with Nicole and James from Carb on Carb.

Cheers to Nevin at Genjing Records for the insight and Nicole for some of the pics!