Tag Archives: stolen

The Rise and Demise of Morning Bar 早上好

Rumours have been circulating for months now, but the demolition of Morning Bar 早上好 on Minzhu Lu has finally become a reality.

Kiwese looks back on the old venue and forward to the new, ahead of Chunyou 春游 2016 this weekend.

zaoshanghao-logo-black

When people ask where I learned to speak Chinese, there are two truths – I studied at Victoria University of Wellington, Beijing Language and Culture University and Sichuan University for five years in three programs. But it was at Zaoshanghao where I really found my voice.

Located on Minzhu Lu 民主路 (Democracy Road), a quiet old street off the First Ring Road in the city centre, Zaoshanghao was a little local bar run by owner Zhang Xin and his crew of can-do local bros. Driven by a DIY attitude, love of chilling and independent music, over the past seven years Zaoshanghao has become a staple venue in the Chengdu music scene as well as the hosts and collaborators of some of the city’s most memorable music festivals.

Zaoshanghao on Minzhu Lu is a five minute walk from my flat or a two minute bike ride. Many friends live even closer; some moved to Jiuyanqiao just to be near it. Stylistically speaking, the crowd is a real mixed bag – hip hop rap stars, rasta potheads, punk guitarists, computer engineers, wandering folk singers, poets, hairdressers, techno producers, experimental cellists, oil painters, and more. Zaoshanghao is the beating heart of our little community.

I’ve celebrated the past two birthdays and New Year’s Eves at Zaoshanghao. I’ve met almost all my friends there. Zaoshanghao and the community of friends that make it great are a huge reason I am living here.

Though not an official ‘livehouse,’ the low stage and banging PA system has spawned random jam sessions, afternoon reggae gigs, experimental shows and impromptu DJ sets. While the majority of shows are hosted at the garden venue in Flower Town, the Minzhu Lu stage has been graced by bands as diverse as Soviet Pop, Noise Temple, Kawa and Jurat T.T.

With a fairly loose chuck-on-your-own music policy, people would be constantly plugging their phones into the main system, filling the weekday airwaves with music to share.

KAWA
Yunnan psych-reggae band Kawa performing an afternoon set at Zaoshanghao. Sept 2015.
Cvalda (Mist) keeping it cool in the courtyard. Sept 2015.
Cvalda (Mist) keeping it cool dub style in the courtyard. Sept 2015.
Cave Circles playing the NUART Festival after party with Su and Lady Lazer Light, during the Chengdu stop of the Orchestra of Spheres China Tour. Oct 2015.
Cave Circles playing the NUART Festival after party w/ Su and Lady Lazer Light on the Chengdu stop of the Orchestra of Spheres China Tour. Oct 2015.
xiang + kr zsh
Xiang on the mix, me on guitar. New Year’s Eve, Dec 2015.

Zaoshanghao catered through the seasons, providing a place of warmth and good company all year round. The courtyard out back is cold beer in the summer and roasting round the fire in the winter. Kittens and spiders scuttled about, the foozball table perpetually in motion. Patti Smith gazed over the space in her white shirt and blazer, while the giant wooden giraffe towered above the stage.

Climb the stairs to the rooftop and you’ll find yourself sitting on a platform among the haggard rooftops of the houses next door. Amidst everyone’s grief about the closure, many have cited the greatest loss as the two banana trees out back, which have grown into ginormous beasts over the past four years due to being smothered in a full bag of fertiliser.

The charm of Zaoshanghao also stems from the neighbourhood. Surrounded by trees, cheap eateries and dilapidated wooden houses, the kind where walls are insulated with compressed ferns and newspapers. Morning traffic consists of elderly folk biking home from the vegetable market, while in the afternoon the street is lined with three-wheeled snack vendors parking up to feed the outpour of students from the music academy.

The sound of musical instruments and school children can be heard floating through the air, punctuated by the distinctive clink-clink-clank of iron hammers from local sweet sellers – the Chengdu version of the Mr. Whippy tune. The buildings are built in the old style, with traditionally tiled rooftops, open balconies and patterned brick window fittings.

roof

ming
Ming Ming, bassist from The Hormones/Hiperson and the Zaoshanghao triceratops. Nov 2015.

Minzhu Lu held the vestiges of the city people once knew, and while towering skyscrapers and identical apartment buildings sprung up like wild grass, Zaoshanghao was a little haven of sanity amidst the madness. People felt comfortable there. It was like home.

In a city that has experienced such rapid, unimaginable change over the past 20 years, it was in this familiar environment that the second Zaoshanghao found it’s roots. Although the buildings were rundown, they were full of character and history, traits which become scarcer and scarcer with every newly built shopping complex.

Minzhu Lu is a quiet residential street off the First Ring Road, properties from 1 through 13 were given their demolition eviction notices late last year. Zaoshanghao is number 13.

Word that Zaoshanghao was going to be 拆掉 demolished began circulating in conversation about a year ago – everything but the date was certain. The government wanted to build a music hall next to the music school, everything had to go.

On several occasions throughout the year, it was said the bar only had two weeks left. Weeks later, we’d still be sitting out back drinking beers.

In November, it sounded as if the news was certain – two weeks left, for 真的 real this time. Residents from the surrounding apartments were shifting out, the moving trucks were being piled up, restaurants pulled their shutters down and pasted notices of thanks to the community for their years of patronage.

Kiwese interviews on the rooftop. Nov 2015.
Kiwese interviews on the rooftop. Nov 2015.

Along with two architect friends, I began to film interviews with friends of Zaoshanghao and local restaurants along Minzhu Lu, with the idea of producing a documentary about the demolition of the street called ‘Goodbye, Democracy Road‘ 《民主路,再见》.

“How long have you lived here?” Yang Yang yelled across to a resident washing the dishes in their sink on the balcony.

“Since 1973,” they replied, “we’ve got to leave by this weekend.”

Everyone was shocked to hear that there were only two weeks left, and as with most Chinese bureaucracy, the issue was shelved for another few months.

All throughout the winter, we converged around the brazier out back, burning the remnants of the old community around us.

Winter was spent sifting through the vacated brick flats for wood, old furniture and pot plants. Some of the stuff the guys found looked like it belonged in a museum. Rescuing the old things before the bulldozers come in and nothing is spared.

With the neighbours gone, the sound system was pumped up to its full potential. New Year’s saw Hiroshi play hard techno until 6am.

Zaoshanghao didn’t officially open again after Chinese New Year.

fire
烤火. Jan 2016.

Demolition of Minzhu Lu started mid-last month at the mouth of the street. A blue wall was put up around the perimeter before being replaced with a brick one, which will likely remain that way for another year or so.

The blue wall now sits around Zaoshanghao and it’s neighbours, marking the inevitable. While many of us are upset, the Zaoshanghao crew are already onto the next. This is the second venue owner Zhang Xin has been evicted from in four years and he is not letting it stop him from continuing.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 3.28.23 pm
The wreck of the first Zaoshanghao on Xiaotong Xiang. Nov 2015.

I’ve been super emotional about the demolition of the old street and community. The evicted residents will be scattered into soulless high rises on the outskirts of the third ring road, forever separated from the neighbours they’ve played mahjong with for the past three decades. The abandoned buildings will be left to decay, then replaced by buildings of the homogenised, modern city blueprint.

For my local friends, the news is sad but commonplace. I listen to their stories about what Chengdu was like when they were young – full of teahouses with big wooden slide doors, street side barbershops, swimming in the river, roads full of bicycles and carts. Now it is enormous high rises, freeways packed with cars and billboard screens. I think about what Wellington was like when I was younger. It more or less the same now. Revisiting spots from one’s childhood is not a possibility that exists for the locals of Chengdu. People have a different perspective on change here, it has been a constant for as long as they can remember.

Sometimes I think that’s why people here like taking photos, as a way of preserving memories when everything has been destroyed.

However, in an endless cycle of destruction and construction, there is life, rebirth and creativity.

Minzhu Lu. Mar 2016.
The demolition of Minzhu Lu has begun. Mar 2016.

Zaoshanghao have started a new venue out in Flower Town: Morning House. Sunshine, fresh air, bird song in the flower-growing village in the south of the city. Moving into the old Xiwo, the crew have established two more stages on either side of the swimming pool. New beginnings, bigger and better. Shit just got real.

In true DIY style, Zaoshanghao have smashed down the fence at the back and expanded into some of the old houses out back, converting them into an electronic music room, rehearsal space and studios for local band Stolen 秘密行动 and folk singer Zhang Xiaobing 张小饼. At the front, they have built a beautiful wooden stage beneath a plot of tall, willowing trees. While the banana trees at Minzhu Lu will be missed, there are plenty more tree friends at the new venue.

The new Zaoshanghao is beautiful and inspired. This weekend it is gonna kick off, as the fourth annual Chunyou rolls around!!

Xiaohu and the new steps he built to the main stage. Apr 2016.
Xiaohu and the new steps he built to the main stage. Apr 2016.

chunyou

春夏秋冬又一年,
时间将逝去的带入新轮回,
同样也孕育了新生。

今年正值Morning早上好七周年,
拆建拆之后,我们和喜蜗合作,
拥有了一个更加舒适宽敞的#Morninghouse#举办本次春游。

【春游】

不仅是每年春天的一次砰然心动,
各色人儿在这个节日里聚集碰撞,
制造出新鲜、疯狂和热爱。

也是一个城市在春天发出的声音,
浓缩着成都的生活方式:
悠闲、安逸、巴适板!

17组国内外优质音乐人,16位武艺高超的DJ
Jam,帐篷电影放映,门球波比德州,
美食和啤酒,以及两天不间断的好春光。
4月23(六)- 4月24(日)
三圣乡Morninghouse,尽兴游起来!

Chunyou is going big this year, with 17 bands and 16 DJs playing on two stages. Making a return from last year’s Chunyou will be local faves Hiperson and Stolen!

Food/Alcohol/Multiple Stages/Open Jam Sessions/Film Screenings/Grassland Croquet/Taca-Taca/Texas Hold’Em Poker and more… Plus the electronic music stage is going 24/7.

See the details below:

ADDRESS:
Morning House 早上好
成都市锦江区三圣乡东篱菊园菊园路112号 早上好
Juyuan Rd 112-Donglijuyuan, Sanshengxiang, Jinjiang, Chengdu

TICKETS:
Get your pre-sales on Zaomengshe.
Doorsales:100rmb(1-day);180(2-days)
Presale:     80rmb(1-day);150(2-days)

4月23日 DAY 1: BAND STAGE 乐队舞台

14:30-15:20   疆与他的朋友们 Jiang with Friends
15:20-16:10   亮子与乐队 Liang Zi
16:10-17:00   Pascal Pinon(Iceland)
17:00-17:50   Kingkong&The Chum(Thailand)
17:50-18:40   Apollo 20
19:30-20:20   海朋森 Hiperson
20:20-21:10   未之域 Terra Incognita
21:10-22:00   罗友生 Luo You Sheng
22:00-22:50   秘密行动 Stolen
22:50-23:40   声音玩具 Soundtoy

4月24日 DAY 2: BAND STAGE 乐队舞台

14:30-15:20   汪文伟 Wang Wen Wei(SH)
15:20-16:10   张尧 Zhang Yao(CQ)
16:10-17:00   黄晶与乐队 Huang Jing(CQ)
17:00-17:50   搞乐队 Gao Band
17:50-18:40   Jahwahzoo
19:30-20:20   树子 Shuzi
20:20-21:10   Don Camilo(France)
21:10-22:00   说唱会馆 CDC

4月23日 DAY 1: ELECTRONIC STAGE 电子舞台

14:00-15:00   Eric Huang
15:00-16:30   Xiaolong
16:30-18:00   Su
18:00-19:30   Xiang
19:30-22:00   Sulumi(BJ)
22:00-00:30   BBdeng(TW)

4月24日 DAY 2: ELECTRONIC STAGE 电子舞台

00:30-03:00   DIO(BJ)
03:00-05:30   Yang Bing(BJ)
05:30-07:30   Sunyoung
07:30-09:30   Voko X
09:30-11:30   Blue
11:30-14:00   chill set
14:00-16:00   Cvalda & Ni Bing(BJ)
16:30-18:00   Summer & Nature Bao
18:00-19:30   Ewan
19:30-21:30   Harry Ho
21:30-23:30   Mickey Zhang(BJ)


tree

I am going to be playing with techno kweens Su and Xiang from atmen in creating some dark grooves on the Electronic stage!

Kiwese is very glad to join the Zaoshanghao crew this year in making videos and doing interviews! Stay tuned for more soon..

See you at Chunyou!

 

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!

Favourite Shows 2015

What makes a ‘good show’? The artist? The venue? The crowd? Here is a list of ten shows in chronological order that left an impression on Kiwese this year.

“Music, in performance, is a type of sculpture. The air in the performance is sculpted into something.” – Frank Zappa

To me, live music is a symbiotic relationship between performer and audience, they need each other to exist. There is an unfiltered bond between the artist and the crowd at every show, an unrepeatable experience in time and space. The shows I tend to enjoy most are the ones where the crowd is engaging somehow with the performers, whether through dancing or cheering or stage invading – letting the performers know they are not alone.

With the increase of computers in music production today, old expectations of live music have shifted to accommodate these new digital elements. While some critics believe computers detract from a live show, artists are creating and embracing interesting new ways to perform with digital technology. In China, going out to a gig in 2015 no longer means bass-drums-guitar, but rather something that echoes the digital world we live in.


 

2015.01.31
South Acid MiMi Dance Team @
MAO Livehouse Kunming
南方酸性咪咪领舞队在昆明MAO Livehouse

I stumbled into a South Acid MiMi show in Kunming in January and never looked back. Officially indoctrinated into the girl cult of face masks, weird music, freaky dancing and lots of whiskey. Very stoked to have been able to collaborate with them and Lady Lazer Light in October. This early MiMi show was filled with lots of experimental instruments and props, which have since been refined into three keyboards, a laptop and percussion.


2015.04.17
Noise Temple @ Little Bar Chengdu
黄金+绵羊在小酒馆

Noise Temple is hypnotic, digital, dark – the syncing together of VJ Mian’s visual projections and Huang Jin’s razor sharp drumming abilities makes for a unique pulsating of the senses. This show featured contemporary dancers (thought I’d see pigs fly at Little Bar first) and vocal/instrumental cameos from various musicians. Unfortunately, Huang Jin has since moved to Beijing to join Re-TROS so Noise Temple no longer play with the blessed regularity we had gotten used to in Chengdu.

Video below is from another show at Morning Bar in April.


2015.04.25
Aus-atmen @ Xiwo, Chengdu
Luna, Cvalda, Hiroshi, Xiang, Su

New techno/minimal/ambient music label Atmen had their debut party in an empty swimming pool in the leafy outskirts of Flower Town. Featuring Cvalda, Hiroshi, Xiang and Su, playing to the early morning. Enough said.


2015.06.26 – 2015.06.28
Neverland Electro Music Festival @ Wulong Fairy Mountain, Chongqing
山谷露营电子音乐节 仙女山 武隆 重庆

Two days, two nights, two stages – Neverland 2015 returned to the misty mountains outside of Chongqing, following their first festival in 2013. Neverland is a collaboration between NUTS and Morning Bar, attracting fans and friends from Chengdu, Chongqing and surrounding regions such as Guizhou. Camping festivals are few and far between in China, and Neverland beautifully fills the need.

The location is sublime – rolling green hills, white flowing mist and cloudless skies. The main stage saw DJs from around the region bring everything from swing to techno, while the psytrance community stayed entranced with their own 24/7 party at the stage on the flat. A very low key and awesome festival, with only a couple of hundred punters and no security. Amped for next year!

Neverland poster


2015.07.03
Hiperson @ Little Bar Space Chengdu
海朋森在小酒馆空间

When Hiperson set out to tour ‘No Need For Another History’ 《我不要别的历史》, they returned as a different band. Several hundred friends and fans turned up to the new big Little Bar (the new/old/big Little Bar thing is gonna get confusing) to welcome them home, and they sure as hell delivered. Kiwese became the first person to ever stage dive at a Hiperson show – life achievement unlocked.

Chen Sijiang, who’d shaved all her hair off in Shenzhen, completely commanded the stage with guitarists Ji Yinan and Liu Zetong thrashing about in the wings and Tao Ge bopping with conviction on bass. When the band went silent for Sijiang’s monologue and the spotlight lit her shaved head and wide-open eyes, you could hear a pin drop as the entire crowd sat in the palm of her hand. A mighty performance from one of Chengdu’s favourite bands.


2015.08.01
Stolen ‘Loop’ Album Release Show @ U37
w/ Dead J and Noise Temple
秘密行动《循环》专辑首发演出

Chengdu turned out in droves for Stolen’s album release show at an empty warehouse in U37. Perhaps some of us were a little TOO excited – I almost broke my ankle in the mosh pit and had to be carried husband-bride style to a taxi by my flatmate. Nevertheless, an epic show from a band that has become one of the most talked about acts in China this year. That synth-bass break in A Glossy Flirt has become my official pogo beer shower anthem.

Managed to catch Stolen on tour in Guangzhou and Beijing as well, but the energy at this album release home show was unparalleled.


2015.09.18
Shocking Pinks @ School Bar Beijing
震惊粉红色在北京学校酒吧

Kiwese caught an overnight train from Chengdu to catch Shocking Pinks first show in China at the notorious School Bar in Beijing. The formula of Ash Smith (bass) and Cory Champion (drums) that was concocted last year at Puppies is still solid, as Nick Harte led them through a selection of songs from his previous albums to a responsive and dance-ready crowd. Check out the interview at live performance of ‘Smoke Screen’ in the video below.

IMG_1935
Shocking Pinks, School Bar Beijing. Photo by Kiwese

 

2015.09.29 – 2015.10.11
Orchestra of Spheres + Lady Lazer Light China Tour
星迹乐团和女士拉泽光中国巡演

Dreams do come true! This year Orchestra of Spheres (Xīngjī Yuètuán) came to China, YEAH HARD! In a twist of seriously awesome timing, their hometown partner-in-crime Lady Lazer Light was in Beijing on an art residency and brought her cosmic visions on tour! Crowds in Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Kunming, Dali, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Wuhan were given their first taste of OOS magic.

In addition to OOS, special side-shows included Cave Circles + Globular Synthesis at Brothers BBQ in Feijiacun, The Niubis in Chongqing and a Cave Circles + Su live techno set at Morning Bar Chengdu.

Big love to Baba Rossa, Mos Ioccos, EtonalE, Woild Boin and Lady Lazer Light putting their faith in Kiwese and being incredibly rad people.


2015.12.17
múm @ Little Bar Space Chengdu
在小酒馆空间

A band that uses cello and melodica – I was prepared to hate this. Pronounced miooyyuujm, Icelandic atmospheric-music-to-have-sex-to band múm gave us a spiritual show of delicate vocal harmonies and careful layering of instruments, alongside slow panning lights and dramatic hisses of fog – the singer’s pixie sigh of ‘xie xie‘ the only thing that would break the audience out of their sonic incantations. At times I felt like I was sinking into the ground, no one was moving. My favourite part was when the singer started to theatrically rip her own head off – see video below.


2015.12.18 – 2015.12.19
Ein-atmen @ Chengdu Air Raid Shelter
在成都金里西路放空

And finally, to round off the year, the crew from Atmen and Morning Bar hosted a two-night techno party in an air raid bunker in downtown Chengdu. Music wise – the first night featured Tanzman, Su, Ewan and Haozi and the second night continued with Xiaolong, Xiang and Hiroshi. Visual artists projected their works throughout the shelter all weekend. The air raid shelter is like nothing I’ve seen before – long corridors of old concrete rooms and rusty steel fittings.

With Chengdu undergoing so much construction and change, it was beautiful to be part of something so fresh and innovative in the underground chasms of the city. This is what it is all about – people coming together to build events in new spaces.

Read the Zaomengshe interview with Su and Xiang here.


 

Want to find out about events before they happen? Many of these events sold pre-sale tickets on Zaomengshe, download the app to keep in the loop! www.zaomengshe.com

Happy new year to all! See you next year!

Put down your screens: Interview with Liang Yi from Stolen

Ever find yourself wasting time by mindlessly scrolling through an endless stream of images ? 

Disillusioned by the modern obsession with digital documentation, Chengdu post-punk/cold-wave band Stolen 秘密行动 are touring their new EP Stealing Our Lenses我们遗失的视角》, which might make you think twice about updating your Instagram in the middle of a gig.

Kiwese caught up with frontman Liang Yi 梁艺 earlier this week for a mash-up English/Chinese interview.

Camera men1

While the world’s attention were focussed on Beijing for the 2008 Olympics, the first incarnation of Stolen was forming at Sichuan Conservatory of Music High School 四川音乐学院附中 in Chengdu.

The current line up of Liang Yi 梁艺 (lead vocals), Duan Xuan 段轩 (guitar, keyboard, samples, vocals), Fang De 方德 (guitar, vocals) Xiao Wu 小伍 (bass), Yuan Yufeng (drums) are now on their second national tour, promoting their new EP in eight cities around the country. The intensity of Liang Yi’s cathartic performance style combined with visuals by Herve, a French film maker, makes Stolen’s live show a powerful force not to be missed.

KIWESE: Hey Liang Yi. Ming Ming (The Hormones) says you guys used to go to school together in Leshan. What was it like growing up in Leshan?

Actually, three of us are from Leshan. Duan Xuan is from Xinjiang.

我们乐队有三个人是从乐山来的。我们的吉他手段轩是新疆的。

Leshan is a beautiful city – a travel city – many people around the world know the Big Buddha. It has beautiful mountains and rivers. Yeah, it’s a cool city!

Is there much of music scene in Leshan? 

Small cities in China don’t really have good music scenes. People don’t really encounter rock music, electronic  music, or whatever. They just know pop music.

在中国小的城市都不会有特别好的音乐气氛。 小的城市几乎没有人去接触摇滚乐,很少的人知道摇滚音乐,或者电子音乐,各种音乐,很少。他们知道pop music.

In China, pop music and internet music is very big. Internet music is fucking shit. Like Phoenix Legend 凤凰传奇

I’ve never heard of them.

They suck. A lot of pop music from Hong Kong and Taiwan gets really big here. The only thing they sing about is love.

When did you start listening to rock music?

I started to learn guitar in middle school and my guitar teacher gave me a lot of CDs like PortisheadRed Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, as well as old rock and blues. I really liked them. When I got to high school, I loved this Chinese band called Muma 木马. Amazing band. That led me to discovering Joy Division and The Cure.

What is like being a musician in Chengdu?

People in Chengdu are generally open to a wide range of music. The music community is very peaceful – everybody is friends and there is good communication. I feel like Chengdu is onto something good right now, it has become another centre for music.

“There is a lot of pressure from the Government in Beijing – while things in Chengdu have a lot more freedom.”

I hear you used to share a practice space with Hiperson

We were classmates with Hiperson at university. They are an awesome post-punk band.

Passengers on the Beijing Metro, 2013.
Passengers on the Beijing Metro, 2013.

“It used to be that bands would all flock to Beijing to try make a name for themselves, regardless of where they were from… but now it’s different – it is the Internet era.”

What does ‘Stealing Our Lenses’ mean to you?

Everyday, we are confronted with so much news. Good and bad. I think sometimes we lose our sense of perspective, we can only see our iPhones, iPads, screens. We forget to see the real world. When some people go to shows, they are just watching through their screens…  I feel like recording audio or video should just be left to the professionals. The audience should just try to feel the show – the music and the atmosphere.

“有很多人他们现在看演出的时候,他们都在屏幕上看。”

“More people should focus on the music, not just the stuff they can post on WeChat…”

English version副本

Can you talk a bit about your connection with the support bands on this tour? A great line-up!

The Fuzz are really good friends of ours from Xi’an. They have been around longer than us. The first time we played in Xi’an, they were really welcoming and took us round. We have the same kind of brains, the same musical views and the same desire to create good indie music.

The Fuzz 是我们非常好的朋友。他们是西安人。他们是比我们早的乐队。 但是我们第次来到西安,他们对我们非常热情,过来跟我们说带我们一起玩儿,我们有一样的脑子,我们对音乐的想法,我们都要做好的indie music。

Snapline are a band who I absolutely love. When we first started, we didn’t know them. But on the last tour, we were at School seeing Soviet Pop, which is Li Qing and Li Weisi’s experimental-noise band. We met them at the door of School, had a really good chat and stayed in touch afterwards.

Snapline 是我自己非常喜欢的乐队,太喜欢。刚刚开始我们不认识他们,但上一次的巡演的时候我们就在北京的 School Bar with Soviet Pop,李青和李維斯做的这个实验的噪音的一个乐队。然后我们就在School 的门口跟他们遇到,聊得特别高兴,聊的特别多。然后回来之后,我们就一直保持联系.

We met Residence A at the Yu Gong Yi Shan show in Beijing that John Yingling (The World Underground) was doing for his movie. John followed P.K 14 on tour last year and Hiperson opened for them in Chengdu. The night before we did a show with EF (Sweden) and John came to the show to see us. This year he was back and called us and asked if we wanted to come to Beijing to do a show with Residence A, SUBS, the Diders and Chui Wan. Of course we said yes!

The Maples are a young band from Chongqing. They are influenced a lot by Sonic Youth and noise rock. I think they are a really good band. They also played at the World Underground show with us and Hiperson this year.

So… have you ever stolen anything before?

[laughs] No! Stolen has many meanings. One meaning is to steal something, while another is to quietly do something. (Stolen 有很多不同的意思。有偷的意思,还有一个意思是悄悄的去做一个事情:秘密行动.)

When I was young, I saw a Japanese painting with the word ‘Stolen’ painted into it. It was beautiful. In middle school, when my English was even worse [laughs], I searched the word ‘stolen,’ and found these two meanings. That’s when I had a dream to make a band called Stolen.

Cheers, Liang Yi! Good luck for the tour!

Camera men2

STOLEN ‘Stealing Our Lenses’ National Tour 2014:

Fri 7 Nov          Lanzhou 兰州 葵  with A公馆

Sat 8 Nov         Beijing 北京 XP  with Snapline

Fri 14 Nov       Xi’an 西安 光圈  w/ The Fuzz

Sat 15 Nov      Zhengzhou 郑州 7LIVEHOUSE

Fri 21 Nov       Chongqing 重庆 坚果Livehouse  with The Maples

Fri 28 Nov       Shenzhen 深圳 红糖罐

Sun 30 Nov    Guangzhou 广州 SD LIVEHOUSE (无解音乐周末)

Sat 6 Dec         Chengdu 成都 小酒馆

Buy tickets and CDs on Zaomengshe!

Stolen feature in the latest episode of The Sound Stage!

Zaomengshe Turns 1: Interview with Lydia McAulay

While the Chinese Government plaster the streets with images of the ‘Chinese Dream’ 中国梦, there are quite different dreams being conjured in the belly of the Chengdu underground.

Zaomengshe.com 造梦社 is crowd funding website that provides a platform for the local creative community. Co-founder and Marmite enthusiast Lydia McAulay came over for a cuppa to talk about the website’s one year anniversary.

zms poster

The music scene in Chengdu is probably the main reason I wanted to move here (uh, I mean, the opportunity for increased trade ties with New Zealand…) Last summer, after being shown a street party blaring from a kitted out supermarket trolley on a foot bridge, followed by a drum and bass rave at a swimming pool with fireworks, I knew Chengdu was something different.

Around the same time last year, co-founders Lydia and Mat were working through the long-winded bào àn 保案 registration process for Zaomengshe, which has since helped fund over 100 local campaigns and raised over ¥117,000.

As the small, dedicated team, including two developers referred to as ‘the app guys,’ suss out PayPal payment gateways and release the ZMS Ticket Scanner App, allowing for pre-sale tickets QR codes to be scanned by several devices at once, the opportunities for the website abound and the dream factory at Zaomengshe are showing no sight of slowing down.

Diligently hunched over a Macbook while wrangling several iPhones and multi-lingual phone calls is the usual state in which one will find Lydia. Zaomengshe is the labour of love (from which she earns a whopping total of 0.00 RMB) that she hopes will bolster the independent music and arts scene in the face of meaningless vast corporate sponsorship, which has been jumping on the growing music festival bandwagon in China and steering it down a bleak road of profit and commercialisation.

Pool Party in Flower Town last summer.
Pool Party in Flower Town last summer.

KIWESE:  Hey Lydia, how did you first end up coming to Chengdu?

LYDIA: I’ve been here for about five years – but it must be coming up on six years now. I left New Zealand in 2005 and was living in Normandy and Ardeche in France for a bit over a year. I ended up moving to Guangzhou for a year, where I learnt a bit of Chinese from my flatmate. I lived in Scotland for a year and bit, then London – where I got a job in the IT department of a derivatives trading company, which sent me to Chengdu. They were really open minded and put a lot of trust in me. I learnt a lot working with them.

Did you have any prior IT experience?

No, I studied Politics and Art History at Vic [laughs].

So you are originally from Tauranga and lived in Wellington for a while. What generation Kiwi are you?

My mum is from outside Opotiki. She’s like fourth generation Kiwi. My grandfather’s grandfather was born in New Zealand. They came from Midlands England, and they were the typical settlers trying to find a better life: ‘farmland coming out your ears!’

My dad is from Scotland and lived at sea for like twenty years on cargo ships. He was in the Merchant Navy as the first engineer, second below the captain. He told me stories about going through the Suez Canal back in the day. They went up the river into Guangzhou quite a few times. There were walls along the river, he said their boat was slightly higher than the walls, so they could see farmlands and heard speakers blaring out Mao’s thoughts.

Coming to Chengdu, how did you see there was a need for a platform like Zaomengshe?

It was a long story. I left China for a year in 2012 – that’s when I met you in New Zealand – and one of my friends was living with Anna, who started PledgeMe. So I ended up having a good chat with her about crowd funding, and was thought “holy shit, this would actually be a brilliant idea in China,” because there are some real problems with artists getting funding here. The bottom line for artists is different to that of young people making music in New Zealand.

You mean creative arts funding sources like NZ On Air and that?

A lot of what happens here is traded in guānxi, 关系, relationships, so if you don’t have the right background, you are really hard pressed to get your ideas heard. Crowd funding is a way to break down those traditional barriers. I guess it’s the anonymity of the internet – on the site, people have a username to post their campaigns, you are just a person with an idea, so people will look at your idea – not who your rich daddy is.

What were your first impressions of the music scene back in ’09?

One of my first friends here was Li Lan, the owner of Lan Town 蓝堂, which was – and still is – the hub for folk music here.

First gig I remember going to was Zhang Xiaobing 张小饼 . He is really interesting guy, who used to be a liúlàng 流浪, how do you even translate that? Like a roaming musician. His lyrics are really poetic and he incorporates his local dialect, instruments and way of singing into his songs. He is also a shǎoshù mínzú 少数民族, it’s quite cool how he manages to bring these ethnic minority aspects into his music.

 

When you say shǎoshù mínzú 少数民族, ethnic minority, do you sometimes feel like a minority in China?

Yeah in someways. I guess it can be a little bit difficult here – being white. Because you feel like you will never be totally accepted, ya know what I mean? Peoples first reaction to you is that you are foreign. Whereas when I lived in France, you could almost mix in, especially in the small town I lived in. People wouldn’t realize right away that I was foreign, which was kinda cool. You feel like if you did actually stay there for a really long time, you wouldn’t feel like a foreigner your entire life.

“The thing is – people treat you like an outsider until they know you. It’s the same in any country. Once you get to know them, you stop thinking of them as ‘that person who is different.’”

What are the main platforms that people can use to share their campaigns on Zaomengshe?

People are much more used to doing things on their phones here. Weibo 微博, WeChat 微信, and we have QR codes. I talked to Xiao Xue 小雪 (The Hormones) about crowd funding an oven – she’s thinking of having an event where people come along and scan their QR codes to get a cake!

From an IT working perspective, what was internet censorship like in China when you first got here?

That was before Facebook got blocked. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter all got blocked on the same day.

Is that day like a ‘where were you when Michael Jackson died’ kind of memory?

I think it was about May or the start of June 2009. I remember that day because my workmate who sat behind me was receiving distressing calls from Xinjiang, where he comes from, there were massive riots. They didn’t just block Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, they put the internet for the entire province on lockdown. My poor workmate – it was a really emotional time. We were all worried about what was going on out there.

Though I wouldn’t say that censorship has ever impacted our website. It doesn’t really affect people on a daily basis here. Well arguably the bào àn 备案 is censorship, but it’s just red tape. There’s a lot of red tape in anything you do here. But censorship is certainly not something that contributes to the story of Zaomengshe.

Dayi and Lydia modelling the new Hormones t-shirts, which you can get on Zaomengshe!
Dayi and Lydia modelling the new Hormones t-shirts, which you can buy on their Zaomengshe campaign!

What are your hopes for Zaomengshe, coming up to your 1st birthday?

At the moment, a lot of what we do is working with bars who want to use our ticketing platform – and it’s great that we can support them in that way. But it would be really cool to have more crowd funding based events going up.

It’s difficult, there is a different mentality towards crowd funding here. A lot of people think it is like tuán gòu 团购 -this concept where, for example, if you want to buy a cheaper hot pot meal, everyone goes in on it and you can all get it for a better price. It’s not entirely false that that is not crowd funding – it’s almost an offshoot, but what we are trying to do is get people to change their ideas about what it means to be supporting music and the arts here. It’s about supporting, not buying.

I guess in NZ if you wanna support a local act, you could go to their gigs, buy their album on Bandcamp, buy their merch or whatever. Perhaps here in China, people are not so accustomed to paying for music online, so that cuts off a big part of supporting independent bands.

I think it’s the same in a lot of countries, the music industry struggles with free downloads being a pretty common thing. It’s not just China. It’s really common to use streaming services like Xiami for free.

Check out Lydia’s recent Pecha Kucha presentation in Mandarin about Zaomengshe, as part of a Creative Minds session in Min Town 明堂:

[gigya src=”http://player.youku.com/player.php/sid/XODA4MDQ4NTEy/v.swf” allowFullScreen=”true” quality=”high” width=”480″ height=”400″ align=”middle” allowScriptAccess=”always” ]

“The scene exists here without our website. We are just trying to do something that contributes to it, rather than to push it in any direction.”

What has been your favourite campaign Zaomengshe so far?

Probably Beat Chengdu, the New Year’s party last year that crashed our server. The guys at Zao Shang Hao 早上好 who put it on thought it wouldn’t sell over 150 tickets. It ended up selling over 600 pre-sales on the website, with about 2,000 people attending on the night. It was an awesome – it showed them there was a demand for that kind of festival, while also showing Mat and I what Zaomengshe was capable of.

Any local favourites in Chengdu at the moment?

I don’t really have a favourite. I just like the fact that people are being creative, it’s the key to things changing here. I feel like I’m just observing.

…But in saying that, I do really like Qi Qi’s music, Cvalda!

Oh, how’s your Marmite supply at the moment?

Onto the second jar. Bit worrying.

Eek. What are your other main hankerings?

Cheese…

So you are planning to suss out a boat and sail the seas, how’s that shaping up?

It’ll take a bit of planning. Technically, I looked this up, you don’t have to have an international boating license to skipper a vessel that’s under a certain size – and the size is enormous. You’d be surprised!

Count me in! Cheers, Lydia!

zms logo

Zaomengshe will celebrate their first birthday at Zao Shang Hao 早上好 in Flower Town 三圣乡 this Friday 1st November! FREE ENTRY with a downloaded Zaomengshe app! Featuring Stolen 秘密心动, Proximity Butterfly变色蝴蝶, Zhang Xiaobing 张小饼, Zuo Yue卓越 and more.

Download Zaomengshe on the App Store.

“做一个梦,造一个理想

Keep Dreaming, Keep Creating!”