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

Wellington! 惠灵顿!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

KIWESE: *faints*

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

KIWESE: Sup Sklen, how’s it going?

SKLENARS: Fab!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For music – School, Dada and Temple!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soooooon!

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

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

Chur girl, you Sklegend!

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


 

Erica will be speaking in Wellington tonight and tomorrow:

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

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

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

Read more at the Facebook event page.


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

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

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


Read more about Erica’s time in Beijing here!

Stay tuned for more from Lady Lazer Light on Kiwese!

http://www.ericasklenars.com

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

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

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

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

Check out the video of ‘Rotate’ below!

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

Kiwese Presents… Orchestra of Spheres China Tour 2015

Wellington’s favourite intergalactic dance freaks Orchestra of Spheres are coming for a nine-date tour of China. Aotearoa’s Queen of buzzy visuals Lady Lazer Light is coming, too.

This is not a drill!  I repeat, THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!

trippy

/ˈtrɪpɪ/

adjective -pier, -piest

(informal) suggestive of or resembling the effect produced by hallucinogenic drug

Poster by Hannah Salmon.
Poster by Hannah Salmon.
Orchestra of Spheres are one of the most exciting and unpredictable live acts in New Zealand. With DIY homemade instruments and wide-ranging worldwide influences, the group have spellbound and tripped out audiences from Wainuiomata to Reykjavík, and developed an international cult-like following. 
Like celestial sponges, they draw on influences far and wide: the hypnotic beats of Angolan kuduro, the chimes of gamelan music, free jazz and dance music. Their sound has been described as psychedelic disco and ancient future funk and the band have been compared to artists as diverse as Fela Kuti, Sun Ra, Can and Drexiciya.

Orchestra of Spheres are coming to tour China for the first time, with very special guest Lady Lazer Light. They only come out this way once every 2,000,000 years, so don’t miss out your chance to see them live!

Kiwese proudly presents...
ORCHESTRA OF SPHERES w/ LADY LAZER LIGHT

29 Sept – Beijing, School, w/ Baxian Fandian
30 Sept – Beijing, Temple 坛酒吧
3 Oct – Chengdu, Shao Cheng Fest 少城有明堂艺术节
4 Oct – Chongqing, Nuts 坚果 Livehouse
5 Oct – Kunming, MAO Livehouse, w/ South Acid MiMi Dance Team
7 Oct – Dali, Jielu Music Space 结庐音乐空间
9 Oct – Shenzhen, OCT-LOFT Jazz Fest 国际爵士音乐节
10 Oct – Guangzhou, 191 Space, w/ Full Label
11 Oct – Wuhan, VOX Hankou 汉口

More support acts TBA.

“Part Sun Ra otherworldliness, part Sublime Frequencies and part ESG… Orchestra of Spheres blew us away…” – Dan Snaith, Caribou

“Orchestra of Spheres must be the most out-of-this-world band in music today… sounds like they came from another planet, where nonstop dance and remarkable melodies are the norm” – Brian Shimkovitz, Awesome Tapes from Africa

“Futuristic and unsettlingly primal” – Uncut

http://www.orchestraofspheres.com

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.

H
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!

Haere Mai Nevin Domer: Getting Genjing and Maybe Mars bands to NZ

From heading DIY record labels, playing in punk bands, averting lyrical censorship, booking dozens of tours and crowd surfing on them, to speaking on music panels, Nevin Domer is one of the most dedicated people in the Beijing underground today. Kiwese caught up with him to see if there’s anything in store for us over in New Zealand.

 
So Genjing Records initially started as a way for your band to get stuff out there, but what was the impetus for broadening out to the local/international scene? Just love? 
I originally started the label as a vehicle for releasing music from my own band ahead of our European tour. I realized that vinyl never really went away in underground scenes abroad and was emerging again as the preferred physical medium for fans and collectors so if Chinese acts were planning to travel abroad they should have records to sell. It also became apparent to me that it functions as a bar for media publications who will take bands with vinyl releases more seriously then those with CD only. I was working with a lot of great bands in China that were starting to have more and more opportunities to play abroad and I decided this was a way I could help them. It definitely isn’t for money but out of a desire to have fun and see the scene here reach it’s full potential.
Genjing Records. Est. 2011. From the Genjing Records website.
Genjing Records. Est. 2011. From the Genjing Records website.

God Bows and Pairs! The 7″ split is intriguing. You check out a release from the band you like and are immediately introduced to another one, is that the general idea or does it have other merits than that?The concept of a split release is an old staple of the punk scene and something I grew up on. When deciding what sort of objectives I wanted to achieve with Genjing I was really interested in creating a bridge between the scene(s) in China and those abroad. For me a split release is a great way to connect two bands who can help introduce each other to their own fans and therefor gain from each others mutual support. The same is true for two labels doing a co-release. In the end our underground culture will only thrive if we help each other!

God Bows / Nevin / Carb on Carb. Mao Livehouse, Nov 2012.
God Bows to Math / Nevin / Carb on Carb. Mao Livehouse, Nov 2013.

Can we expect any Genjing bands to come down to NZ this year or are we just too far away? What are the challenges for Chinese DIYs to tour Aus/NZ, it seems the only acts that come are state funded? 

I hope so! I’m putting more energy now in producing, distributing and promoting releases. I want to create a platform and opportunities for bands but leave a lot of the logistics for touring up to them. Pairs has toured NZ and several Chinese bands have been to Australia — Alpine Decline is going there the end of January for several shows. Hopefully after the split release with Pairs and God Bows To Math more fans in NZ are aware of the Chinese scene and a foundation will start to be built for more Chinese bands to tour there and conversely for more NZ bands to come to China! It is expensive but I wouldn’t count on the state to fund anything interesting. It’s our culture we need to work and build it for ourselves.

Alpine Decline at XP. Image from livebeijingmusic.com.
Alpine Decline at XP. Image from livebeijingmusic.com.

Are Genjing releases available anywhere in NZ?

I am talking to several stores and distributors there and plan to have most of the Genjing releases available there by the spring. Things are going forward with Flying Out hopefully they will be able to get my stuff in all the stores you mentioned (Death Ray in Newtown, Slow Boat Records on Cuba Street)!

…and your current favourites in Beijing?

At the moment my favorite act in Beijing is the Molds, but they’ve been my favorite for a long time! I am also really into Alpine Decline whose new album is so so good. Besides that, expect to hear some new music from young bands both in Beijing and across China coming out on Genjing over the next few months.

Liu Ge of the Molds. Picture from Time Out Beijing.
Liu Ge of the Molds. Picture from Time Out Beijing.

…For venues I split my time pretty equally between School (for punk rock), XP (for experimental) and Temple (for getting wasted, haha!)

The Bennies from Melbourne kicking it at School in Yonghegong, Beijing. Nov 2013.
The Bennies from Melbourne kicking it at School in Yonghegong, Beijing. Nov 2013.

People can check the Genjing websiteFacebook and Twitter pages for updates or , if you can’t wait – order directly from PayPal. Thanks for the support and don’t forget to also support your local scenes!

Xie xie Nevin!

Nevin is originally from Baltimore, USA, and has been helping Chinese bands with a variety of shit since 2009. He is the founder of Genjing Records [根茎唱片], Chief Operating Officer at Maybe Mars [兵马司] and the guitarist of Fanzui Xiangfa [犯罪想法]. Chur bol!

(Article photo graciously pinched from Wooozy.cn)