shanghai music scene: March 2013 Archives
I've been meaning to write something like this ever since I unknowingly paid to be on an ad shoot set run by cunts here:
The reason I've held off is because, painfully, writing this just feeds the ad machine even more. Fuck it.
This is about advertising and where it intersects with more grassroots culture, especially around me. My example, both from that show and in this post, is Vice Magazine and their ad agency Virtue.
Vice magazine, through their agency Virtue - doublespeak at its finest there - do this: "We help global brands find new ways of communicating with the world's youth. " So lets be clear what VICE Media actually do. They gained a huge audience of young people who shun the mainstream media and cannot be accessed easily by corporate giants via their edgy writing and imagery. Then they created Virtue and said, hey, we got 'em, now we'll take your money and help you to sell to this previously hard to crack bunch. Not only is that disgusting in principle, but they go on to use all the latest underhand methods to do said selling.
This brings us to Noisey and The Creators Project, both of which they operate in China and it was Noisey that was set up in the show that day. They call Noisey their 'music portal' but both those projects are there for the purpose of advertising, no matter how softly, their clients. They are no different in purpose to any pop up on the net or crass ad on TV. In this case the clients are Dell and Intel, at least in China where I have come into contact with them. These are adverts and the people doing the 'projects' are salesman.' That is all.
Now, there are two main ways of thinking about this and I will present an alternate to my own view, to be rational and fair. And I'm talking about art or songs that were firstly created as an independent work and were later approached for inclusion in an ad. Firstly, you may be of the opinion that mercenary advertising for a client using your art or material cheapens what you do and breaks the trust with your audience - and that the whole sales business is crass and best avoided. But, you may also be of the opinion that it's fine, normal and maybe even a viable new model for the music scene to generate revenue.
In the first case: you should see the Virtue projects for what they are and shun them completely. Do not put your videos on their site, do not invite them to your shows, do not participate in their events. Fuck them.
In the second case, there is also an issue. If you participate in Noisey you are doing professional advertising work for Intel/Dell and one of the biggest media groups in the world. You should be paid. Not only should you be paid, you should be paid a fair share of the projected revenue of the ad campaign and/or project budget. Don't think for a second that those projections and numbers have not been meticulously worked out prior to said campaign. You need to have access to those figures when you cut your deal and you need legal representation too. If your work is on their site for free or some tiny fee, you are being exploited ruthlessly by terrible people.
In either scenario, artists need to know their facts, be clear what they are dealing with, and stick up for themselves.
I just wanted to throw out a list of all the sites you can check for China scene news in English at the moment. Ones I use anyway.
I wish I could throw out a comprehensive list of Chinese language expert or insider blogs too, but staggeringly they still don't really exist for music. It's still Douban, BBS stuff and Weibo now or just shallow, intermittent promotional tools. If I'm wrong - mail me the links and I'll throw them up immediately. I mean sites like mine, where someone is independently blogging short articles and news on the scene at a standalone site.
Also, for this, I'm not going to include sites with some good scene stuff but are otherwise 80% bling, like all the mags basically. Missed any - mail me via about page.
Queen Sea Big Shark are a Beijing band who started out with a retro-rock album, Lightning Metropolis, and who then moved into retro-dance and decided to be the champions of the emerging festival and sponsorship scene.
They did it. Their Douban numbers rule Douban underground band pages. They also seem to be able to randomly throw in more indie rock oriented tracks into the middle of their electro material and get away with it. It's all fueled by their charismatic singer Fu Han and well planned live shows. It would be dishonest of me to blog the China scene and not check in with these guys from time to time, they are right up there.
Check out Glow In The Dark from the demos here, to get a feel for their recent style. And here's a newer music vid:
I'm a bit conflicted about putting this out there. Feima were excellent at the Wooozy showcase, all the more so for playing at a venue with decent sound - and this vid comes courtesy of Xiao Zhong with his patented recorded-haphazardly-on-a-piece-of-shit-and-fuck-you-for-being-up-your-own-arse-if-you-cant-take-that style.
I'm down with that style actually, but in this case the blown out sound quality is at odds with the reason I'm posting it. Anyway, parts of this vid definitely capture frontman Wang Shi Hong's calm mastery as he switches between indie riffs, noise rock chops, vocal hooks and Chinese post-punk shouts fluidly. Great stuff.
The Wooozy showcase was great and I want to write something about Feima soon. We had a great time. Here's a couple of pics courtesy of a drunken Paul and also Sun Lu. Thanks guys. Also after reading round some Beijing show reviews and discussions, I wanted to point something out. At Yuyintang, on the Shanghai scene, people come out and they enjoy the show honestly, famous bands or not. Having played some shows lately, I really appreciate it even more than before.
Picture: magazine article featuring Da Xifu. Click for larger.
Tension Music is a collective and promoter that represents and champions many of Shanghai's local bands. The name is derived as a sound alike to their Mandarin name 天线音乐 tian xian yinyue which literally translates to antenna.
The group is powered by Wang Tian Tian, a long time stalwart of the scene and one of the two founders of the legendary 0093 rehearsal space and studio. The studio is out in the suburbs. Tian Tian has also always been the guy to make China bands's CDs available, first out of a box in the old rooms and now via Taobao. He also knows his footy.
The page has songs, pics, links and vids from all the bands they currently rep. They include: Frozen Street (冷冻街), Monkey Shines (恶作剧), Forsaken Autumn, Magic Lion (摩术狮), Cosmicake (宇宙蛋糕), Joker, Da Xifu (大囍福乐团), En Route, Tang Trio (唐趣), Guts (格子团) and Prank.
They also have a shop near 0093 and Taikang Road. The address is:黄浦区徐家汇路618号日月光中心B1层C区B1631号，营业时间每天14:00-22:00 - 618 Xujiahui Road, Huangpu District, Ri Yue Guang Centre, Area C, B1 shop B1631, Hours daily 14:00-22:00.
The Jue Festival and Splitworks present the Wooozy local bands showcase on Saturday night at Yuyintang. My band Astrofuck are playing and so I'm plugging it.
Also, Wooozy.cn 's Jeremy Guo and me have done a podcast at SH247 to preview the night and the bands here it is
Here is a well produced live video of Nova Heart playing My Song 9 live in Beijing. It comes courtesy of Live Beijing Music, who also shot it.
Nova Heart is the latest project from former Ziyou and Pet Conspiracy singer Helen Feng. It has evolved into a full band. Strangely, it has re-united Atom and Bo Xuan from the original Hedgehog line-up too. If you click on Nova Heart but are not a Chinese reader, the music is in the second tab along, under the band name.
If electro-pop is your thing the Beijing scene gives you Jia Hui Zhen
The selection of songs there give you the pop, the electro and hints of the ol' Bjork too. All the tracks are really great production, check them all out. Also she's from Ningxia, look that up. One thing people who've never been to China don't know, and can't see through official channels, is how diverse it is.
Also, here's an interview from the Live Beijing Music site:
It's short but includes a couple of videos too.
Saturday night was the Death To Giants album release show. You can check it out here at bandcamp. The show was great and my band Astrofuck was one of the openers. Can someone on another site or mag review the show, I'm not impartial on this one.
The night before was another release from The Horde.
Show was fun, Ozzie Chris of Hujiahuwei showed me a funny meme of Sponge Bob during the performance of 'Patrick' which cracked me up while I was playing. Mental note, "Chris has ready to hand Sponge Bob pictures on his phone at gigs WTF?"
Pics: us mid-show taken by Qian Jin. Our Logo as designed by Kaine (our singer as seen in first pic)
Here is a ten minute video interview with SKSA about the band and the frontman's job at Maybe Mars.