Results tagged “indie music” from Indie Everything

Little Punk album starting to move

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lp cover
Our indie album Hey guy, you are big time alright by Little Punk has hit an early but important point that is worth blogging about for other DIY enthusiasts. 

We had our first fully independent local review. 

We got this via making it available on Douban's music pages for review and sharing. Here is the page.


Here is a nice quote from the review for those who know Chinese:

这是一份值得喝彩的答案,因为它让人看到了一个对摇滚乐充满执着的创作人的更多可能,也避免了许多从朋克"软化"为民谣或独立摇滚的音乐人故作深沉的通病。在这张独立发行的专辑中,无论是声乐部分还是吉他手/制作人Andy Best的演奏都没有经过任何修饰。从在开头曲《Cuties》中不停高喊"fucking cuties"到在结束曲《I'm Not in the Mood for Making a Song》中失落地哼唱"the world's not made for fairy tales",小朋克逐渐转开她为朋克摇晃的脑袋,展现出用民谣和轻摇滚诉说出的直白和细腻,丝毫不见做作的痕迹。当然,我可以说"这张专辑融合了Soko民谣式的俏皮和Zola Jesus哥特摇滚式的粗砺",而事实上我耳中听到的是几个热爱音乐又小有才华的朋友在录音室(甚至可以是客厅里)即兴jam的场景。
It is important to note that it is independent. This means that we (also no one who directly represents us) had no direct contact with the review. They found it by themselves and blogged it with a review. 

The best part of this is just knowing that someone found the music and liked it. Talking of which, the album has made it's way to Scotland too. It's blogspot though, here

Indie Label: DIY style 12 - Second release Little Punk

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lp cover
Without further ado, we give you the digital release of our second album: Little Punk Hey guy, you are big time alright.

We used Bandcamp again for the international page. It's pretty good. The album is free. User tip: you need full quality WAV files for upload. Then the site can give format options for downloaders.

The image you see there was done by underground photographer Ren Hang during this session.


Here is the track list:

1 Cuties
2 Boy on the way to hell
3 Friend next door
4 Fine darling
5 Not be
6 744
7 I'm not in the mood for making a song

Douban updates following soon. Congrats again to everyone involved and special thanks to Adam Gaensler at Luwan Rock.

Indie Label: DIY style 10 - mixes down

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little punk zhong
Welcome back.

We all had a break in August and have been working behind the scenes this month. In the past post we had set up a label page using Douban.com and posted up our demos and videos as a taster.


Now our producer Adam is back from his stint in Myanmar and the final mixes are in. The next stages:

1) Make the tracks available online
2) Produce the physical CDs
3) Start a promotional tour.

Look out for tracks at the Qu page and the full releases at the artists' pages (link through the label page). We will make everything available for DL there.

As for the physical CDs. Pairs have opted for super DIY style. Xiao Zhong will burn off CDs on a home computer then put them in envelopes, like the normal ones, you know, letters, and hand write on them. A design for an insert sheet is already done and should pop up at the label page soon. For LP we are weighing up options and will post on it as soon as a decision is made.

The tour is just in conception at the moment. The idea is to play seven shows in seven days around Shanghai, choosing only smaller venues. Details to be thrashed out shortly then posted on.

Indie Label: DIY style 9 - Douban page

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qu logo
We have successfully launched our label page today on Douban:


We have officially reached step four!

If you are not are not a Douban member then you won't see the download arrows, but they are there. OK. First the concept and then the details of putting a page on Douban.

I guess the pre-net model of existing as a business or venture was to have an office, or an address. These days you can do it with a web site. Of course, you can run an indie label out of your bedroom and just hand out flyers and stuff at gigs - but having a web page validates your existence and is also a handy tool for promoting yourself. I'm on Douban therefor I am. 

Indie Label: DIY style 8 - video

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Read this for the story of the video shoot and some stills.

This post may well seem self-explanatory to someone with an expert knowledge of digital video, if so, please help us out in the comments, thanks.

So. We finished editing the video for Little Punk's I'm Not in the Mood for Making a Song. At the same time, our other act, Pairs, submitted their video for Yangpu Qu. The next step was to upload them to a China based streaming site for easy public consumption.

We accept that putting videos onto streaming sites like Youku results in grainy pictures and quality loss for regular users. It's painful but everyone is aware of it and knows it's not the 'real quality'. However, Yangpu Qu went up there without much change, some loss yes, but satisfactory. The Little Punk vid, on the other hand, was butchered both in picture and sound. 

Yangpu Qu was shot on a Pentax Optio S55 compact camera directly into an MP4 format and then edited on Windows Movie Maker. The format, and the amount of information in the file, was about the same as that used on Youku. I'm Not in the Mood was shot on a Canon XL2 digital movie camera and edited in Adobe Premier Pro to produce a TV quality AVI file. It then must be converted for web use - and then Youku, or any site, converts it again. The infamous double conversion. No matter how we tried it, the sound becomes peaked and the picture pixelated. 

Finally we tried Youku's suggestion of downloading their Iku desktop upload manager and sending up the entire 600MB+ AVI file. It still came out the same.

Here they are:




Indie Label: DIY style 7 - breaking and entering

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Ren hang night
First and last pics by Damen

As I have been blogging here, we have had Beijing based photographer Ren Hang down for this indie event

Here's a review of it over at Layabozi. More here about that soon.

While he was down, Ren Hang was in photo overdrive and I also had him shoot the two artists on our indie label project. You can read about the shoot with Pairs right ... here. And by the way, hot tip, two of the finished tracks we did with them are up early at that link.

On Monday night we wanted to shoot both Little Punk and Boojii, who had played our show on Saturday. 

We wanted a surreal decaying location for a night shoot. Whenever I come through Zhongshan Park on the light rail (line 3) southbound, I always see a large abandoned lot that is completely overgrown. It also contains an old French school house and some other partially demolished buildings. Art scene friends had told me that they had previously hopped the wall and used the inside of the perimeter for graffiti. 

Firstly, I made an advance trip and dummy run on an earlier day. There is a regular gate and a couple of guards in a box at the top entrance, exactly next to Changning Road and Kaixuan Road where the train passes overhead. The place to climb the wall, where it is lowest, is where the lane passes the old school house. I could get over it but dropping down the other side is not for everyone, so I planned to get a ladder (see below pic). 

We used the inside of the school house for most of the shoot, we had nine of us over the wall without major incident. The inside was dark and we needed flashlights, a couple of fancy phones sorted that out as it happened. The room at the top of the tower was amazing and full of ruined vintage furniture. The four storey stairwell had no inner walls or banisters though so consenting adults only. 

The shoot was amazing and getting out was the funniest part. I hopped back over with the ladder and then the others walked up to the far end and told the guards they had wandered in at the other end and had no idea where they were. The guards let them out through the gate. 


wall ladder

stairwell

Indie Label: DIY style 6 - more t-shirts

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lp teeSo a quick post following on from this one on the t-shirts.

We got the samples and found them to be excellent. The t-shirts, while certainly cheap, were decent enough and the printing great too. 

This is the store: right here

We ordered one of each of their sizes: s, m, l, xl, xxl, xxxl
The xl is a medium fit on me and I'm 178 cm and slim. We also chose the Y8.50 shirts, not the Y8.00. There's a massive quality difference. The cheaper ones are complete ass and the more expensive ones are not bad at all.

Finally, our design uses grayscale with many shades so we went for the heat transfer printing method. Unlike the previous post's quote, this way charged per shirt and we ended paying Y12.50 per shirt for a small run. 

Indie Label: DIY style 5

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One of the other items we want ready for our indie label launch at the beginning of next month is T-shirts. Pairs already do this ultimate DIY style. They bought a bunch of cheap blank tees and then hand paint them. Every one is unique and they give them out for free at the shows or via e-mail.

The t-shirts they used were bought at the Qipu Lu clothes market from a randomly selected store and since they bought 50, they got the price down to around 9 RMB a shirt. They then used standard fabric paints to paint them. These were found on Taobao (Chinese language only, shopping site).

pairs tees

For Little Punk I am trying a slightly more 'official' method. 

First I played our video, an AVI file, using Power DVD and took some high quality stills. Then I put the still in Adobe Photoshop and applied a filter to it to make it look like it was drawn. I used crosshatch. Then I whited out the sky and background with the eraser tool. I also went into the image size panel and set the resolution to above 150 for BW printing. 

Super Sophia then went onto Taobao and found a shop that custom prints T-shirts to order. The shirts cost only 8 per shirt, but there is a one off printing charge of 85 RMB, regardless of number of shirts. So it's cheaper the bigger the run. I'll post the shop details once we've seen samples and confirmed it's not a complete hoax or whatever.

Thumbnail image for t-shirt scale


Indie Label: DIY style 4

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In the last post on our label, I mentioned we were shooting a video for Little Punk's song I'm Not in the Mood for Making a Song

We spent yesterday afternoon out and about in the Zhongshan Park area of town shooting the principal footage. The sun was blazing and the streets busy, but we got everything we wanted. Including professional looking tracking shots using a huangyu che. We achieved this by going to a nearby market and slipping the guy a 50 (Chinese dollars). I sat in the back with the camera.

Here are a couple of screencaps from the footage. We used the custom presets feature in the Canon XL2 to make it black and white with solid blacks and high contrast. The video itself also achieves an old movie feel by keeping the shutter speed at around 1/50 and using the cam's special 24 Fps setting.

LP Rooftop

LP fight

LP street

LP view

Rock Band 5: even more rehearsing (photos)

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A little while back I write these two posts about rehearsing a band:


In one of them I spelled out the details of where we practiced. In China rooms come with full equipment including a drum kit and all the amps and mics. I wrote:

We use Juju rehearsal studios on Huaihai Road/Huashan Road in the basement of Huashan Gardens (1635 Huashan Lu). Their number is 6280 1415. They have two rooms and we tend to go for the large one. Today we had the large room for 2 hours at the cheaper daytime rate and paid 80 Yuan in total. That's just 20 yuan each (about 3 USA dollars).
So here's what it looks like.

Thumbnail image for 05 Band.jpg

08 Band.jpg

Shanghai Indie Music: The cut off point

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ren hang
Photo by Ren Hang. Check out his amazing work here

This post is specifically about the Shanghai underground rock live circuit. However, it may still make you think about similar situations in your own city so there you go.

As usual, there are premises. Shanghai gigs tend to fall into three categories:

1) The audience is almost all locals who are often students or have lower incomes.

2) The audience is almost all international with a lifestyle that allows them greater flexibility.

3) A very rare crossover of the two.

There is an exception. Some bands have built a specific following that they can rely on to come to any given show.

For longer term scene/following building we would all hope that more and more younger locals get involved. Everyone knows this and talks about it. There's no need to expand on this here. So, after keeping an eye on things for a few years and being surprised at how this has not changed much at all ... I give you, the cut off point

<<ticket price 40 yuan and/or the main band running over 11.00 p.m.>>

This also translates into visible anxiety when the band the fans are there to check out have not taken the stage by 10.00 p.m.

This must be observed unless you are super famous and on TV or something. Of course, if you are not interested in long term building, it doesn't matter.

Rock Band 4: Demos

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subs studio
There may well be more than one post on demos. There are so many ways to do it.

At some point you may want to record your music and for a variety of reasons. In fact, these days there is little difference between the idea of a 'demo' and just a straight indie recording of your music. With either the internet, or by physical distribution at your shows, once your music is in the public domain - it is.

In this post i'm going to give an outline of how our band did a 'demo' and then let you hear it.

The traditional idea of a 'demo' recording carried an idea of legitimacy. The demo was a stepping stone for an unsigned band to try to get shows and to get signed to a label. A full budget recording done by a label was like 'the real thing'. But with modern technology you can achieve pretty good quality by yourself, or with self-financing. 

But also, with the indie philosophy and a sub-culture non-commercial approach, you do not necessarily need quality to be legitimate. Let's go on.

Rock Band 3: more rehearsing

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douban pink guitar
After another rehearsal this week it occurred to me that the post I did on how many words per session you should do when writing a book was based on the same premise as when you have band practices.

That is:

1) Taking time to work out exactly how much you are getting done and arriving at a time frame.

2) Then either adjusting your goals/expectations or your workload accordingly.

This gives you a definite plan and makes a huge difference to your chances of getting shit done. And, before we go further here are the premises:

You are not in a funded full time band. Your time is limited.
You are writing all original material. You are not in a bar-band or a jobbing musician.

Rock Band 2: rehearsing

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expendable band
So, yeah, these band posts are going to come in a fairly random order as we're half way through the steps I outlined in post one.

I just had a great rehearsal. It was a perfect mix of getting the work done and enjoying the moment. Let me go through it.

Firstly. We use Juju rehearsal studios on Huaihai Road/Huashan Road in the basement of Huashan Gardens (1635 Huashan Lu). Their number is 6280 1415.

They have two rooms and we tend to go for the large one. Today we had the large room for 2 hours at the cheaper daytime rate and paid 80 Yuan in total. That's just 20 yuan each (about 3 USA dollars).

Shanghai's studios generally supply all the main equipment. In this case the room came with a drum kit, two guitar amps, a bass amp and a PA with mics. All this was included in the price.

During the two hours we worked on 6 out of our 8 current songs. The average song is around 4 minutes and we did a straight practice-play through of each one 2 or 3 times. This accounted for about an hour and ten minutes. There was some setting up time of course, for a full band maybe 15 mins. After all that we went back and worked on some problem areas or newer parts. We fixed the pacing of our song Paris 68 and worked on parts of the newest song The Rainbow Warrior. 

While clearing up we decided to make a rehearsal tape of The Rainbow Warrior next week as a priority so that our singer could work at home on melodies.

All in all i'd say that out of 2 hours about 85-90 minutes (about 75%) was actual playing. In my view that's pretty good.

Rock Band 1: introduction

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Andy Music Shot
I have a band. This is also a project dear to my heart that has a kind of plan. The plan went something like this:

1) write some songs
2) establish a band page online
4) find other band members for a permanent line up
5) rehearse together
6) play a show

I'm at stage five now and there are many helpful practical pointers to blog about so watch this category I will post a lot here, starting back at stage one.

There are two important premises to these posts though and they both come before the start of the project.

Firstly, I've been playing guitar since I was 13 and am very familiar with the workings of songwriting and being in a band. If you are not, then you have to add a few stages on the front of my plan. Secondly, I live downtown and in the area that houses most of the music scene. 

The final consideration is that me and this blog are based in Shanghai. The scene is underground and developing. These posts are not reinventing the wheel, they illustrate the practical realities of having a band here. OK, see you soon.

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