Results tagged “indie other” from Indie Everything

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

No Media Kings: DIY Aracade game cabinet

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arcade_game
Image from www.tradeboothtrafficbuilder.com

I've mentioned No Media Kings before. A blog I've followed for years that started as a small guide to self-publishing books by an ex-employee of a major publishing house. Finally, the author, Jim Munroe, embraced the DIY spirit fully and turned the blog into a journal of everything he was doing. Sound familiar?

He's even had crossover success with his IF game Everyone Dies and his graphic novel Sword of my Mouth.

The geek in me just had to link the latest post. A guide to making your own classic arcade game unit. This time using a PC set up instead of hardwiring a board.

Indie events / label : running around like a dickhead

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airport websize
I feel any bare bones guide to doing stuff DIY - especially putting on an event which requires bring an artist/act in from out of town - must talk about the following aspect:

running around like a rabid chicken all day long

Two clarifications. This is if you are taking the matter seriously and it's not a bad thing. I love every minute of being involved in music and the arts.

I know that certain promoters in town who read this point will be actually feeling pain in sympathy as they read this.

So. We've been having a great time getting busy for both this event and this project. We met Ren Hang at the airport as this was his first time in Shanghai. The event is on Saturday but he is also doing some shooting while here. That's where the crossover with the label project comes in. 

Last night we met with Pairs at Yuyintang and shot photos up in their room for rent, which is done out like a dance studio. We hired it for a modest hourly rate and then had complete private use. People came directly from work to do this and it went on a couple of hours - so the other point was to go out and get decent hot food for everyone while they worked. 

Half way through, Ren Hang's camera had a problem. The lithium battery (available only at camera stores) ran out. This was not a big problem as I'd already identified the camera shops in our neighborhood. Because we were spending all week chaperoning a photographer. We were also there to play through Ren Hang's slide show and check everything worked. It didn't, but we got it all sorted because we were there days before.

So, all these things required having money ready too. Not everyone gets this point. I have a friend who was very recently approached by some film makers. They petitioned hard to film this person and they agreed. They then started going, on the spur of the moment, to high profile ticketed locations - then making themselves scarce and leaving the artist to pay for their tickets, food and transport (and the artist had no idea it was coming). 

Also, check out my swish sign in the photo. The plane was a bit delayed too. We got the night bus from Pudong airport (just 20 RMB each) and got into town again at 2 a.m. and then someone called him to do a night shoot in a park. I could go on and on but the basic idea is that some groups have staff for this but if you do it yourself, indie style, you have to be prepared to actually do it all yourself.

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

Indie label: DIY style 3

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horse head lion boy
Big steps are being taken in our label project.


Adam, our producer, is going away for a six week summer holiday and we assumed that our first online and physical releases would have to wait until he got back on September 1st. But other things are happening that I want to chronicle here so I can follow up easily later.

Adam produced a mix of Pairs' track Yangpu Qu right off the bat and the band gave really detailed feedback. A second mix is already done and everyone is happy with it. This suggests to me that we can launch our label page on schedule - directly after the weekend of 31st July. That's when Ren Hang will be in town to do some photos and play our event.

Next up, I go into the studio with Little Punk to put down her solo material this Wednesday. The style is lo-fi punk-folk that can't really be described in genre terms because the soul of the music comes from Little Punk's distinct voice and vision. I have sat down with local film buff Yingzi 影子 and planned a video for the track I'm not in the mood for making a song. Video ideas are on the way for Pairs too, but they are gonzo style ideas from Xiao Zhong and will come later. We'll shoot LP's using a Canon XL2.

Indie label: DIY style 2

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little punk red wall
So I just posted here about our indie record label that as yet has no name and no online home.

We had our first session recording Pairs and I said that we were yet to record Little Punk's solo material. That's not entirely true.

Little Punk sings for the Shanghai band Boys Climbing Ropes. I met her on and off across the last couple of years and one thing that interested me was her prolific writing. She has pages and pages of poetry, prose and song lyrics and her preferred solo style is lo-fi indie folk. Perfect for our label.

So, last week I finished writing eight tracks with her. We recorded all of them using the Zoom H2 and next week is simply re-recording them in better quality.

The tracks use only vocals and guitar and the Zoom has a two channel setting where the mic is split front and back, making it perfect for duos.

We got lucky again. As with Pairs, behind the chaotic outer shell and free creative spirit was a very focused and hard working artist who knew exactly what she wanted. The songs are excellent. I will try to make one of the demos available here once I sort out a player problem.

We will record with Adam at Luwan Rock again.

Indie label: DIY style 1

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pairs d22
This is a weird one to post about as there's no name or reference site yet, so bear with me.

Me and a friend wanted to do something to promote a certain style of music, lo-fi or DIY indie. So we decided to do a label. It has no name and I wasn't going to post on it for a while. However, some concrete things happened so here goes.

Our plan:

1) Form a label in theory
2) Record music from Shanghai based band Pairs and solo artist Little Punk
3) Get famous avant-garde photographer Ren Hang to shoot them
4) Make a label page on Douban and make all this stuff available
5) Make cheap CD's of the albums and distribute them for free
6) If the idea proves popular, try to 'do something with it'

So what happened? We had our first session and recorded Pairs.

What's a blog?

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from douban again ping
In case you're wondering, the photos come from galleries of friends on douban.com

So yeah, we all know what a blog is right? I mean, you're reading one now. They are very useful for the indie mind too. Saying that, there are some misconceptions going around that are useful to examine.

1) form vs content
2) standards and legitimacy

So, what's a blog ... drum roll please ... it's a type of computer software. That's right. It's a computer program that has many functions with the overall goal of letting you put things in the public domain via the internet.

The content - that is the things themselves, words, pics, ideas, topics etc - can be anything you like. So when you hear people talking about how blogs are like whiny personal diaries, they are just making an association. An incorrect one. You could research, write and produce a piece for a newspaper and have it in the print edition and also put it on your blog with no difference in the process. It's just available in two different mediums.

Podcasting 1: Kungfuology special

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wee ling pod
Podcasting. Like a radio show but saved onto a computer audio file so you can listen to it at your leisure and on a variety of devices.

Me and Jake Newby have made two six-episode series of podcasts relating to our music scene blogs here at Kungfuology.com. You can hear them for yourselves right here:


So, today we decided to throw out an Expo special to keep things ticking.

First the theory behind our pods. I like the Guardian Unlimited Football Weekly Podcast. I really really like it. I used it as a model for ours in many ways. Here are some key points:

It's about a single specific topic (football).
It talks about current events: what's just happened and what's coming up.
It is 45 minutes long.
It is all talking, nice and clear with no backing track or silly noises.

We record it in my house and the room is not sound proofed or sound dampened in any way. So, if you are not right up to the mic, there will be horrible echo and a tinny sound to the whole thing. Our weapon of chance (we borrow it) is the Zoom H2 Handy Recorder.

This looks like an electric shaver and can do single direction, two-channel (front/back) or surround. I have heard pods done with this using surround with many people sitting around the room - but they sound like a*s because of the previously mentioned point. We use the two channel setting and attach the mini stand. Then it goes on a stool and we sit either side of it about 30cm (a ruler) away. 

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