Recently, our partner company Split Works were asked to speak at TEDxShanghai, the independently organized TED event that is in its second year here in Shanghai. Archie Hamilton spoke about “the Chinese Music Industry as a proxy for developed vs developing economies: the Leapfrog Effect”.
To compensate for the somewhat dry nature of the talk, we worked with TEDx head honcho Richard Hsu on bringing two awesomely next level musicians to play over the course of the day. Jeff Lang, Australian blues legend was coming off the back of a hugely successful 7 city tour of China. Xiao He is one of the most talented and experimental artists plying a trade in China at the moment. His label, Maybe Mars, describes him so
Except for a very few special performances with Glorious Pharmacy, today Xiao He only plays solo performances. Calling these multi-faceted improvised performances “Free Folk”, as much to express his anarchic playfulness as to suggest the total freedom which he approaches musical instrumentation, vocal performances and stylistic experimentation, he has become the inventor of a deeply weird and immensely moving style of music, mystical and surreal, which abruptly veers from the plaintive cries of Mongolian or Western Chinese music to the barbed and sometimes childlike humor of the avant garde. Complementing his stylistic creativity is a wholly unique way of playing acoustic guitar, loops, synthesizers and any other instrument that catches his fancy.
If you don’t do anything else, check out at the end of Xiao He’s performance where he addresses the crowd in a completely made up language. Priceless.
Thanks to both these amazing artists and to the TEDx team for their hard work making this all worthwhile.