If you haunt live shows in the Northern Capital like our Beijing editor does, you’d be sure to recognize an American guy sporting varying degrees of scruff and extraordinarily ugly sandals holding a small video camera unobtrusively near the side of the stage. That gentleman (whose identity we shall not reveal) is the brains and editing suite behind Live Beijing Music, a site for his live videos of what seems to be every gig in Beijing. In the past year, he’s built up quite a following especially amongst the local musicians, who rarely film themselves and regular concert goers, who enjoy reliving the memories. He’s just posted his top tracks of 2012 – parts one and two – and it includes such Radar favourites such as Snapline, Dear Eloise and Residence A. Hilariously, the songs come in all forms: Soundcloud, Youku, Xiami, Bandcamp, the list goes on. But what the layout lacks in aesthetic value it makes up more than exponentially in the quality and scope of music released in Beijing over the past 12 months.
Sad news from yesterday – famed Chinese music producer Chen Yuli was killed in a car accident yesterday, in his hometown of Paris. He was only 29 years old.
Growing up in France as a child of Chinese immigrants, Chen was influenced from a young age by his father, famed composer Chen Qigang. He started studying classical piano from the age of 3 before becoming interested in music production as a teenager. In the US, he studied under Jay Messina, the producer for Aerosmith, KISS, Lou Reed, Patti Smith and many others. Coming back to China in his mid-20s, Chen was the audio engineer and head of musical production for the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the producer of the Olympics’ theme song “You and Me.”
In addition to his background in producing and engineering pop music, Chen Yuli habored a deep love and respect for all types of contemporary music, including rock, electronica, indie and more. He mixed and produced tracks by Wang Wei, Arrows Made of Desire, The Gar, Mr. Graceles and Queen Sea Big Shark. Stepping out from behind the mixing console, Chen also sometimes played keyboard for Beijing indie pop band Arrows Made of Desire.
As is custom today around the world, his friends and fans took to Weibo to express their regret and sorrow at Chen Yuli’s passing yesterday.
RIP, Chen Yuli. Though we did not know you personally, we know you’re still making music wherever you are.
Words + Photos: Ami Li
Your faithful Radar correspondents repeated a May holiday weekend ritual once again in 2012 by going to Modern Sky’s Strawberry Festival in Beijing. The overarching feeling of the whole weekend was repetition: same routes, same festivals, same artists. Same sponsors, even.
Located at Tongzhou Canal Park (despite our claims to the contrary – sorry again) eight stages vied for sound supremacy over the park grounds. New this year was the A Cappella stage, where co-ed voices blended mellifluously over new classics including “Dancing Queen” and “I’ll Be There For You” while the mysterious Chǎ stage played host to only 4 acts per day, including the ever-popular MC Stone (石头). Headliners for the main Strawberry Stage included Blonde Redhead, Queen Sea Big Shark and Xie Tianxiao, whereas other foreign acts invited included Laura Jansen, Jeans Team, Pitchtuner, The On Fires and Tahiti 80. Other festival favorites such as New Pants, Hanggai, Convenience Store, Carsick Cars and Hedgehog rounded out the lineup. Metal stalwarts Voodoo Kungfu, Army of Jade Kirin, Twisted Machine and Liquid Oxygen Can kept the Overdrive Stage rocking all weekend long and young blood in the form of Wanderlust, CAssette, Steely Heart held it down in the early afternoon slots.
Last weekend, we were lucky enough to be invited to judge the Summersonic local bands competition at MAO. Essentially, the MAO Livehouse chain is “sponsoring” 8 bands to head off to Asia’s biggest music festival, the 2-city monster that is Summersonic (we’re not sure exactly what the financial details of the trip are).
Beijing Daze has an account of the Beijing final HERE.
First off, great idea. Japan is an obvious market when it comes to exporting Chinese music – it’s only a 3 hour flight, it’s a very trend focused market, and it would be great to export some soft power to diffuse some of the ill feeling that exists between the two nations. Credit to MAO and Summersonic for creating this platform.
Last month, our sister site Wooozy (purveyor of all that is interesting and indie in music in Chinese) conducted and subsequently published this interview with Josh Feola of Beijing based blog Pangbianr (which is also a purveyor of all that is interesting and indie in music in both Chinese and English). They kindly allowed us to reprint – here is part 1.
SXSW last month, you were on the SXSW tour with Carsick Cars as tour manager. Have you been to such big festivals before?
Just to clarify, I wasn’t exactly Carsick Cars’s tour manager. Their trip was sponsored by Converse and they were also supported by their label, Maybe Mars. Since I’m from Texas and I “grew up” in the independent music scene in San Antonio and Austin, I know a lot of people who organize more underground, independent shows during South by Southwest. I also knew Carsick Cars from living in Beijing and running pangbianr. So it was a good opportunity to help out the band by booking some more local shows for them during their trip to Austin. In general I don’t really like big music festivals, but South by Southwest is different. It’s like a music festival spread out across dozens of venues every day for almost a full week. I went to SXSW a few times while in high school but mostly just to see my friends’ bands and more off-the-radar shows at houses and small bars that the majority of fest-goers wouldn’t ever hear of.
The second Midi Music Awards happened in Beijing last night. We covered the first ones HERE.
Rather than write anything ourselves, we should point you to the ever excellent Beijing Daze blog. Some great points made, namely that the awards were much more credible this year, that Fu Han really shouldn’t be walking away with the female vocalist of the year even though her QSBS band has made considerable strides this year, that the party sounded like a LOT of fun and finally that it seems a little ironic to see Midi School winning the Midi Awards Contribution to Chinese music. Still, in a music industry this small, no real surprises. There is also a great first hand review over at City Weekend.
Just a side note, does anyone else think it’s strange that Maybe Mars don’t get a look in at all?
Well done to all the winners.
We complained last week that details of the three day final event of the Intel/ Vice Creator’s Project hadn’t been announced 17 days prior to the event, missing out on press, hype and excitement in the process.
Well, they have just released a full rundown of what will be over the weekend of 17-19 September, and it looks like it will be a pretty awesome day or two at the Dashanzi 798 art district, with some truly great creative minds presenting their wares. From the website:
The event will begin on Friday, the 17th with a dazzling array of exhibitions and installations featuring some of the very best digital artists at work today. These will include Li Hui, Kingsley Ng, Xu Wenkai, Teddy Lo, Xu Feng, Hojun Song, Mira Calix, Muti Randolph, United Visual Artists, Radical Friend, Ricardo Carioba, Takeshi Murata, Nick Zinner, DSP, Seeper, and Mark Essen.
The festivities will continue Saturday, September 18th all-day and into the night, starting with screenings of films by Peng Lei, Ray Lei, Sun Haipeng, Yeondoo Jung, Richie Hawtin, Ladj Ly, Margherita Premuroso, Spike Jonze, Danny Perez, and Brain Farm. We’ll have panel discussions led by Vega Wang, Peng Lei, and Tobias Thomas; and will be featuring intimate live performances by Rebuilding the Rights of Statues, Queen Sea Big Shark, New Pants, Dead J, Sulumi, White +, CSS, Delorean, Major Lazer, Ada, and Nick Catchdubs along with DJ sets by B6, DJ Wordy, and Tobias Thomas. On Sunday the 19th, we’ll have open exhibitions all day for all you gallery goers. For a taste of what to expect check out this video.
Apparel brands seem to work in seasons. In January, we pointed you towards the fact that three sneaker brands were all doing similar things in the same month in the same venue. HERE.
American workwear brand Dickies has been active in the music space for a couple of years now. We first saw the brand activate at the 2009 Modern Sky Festival in Beijing, providing t-shirts to the staff and having some stall/ shop presence.
Now they are going a little bigger, working on a short tour with Modern Sky bands Queen Sea Big Shark and Life Journey.
Sep 10 Nanjing 61 house
Sep 11 Shanghai MAO
Sep 12 Hangzhou Code-space
There isn’t too much original about this – QSBS have been heavily associated with other bands, Converse particularly. The timing is also somewhat unfortunate as it runs almost parallel with another very similar activation by Puma, who are touring Mavis and her 100% band, to the same venue in Shanghai the day before.
9/10 Shanghai Mao: Mavis, Bigger Bang, Sonnet, etc
9/18 Beijing Star Live Mavis, Bigger Bang, Steely Heart, Dude
One pair of Puma shoes plus T-shirt gets 2 free tickets. No tickets at the door.
There is lots of potential in this space, but consumers need new and creative concepts, rather than retreads and remakes…
And we give you… more Chinese music festivals.
There were 11 festival stages operating in Beijing during the 4 day holiday, 1-4 May. This is how we felt it went down…
Westerners working in marketing in China often spout forth that Chinese kids do not mind branding. In fact, our research actually shows that youth in China actually feel safer about an event if there is some level of branding involved. Strawberry Festival organizers are certainly taking this philosophy to the limit.
Saturday morning broke blue-skied and cloudless in Beijing. Tongzhou is a suburb on the South Eastern edge of the city, and traditionally has been something of an artistic community. Recently though, it has been the recipient of large chunks of developer cash and has a whiff of new construction & new middle class about it. The Strawberry Festival has that same air, of developers that care less for the artistic community and more for their own financial gains.