Benoit Florencon, a Shanghai based photographer, recently self published a photo essay that dives deep into the home studios that put out many of the underground beats that make up Shanghai’s musical underbelly.
It’s a nice snapshot of the scene in general – 70% of the artists featured are not Chinese, an accurate representation of what’s happening here at the moment. MIA summarizes the reasons why
young people here have a lot of pressure during childhood – they don’t have free time to care about or explore art and music.
UPDATE: Andy Best has written a long and erudite post over at his excellent blog, talking about what politics really is and why this article (and many others) fail to appreciate the realities of life, pure and simple. You can read Andy’s full rant n’ roll HERE. What Andy points out is that our world (or at least the vast majority of it) is pretty messed up – he refers to absolute poverty levels, and to the ongoing war in Congo, which is all very well and good, but when referencing music, takes the whole “politics” argument too absolutely. We think Alice Liu’s article can be summed up as the following (and shouldn’t be limited to China, but is, because that is her area of expertise): musicians are influencers (particularly those who are young and extremely talented), and wouldn’t it be nice if they used their influence better (in the vast majority of cases), which we think is a perfectly fair point. In China, this is particularly obvious, because this current crop of musicians can be compared very easily to their immediate predecessors.
A very interesting article in the Asia Times about the realities of rock music in China’s new middle classes. The thrust of the article is that emerging stars of the “underground” rock scene in China are now comfortably ensconsed as responsible citizens with jobs and a detachment from a political system that doesn’t really affect them on a day to day basis. For us, this could be an indicator of why we feel there is a relative lull in the Chinese alt-music industry, an apathy even, that is reflected from the bands to the fans. Chinese kids aren’t engaging with the very real issues facing them, but because they are not being immediately suppressed and because they can play shows and release albums with relative impunity, they feel no need to talk about societies ills. Saddest for us is the apparent disrespect that individuals like Shouwang have for their forebears and their struggles:
“We’re not into the politics and don’t care that much about the older generation: for them it was like religion. I don’t really listen to their music, including Cui Jian. As new bands come, the old ones demise.”
On the other hand, this apathy is not restricted to just Chinese youth. Generation Y everywhere is famously a-political. Our planet has undergone an unparalleled period of peace and prosperity, and young people the world over are more obsessed with money and fashion than with governments and society. Anyway, read for yourself HERE and let us know what you think.
Sound Kapital by Matthew Niederhauser is a second book by Beijing based American photographer depicting the rise of independent music in China through the eyes of the bands at D-22. You can read the Economist’s take on it HERE.
We have an in-depth interview with Matthew that we will be publishing next week. Stay tuned…