Wooozy.cn Interview with Jingweir Chief Editor Michael Winkler

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The team over at Wooozy.cn have kindly sorted us with the original English transcript of an interview they conducted with Jingweir Chief Editor Michael Winkler, ahead of their show at JUE |Music + Art 2014. Jingweir is another one of those passions of the heart which could easily fly under the radar. We’re not sure why, worst case scenario people just aren’t searching this stuff out. Fanzines and print in general aren’t fashionable mediums, and there hasn’t been a throwback craze here in China involving teens looting their grandparents’ closets for old garb, records and such. Nevertheless the zine serves its small audience well: each issue is a goldmine, packed with updates on what’s going on in the local scene. Wrench your faces away from your screens and have a flick through – the next issue is up for grabs in a few days.


How did Jingweir start?

At some point I found that there was a vacuum here in Beijing. I was constantly searching online for content about the local scene. I came across a site called beijingnoise.org [now defunct] which was run by our old editor Luke Hansford. I decided to contact him. I told him I liked what he was doing and that we should meet up. We began talking and I found out he wasn’t pleased with current progress on his site. He had made a fairly popular and successful music blog with some friends back in Australia and was annoyed that he had to basically start from scratch and trudge along from the bottom floor again. I had been inspired to make something physical after I found an older zine at 2 Kolegas in Beijing called “8 Inches of Arsehole” as a student in 2006 and he liked that idea. We became friends, played music together and after a lot of talking and planning we came out with our first edition of the zine.

What’s the main goal of Jingweir? Has it changed with the time going?

The main goal has been explicit from the beginning. It has always been a rallying flag for anyone living in Beijing or China in general who enjoys music and making music. It serves as a platform for group participation and helps to share awareness of the scene within the community. You can learn about other people that might be interested in the same things as you. There are a lot of talented people here, and a lot of peoples’ skills are complementary. This way people can learn about how to get involved and participate or just go see some cool music while they are in town.

You have run Jingweir over 2 years, what do you think is the hardest part?

I would have to say the Beijing schedule. Beijing has a very obvious rotation of time. People come and go with their jobs, vacations, semesters, the change of the seasons, what have you. The hardest part is accepting that and trying to find schedules that can fit groups of people working together. 

Jingweir not only releases albums for the artists but also publishes the fanzines, which is quite unusual in China.

What do you think of the fanzine form?

While not incorrect, I would point out that describing it as a ‘fanzine’ can kind of miss one of the main phenomenon around here. Namely that there is an ever increasing blur between participant and audience. Its quite normal when you go to a good small show around here that everyone in the club watching the show is in a band or is a music writer or works for a record label or a music bar or CD store in some way. Sure we are ‘fans’ of all the musicians we talk about and work with in the sense that we enjoy and cherish their work and performances, but we also try to have a lot of content designed for people who are interested in generating their own musical content themselves, and not just ‘consuming’ it and being a ‘fan’.


The fanzines Jingweir makes remind me of old times when I was still a child. Did you miss how everything was in 1980s and early 1990s compared with the information-explosion era nowadays?

The Internet is a powerful source of information, but for me as a westerner its been there in my hands for the vast majority of my life. I was on Compuserve when I was 7 years old. When I bought my first bass guitar at 11, I taught myself how to play it by sitting in front of the internet and downloading mp3s on Napster. In China, there was more of a delayed response as access to technology went from 0 to 60 in the last twenty years, so this concept as you mention it is way easier to see here, and I wasn’t around in the 90s here so its hard for me to miss. The best small pieces of this concept I can relate to is probably the downfall of FM radio. I do miss being able to drive around with my father and actually enjoy music on the radio. Now we just listen to the news. Ill listen to college radio when I can, but its too much jazz and folk for my dad.

Where you inspired by DIY culture where you grew up?

Yes, many time in many places. I’m from suburban Philadelphia. There’s a pretty big punk and hardcore culture in that area. I guess theres probably a pretty key time in everyone’s life when they are most impressionable and i guess for me it was probably the times I spent as a student playing basement punk shows, going to R5 productions shows at the church, etc. Especially given that China and even Beijing is still somewhat of a blank slate or ‘white piece of paper’ it makes it easy to just recall the ‘normal’ situations you’ve experienced in your past and project them.

Seems that Jingweir’s output of radio mixtapes and zines has slowed down since 2013. Is this down to new projects, or other reasons?

I liked doing the mixtapes very much and will continue to host them online, but the traffic in the past was so low that I had to wonder if it was worth my time. Also, in some cases there was the matter of using an artist’s music. Obviously I wasn’t selling anything or making any money off of them in any way shape or form, but in order to be thorough and keep the quality standards high, I was dipping and digging from all kinds of sources, douban streams that weren’t actually enabled for ‘downloading’, Modern Sky / Maybe Mars releases. I had a couple great conversations and a lot of people were really open and into it and supportive of their work or their labels work being used, but I was concerned that there might be enough potential for complications that it impacted my drive to continue making them.

In terms of the zines, they will come and go. I don’t have any serious long term ambitions as a journalist or a publisher. I just like making music with my friends. Ideally the zines have a great supplementary function, but I’m not super interested in sacrificing a lot of music-making time to sit down and write articles about making music, so there will always be periods when the records and shows take precedence.

In your daily life in Beijing, what do you think is most “Jingweir”? Which band do you think is the most “Jingweir” band in Beijing?
 The most “Jingweir” venue in Bejing?

The concept we’re talking about is a little bit different. A lot of music sub-cultures in China, for example the pop-punk, metal-core and post-punk communities are all pretty insular. I feel like this question might be approaching some idea of “Jingweir” as kind of an insular genre like this. That’s almost the opposite of the goal.

There’s lots of Hardcore in Guangzhou, in Shandong, theres lots of punk and rock in Wuhan. There’s lots of guys playing folk all over, theres lots of expat rock in Shanghai, but Beijing feels particularly well rounded. There’s a lot of all of that stuff here. The idea was never that Beijing is this one sound or idea, it was more of a proud reminder that Beijing is a great cultural hub for the mainland with all of the genres or styles or whatever you’re into being represented.

How does Jingweir pick up the artists? It seems that most artists are electronic, experimental and folk.

There have been patterns in the releases throughout the last two years. However, the key is not genre, but rather the artist’s interest in working with us. We act as a resource for people we meet around the city. If there’s a pattern with noisy improvised records, yea sure we are particularly into that stuff, buts its also about serving a functional use and that those records are not going to get picked up by bigger labels because of the size of the niche of interest. Its also comparatively easy to finish those records. We have lots of friends and co-conspirators that make louder guitar and drums rock/punk, but those records are comparatively more difficult to record and mix AND there is more of a market interest so its easier to work with people who have a bunch more cash than I do.

Keep your ears out this spring though. We helped a Bass/drums punk duo called ‘Love Plastic’ record in December, and I just got back from Shanghai tracking in the last Pairs record, so on top of the noisy improvised electronic experimental patterns you mentioned, there will be a bunch of other stuff coming out this spring as well.

This March, Jingweir will hold a workshop + live DJ event at XP as part of JUE festival. When did you know JUE and did you ever attend any JUE event? What do you think of this music / art festival?

Most music festivals have one priority. In the Chinese music industry the only profit to really be made is though music festivals. The fact that Jue festival spends time on what’s going on in a more culturally inclined sense we really appreciate. A lot of music festivals focus on the bottom line of profits made on ticket sales, 50 kuai water, whatever. But we’ve been really appreciative of how open minded and easy going its been to work with the series of JUE festival events.

We’re proud and appreciative to be among the roster of events they are supporting this year, and with ours just around the corner, we are looking forward to having a great night at Xiaoping!

Can you tell us more about this event and some special points?

This event will be unique because it is a two-part release party. The first section is going to be a workshop where participants will obtain some knowledge on DJ techniques as well as a bit of history on the subject. At the end of the workshop the audience will actually have the chance to try out the techniques first hand on some workstations we will have setup.

The second part will be based on performance. There will be three artists performing together. Li Jianhong, Vavabond and Mengqi. Rather than being on the stage like in a traditional show setting, the artists will be facing each other at different parts of the room. They will interact with each other at different times and the audience will experience it from the middle. In addition, there will be a place for Jingweir and other local contributors like 87Fei87 and Kitchen Table Records to display their releases.

It will also be the release party of Jingweir Volume 2 Issue 2. What is the different between Vol. 1 & 2? Could you share with us some content in advance?

The main thing was a change in editor as Luke returned to Australia. With Vol 2 now, we are working on incorporating more and higher quality images, some higher quality physical materials, and as time and space allows, bilingual content.

Any future plan you can share with us?

Just expect us to keep at it with more zines and more records and more shows. We have a lot of releases ready for the spring and that’s not even counting the material we haven’t recorded. We are getting better and better at recording and releasing so we’re excited about that. This adventure working with JUE as part of the festival is a new experience, so we’re excited to see how it comes out and what future opportunities it can bring! We would like to thank Split Works and Jue for giving us the opportunity to do this event and Wooozy.cn for taking the time to sit down and talk about our little photocopied music zine.

For anyone interested in working with Jingweir in any way please, just get in contact: jingweirbeijing@gmail.com

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