This drink sounds totally nuts, but I really liked it: the Mezcal & Pimentón from Melibea in the West Village, made with Fidencio Mezcal, calamansi and red pepper juices, and Velvet Falernum, with a rim of smoked salt, pulverized smoked tamarind (smoked tamarind!), sugar, and Mediterranean spicy pepper.
A year and a half in the making, Shanren’s new album, 听山 (Sounds of the Mountains), will be released with a concert at Beijing’s Mako Live House (in my old stomping ground, Shuangjing!) on Saturday, May 18—their first full show in the capital since 2011! I just listened to the album (cover art above), the band’s second, and it is beautiful, with a stronger emphasis on the folk and traditional elements than you hear in the live show.
As the press release says, “this album features an in-depth introduction to the side of Yunnan indigenous music that you don’t get to see on CCTV, served up with the band’s inimitable humour and energy, leaving the listener with a lasting impression of the simultaneous depth and fragility of the Yunnan tribal cultures that are now feeling the full impact of modernity and development.”
Saturday, May 18, 2013. 70RMB. Press Event: 7:30pm; Concert: 8:30pm. Mako Live House (inside Hongdian Art Factory, Courtyard 36 (500m south of Carrefour Shuangjing, inside a small alley), Guangqu Lu, Chaoyang District 朝阳区广渠路36号院红点艺术工厂内（幸福贝贝南边）
Hello, I’m a failed avant-garde-ist: yesterday, I walked into the Comme des Garcons archive sale telling myself I would only by one thing, and it would be a crazy, edgy piece, like shorts with an extra-low crotch or a jacket with lumps. Two hours later, after trying on lots of things and fighting my way to the mirrors, I walked out with—literally—the two most sedate pieces in the room: a high-necked velvet dress and a pinstriped, schoolgirl-pleat skirt. I couldn’t help it: they were both so beautifully made, and I could tell they fit perfectly even before I looked in the mirror. The weirder stuff, which I really like, looked a bit like things I could buy at Forever 21 and trash myself.
The thing I wanted to get across in this interview is to highlight what it takes to run a small record label in Asia, so why not just bang it straight out? What does it take to run a small record label in Asia?
Perseverance, patience and resilience, I think. And the ability to manage expectations and plan ahead in terms of years—not months. Genjing is still in its infancy and we have a significant amount of ground to cover before we can even determine if we’re having an impact on building DIY communities and empowering artists who share that DIY ethos, two of the mission statements that underpin who we are and what we do. But this is a question that really should be addressed to our founder, Nevin Domer, who does 99% of the work, from conceptualizing releases to managing production to charting the label’s trajectory and working with the artists and managing the supply chain.
When I interviewed Chinese musicians in Beijing, I’d often ask about the music they were listening to. Some would cite not-so-cool bands like Blink-182 or confess an early affinity for Red Hot Chili Peppers. Some would name bands I’d kind of expect, like Joy Division or the Ramones. And some would school me in the newest indie bands from Brooklyn or obscure CBGB’s habitues.
But there was one name that always made the list, to the point that I joked that all Chinese musicians were required to name-check him in order to be successful in Beijing: Cui Jian. Performing on state TV in the ‘80s and later joining the student protesters in Tiananmen Square, Cui Jian was the first real rock musician in China, and he gave the next generation the first glimpse of what a domestic rock star could look like. His song “Greenhouse Girl” features with a particular kind of guttural singing that I heard all the time at clubs in Beijing.
Cui’s greatest-hits album The 3rd Sound of China just came out, and all of his albums are available digitally (on iTunes and streaming on Spotify) internationally for the first time. Listening from the US, it’s hard to imagine his impact—it sounds a bit like lite rock. But people went crazy for him, and he kicked off the scene you see today.