A podcast about songwriting in Asia, by Krish Raghav. Twice a month, we ask musicians and bands from across the continent to talk about one of their new songs, and how it came together.
They do a remarkable job of interviewing and featuring musicians from the region, which of course includes the Greater China area. With that in mind, we’ve excerpted Chinese music recommendations from their past few newsletters:
A few years ago, the dominant ‘Beijing sound’ was a particular kind of experimental, fuzzy noise-rock, driven by the bands and a movement that called itself ‘No Beijing‘. This is the sound of (now) Chinese indie mainstays like Carsick Cars, Hedgehog, Snapline and the Gar.
Newer Beijing bands, however, appear to be moving towards a happier, sloppier, poppier place – this is the sing-along Beijing of Residence A, Bedstars or this glorious new song from The Twenties. They’re the typically idiosyncratic capital city band – working odd jobs to keep the band alive, singing in half-broken half-adorable English, and taking a severely D.I.Y approach to gigging and touring. [The Twenties will appear in a future episode of the podcast, so more on them soon!]
GooDDD – Head is Dead [好端端樂團 – 頭殻壞去] Taipei, Taiwan
I love this song. GooDDD belong to that particular south Chinese genre of what can only be called ‘playful pop’, most of whose proponents – My Little Airport, DeepWhite2 , 22cats – come from either Taiwan or Hong Kong. Maybe the presence of a powerful Mandopop/Cantopop industry has something to do with it. The playfulness and self-referential wit of GooDDD or a My Little Airport as a counter-balance, perhaps, to the grandiose lyrics and seriousness of the big pop singers. ‘Head is Dead’ is a perfect little 3 minute pop song, complete with whistles, jangly guitars and clever turns of phrase.
Nova Heart – We are Golden Beijing, China
Singer Helen Feng is one of the central figures of Beijing’s independent underground, as is her ‘Nova Heart‘ super-group, consisting of musicians from Hedgehog and Pet Conspiracy. “We are Golden” has that allure that I love about Nova Heart, a slight other-worldliness, like it’s a soundtrack to cyberpunk romantic comedy. Nova Heart are also a fantastic, theatric live band who promote (and wear) the work of contemporary Chinese fashion designers. This is from their 2015 self-titled album, yet to be released outside of China.
I love Bedstars because I love their spiritual predecessors Joyside, particularly a documentary made about them called ‘Wasted Orient.‘ I really can’t recommend it enough – it’s heart-breakingly funny, disarmingly dark and one of the most honest portrayals of what it’s like to tour as a bootstrapped non-mainstream band. Best watched with some watery lager, and pondered over with Bedstars’ new album in the background.
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