update from the dead?

January 16, 2008

Hi everyone!

A few months ago, my magazine offered a paid blogging position to me and this is the reason I have deserted SundayLovers. Thanks for your readership and emails! You can read the blog on the City Weekend website.

An update on a few other things:

1. My boyfriend and I purchased a small dog over Christmas. He looks like a polar bear and his name is Reginald.

2. We will be flying to Canada over the next month to visit family & friends.

3. I am currently working full time at Wieden + Kennedy.

4. Meow Tse-Fun the cat is in heat and yowls constantly.

Lots of love!


a little break.

October 29, 2007

Sorry for the lack of updates. My grandmother passed away late last night and I’ve had family and friends come to town. I will be flying to Shanghai for the next few days and then back to Canada for another week. When I’m back in the Middle Kingdom, the entries will continue! For now, there’s a great article in the New York Times about the fledgling experimental music scene here in Beijing — after the recent debates in the comments section regarding good and bad international press, I think this article is a perfect example of the “good kind”, the kind that this country needs.

Doug Kanter for The New York Times
BEIJING — Down a short alley in the sprawling, tourist-mobbed 798 art district here — a complex of 1950s-era military factories converted into galleries and studios — is a tiny shop that serves as one of the centers of China’s small but thriving experimental music scene.

The store, Sugar Jar, is barely big enough to accommodate a half-dozen customers, and one wall displays all the essentials of the genre, from discs of abstract electronica and brutal noise-rock to anthologies with bold titles like “China: The Sonic Avant-Garde.” Playing samples from his stock, the proprietor, a lanky, soft-spoken man named Lao Yang, noted proudly that his store is one of the only spots in all of Beijing to buy much of this music.

Like Sugar Jar, avant-garde music occupies a minuscule niche in Chinese society, overshadowed by the larger and vastly more lucrative world of contemporary visual art. Only a few dozen musicians around the country make up this circle, but their work has begun to attract international attention, and over the last several years a steady stream of Western musicians, including Brian Eno and the New York guitarist Elliott Sharp, have visited and given their blessing…. continue reading.

party is over, pornostar!!

October 23, 2007

Out of all the exciting releases out this month, “Party is Over, Pornostar” by local post-punk three piece Snapline is one of my favorites. Distributed by the newly established Beijing indie label Maybe Mars (headed by D22 mastermind Michael Pettis and local post-punk hero Yang Hai Song of PK14), the record can be found in local record shops like The Sugar Jar and Freesound, as well as at D22 and various other live music bars.

The band, formed nearly two years ago out of the dredges of a side project (two of the members also play in Carsick Cars) have been garnering praise since their inception and is one of the fastest rising new talents in the country. In the ever so incestuous climate of today’s Beijing indie rock scene, it’s especially easy to wear your influences on your sleeve and copy what everyone else is doing, yet Snapline have managed to take the unbeaten path to a sound all of their own.

Recorded over two short days in October 2006 at the Hi End Studios in Beijing and produced by Martin Atkins of Ministry, Pigface and Invisible Records fame, the album clocks in at just over 40 minutes in length and is a refreshing mix of punk rock naivety and freshness that features a surprising number of dancey rock n’ roll tracks with a distinctively post-industrial pop undertone. The album manages to sound at once familiar and modern and the frenzied, agitated yet still very organized calm captures the essence of the band’s live performances.

In an interview with City Weekend Magazine, lead singer Chen Xi is eager to talk about the differences between their live and recorded sets. “Martin is a great producer” he says, “The songs on the album have richer elements and has a more accurate balance. Still, in our live shows we have more passion and noise and there are more random things that happen.”

Xi, who wears stylish red horn rimmed glasses and can be found onstage wearing equally stylish digs, has the vocal stylings reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, or maybe more flatteringly Damo Suzuki of Can, He is a soft spoken yet charismatic front man who’s confidence and stage presence seems to grow in bounds with each passing month. He recalls being extremely nervous during his time in the studio, drinking bottles of water and praying that he didn’t stress out his vocal chords. “It was my first time in the studio and I didn’t know that we’d have to take our shoes off,” he says. “I felt really lucky that I was wearing socks without any holes in them! Our guitarist and bass player had to trample their pedals with slippers!”

In the next month, the band expects to take their show on the road, touring Shanghai, Chengdu and Nanjing and looming in the future are rumors of an American tour with Martin Atkin’s own project, the superstar industrial rock group Pigface. See them promote their new album this Thursday at Mao Live in a double bill with Carsick Cars!

hang the police?

October 17, 2007

I’ve been having some really interesting conversations with my friend Ed Peto lately, particularly about upcoming and established bands in China. In a recent blog entry, he warns about the hype machine that’s surrounding Beijing’s burgeoning music scene. While we share similar viewpoints on the longevity and actual creative ability of many of the local bands currently on the scene, I do disagree on the point that that the scene is “simply too fragile to deliver”, and I fully embrace (despite my bitching and moaning) all the foreign photographers and writers who visit for two weeks and then leave touting the city as the “next big scene”.

Though it is absolutely ridiculous at this point to compare Beijing to other cosmopolitan cities like London or Montreal or New York or Paris, China has been closed off from the world stage for so long that even the idea of getting a glimpse of musicians and artists from out of this (still perceived as) exotic country is new and exciting, and the constant flow of articles written on the arts and music scene from big name papers like The New York Times is testament to how interested the world really is. While some people will disagree, I strongly believe that all this media attention only forces bands to be better, to try harder, and encourages people to write songs and pick up instruments.

When producer and drummer Martin Atkins of Pigface and Ministry fame came to town last year (as quoted on his China Music Network Myspace page, he had “taken it upon himself to open up China’s musical boundaries”), his entire trip was denounced as an idiotic flop after just a few short days. Atkins, who’s primary goal for his trip was to sign a handful of local bands and to bring them to great international glory, didn’t seem to understand the local scene at all, nor did he seem to have any kind of sense when it came to dealing with and working with Chinese people in general. This kind of imperialism makes me crazy, and it’s a good example for why many people around these parts are so bemused and disgusted by international attention.

Beijing has a terrific music scene, for all it’s ups and downs and mediocrity and moments of genius. If you strip away all your previous conceptions of rock music as you’ve known it and take the bands at face value for all their eagerness and naivety and enthusiasm, it’s a bit easier to swallow and some of the best gigs I’ve seen in my life have been here in China. Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that the world doesn’t lose it’s interest in what’s happening here, and as Ed says, every movement needs someone who’s relentlessly optimistic, otherwise people would falter in their support.

If you’re interested in the local music scene, or want to check out some bands and don’t know where to start, here’s a quick resource list of some of the bands, venues and labels I like:

Rebuilding the Rights of Statues
Queen Sea Big Shark
Lonely China Day
Hang on the Box

Tag Team Records
Red T Music
Modern Sky
Maybe Mars

2 Kolegas
Mao Live
Star Live
Yugong Yishan

obligatory mention of something awesome.

October 16, 2007

I keep meaning to mention this and keep on forgetting, but some of my favorite fancy pants DJs in Beijing have started putting out a podcast via Tag Team Records. Hear music editor of Time Out Ian “Doctor Chocolate” Sherman and his merry bandit Kyle “Kyle Page” Schaefer talk shop about the local music scene, hot girls in hot bands and stuff of that ilk, as well as songs by The Submissionaries, Hang on the Box, Salumi, Hedgehog and more!

Download HERE, and see them live and in the flesh every other Thursday at Kai Bar for Indie Night. Seriously, it’s awesome.

hail the people’s congress?

October 16, 2007

It’s already Tuesday and I’m still reeling from the events of last weekend. On Saturday, I stopped by the Nike 706 Space in the Dashanzi Arts District for their Force of Love party, which was… I’m not sure what it was. There were DJs, breakdancing and alot of free booze and food, and also a gallery displaying works from Korea, Taiwan, NYC, Paris and Germany. On the whole, as one spectator dryly noted, “alot of fucking work for… you know, a shoe.” but still highly enjoyable no less.

I also finally got into gear and went to Yugong Yishan both Friday and Saturday night, and the new venue is definately a step up in class from the old. Thankfully, drink prices are still the same and the sound system seems much improved. A little concerning though, was the open turtle tank plus turtle currently occupying the second floor bathroom –  it doesn’t seem to me that a small turtle should have to live in a place where it’s entirely possible that he will be peed on at some point in the night.  Just saying is all.

The Friday night Busdriver show was of epic proportions, with openers The Red Hand Jazz Band and the dubiously named The Beijing Live Hip Hop Experience playing long sets before the main event, leaving the crowd fidgeting and restless. Los Angeles born Regan Farquhar, the man behind Busdriver, alongside his DJ Antimc (otherwise known as Matthew Alsberg) did surprisingly well despite flying in to the Middle Kingdom at 5am that morning and spending the day at the Forbidden City.

Saturday, the Joyside boys were wildly drunk and the crowd equally so, and I’ve never seen such a display of nihilism as I did that night. Drunk girls collapsing on the floor, a furious mosh pit (don’t get me started on the Chinese concept of “moshing”) that seemed to start and stop at random, empty glasses, beer bottles and apple cores thrown and crashing onto the stage, slippery floors, sweat and cigarettes fueled the set and after a whirlwind twenty minutes, I was ready for it all to end and to head back home for a long night’s sleep.

In other news, Micheal Pettis, Professor of Finance at the prestigious Peking University, part owner of the famed D-22 music bar in Wudaokou and general champion of Chinese rock music, alongside Yang Haisong, who most people know as the charismatic lead singer of post punk Nanijing/Beijing legends PK14, have teamed up together to form Maybe Mars Records, and you can buy their latest three releases (Carsick Cars – S/T, Joyside – Booze at Neptune’s Dawn, Snapline – Party is Over, Pornstar) at The Sugarjar, Freesound and at D22. Watch for this week’s edition of City Weekend for a review of the new Snapline album!

This week, watch out for Jon Digweed and more awesomely, NU:TONE and MC Wreck at Vics, brought to us by the fabulous people at The Syndicate and Hospital Records.

mid autumn festival comes to an end.

October 7, 2007

subs at 2 kolegas, j. wong c

It’s been a busy week over here in Beijing; rock shows and parties galore, rain a-plenty and and and. What else? Because I’m kind of a loser, I got really stoned every day of the holiday instead of going out to all the shows I wanted to see. I actually made it out to the last day fo the Modern Sky Festival but chickened out on account of the rain and went back home to the safety of my warm, comfortable apartment. There are some amazing photos of the festival here, and if you have any more, send them in!

Traffic was clear thanks to all the little people scuttling back to their home towns, and in just 24 hours, everything will be back to what it was before the holidays. On Friday night, Rebuilding the Rights of Statues played a spectacular set at 2 Kolegas (read the latest NPR story about our media darlings here, along with a surprisingly awesome performance by New York post-hardcore band Birthday Boyz. While I’m normally highly suspicious of any band that chooses to place that unnecessary “Z” in any part of their name (and highly suspicious of anything that sounds like hardcore), they were noisy and high energy and fantastic and completely blew me away. The only bummer is that most people had left or wandered outside by the time they got on stage, and their genius only got to shared by a select few. C’est le vie. Subs followed with a rather disappointing set, and despite their usual track record of excellence, Friday’s set was decidedly flat, the sound was off and the band hardly recognizable from last month’s blazing performance at Mao Live. Hopefully their performance next Friday (the 12th) at D22 will be better and if they’re not your thing, upcoming rap superstars (?!!) Busdriver will be in town that same night at Yugong Yishan, brought to us Beijing kids by Shanghai American wunderkid Abe Deyo. If you happen to see Abe, go and give him a hug. He’s a photographer, promoter, writer, music editor at The Shanghaiist and general all around nice guy. Plus he has weird hair, and that’s probably hard for him.

There are a ton of shows coming up this week, and one of the gigs I’m really stoked about though is the upcoming Pioneer DJ Championships at White Rabbit on Thursday, October 11th. The semi-finals are this week and entrance is free. Upcoming turntablists and scratch DJs seem to be plentiful in Beijing these days, but the truly great ones are hard to come by and I’m hoping this is going to be a night to remember. Two nights later (that’d be Saturday), the boys of Joyside are celebrating their release of their new album, Booze at Neptune’s Dawn. Celebrating with them will be The SCOFF and Queen Sea Big Shark, and with all these bands on stage, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be an awesome dance night with bad vocals and fuzzy sound. Strangely enough, the home base of all three of the aforementioned bands will be hosting their own show that night – D22 is presenting newcomer local darlings Hedgehog.

What else? It’s Ed Peto of Red T Music’s birthday. He’s not very old, and is celebrating as we speak. As soon as I can tear myself off the computer, I’ll be there. Maybe with bells on. And….. Oh right. The Black Eyed Peas are playing at the end of the month. It’s gonna be shitty. You know that song My Humps?! Yeah, exactly. Shittiest song ever.

YACHT cancels beijing gig!

September 30, 2007

Bad news for us Beijing folks, but it’s just been announced that Jona Bechtolt will in fact NOT be performing this week at Yugon Yishan. The show was slated for Tuesday, October 2nd and apparently cancelled because Mr. Yacht mistakenly booked a flight into China that wouldn’t arrive until a few hours after his show was set to start. What? In any case, those pesky international date lines can be hard to decipher at times, so maybe we’ll have to be a bit more lenient about the mix up. In any case, the word on the street is that if you show up for the gig anyways, there’ll be a free Yacht CD waiting for your pretty little hands.

In Shanghai news, YACHT’s performance slated for October 5th at the Yue Festival is still very much happening, and there will possibly be a later show on the 6th at Logo. Keep your eyes peeled for imprompto Yacht shows around Shanghai, I’m sure something will come up!

modern sky festival schedule!

September 27, 2007

Praise the lords, the schedule for the Modern Sky Festival has finally been released! 120 bands, 4 stages and various themes throughout the four days of music. I’ve arranged the schedule of the festival by days and changed as many Chinese band names into English as I could (or at least I did as many as I could before wanting to die, anyways?).

Make sure to keep all the other awesome shows happening around the city in mind when planning your itinerary! For directions to the festival venue, click here and ignore the part that says MIDI Festival 2006. Yarrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

October 2nd, 2007
Main Stage

112:30-13:00 Banana Monkey
13:20-13:50 22Cats
14:10-14:40 My Little Airport
15:00-15:30 美好药店
15:50-16:20 窒息
16:40-17:10 声音玩具
17:30-18:00 陈楚生
18:20-19:20 Sandee Chen
19:40-20:20 P.K.14
20:40-21:20 King Lychee

ROCKR Stage: Day of New Faces
12:45-13:15 R.W.F.
13:25-13:55 午夜飞行
14:05-14:35 旅行团
14:45-15:15 HUSH
15:25-15:55 No Name
16:05-16:35 坏苹果效应
16:45-17:15 旋转的幻象
17:25-17:55 ZIYO
18:05-18:35 SCOFF
18:45-19:15 THE CASINO DEMON
19:25-19:55 小类和11乐队
20:05-20:35 SNAPLINE
20:45-21:15 Tookoo

Electronic Stage:
13:30 Eddie LV
14:30 Pancake Lee+ Xiao Linfeng
15:30 Elvis.T
16:30 Micrometropolice+Didjelirium
17:30 Mael+Didjelirium
18:30 Vvip
19:30 Chozie
20:30 Ben Huang

Fourth Stage: Hip-Hop Day
15:00-15:30 P.D.Doggy
15:40-16:20 YOUNG KIN
16:30-17:00 北京现场体验
17:10-17:40 COU
17:50-18:20 张楠
18:30-19:00 李俊驹
19:10-19:40 嘻哈公园
19:50-20:20 龙门阵团体
20:30-21:00 隐藏

October 3rd, 2007
Main Stage:

12:30-13:00 The Linga
13:20-13:50 波姬小丝
14:10-14:40 卡奇社
15:00-15:30 Hedgehog
15:50-16:20 零壹
16:40-17:10 C.I.R.
17:30-18:00 声音碎片
18:20-18:50 Chet Lam
19:10-19:40 彭坦
20:00-20:30 超级市场
20:50-21:30 新裤子

ROCKR Stage: Girl’s Day
14:30-15:00 GUAILI
15:10-15:40 Under the Leaf
15:50-16:20 SILENT G
16:30-17:00 咖啡因
17:10-17:40 塞宁
17:50-18:20 糖果怪兽
18:30-19:00 IC
19:10-19:40 吴卓玲
19:50-20:20 卡木堂
20:30-21:00 春树的过失

Electronic Stage:

13:30 Deysun
14:30 Antidote
15:30 G-Sound
16:30 Erwan
17:30 Blaise
18:30 @llen
19:30 T&T(DJ Tim Goldsworthy &DJ Tim Sweeney)

Fourth Stage:
13:00-13:40 From next in
13:45-14:30 蛋糕炸弹
14:35-15:10 癫狂收音机
15:15-15:55 坏梦想
16:00-16:40 跳猴
16:45-17:25 青年最后的机会
17:30-18:10 枫岚
18:15-18:55 再循环
19:00-19:40 意外惊喜
19:45-20:15 CMCB
20:20-21:00 AOK

October 4th, 2007
Main Stage:

12:00-12:30 Carsick Cars
12:50-13:20 Leung Piu Pak
13:40-14:10 Arms and Legs
14:30-15:00 胡吗个
15:20-15:50 冥界
16:10-16:40 Joyside
17:00-17:30 便利商店
17:50-18:20 Queen Sea Big Shark
18:40-19:10 Rebuilding the Rights of Statues
20:00-21:00 Yeah Yeah Yeahs

ROKR Stage: Heavy Metal Day

13:20-13:50 不复之血
14:10-14:40 锯
15:00-15:30 641
15:50-16:20 RAGING MOB
16:40-17:10 四五
17:30-18:00 左右
18:20-18:50 颠覆M
19:10-19:40 METAL SAFARI

Electronic Stage:
13:30 Huang Weiwei
14:30 Queen Club
15:10 iLoop
15:50 Dead J
16:30 Blackie
17:30 D-Rail
18:30 Elemental
19:30 Dave Kollection
20:30 Youdai

Fourth Stage: Folk Day
12:30-13:10 万能青年旅店
13:10-13:50 潜水艇
13:50-14:30 憬观:像同叠
14:30-15:10 青年小伙子
15:10-15:50 藏族原生态组合
15:50-16:30 杜昆
16:30-17:10 胡淼峪
17:10-17:50 大乔小乔
17:50-18:30 王娟
18:30-19:10 低苦艾
19:10-19:50 钟立风&博尔赫斯
19:50-20:30 布衣

rascist “drug bust” in sanlitun.

September 24, 2007

The international media is just starting to pick this story up, but here in Beijing, local blogs and web forums are blazing with reports of a racially motivated drug bust in Sanlitun on Friday night. About 20-30 men of African or Caribbean descent suspected of selling drugs were detained and beaten in the popular bar street area by Chinese parlimentary police, and there are various reports currently floating around the web by witnesses stating that the troops “targeted anyone on the street with black skin”.

A search of various online blogs finds no concrete photographic or video evidence of the bust, but a user on the popular Beijing web forum The Beijinger who was on site during the arrests posted on the thread relating to the incident, stating “It was a complete blanket arrest, the guys who knew they were not guilty of anything didn’t run away just stood around watching what was going on/chatting/having a drink and then bam, they get arrested.” Another user posted “A friend of mine was at Bar Blue when they went in on Friday. She was there on a date with a guy from Cameroon who was amongst the folks that were detained. She called from there all shook up because they came in with dogs and just dragged 5 people or so at random…. she’s still freaked out about the whole thing!”

While it is a common known fact that the Sanlitun area is a popular place of business for drug dealers of African descent, the arrests of Friday night seem to have been at random; many of the men picked up were tourists, or students and a few of the men were later released without charge. From the news source quoted on the forum thread: “Some of the men were later released without charge. The Grenadian ambassador’s son was sent to hospital with a concussion. “Obviously I’m very angry,” the ambassador said. “My son was arrested and beaten for no reason whatsoever. I will be taking this up with the authorities and looking into the matter.” A police officer at Sanlitun station said that the incident was part of an anti-drug operation.”

According to the story currently posted at Reuters Africa, The Ministry of Public Security and the Beijing police both declined immediate comment.