Get to know the music stars who are making their mark in China and globally. Maria Mao, WGSN Assistant Editor of City by City reports
China’s independent music scene keeps flourishing with the help of high profile music festivals such as Eco Park, Midi and Strawberry. But it’s mostly the online music platforms such as Douban (online radio) and Xiami (the streaming service) that cultivate individual singers, song-writers, DJs and indie bands, helping to build a huge following of online fans who are young and influenced by western culture.
Here are the key bands to know from house, rock, hip hop, and folk that made waves last year, and will be even bigger in 2016.
Known as the ‘Son of Shanghai Techno’, Ma Haiping (aka MHP) is the leading contemporary musician, sonic artist and performer in China. His sound is a mix of avant-garde, experimental and electronic music. He has also produced many interdisciplinary art performances with visual artists and contemporary dancers. Each of his live performances features a huge range of different musical instruments: such as trumpet, guzheng, cello players. Click here to listen to his music.
2) Duck Fight Goose (鸭打鹅)
Recently sweeping the China indie rock scene is the Shanghai-based quartet who just played at Vice China’s New Year tour.
They are definitely not new, but they are very exciting! In 2011, they were named by The Guardian as one of the six most promising sounds all over the world. With a new French drummer joining and an inspiring Europe tour in 2014, they’ve “electronised” and will continue their electro-rock journey in 2016. Click here and here to listen.
Psychedelic, mysterious, dreamy and yet powerful is the best way to describe this all-girls group’s live show. On the first album, the Beijing band indulges in its retro mood and a David Lynch movies’ absurdity, accompanied with a light-hearted crisp voices. Click here to listen
4) The Molds
After 10 years on Beijing’s underground rock scene, The Molds continue to make real rock n’ roll music stripped down to its core spirit. They’ve never joined any music labels and the lead singer Liu Ge’s is a mysterious music legend. Though on and off for the past 3 years, the surf rock trio returned to the stage last year and will carry on with its intriguing performance of a psychedelic music career.
Click here to listen:
5) Hiperson (海朋森)
Hailing from Chengdu, Hiperson’s songs deliver a hard-core rock sound, with a super cool female frontwoman. On the first album, listeners will be amazed by its fuzzy riffs cutting through a wall of amplifiers from a post-punk band who are only in their early 20s. Click here to listen
6) Chui Wan (吹万)
Chui Wan seeks inspiration from a broad range of music from Islamic folk, Southeast Asian pop, to 20th-century avant-garde sounds. The core of Chui Wan’s sound is formed by lush arrangements of guitar, keyboard, viola by multi-instrumentalist Yan Yulong and guitarist Liu Xinyu. A bass and a drummer provide a stable ground floor, exuding a gentle kind of heaviness.
The indie-rock trio is the sound of youthful energy. Their innovative use of synthesizers balances the vocal’s wrenching voice and enhances the dreamy mood.
8) PurpleSoul (龙胆紫)
The Beijing-based hip-hop trio is a show stealer wherever they go. Their punchy often political lyrics always challenge the nerves of China censorship system, meaning they will never be mainstream. However, they have a substantial young following and already gained attention from brands such as Converse and Carhartt.
Check out their artist page here
9) Gavintoo (白天不亮)
While hip-hop from North China is sometimes intense, Guangdong’s take on hip-hop is more easy listening. Gavintoo mixes New Jazz, Electronics with rapping and produces melodic tunes perfect for listening in a gloomy rainy day.
10) Wu Tiao Ren(五条人)
Wu Tiao Ren is a breath of fresh air to China’s indie music scene. Insisting on singing in local dialect from a small county in Guangdong, their lyrics often talk about daily life. A mix of genres can be found traces in their funny interpretation of local anecdotes.
Click here to listen
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