Nov 08

The Indie Music Scene In China

Written by Steve on Saturday, November 8th, 2008 at 1:42 pm
Filed under:culture, General, media, music, video |
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Chinese culture has undergone tremendous change in the last 20 years. We tend to notice the big events: Massive new skyscrapers, world class airports, new symphony halls, the Olympic Games, 5 star hotels and restaurants, etc. But what we might not see is that below the surface, there are other changes taking place.

China has developed an exciting indie music scene throughout the country. Though strongest in Beijing, excellent bands have appeared in Shanghai, Guangzhou and other parts of the country. Though there is a huge pop music industry with many very popular singers, these are acts that are less known but have developed a core following among the young. I’d like to introduce you to a few bands and hear about others you know that you can share with us. Follow the links to their myspace sites and the songs will usually play automatically. For the Neocha site which is in China, you need to click on the “play” button. I’ve included descriptions of each band either from the web or from my own knowledge.

I’ve been very impressed with many of these bands. Though currently most Chinese bands are overly derivative, that is to be expected when developing a music scene. Lately, there are more and more unique bands combining Chinese influences within western genres to create new and exciting sounds. If you want to hear more from any of these bands, you should be able to find different tracks on YouTube.

Cold Fairyland, a Shanghai band, is one of the most creative and skilled progressive rock bands in China. Their style combines Eastern melodies and rhythms with Western symphonic rock. While the fusion part is easy to describe the music itself is not. Composer/arranger/keyboardist and Pipa master Lin Di has been playing pipa since she was 4 years old. The band has a mix of cello/pipa/keyboards/bass/drums and electric guitar.


Hugely popular with both musical hipsters, for the brilliance of their compositions and performances, and with rock and roll party animals, for their wild, out of control pop frenzy, Hedgehog’s music is totally approachable and totally unique. Percussionist and vocalist Atom(子健) is a tiny girl who just barely peeps over the top of her drum kit but who bangs out explosive rhythms like a monster possessed. Bassist Box(博宣), the person responsible for keeping the band in line, punches out the tight bass lines that hold the songs together while seeming lost in oblivion. Guitarist and vocalist ZO(子健) slashes out huge waves of chords that seemed to fit perfectly within the songs yet at the same time tear them apart — while jumping, twirling, staggering and even falling over several times during his performances without letting up for the slightest pause. Hedgehog is a classic power trio with three of the best performers in Beijing on their respective instruments, but it is their song-writing skills that make this band more than just a great performance band and one of the most important in China.


Hong Kong’s PixelToy was formed by Ho Shan and lead singer Candy Wu in the summer of 2001. The two music lovers studied in the same university, and discovered in a conversation that they shared the same taste in music so much that they had to form their own band. They invited a friend to be a guitarist and participated in the annual “Teenage Band Competition” organized by Warehouse, in which they won the “Best Adapted Song” Award and started to be noticed. PixelToy has since become a patron in performances in schools or indie music scenes.


From Beijing … Sulumi + iLoop have been making left-field electronic
music for China’s premiere electronic label Shanshui records. From dub
to breakcore, these bad boys now annihilate crowds with live 8-bit music
made with vintage Nintendo Game-boy machines.


The indie band Crystal Rubic came into being in June, 2004 in the city of Hefei of Anhui province in China. They try different styles, including folk, dream pop, trip hop, brit pop,electronica… The vocal and song writer Vera was invited to Beijing by Pocket music magazine to give performance in last October.


IGO was formed in 2006 as a Synth Pop duo. The band members are JJay (vocals, songwriting, programming) and B6 (electronics, programming, visual and music production). JJay originally came from Beijing and formed a few post punk bands during the years he studied in Shanghai. After he got a master degree of science in US, he came back to Shanghai and met with B6 in 2004. As the most famous DJ in Shanghai, B6 played frequently in the major nightclubs of Shanghai and quickly built up a solid following. B6 is also an electronic music producer, and has published multiple compositions, including the background music for a Nike advertisement. He is also the founder of Neocha.com, one of the largest internet platforms for youth indie-culture in China. With totally different background, but shared passion for Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk and Royksopp, they decided to form a band.


Sa Ding Ding is a Chinese folk singer and songwriter. She is of mixed Han and Mongolian ancestry, and sings in languages including Mandarin, Sanskrit, Tibetan, a near-extinct tongue Laghu, as well an imaginary self created language to evoke the emotions in her songs. She also plays traditional instruments such as the guzheng and matouqin (horse-head fiddle).


R3 is a band residing in Shanghai but with members from Brisbane and China. Their music is a combination of industrial, electronica and trip hop.


Finally, we all know Wang Fei (Faye Wong) as an enormously successful Chinese pop singer. But many don’t know that she also sang on the Scottish band “The Cocteau Twins” Milk and Honey CD. She had covered two of their songs and they loved her voice, so asked her to sing with them. Since they were one of her favorite bands, she gladly accepted. The song is called “Serpentskirt” and is a favorite of mine. They never performed it  together live so this video is the closest I can get.

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113 Responses to “The Indie Music Scene In China”

  1. Steve Says:

    People, the Serpentskirt video is coming. I thought I had it figured out but it didn’t show up. Admin, could you please add that for me? Thanks!

  2. bt Says:

    I know B6 from SH. Cool electro music.
    IMO, he may become quite famous in the future.

  3. Steve Says:

    @bt: You might want to check out this interview Christine Liu did with Sean Leow, one of the founders of Neocha, on The China Business Network: http://thechinabusinessnetwork.com/Entertainment-and-Media/Sean-Leow-Founder-and-CEO-of-Neocha.html

    Neocha also has a small free program that loads on your desktop and continuously plays Chinese indie music. it’s called “Next” and if you don’t like the song, you hit the button and it goes to the next song. It’s a great way to discover unknown bands: http://www.neocha.com//music_next.html

  4. TahwYOJ Says:

    THANK you so much man. Cold Fairyland is the sort of music I enjoy. Also think Sa Dingding is interesting.

  5. TahwYOJ Says:

    I like to see them live…Hey I found these videos on youtube with some live videos:


  6. Steve Says:

    @TahwYOJ: Hey, glad you like CF! I’m not sure if you noticed it, but on Cold Fairyland’s myspace site if you go down the right side you’ll see they are selling songs for download at $0.99 but two of those songs can be downloaded for free, Autumn Sleep and Solemn, Silent Circle (at the very bottom of the list). Thanks for the youtube link. Cold Fairyland has played twice at the MIDI festival in Beijing, which unfortunately was cancelled this year because for some reason I haven’t figured out, the government felt it would have a negative effect on the Olympics.

    One thing I did not discuss was Bjork’s “Free Tibet” remark at her concert in Shanghai, which practically eliminated foreign bands performing in China. Because of that one incident, the Chinese government has made the concert promoter liable for any subsequent remark the government deems “anti-China” with such a high fine as to put the promoter out of business. Since no promoter can take a chance on losing his livelihood because some foreign act looking for international publicity says something controversial, they are no longer bringing any of the more modern acts into the country, which is just killing the music scene. Chinese bands need to see a wide variety of acts from around the world so they can continue to learn and develop. Hopefully they’ll relax the restrictions in the future so the Chinese people can be exposed to the best international bands.

    Cold Fairyland’s “Ice Castle” which you linked to is a good one. Their killer concert encore is “Mosul” which you can catch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSn39O-1v0g&feature=PlayList&p=91C91F6DEA93AC7E&index=11

  7. TahwYOJ Says:

    Yes, agreed. Paranoid gov. does nothing for cultural advancement.

    *sigh* Let’s just hope that things will get better.

  8. Steve Says:

    Actually, everyone I know in the Chinese music industry was more pissed off at Bjork and felt she just said it to get international publicity, knowing it would be widely reported. Her action ruined it for everyone else there. The strongest reaction against her was from the westerners. When you’re living abroad as an expat, the one thing that tends to connect you to your homeland is music, and seeing a good band is a rarity, especially in China where live western bands just starting to perform on a regular basis. The biggest show was probably the Roger Waters concert. He’s the former Pink Floyd bassist/singer, and did many of the songs from the PF catalog, DSOTM and after. So for Bjork to make her comment just screwed it up for everyone else.

    As far as the government goes, it was their usual ploy of trying to kill a mosquito with a sledgehammer… 🙁

  9. Hongkonger Says:

    “The biggest show was probably the Roger Waters concert.”


    Thanks for this article…. I stayed up till 3:30 am watching the links you posted.

    So, did Waters have to cancel China on account of Bjork’s stupidity? Waters was in HK, and people who saw it just couldn’t stop talking about it.

    This here is probably one of the tightest band in the world. I bet this is one of Cold Fairyland’s fav. bands too., from the Great White North. I thought of them while watching Coldfairyland’s Mosul. Maybe it’s the complex drummings and the ethereal vox.


  10. Hongkonger Says:

    “As far as the government goes, it was their usual ploy of trying to kill a mosquito with a sledgehammer…”

    I dunno what it is. I wonder if Taiwan is the same. Singapore tried to ban Rock n roll, sort of. Malaysia was rocking more., more so with the Malays. Hong Kong, well, the loudest bands we had were the Ram Band, (Mostly doing Zeppelin covers), Chyna and perhaps Beyond. Beyond came out of the 1980s indie music scene in HK. It is totally commercial nowadays. Rock never quite caught on with the locals. I wonder if China will be the same.

  11. Steve Says:

    Hongkonger ~ Fortunately the Roger Waters show was before the Bjork one, so it didn’t get cancelled, was sold out and a great success. He had the flying pig and ballerinas on stage. My friend was amazed about the ballerinas but I told him that the first concert I ever went to in my life was Pink Floyd in 1971 for the Atom Heart Mother tour (the one with the cow on the cover) and for the Atom Heart Mother Suite they had a choir, orchestra and ballerinas onstage that danced between them, so it was something he pulled out of the past.

    What I’ve found in China is that most of the musicians like bands such as Portishead, that trip hop lazy sound. Blonde Redhead is big, along with Tori Amos, Vienna Teng, Mazzy Star, Lisa Ono, Bandari, Blue Foundation, The Cranberries, Emiliana Torrini, Lali Puna, Röyksopp, Sarah McLachlan, Sigur Ros, The Cardigans, Air, Télépopmusik, Anjali, Belle & Sebastian, Cocteau Twins, Imogen Heap, Morcheeba and Stereolab. You’ll notice that mix is heavy with European electronica. Even the discos tend to be Euro, the DJ Tiesto sound with the female remixes are the most popular. (if any of these bands are unfamiliar to you, let me know and I can give you some links)

    Personally I’m a big Rush fan but that style isn’t so popular in China. They tend to go for the slower stuff, or else if they’re on the edge, more simple punk. At this time, the musicianship isn’t in the Rush class. Cold Fairyland are probably the best as far as that goes.

    Another very good band in the Shanghai area is Crystal Butterfly. Stupid me, I completely forgot about them! Definitely check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb2ze_k8Ytc&feature=related
    It’s a very nice song. They’ve been around for awhile and are regulars at The Ark in Xintiandi, Shanghai. In fact, this youtube video was taken there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYJcyKoSSEI&feature=related

  12. Steve Says:

    Hongkonger: Japan is probably the hippest place for music in Asia, but most foreign bands only do shows in Tokyo and Osaka. When I lived in Taipei, the offering was pretty lean. We saw the Pat Metheny Band there but that was it. Most of the western acts that came were bands well past their peak that knew they could make a good buck in Asia. Before the Bjork incident, Australia’s Air Supply was also in China and sold out. I didn’t realize they were still around.

    Indonesia is starting to get some good indie bands. My absolute favourite there is “Everybody Loves Irene”, a trip hop group with a GREAT vocalist, Irene Yohanna: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQbwBeKp1Rs
    I’ve been on a ELI kick for the last two months. In fact, they’re my favourite Asian band of all.

    Speaking of Malaysia, there’s a singer named Bic Runga from New Zealand whose mother is from Malaysia. She’s huge down there and has a great voice! Her biggest hit was “Sway”. Here’s another song of hers I really like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C1yNyiUmF4 Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know she’s cute. 😉

    A couple of DJ mixers out of Malaysia are Transient Vortex: http://www.myspace.com/transientvortex if you like dance music. They’re pretty popular there.

    I have high hopes for China. The pop scene will probably continue to be dominated by young, attractive ballad singers that all sound the same, but underneath that will be some great bands. I can feel it! 🙂

  13. Sean Says:

    Great blog and thanks for the Neocha shout-out !

  14. Steve Says:

    Hi Sean ~ glad to do so. If you are THE Sean from Neocha, when I first used “Next” it played continuously but in recent months it seems to have become so popular that it takes a long time for each song to load, so I have to pause it each time. Are you thinking about increasing bandwidth? It’s a great concept to introduce so many obscure bands to the general public. I first heard about Neocha from Aric Queen when he was still in Shanghai, and I think I got the link from Shanghaiist originally. I think you two have met before. He’s over in India now, getting into trouble as usual; the Hunter Thompson of Asia.

  15. Hongkonger Says:


    # 11 – 12
    Excellent post / Links…! Thanks.

    Bic is good…Sway & Get some sleep, I like.

    Ok, I know this is about indie music scene, but, check this tiny petite little 15 year old filippina with a huge voice out~! (Talk about CUTE!) This was Charice’s first visit to America..and she totally rocked Madison Square Garden. And for a big star like C.D. to invite this unknown talent to do a duet is impressive.
    Actually, I should post this on “Is China an inclusive society…” Because with regard to this girl, the open, inclusive spirit of New York was palpable. Well, at least the audience there was.


  16. TonyP4 Says:

    I love music. Hope someone would shed some light on the following puzzle me for a while.

    1. China has 5,000 years of civilization and USA has about 250 (do not argue with me as it is hard to count the colonial days or the Indian days). Why are quantity and quality of pop music are so behind compared to US? Anything to do with Chinese use 5 tones instead of 7 tones? Or the ability to record music on paper?

    2. Mao’s era is our ‘culture desert’ period. Hope he is in hell now and suffers for this as the leader of the ‘culture revolution’. :). LMSAO.

    3. I classify music in 3 general categories: pop, folk and classic.

    Our classical artists can compete with the best of the world; like Tan Tun (greatest composer in modern China), Lang Lang (greatest pianist in China), Li Chunyun (crazy violinist – not world famous but going to), and many others. Why they all have to go abroad to be famous?

    I bet corruption (as demonstrated in the movie Together), lack of concerts for local musicians, and ‘local ginger is not good’…

    China should have a lot of folk music with a divest minorities. But we do not find much.

    While China played the stupid revolutionary music, Hong Kong and Taiwan had a lot of good ones including Teresa Tang – ‘in the day time we listen to Deng and at night Tang’.

    4. I love the 12 Girl Band. It is innovative. Somehow the foreign classics are adapted to be played in Chinese instruments that are great. It is the fusion music. I lose track of what happens to them. They are all beautiful except the teeth.

    I bet most money they make are from concerts in Japan.

    The illegal copying of music really screw up our music industry. Agree?

  17. Hongkonger Says:

    Why are quantity and quality of pop music are so behind compared to US? Anything to do with Chinese use 5 tones instead of 7 tones? Or the ability to record music on paper?

    @TonyP4 …Like you said, 5,000years of history…..we were ONCE leading in the arts and technology, it is someone else’s turn now. And if you believe in HELL and that Mao is in it, then you might as well believe that SOMEONE is in charge, and is being fair to all. 🙂

    TonyP4, you said you left HK a long time ago. Do you know LMF, the HK metal rap group?
    (LMF= Lazy Muder Fxxkers) They are banned on HK radios….
    I loved them when they first emerged in the late 1990s. Now, like MC Hammer, they are kinda out-dated, but check it out, anyway, if you don’t mind the very colorful Cantonese phrases 🙂 Incidently, Chinese were already rapping centuries ago….only without today’s MEGA Super Monster BASS


  18. Lime Says:

    Awesome. I’ve been waiting for someone to do a post on Chinese music for awhile. I really liked Sa Dingding, and Cold Fairyland was pretty solid as well. I’m also going to use the opportunity to put in a plug for my favorite Chinese rock star, Cui Jian (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8UPST1ZKSw). Don’t know where he fits into your categories, TonyP4 (pop, I guess?).
    Thanks again!

  19. TahwYOJ Says:

    One of Cui Jian’s big influence is Talking Head. But they’re definitely rock, I think?

    Cui Jian is hella OLD_SKOOL but I still love them. I think they kick ass.

    Hey, anyone know what the song Fei Le is about? At first I thought it was doing drugs… But I almost always wrong on this since I think 99% of songs are about doing drugs. HAHA LOL.

    Hey I’m joking, realize.

    I like this one:


    I used to have a DVD with their concerts.

  20. Steve Says:

    @Hongkonger #15, 17: Filipina artists are all over Asia, including China, and do covers of everyone. There are agencies in Manila that train and put together those bands. I find they are very strong on vocals and melody, but weak on the rhythm parts. Funny story~ I went out in Tianjin with some Motorola guys and their girlfriends to a club where there was a Filipino band playing. The guys weren’t big dancers so I danced with their girlfriends. Six months later, I was out with some Chinese and Americans in Shanghai during Semicon China so one of the local guys takes us to a club. On their first break, the girl singer in the band comes to our table, points at me and says, “I remember you!” It was the same Filipino band from Tianjin and the guys with me thought I was Mr. Clubber but that was only the second club I had ever been to in China! They didn’t believe me…

    Wow, such a big voice on such a small girl!! 🙂

    I hadn’t heard of LMF before. I’m not much into rap with occasional exceptions. One big exception is Morcheeba’s “Woman Lose Weight”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEP_Kjj2Zts&feature=related
    If you haven’t heard it, it’s pretty funny.

  21. Steve Says:

    @TonyP4 #16: Your question is a good one and I actually know the answer! 🙂

    Originally, music used a “pure scale” with no flats and sharps. Think of gregorian and buddhist monk chants. Both Europe and China used this style and that is why both old styles sound similar. Music was supposed to be in harmony with the heavens and mathematically perfect.

    But then China invented the major and minor scale with flats and sharps. It was discoverd by traders in southern China and brought back to Europe. European musicians loved it because they could express emotion musically while the old scale could not. Soon after this, the Baroque style (think J.S. Bach) utilized what they had learned and subsequent western classical music developed from there.

    Back in China, it never caught on and eventually disappeared. China relearned the scale many years later by listening to western music. So it’s actually a Chinese invention! If I remember correctly, the major and minor scale is called a well tempered scale, thus J.S. Bach’s “Well Tempered Clavier”, but I Iearned all this a long time ago and I could certainly be wrong about the nomenclature.

    I’d add another category to your music, and that might be “indie”? What I mean is music that isn’t pop, takes chances and offers something new. For instance, most pop music in Asia is ballad based, with backup strings and typically overproduced, at least to my ear. That’s what sells so that’s what the producers require the singers to record. But the music I’ve referenced here doesn’t fit into any of those categories. There might be a better term for it but I can’t think of one now.

    Most Chinese I met liked classical, even people in their 20s while in the States, it’s more of an older generation thing. Might it be that there didn’t use to be many good concert halls? These days, China has built some beautiful performing arts centers. I caught a ballet at the Shanghai Grand Theatre and the facility was excellent. However, I wasn’t too crazy about all the talking in the audience during the performance and cell phones ringing. Hopefully that will change over time.

    My wife liked Deng Lijun (Teresa Teng) so that’s how I first heard her. For me, her pop songs are ok, often overproduced but I really like her music better when she sings folk songs. She had a great voice and I would have loved to had seen her live with minimal backing musicians. When I have heard Chinese folk songs, they have always impressed me. The melodies are simple yet profound.

    The 12 Girls Band did very well with the American public television crowd. I believe their concerts here were mostly sold out. They’re not really my taste but they were all talented musicians. I looked them up on the net and they are apparently still around and based out of Los Angeles.

  22. Steve Says:

    @Lime: Hey, thanks for the Cui Jian reference! My hope on this post was to throw out a few Asian artists and have everyone else recommend their favorites, especially if they are relatively unknown. I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to artists from HK and Singapore, so I always enjoy checking out both new ones and old ones. Keep ’em comin’!

  23. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi all, thanks for the enlightenment.

    May be we should add Rock to the category. I do not know LMF as I left HK long time ago. The time I left Hui was famous – you can guess how old I am.

    I can write a song like LMF’s in five minutes – some melody and some cursed words. LOL. I guess my son’s generation is different from mine.

    Filipino are like the black in US. They are poor (blame them lay back, land without resources and/or Maco’s wife buying too many shoes…). However, when you put two together, they can dance and sing. HK has a lot of singers from this country. Chinese young kids want to study and become doctors, engineers…

    12 Girls Band’s concerts were sold out mostly to Chinese, as most concerts with Chinese performers. US Chinese are very impolite even the educated in concerts. They take pictures while they’re not allowed too. I feel ashamed in this bad behavior.

    Just want not to miss mentioning Cantonese pop singer Mui. There are some really good songs. Teresa Tang has a great, unique voice. She sang some Western songs that I cannot say she is any worse than the original performers as her style and voice is quite unique.

    Here are some web sites and some I may have posted about music.






    If you’re classical music lover and you have not seen the movie Together (2002), rent it from Netflix. The music is played by Li and all the prodigies has to downgrade a little. Even not any one will be like Li, music still enrich our life and help us to exercise our brain.

  24. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi Admin, they do not let me to correct my post as before. You must be taking a coffee break or watching football game. It works for this post. Sorry for so many grammatical errors as I did not have a chance to correct. LOL.

    Jane Zhang is #3 of the Chinese equivalent of American Idol. She has a great voice. Go to YouTube for her songs. She could be Teresa Tang in our generation. Steve, she has great legs too. LOL.

    China has a lot of great concert halls. I believe they’re not in good use when I looked at local paper when I was in China. Many big productions are broadcast on TV.

    Wong Fei is my favorite. As almost all of the singers in HK, she can act pretty good. Enjoy her Chungking Express and her version of California Dream (could be wrong title).

  25. admin Says:


    Sorry about that. Did you mean the post with multiple youtube links? I think that WP put comments like this directly into the moderation queue so you couldn’t get a chance to edit it.

  26. TonyP4 Says:

    There is an amusing rap music by a Taoist in Chinese Ghost Story. It is before US has rap I guess.

    Steve, how come you’re so knowledgeable?

  27. Hongkonger Says:

    @Steve, “My wife liked Deng Lijun (Teresa Teng) ”

    邓丽君…Now, her voice was like the finest wine, Taiwan’s sweetest vocal amongst the angels of heaven. So soft and gentle and perfectly controlled. She was incomparable.,she was old school, the very best of Chinese folk singers of her generation.

    Cui Jian? The godfather of Chinese Rock, yeah~! He is one of the very BEST.

    Here’s OLD Hong Kong revisited — The audience is made up of old timers in the HK entertainment business, gathered in an old tea house, to watch the young voluptous (a real woman)daughter of old HK silverscreen’s sword Queen, perform, who is also in the audience. I can’t believe how young she looks, she’s got be in her late 60s early 70s. Marsha looks a lot like her

    @TonyP4, I dunno if you are a young man or an old timer and if you miss Old – HK., but all the same, this one’s for you, Steve, Jerry and SKC.


  28. Lime Says:

    I really like this song by a guy called Zheng Jun (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MNjM_ukVEg). I don’t know much about him otherwise, but I gather he is a reasonably big deal in mainland China. Maybe someone else can recommend a few more songs by him?
    I enjoyed the cabaret clip, by the way.

  29. Steve Says:

    @TonyP4: Of those links you posted, I liked 3 Girls the best. Very cool! The second link was Jane Zhang, but who was the first one? Unfortunately, I can’t read Chinese.

    When you mentioned Mui, do you mean Anita Mui? I liked that song she sand in A Chinese Ghost Story.

    Had you heard the song “Serpentskirt” by Wang Fei before? I added the youtube link since I wasn’t sure how many knew she had sung it. I always got the impression with her that she wanted to be singing something more progressive than she was allowed. I read an article about her where she listed her favourite bands. They were mostly indie and some really unique ones. Her personal taste in music is so different than what she usually sang.

    There’s a singer from HK named Lin Yi Lian who has a song that translates into English something like “I Love The One That Doesn’t Return Home”. Do you know what song I’m talking about? Of the songs I’ve heard from her, I liked that the best.

    The first rap? Rap started in NY City in the 70s as an offshoot of funk (think Rick James, the Funkadelic, etc.) DJ Hollywood and Kurtis Blow were hot in the late 70s, but LL Cool J was the first really big rapper, and that was 1985. In fact, MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” was a rap cover of Rick James’ “Super Freak” from 1981: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75qXUfp4wtw

    I always liked Ian Anderson’s (Jethro Tull) take on rap, “Techno and rap? Just nursery rhymes with attitude. Nice idea but going round in very small circles”. 🙂

    We’re all pretty familiar with most of the Chinese pop stars, but not so much with the indie ones. If you know any band that fits the “indie” label, give us links!

  30. Hongkonger Says:

    How about this 14 y.o. Korean girl playing the blues, funk, rock….?

    Whenever I see kids like this, I keep hearing Clapton saying, when he first saw SRV played, “O My god, why do I even bother? I might as well hang up my guitar and sell hotdogs or be a producer,” or sth like that….Haha.

    Well, My god, at 14, she’s already got her foundations down ROCK SOLID; now let’s hope she taps into her soul and connects with the universe and starts creating something awesome!


  31. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, it seem there were some schedule changes for Midi 08 but it did happen:


    Hope some of you lucky Beijingers were able to attend Midi Music Festival last year. There were the pop stuff and some controversy. A folk singer name Li Zhi (李志) sang a song about TAM Sq. at Midi 07, where samples of bullets and cries of TAM mother Ding Ziling were played.

    Here’re the lycrics:

    《广场》The Square

    Where are you going with that skate board

    Happily flying and spinning

    While sombody looking after you

    I once smiled as you do

    Today the square is my grave

    This song will be your obituary

    You will be turned into a bad guy

    An animal without compassion, only eat drink deficate

    Don’t believe its romanticism

    Wait for the news after dawn

    Don’t believe it cares

    It’s gun squarely aimed at your chest

    (Mrs. Ding: I kept having this ominous feeling of pending doom,
    it came too fast,
    and landed squarely on my head,
    on someone most fearful of hassles,
    it took my darling son)

  32. TahwYOJ Says:

    Almost all “pop” music shared a common heritage with jazz and blue. It’s interesting that jazz and blues uses the blues scale (I think, don’t quote me on it) which tries to express the same feelings as African work-songs (based off it). It’s also interesting that the Blues scale sound similar to Guqin, when played. Hey, anyone watch Chi Bi 2008 where they (Kaneshiro and Tony Leung-chiu-wai) were playing the Guqin and jammed the f*** out on that thing (imho).

    But yeah, most music today have roots in Jazz and Blues.

    We have much to thank for for the rich cultural heritage that African-Americans gave us yo!

  33. JOYNO Says:

    Bah, what some Chinese musicians needs is to go Hunter S. Thompson on themselves and figure out how to create music that generate waves upon which one can then ride, (for both musician and listener), ride into new realms of f***king musical spaces. That’s what they need…Maybe Cold Fairyland are like that already? Don’t need the gov. in their heads… HA.

    What I mean is playing two notes for 20 minutes and loving it…

  34. TahwYOJ Says:

    I really love Wang Fei. Most of her songs are okay but some are simply out of this world!!!

  35. TonyP4 Says:

    HKer, thanks for the link. It is great and I save it for my friends. Koreans are smart and motivated. Korea today seems to be US in the 50s. One Korean 3 or 4 year old can play a piece of music 12 year old may be able to play from YouTube.

    This may be the song you’re looking for.

    Chinese Ghost Story.
    It was made in 1987, so I cannot prove the rap was invented by Chinese. The special effect is ahead of its time. The acting (if in English), music…. should have got at least the best foreign movie for Oscars. Joey was the most seductive creature by showing one leg – it could burn the camera if she showed more. LOL. The following is one scene (I tried to find the two theme songs that are quiet great) and there are more from YouTube.


    Serpentskirt is modern Chinese pop. Hope we have more.

  36. TonyP4 Says:

    The first link seems to be Jane Zhang singing Teresa Tang’s song. The title did not indicate the right singer and most comments are in Japanese. Her voice is labeled as dolphin voice.

    The song I tried to find is “Please Dawn never comes”. When it comes, the lady ghost will disappear forever and so will the love. Sad and logical in Chinese cutlure.

  37. TonyP4 Says:

    Finally I found the sexy scene. Hollywood takes note, you do not have show much and explicitly and it reportedly burned all cameras in this take and the scene was implanted in all viewers (at least male) forever.


  38. Steve Says:

    @Hongkonger #27. 30: I remember reading a story years ago about Deng Lijun and how as a little girl in Taiwan, she performed for American servicemen stationed over there. They loved her and kind of adopted her so a surprising number of Americans know who she is. Whenever we would karaoke in China or Taiwan, I’d hear at least two of her songs performed by the girls in our group every time, and they weren’t old enough to remember her when she was alive. I’ve also noticed that every female pop singer covers a few of her songs at one time or another. She’s definitely the queen of chinese pop.

    That Marsha Yuan clip was fun! It reminded me so much of Hong Kong, just the feel of the performance. A good friend of mine was Dow Chemical’s corporate lawyer for Asia for seven years back in the 70s, and was stationed in HK. He’s there right now with his two grown daughters showing them his old haunts. Back then, he was advised to join the HK Yacht Club and another that I think is called the American club, so he got lifetime memberships in both of them. Today it costs a fortune to do the same thing, so the clientele is pretty ritzy. He’s going to take his daughters to both places on this trip. I’m sending him this clip to bring back old memories.

    Wow, the 14 year old Korean girl is something else! I agree with you that she still needs to tap into her emotion to get to the next level but she has plenty of time to do that. It’d be so cool to have a young Korean girl as the next SRV! 🙂

    The Clapton quote reminded me of when Jimi Hendrix first started performing in London back in 1966. Many of the top British guitarists went to see him and walked out dejectedly, thinking “I’m washed up. I have no idea how to play guitar. Time to look for another job.” 🙂

    @Charles Liu #31: Hey, great to hear the MIDI concert took place! I had read several times that it had been cancelled but never caught that it was finally held. I’ve got to get there one of these days; it’s on my list. Thanks for posting the lyrics. The writing style is so different from what we usually hear, more like poetry than lyrics.

    TonyP4: Why am I so knowledgeable? Unfortunately, it is a product of my very advanced age. 😉

    I was actually a pretty good drummer in my youth and worked at a concert club in college, but mostly I just don’t care to listen again and again to songs from my youth. I’ve already heard them. I’d rather check out new stuff, which isn’t very common for my generation. Music breaks all cultural barriers; if you go to a new place and check out the music scene, you’ll make friends right away, especially if you are a foreigner. Then everyone wants to turn you on to their favourite bands and it’s great fun. Tastewise, I’m pretty eclectic and have songs from all over the world. I don’t like everything but I like a lot. Also, the internet has changed everything. Before, the only way you could hear new artists were from the radio stations, and they had rigid playlists so the choice was pretty limited. These days, you can find anything you want on the net. Unknown bands that are really good are getting heard and changing how people access music.

    For internet radio stations, my favourite is Radio Paradise here in California, up by Chico: http://www.radioparadise.com/ Check out their playlist to get an idea if this is the type of station you’d like. They spin artists from all over the world and from different musical eras, so I guess it’s as ecletic as I am.

    Unfortunately, that’s not the Lin Yi Lian song I like. I have the mp3 on my computer. I’ll ask my wife to give me the Chinese name and let you know. I’d be curious to see if you also like that song.

    I first saw A Chinese Ghost Story when it came out, at a Chinese movie festival with a bunch of my martial arts brothers and sisters. We went there for the martial arts movies, so I wasn’t expecting anything like CGS. I thought it was great! In fact, it was my oldest son’s favourite movie growing up. We had the VHS version with subtitles and he probably watched it 50 times. I agree about Joey Wong; she was terrific in this movie!

    Serpentskirt isn’t a Chinese pop song, it’s from the Cocteau Twins who are Scots. Wang Fei had covered two of their songs in her act and was a huge fan, so she sat in on just this song. If you like the style, check out other Cocteau Twins songs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtBr5JKSuks&feature=related

  39. Hongkonger Says:

    OH MY God ( or rather Godesses~!)

    *Holy Mother… This really brings back memories…..Three of my favourite HK pop Divas doing one of my fav Andrew Lloyd Webber’s master pieces…the first broadway show I ever saw in NYC.

    Sally Yeh with her powerful vocal, Faye Wong, a consumate vocal artist and Sandy Lam, the Princess among HK songstresses.


  40. Hongkonger Says:

    A song written by an Israeli…performed by Hong Kong Artists:
    Angelita Li – Vocals
    Eugene Pao – Guitar
    Justin Siu – Cello
    Sylvain Gagnon – Upright Bass
    Hassan Musafer – Percussion



    Is this Hebrew???

  41. Steve Says:

    @Hongkonger #40: Wow, I hadn’t heard that song in quite awhile. It IS Hebrew; good call! The song is called Mishaela (Be’eineiha) and the Israeli singer who popularized it is Noa (Achinoam Nini) on her Gil Dor CD. She wrote the music and Gil Dor ( http://noasite.net/gildor.htm ) wrote the lyrics. In the States you can find it on her self-titled album “Noa”. Noa has a terrific voice; to get a feel for her live performance (I love her body language) go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeAuNaPOeIE&feature=related for a snippet. For the entire song with still photos, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbPztdl7jLo&feature=related

    The lyrics are beautiful:

    Be’eineiha (Mishaela)

    Lyrics: Gil Dor
    Music: Achinoam Nini (Noa)


    Beineiha, mi yode’a
    Ananim aforim mitpazrim la’arba ruchot
    Nachal achzav mitmale
    Deshe yarok mechaseh
    Vehamerchav niftach
    Lashamaim, zug einayim
    Mabitot, mechapsot, tsolelot bakachol harach
    Merachafot ba’avir el hazahav hameir
    Et se’arah harach
    Mishaela, ma at roah ?
    Mah belibech hatsochek el otah hadmamah ?
    Az et einai li tifkach
    Keshet achat bamizrach
    Vahalo dai bechach
    Mishaela, ma at roah ?
    Mah belibech hatsochek el otah hadmamah ?
    Az et einai li tifkach
    Keshet achat bamizrach
    Vahalo dai bechach
    Beineiha, mi yodeo
    Ananim aforim mitpazrim la’arba ruchot
    Nachal achzav mitmale
    Deshe yarok mechaseh
    Vehamerchav niftach
    Vahalo dai li, dai li bechach ?
    Vahalo dai li, vahalo dai bechach


    Who knows what is in her eyes?
    Grey clouds disperse in the four winds
    A dry riverbed overflows
    And the horizon opens wide

    Up to the heaven she turns her eyes
    Searching, diving in to the chilly blue
    Floating in the air
    Touching the pure golden light
    That glimmers in her hair

    Mishaela, what do you see?
    What is it in your heart
    That greets the desolate silence with such

    It is one rainbow in the east, she says
    It is all I need

    What more could I want?
    It is all that I need

  42. TonyP4 Says:

    Sally Yip also sang Dawn Please Do Not Come with Gong Li. Do you like this one or Anita Mui with Joey Wong (China against Hong Kong)?

    I saw many pop concerts on TV that had a lot of Hong Kong stars in China with big production? Is this a trend?

    Marsha Yuen has a great voice and beautiful body. HKer, is she a new star as I have not keep track of the music scene in HK?

    Here are some YouTube from yesterday’s HK hits.

    Sally Yip cannot be a young chick. How old is she? She is very beautiful for her age. Her husband is over-the-hill though and he cannot sing now.

    Anita Mui RIP.


  43. TonyP4 Says:


    HKers, there are 3 HK pop classics I cannot find from YouTuble that you may be able to find. Rough translation:

    1. Only hating the one river that separates the earth ends. 70s I guess
    2. Unforgettable by Ku Kai Fei, who went to study in Berkeley in Boston. 50s or 60s.
    3. Night Came Good Smell – one to one translation. A great piano piece. 50s or 60s.

  44. Hongkonger Says:

    If I’d heard this song for the firsdt time, I’d have guessed it was by Pink Floyd. Well, it was A P who helped Pink Floyd create the sound of the Dark Side of the Moon album, so thus, hence, therefore; 所以….


    Achinoam Nini (Noa)’s cover of APJ’s “Eye in the Sky,” is pretty good too.

  45. Hongkonger Says:



    一水隔天崖 (搞笑版 / Comedic version):

    忘不了……………樂蒂 was the most beautiful HK star ever IMO. She comitted suicide…She was the “Candle in the Wind,” of Old HK.


    夜来香-Teresa Deng

  46. Hongkonger Says:


    Thanks so much for the lyrics..BEAUTIFULLY written, indeed.

    I hope you also enjoy 忘不了 montage of 50s&60s starlets.
    I had a major crush on 乐蒂..My god, she was beautiful~! This was when I was a teenager, even though she was already long dead then- She had Committed Suicide 🙁


  47. Hongkonger Says:


    Thanks for the beautiful lyrics by Gil Dor
    Hope you enjoy the “忘不了” photo montage to the old Chinese classic music as well. Like I mentioned above, 樂蒂 was the most beautiful HK starlet ever, IMO. She was the “Candle in the Wind,” of Old HK.

  48. Hongkonger Says:



    Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Gadd

  49. TonyP4 Says:

    HKer, thanks for the songs. Once I got the first one, I got many others. The Cantonese versions are so funny and LOMSA.

    I love the songs and the natural beauties. Lau Tei (my translation) is the most beautiful lady I know of.

  50. Steve Says:

    @TonyP4 #42: You found it! That song you linked to by Anita Mui is the one I really like! In fact, it’s the only song of hers that I have. I never knew the name before… thanks!

    @Hongkonger #44: Ahh… Time from The Turn of a Friendly Card; great APP album! I have all of their albums, and my favourite is “I Robot”. Get the CD, put on some headphones and crank it up. I think it was the best produced album in the 70s. Did you know Alan Parsons worked on the Beatles “Abbey Road” when he was very young? He was practically a child prodigy engineer/producer. He also did Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat” and most of the Paul McCartney & Wings albums. It was his production of Al Stewart’s “Time Passages” that gave him the idea for the Alan Parsons Project. At the beginning of the Chicago Bulls games when Michael Jordan was there, everyone heard their opening theme song, but not many knew it was Sirius from APP’s “Eye In The Sky”. Here’s a performance of that song at the World Liberty Concert in Arnhem, Netherlands in 1995: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7W8FuTIvuFk

    Thanks for the Noa link to Eye in The Sky. I hadn’t heard her version before… very, very nice!

    I really enjoyed that montage of the old movie stars. I didn’t recognize any of them but I find these women looked more elegant and exotic than the stars of today, somehow classier. About the only Chinese actress I ever saw in the 60s was Nancy Kwan (The World of Suzie Wong, Flower Drum Song, The Wild Affair) and I think she was only half Chinese.

    Of those three drummers, my style was more like Steve Gadd’s. Those three guys were all jazz fusion greats and their style was right up my alley. I guess it’s human nature to admire what we can’t do so well, so I was always in awe of the great bebop drummers, especially Max Roach, who was with Charlie Parker. I had the chops but they had a sense of musicality and timing that was just out of this world to me. Here’s a very old clip to give you an idea. You won’t see the “Buddy Rich” style speed (close to it, though) but you will see exquisite rhythm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA5dt9QT4Ms

  51. Hongkonger Says:

    “Marsha Yuen has a great voice and beautiful body. HKer, is she a new star as I have not keep track of the music scene in HK?”

    Marsha is indeed beautiful, curvy with a sweet demeaner. She is the daughter of the Sword Queen of the Silver Screen, Cheng Pui Pui during HK Shaw Brother’s golden era. (Cheng Pui Pui recently played the part as the mother of Zhang Zi Yi in ‘Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger.’ )
    To answer your question, no, Marsha Yuen is not very popular. She has appeared on several HK TV soap opera. HK young audience seems to prefer skinny girls, and Marsha is a of the classic beauty type. She’s also quite talented. She does ballet, sings jazz, pops and rock. (She’s not the best singer, though, but sure is easy on the eye.)

    “Sally Yip / Yeh cannot be a young chick. How old is she? She is very beautiful for her age. Her husband is over-the-hill though and he cannot sing now.”

    叶倩文,Salley Yeh, or Yip in Cantonese, is 47 years old. Her husband, George Lam林子祥 is definitely one of the better Hong Kong singer- composers in the 70s, 80s and 90s and early 2000.

    Here’s Sally and husband, George Lam, doing a duet:


  52. Hongkonger Says:


    Thanks so much for the Max Roach link….

    Here’s two superstars, two of American’s greatest entertainers. Have a good laugh and then be totally amazed:


  53. TommyBahamas Says:



    The ace- HUang Mei Diao Songstress 凌波 Ling Bo (playing the Male role here) and the 乐蒂 Le Di (Female role dressed up as a man – in order to attend school.)

    乐蒂 Le Di here is trying to tell her best friend and classmate 凌波Ling Bo that he is in fact she. And like the fish, the duck couples swimming as lovers in the lake, that “she” is in love with him. And as a typical dumpass, Ling Bo didn’t “get it.” Haha…Fabulous stuff. I love it.

  54. TommyBahamas Says:

    Speaking of 梁祝(The Butterfly lovers)…..This here is one of my favorite violin concerto:


  55. TonyP4 Says:

    Thanks for the clip from Butterfly Lovers. It is the Romeo and Juliette with Chinese character. One of the few concerts for Chinese music from my high school period. Our late teacher explained which instrument represented which character.

    Ledi is so beautiful. I watched the movie Sex in the City recently. All lady characters are not as beautiful as Ledi. Some has better figure but not the smooth skin most Chinese ladies have at same age. Where are all the beautiful ladies gone?

    When I was in HK last year, the ad about tuning the body to less than 100. 120 is fat. I forgot to take a picture of this ad and show it to my American friends with their refrigerator shape after child birth. LOL.

    I was in Yip and Lam’s concert in Atlanta City 6 years ago and Lam was losing it while Yip sang and looked great. Her skin is smooth than most stars here 10 years younger.

  56. Hongkonger Says:


    I used to watch the TV series ‘Sex in the City .’ The only female character I would consider attractive is the nymphomaniac. What’s her name, again ? Funny I should forget her name, she in fact, is my favourite character. Then there’s the southern belle, Charlotte. A total air-head, unfortunately. Well, at least she’s not bad looking. The rest are just ordinary as hay.
    Now, the red head with the baby character is hard to handle. Gals like her makes good friends, but be cautious about going to bed with them. Well, actually, they are all High Maintenance chicks. As for the main character, Carrie Bradshaw. Hell, she is every man’s nightmare, if you asked me. The way she whines about every effing thing and went on and on about Mr. Big. My only advice for any guys, whenever you meet a girl like her is, run baby run.

    You are right. 90 – 109 pounds for females between 5 feet to 5’8″ in height, seems to be the desired looks in HK. Marsha Yuen is considered “fat.” I think she is very sexy. If yoou saw her in person, she is totally edible. Um, I mean gorgeous. A lot of these girls that look great on screen are in real life, as my friend from Atlanta calls them, like boys-with-tits. Meaning they look like boys because a lot of them don’t have normal female-hips and most are flat assed. In other words, too anorexic looking. Oh well, each to their own.

    I first saw Sally Yip when she was 20 years old in HK. She was fresh from Canada and unknown then. Her husband, George Lam is now 61 – forteen years her senior. I think the fall from the stage a few years back did some serious demage to him. The lead singer of Beyond Wong Ka-Kui died from a similar fall in Japan. He was 31.

    In an interview, Wong Ka-Kui (born in 1962 in HK) recalled those earlier days as tough and harsh to him. Because rock music was not popular in Hong Kong at that time, hardly anyone understood Ka-Kui’s love for Rock N’Roll. His parents said he was useless, and most people thought he was crazy because whenever they saw him, he was doing nothing except playing guitar. He became a HK Rock icon and legend.

    歲月無聲 (The silent creep of time)


  57. Hongkonger Says:

    Here’s a HK band from the 1980s. Note that they are all North Americans (Canada, Californa and Nevada) The guitarist name is Chin, an American of multi-generations – didn’t speak a word of Chinese, though. The lead singer is from Vancouver, he learned to speak Cantonese-Chinese, Hong Kong’s official language, within six months and with the help of local lyricists, the band cut three albums in Cantonese. Quite a few of their Cantonese pop rock made the HK Pop chart. A couple of them remained on the chart for months.Two in particular made it to the top tiers.

    Here’s one about the “No Time,” aspect of an always busy city beat HK in the prosperous 1980s. These were the days.


  58. Hongkonger Says:

    Here’s one about the “No Time,” aspect of an ever busy populus, matching to the fast rhythm and wild city beat of 80’s Hong Kong. Those were the golden days. They were also the days of mass migration of HongKong people to the west in anticipation of the handing over of Hong Kong back to China. A false alarm that proved out to be, like the Y2K global scare was.


  59. Hongkonger Says:

    A prophetic voice from 20 years ago of today’s America…


    Inevery dream house a heartache..In every dream home a heartache
    And every step, I take Takes me, further from heaven
    Is there a heaven, I’d like to think so

    Standards of living, They’re rising daily
    But home oh sweet home, It’s only a saying
    From bell push to faucet, In smart town apartment
    The cottage is pretty, The main house a palace, Penthouse perfection
    But what goes on

    What to do there…Better pray there
    Open plan living….Bungalow ranch style…All of its comforts
    Seem so essential….I bought you mail order…My plain wrapper baby
    Your skin is like vinyl…The perfect companion…You float in my new pool
    De luxe and delightful, Inflatable doll…My role is to serve you
    Disposable darling..Can’t throw you away now
    Immortal and life size…My breath is inside you…I’ll dress you up daily
    And keep you till death sighs..Inflatable doll..Lover ungrateful

    I blew up your body………….But you blew my mind

  60. TonyP4 Says:

    HKer, thanks!

    Marsha is totally edible, but not affordable. LOL. Pei Pei did a great job. She is in the same league as Gong Li but younger.

    The song changes a lot to this listener after I knew the background. Anything happened to Wong KK personally in 1989?` Next year is 20th anniversary of 1989. I hope we will see a discussion here. A lot of Chinese students got the US permanent residence – good for the students and US, but bad for China.

    HK is a rich city due to its special location to China. At one time Chinese products were restricted to import to US, while the entire shirt is made in China, the clever HKer put a button and a Made in HK label. First come the singers from China, then from Taiwain, then from Philippine, few Gailo (foreign devil) sing in Cantonese with strong accent. Not the same way received when Chinese sing in English with strong accent.

  61. Steve Says:

    @Hongkonger #51, 52: My wife used to watch Cheng PeiPei’s talk show on a Los Angeles station back in the 90s, so I was surprised to hear Marsha Yuen was her daughter. Her figure looks fine to me but what do I know…

    When I was in China, we used to laugh about the differences between what westerners and easterners considered beautiful and a nice figure. The 21 year old daughter of a friend in Shanghai once told me she was fat. I said, “You’re not fat” and she replied, “Steve, my friends say I’m fat, even my mother tells me I’m fat.” She wasn’t fat at all so I said, “Exactly where are you fat?” Well, all Chinese girls think their upper arms are too fat so she instinctively pointed there, since she really wasn’t fat, just well built.

    She was 170 cm and weighed 54 kg. Later, when other Americans came to Shanghai on business, I’d ask her to help them bargain for their souvenirs and they’d all tell me she had the best figure they’d seen in China. I think she wore a size 4 with a perfectly proportional figure and spectacular legs. I agree with you about a lot of those thin girls having a flat tush; no appeal for me.

    Someone told me Size 2 is normal but it seems most Chinese girls want to be Size 0. An Israeli friend of mine in Shanghai dated a model that was 175 cm and weighed 47 kg. She looked anorexic to me but was considered hot over there. Different strokes for different folks, I guess…

    I promise this is my last drummer link. This vid has a drum off between Ed Shaughessy of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and Buddy Rich. Both are fabulous drummers, but watch Buddy Rich’s technique. He had the best stick technique I’ve ever seen and pretty much wrote the book on it when you learn to play. In the drumming world, he was considered “The Natural”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNhnioNNIPI&feature=related

    @TommyBahamas #54: I had never heard Butterfly Lovers before. Honestly, it blew me away. This style of Chinese music is really enjoyable to me. Thanks for the link!!

    Here’s one more link you might want to check out: http://www.neocha.com/xiaojuan
    Her style is a little more derivative than most bands I’ve posted, but she has a nice voice. Neocha loads slowly where I live so if you have the same problem, hit pause and let it come in that way. They’ve become so popular in such a short time that they no longer have the bandwidth to download quickly. Hopefully they’ll fix that soon.

  62. Steve Says:

    @TonyP4, Hongkonger &TommyBahamas: Check out this video and tell me what you think: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MSYOAoN_6k&feature=related
    It was from a Jakarta TV show and this style of music is known as trip-hop. The band is Everybody Loves Irene and the singer is Irene Yohanna.

  63. Hongkonger Says:

    Will she be the Cheng Pei Pei or Michelle Yeo of this generation?

    Go Lisa go~! Wow, what a fantastic Hong Kong chick.


  64. Steve Says:

    @Hongkonger: Impressive! A future wushu movie star, rockclimber and bodybuilder that is NOT on steroids. I’m already a fan. She seems like a great gal, hardworking, very cool personality and determined to achieve her dreams. Thanks for that link, and let me know if she gets a movie role in the future. I’d rent that movie for sure.

  65. TonyP4 Says:

    Steve, the band and the singer are great.

    Lisa is great too. I thought all the hills have been leveled in HK so there is no rock climbing. LOL. This generation has more opportunities than ours in HK.

  66. Steve Says:

    @TonyP4: Ha, ha!! No one climbs real rock anymore, it’s all artificial rock walls. In the future, will they be climbing computer generated rock??? 🙂

  67. TonyP4 Says:

    OMG. You have to see it and you still do not believe it.



    With the WII, everything except one exercise is possible .

  68. Andy Says:

    Just taking this opportunity to shamelessly plug my own blog which currently has 105 articles and 50 videos related to the Shanghai Underground Music Scene. There’s some classics running at the mo, especially the soon to be legendary “torturing Torturing Nurse’ Live Bar show from the noise/sound installation scene here in Shanghai.

    I guess you can click my name to go there.

    Great to post on this subject and especially to plug Neocha who are great. But Wang Fei and Sa Ding Ding? Please check Neocha’s latest netlabel release “Tomorrow’s Afternoon Tea” for a great selection of female folk/indie artists including Shanghai’s Mogu Hong and Bangbang Tang.

  69. Steve Says:

    @Andy #66: I have already bookmarked your shamelessly plugged blog and encourage you to add links to this thread with all the hot bands. It seems a few of the guys here are especially interested in hot looking female singers but that goes without saying.

    The Wang Fei vid was my underhanded way to plug the Cocteau Twins, since they aren’t well known in China. I figured I needed to put at least one person on there that someone has heard of, ha ha.

    Andy, is Neocha thinking of adding more bandwidth in the near future? It used to load quickly but lately it takes at least five minutes to upload one song on Neocha’s NEXT. That has seriously cut into my usage.

    I have heard of Torturing Nurse but never saw them.

    Is it possible for you to link us to Mogu Hong and Bangbang Tang?

  70. Steve Says:

    I was able to track down Bangbang Tang’s Neocha page: http://www.neocha.com/BBT
    She’s very good! Thanks, Andy. I’ll go looking for Mogu Hong tomorrow.

  71. Sean Says:

    Hi Steve,

    Yes, we had some serious bandwidth problems for the last 3-4 months, but we recently put a CDN in place so hopefully the music will stream without breaks. We will do our best to continue adding bandwidth if we can afford it 🙂


  72. Steve Says:

    Great to hear that news, Sean. I have the NEXT shortcut on my desktop and think the program is very clever, especially being able to switch songs with a click. I’m sure it’ll continue to build as more people hear about and try it.

  73. Ted Says:

    Just saw these guys http://www.myspace.com/pekingxiaohe fun show. We moved onto another venue where we saw a crazy bjork-esque Japanese singer playing toy instruments and party favors to electronic music. lots of fun. After playing each instrument she throws them into the audience although I heard that, at the end of the show she asks for everything back, haha.

    Re: Bjork’s show I think someone should have done a little more research before giving her act the OK. I read that she has done the same “raise your flag” bit in several other countries. Besides, what does one expect from a 4 and a half foot woman who runs around punching photographers. I thought it was a good reminder of where China is on freedom of speech/expression.

  74. Steve Says:

    Ted, I liked them. Seemed kinda dreamy, trip-hop style of music. When you see music, is it usually local acts or do you mostly catch overseas stuff? Are the western acts still restricted like they were before the Olympics?

    I guess Björk is Björk. She’s the Madonna of Iceland, always finding ways to stay in the public eye. Have you ever heard her earliest songs when she was with the Sugarcubes as a teenager? Here’s a cut I liked from their old “Life’s Too Good” album: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_D6nxAa7rA
    It kinda reminds me of the B-52s.

    I wonder if Bjork got all her money out of the Icelandic banks… or should I say former Icelandic banks. She may regret she lost China as a future performance venue.

  75. Ted Says:

    @ Steve 74# LOL. As long as there’s a Bjork, Iceland will have an economy. Funny video, I hadn’t heard any of her earlier stuff, great voice. Given China’s rise, the Beastie Boys may also be reconsidering their adopted acronym, but I hope not.

    Post-Olympics foreign acts aren’t any better, they’re either bubble gum or breathy, Celine Dion, Kylie Minogue, etc… I was curious if the Linkin Park cancellation was related to the Bjork incident (clearly stating, I had not planned on seeing them). Today I overheard a couple of guys talking about the millions they lost when that tour canceled.

    My girlfriend loves the 80’s retro disco group “New Pants” from Beijing (She told me the 80’s were China’s disco years, is that true everyone?). I love the singer’s accent in “Bye Bye Disco”.

    We’re hoping to catch them next weekend.

    BTW, Thanks for this post, it’s nice to have a break from the heavier topics. Hopefully FM will keep this thread up front for a while.

  76. Steve Says:

    @Ted: I’m with you; not big on the Celine Dion’s of the world. The Linkin Park tour was cancelled because the lead singer injured his back, so they had to cancel all tours. That tour was to raise money for the earthquake victims so their intentions were very noble. They still contributed a lot of money for that cause. I’m also not big on Linkin Park but I have to give them credit.

    I liked the first cut you linked. To me it was “soft” disco, almost ballad disco. I can definitely see why they’d be popular in China. The second cut wasn’t as good IMO. My wife is a disco queen; she can dance all night so we always try to catch a local disco when we travel. She runs more towards the DJ Tiesto style; Eurotrance.

    I started this thread hoping to have people post names and links to other bands we all didn’t know about. I also wanted to softly promote Neocha since they are the best source I’ve found to hear bands that don’t get much publicity. Have you seen Hedgehog yet? I hear they’re good in concert and they are Beijing based. Their petite drummer/vocalist Atom is said to just have a ton of charisma so they are more a live act than a studio one.

    At this time, Beijing is considered to have the best music scene in China, so you’re in the right place.

  77. Steve Says:

    Andy Best left a comment earlier so I wandered on to his site and found a lot of good, indie music. Here are some you might like to check out:

    Self Party: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAJl9q5KNck
    I’d like to see this band live. It’s got that hypnotic sound so popular in China. This was taken at Yuyintang in Shanghai.

    Bang Bang Tang: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lt9GxnlozY
    They still strike me more as a bar band rather than someone I’d pay to see.

    PK14: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bge-8Q3pwvA&feature=related
    Has some punk rock influences here; I can hear some Johnny Rotten in the vocals. PK14 has been around awhile and I should have remembered to include them in the original post.
    Check ’em out here: http://wiki.rockinchina.com/index.php?title=PK14

    Hard Queen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zS2kGAKFeGc
    This band is a kick! Their sound is different enough to set them apart from the more deriviative acts.

    Modern Cheese: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzdkWUtSrqM
    These guys aren’t my taste but some may like them.

    Lu Xing Tuan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbXAKtfqBzY&feature=related
    This is more up my alley, definitely in the indie mold. They still need more time to form their own musical identity, but they have potential.

    Valley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etEGe5kVnH8
    Acoustic sound; pretty talented guys.

    Pink Berries: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYNNx1H4sL8
    For me, another bar band but one that has the potential to get much better.

    The Subs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ckbe8ygdgQ&feature=related
    This video was shot by a friend of mine, nothing professional but gives you the mood. The Subs are a really popular live act from Beijing. Ted, have you checked them out yet? Or too noisy for your girlfriend? 😛
    This site gives you more info: http://wiki.rockinchina.com/index.php?title=Subs

    Hedgehog: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSl8SCwiy_8&feature=related
    This is a better video of Hedgehog and gives you a feel for the band.
    This one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yivp2UKt2Yo&feature=related was filmed by my friend where you can see them live and get a better sense of the band’s sound, especially the drummer’s charisma.
    More about them here: http://wiki.rockinchina.com/index.php?title=Hedgehog

    Sorry about the lighting at Yuyintang… blink, blink, blink.

  78. Andy Best Says:

    Steve, thanks for all the links and for commenting on the blog. I have just replied there if you’d care to take a look 🙂

    My blog is largely focused on developing and upcoming bands but I review every show I go to regardless of who it is.

    I have some news for you. You rightly point out that Hard Queen are one of the more original acts around the Shanghai scene. They are recording a full CD at the moment and it should be done within three weeks. I will definitely blog this as soon as it comes out as I know them and we’re also thinking of shooting a vid for one of the tracks soon.

    The original incarnation of the band was also really popular on the net, they used to be called “Wendy On Wednesday” and the consistent member/creative force is Sheena Du.

  79. Andy Best Says:

    @ Ted

    As for foreign bands coming in, Splitworks are now back in action so I hope that will all change soon.


  80. Andy Best Says:


    Hard Queen at Neocha: htp://www.neocha.com/sheena/

    It’s a bit out of date though.

  81. Ted Says:

    Steve: Actually I’m down in Shanghai but happy that these Beijing bands are rolling through. Admittedly I’m just starting to find the music scene. My friends and I wandered into Yuyintang on a off night but knew it was what we were looking for.

    Really liked Hard Queen and Hedgehog. They seem to have some direction and their own thing going on. I was reading about the Subs today and I’m looking forward to their show next week. Have to check it out if only to see a performance like that in China. Maybe acts like this are a dime a dozen in Beijing but I haven’t seen many like that here and it’s hard to punch through the pop fog in conversations. So far my girlfriend and I haven’t had any differences on music so I think she’ll have fun at the Subs too. Pink Berries, Bang Bang Tang, PK14 live blurred together. The PK14 clip sounds like sounds like a 90’s rock anthem I might hear at an A8吧 or Babyface in one of Shanghai’s satellite cities (lived in one for over a year). Interesting the women at the center of so many of these acts.

    Andy I’m looking forward to Hard Queen’s album and your review. Also enjoyed your blog and will be checking it out in the future. With music, architecture, or fashion, I’m really more interested in seeing what’s coming out of China rather than what’s heading in. Looking forward to keeping up with these bands.

  82. TonyP4 Says:

    Torture Torturing Nurses is like a rape to me.

    After checking out some of Billyham’s very dirty songs, I’ve to say Cantonese is the most descriptive language in the world. He has biases against Taiwan females. May be and most likely he got some sexual diseases from his ‘beautiful’ whores in Taiwan. HKer, do you have stories about this guy. I think he does have talent but uses it in the wrong way.

  83. Steve Says:

    Torturing Nurse: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=417675999 does nothing for me. IMO, it’s just poorly done noise. On their earliest pre-Dark Side of the Moon albums, Pink Floyd did a lot of experimental stuff but it went somewhere while to me, this goes nowhere. Maybe it’s closer to some of Public Image Ltd.’s stuff, but that still went somewhere and had John Lydon’s vocals to hook it all together.

    TonyP4: Who is Billyham? New rule; anytime you give us someone new, you MUST post a link to the music! 😛

  84. TonyP4 Says:

    Here is one in Mandarin, and most in Cantonese. When you find one, u will find most. Be warned not to sow it to any females.


  85. Mikey Says:

    The brokenbeat and drum’n’bass Cui Jian remixes that Herbie in Beijing made are worth a listen, i’ll try and find a link.

  86. Steve Says:

    @TonyP4: To be honest, Billyham sounds like bad karaoke to me. 😛
    Is he from HK?

    Looking forward to the link, Mikey… hope you can find it~

  87. tonyP4 Says:

    He is from HK. U need to understand his Cantonese words that pushes to some moral limit and language expression limit.

  88. Ted Says:

    tonyP4: Re: Billyham – my girlfriend immediately covered her ears… should have heeded your warning 🙂 I think its the combination of the lyrics and the delivery that make him so controversial.

  89. Steve Says:

    C’mon Ted, you can’t fool us. You were testing your girlfriend~

    If she covered her ears when you played Billyham: Good
    If she started singing along to the lyrics: Bad

    She passed the test, congratulations!! 😀

  90. Andy Best Says:

    Ted, The Subs show will be a good one. They are always good. Pinkberry and The Molds are supporting. I’ll be there too so drop me a mail via the blog then say hi at the show. Hard Queen are playing Yuyintang tonight (Saturday) along with V-day from Nanjing but that show is going head to head with New Pants at Dream factory so it could be a bit quiet.

    Tonyp4 – Torturing Nurse are an avant garde art performance more than a band. Their actual aim is to rape your ears. I rarely go to that NOIShanghai shows but they are interesting to see once or twice even if you don’t like that stuff.

    Jut read back over this comments and the different bands I mention, all from different styles and sounds. The scene is enjoying a purple patch at the moment. There a new vid at the blog – Casino Demon

  91. Steve Says:

    Andy Best wrote up a band on his blog called Tianping Dian and had a link to one of their songs on Neocha: http://www.neocha.com/CANDY_SHOP Don’t be misled by the name Candy Shop, you’re in the right place. It’s a great song; reminds me a bit of Milan’s Lacuna Coil except not quite as edgy. I’ve had it on repeat while writing this. 😀
    Andy, thanks for the tip!

    Here’s the link again for Andy’s blog: http://www.kungfuology.com/andybest/ He’s got all kinds of writeups, links and other band info that will really get you familiar with Shanghai’s underground scene, along with many bands from other parts of China.

  92. Ted Says:

    Steve 89: LOL, she tested me, before I followed the link I said it wasn’t suitable for a lady. To that she of course replied “now I have to see it.” She had heard of the guy before and covered her ears just as he started singing and said “oh I hate this guy.” So yea, she definitely passed the test 🙂

    Andy, will do, sorry I’ll miss Hard Queen tonight, but will drop a line on your blog before next week’s show.

  93. Andy Best Says:

    Hi everyone following this. I may also recommend a blog which deals more with the business end of China’s emerging music scene, China Music Radar. It is run by Splitworks.


  94. Andy Best Says:

    Shanghai female folk artist Mogu Hong.


  95. TonyP4 Says:

    Andy, they did not rape my ears, but my eyes and my soul. Hope you post the faces of the 3 singers. Cannot figure out the face of the naked and the two in bags. I can use my X-rated imagination though. I hope the parents of the naked girl did not see it.

    Ted, ladies always say the reverse unless she is no lady. If you can understand Cantonese, there are more goodies to come. 🙂

  96. Andy Best Says:

    Tonyp4. I’m not sure what you imply by “hope you post the faces of the singers”?

    They’re not really my thing either but Torturing Nurse are a poplar avant-garde act in Shanghai who are part of the NOIShanghai collective. They have a myspace page, a douban.com group and make appearances every month.

    What’s more, they were just featured in …Time Magazine! A great sign that mainland Chinese artists can compete on the international stage and have something original to offer.

    Here is the article: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1853132-2,00.html

    Also, Carsick Cars (Beijing) are tipped to have a NME (UK) cover soon too.

    Carsick Cars: http://www.myspace.com/carsickcars

  97. TonyP4 Says:

    I like to see whether they are beautiful and how old are they. If they are under age, their video could be child porno.

  98. Steve Says:

    As I was listening to Carsick Cars, I seemed to recall someone asking why female singers are so much more popular than the guys in China. I’ve noticed a general preference in China to foreign female singers over male, but in the Chinese music scene itself there seems to be an overwhelming female preference.

    I think a large part of it is that the women tend to be good singers, while a lot of the guys can’t even stay on key when they’re not shouting into the mike. IMHO, Carsick Cars would be a lot better band if they had a better singer. Many of the other guy bands are the same. Why do you think that is? Do you think these guys are more into posturing than learning their craft? Or is it just my own taste?

  99. Ted Says:

    I’ve at last recovered enough from the New Pants show to post something. Still a little wobbly after a long evening out 🙂 I thought their performance was good and the show was great fun. Oddly people started moshing in front of left-center stage during the first song but the music wasn’t really mosh music (if people here mosh to New Pants I’m a little frightened about the upcoming Subs show). My girlfriend was caught off guard but we managed to bump our way to the periphery. The crowd was really into the performance and I thought the keyboardist 庞宽 was the best showman of the band. He strutted at center-stage for a few songs and there was a great crowd reaction to one of their new songs 著名导演 “Mr. Director” (English title from the CD) which is one of my favorites on the new album.

    One note, I thought they tested the crowds patience with an hour long opening movie and I the two opening acts were pretty ho-hum. The crowd was just starting to shout complaints (Chinese and expat) when they finally came out. Then again, maybe the timing was just right. The movie was fun, but a bit too long and the reaction among my friends was mixed (my Chinese isn’t good enough to criticize). They also showed a few music videos just before they came out and based on the videos (one was entirely animated) it looks like they have a fair amount of money behind them. Is this a trend with Chinese bands? Last week the group I saw showed a movie prior to the act as well.

    Tonyp4: LOL. Can’t understand Cantonese just know a few bad words (then again its seems like all the words in Cantonese are bad words).

  100. Steve Says:

    @ Ted: An hour movie sure seems long, can understand why you felt that way. Sounds like New Pants is a fun night out. 😛

    I checked out Mogu Hong’s site and with her girlish voice, she reminded me of someone but I couldn’t figure out who. Then I put my finger on it. Anyone heard of Sweden’s Stina Nordenstam? Here’s a vid from her: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQIowXjGGMI

    Andy, is Mogu Hong also from Shanghai? Are her shows well attended? I’m curious how popular the pure acoustic singers are there. I’d go see her in an instant.

  101. Andy Best Says:

    @ted show sounded pretty cool. New Pants are real stars here. Yes, the Subs shows are mad moshes which suits the music.



    I saw Mogu Hong not so long ago at a showcase gig for the Dew 11 label. Yeah, she’s from Shanghai. She gets talked about a lot on the net groups. Locals really dig her lyrics. Those show are well attended. While not entirely acoustic you may want to check out Zhong Chi or Wang Juan. The second link is a Wang Juan search on my blog that turns up three posts.



  102. Ted Says:

    Subs were great, better than the youtube clips let on. The lead singer has a great personality on stage as well as the guitarist. The drummer killed and the bassist carried everyone through the show. Screaming anguish, anger, noise, or just plain screaming, it was a fun show.

  103. samlaleo Says:

    thx for the mention here about malaysia and transient vortex.much appreciated.

    check out the remix of Tears for Fears – “shout” on youtube



  104. Steve Says:

    Thanks for the link, Sam. I enjoyed the remix a lot! Can you recommend other Malaysian bands we might not know about?

    Just to let everyone know, Samlaleo Singh (along with Sugs) IS Transient Vortex. The direct link to their myspace site is: http://www.myspace.com/transientvortex

  105. Jed Yoong Says:

    some really edgy, good music here man!
    young ppl these days!

  106. Steve Says:

    Thanks, Jed. I’ve got your site bookmarked and will be relying on you in the future to keep me informed on all the good stuff happening in Malaysia and SE Asia. You’re our eyes and ears, dude… 8)

    One thing I’ve discovered in my rather long life (I’m pretty old) is that great music is always out there, but sometimes it can be hard to discover. The net has changed that; I’m in San Diego yet I’m pulling in great sounds from all over the world. You’re in KL and yet we’re having this conversation and sharing bands. It’s awesome! 😉

  107. samlaleo Says:

    hey steve

    should check out the amp website…


    tons of asian band


  108. Steve Says:

    Thanks Sam, will do~

  109. Ludo Says:

    definitely love pixeltoy, thanks mate will check out more from the indie chinese music 😉

  110. Steve Says:

    Hi Ludo, welcome to the blog~

    You might want to check out our other music posts, Taiwan’s Alternative Music Scene and Chinese Rock ‘n’ Roll. If you follow the links in Louis Yu’s Indie Podcasts you can hear his indie show in Vancouver where he plays a lot of good Chinese indie artists.

    We’ve also featured more traditional Chinese music in other posts, but those cover the modern indie music scene.


  1. Global Voices Online » China: Indie music bands
  2. CHINABLÄTTER » Blog Archive » The Indie Music Scene In China
  3. Taiwan’s Underground Music Scene | Fool's Mountain: Blogging for China

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