Young And Restless In China

Listen to the Music

Hear from some of the Chinese artists featured on the soundtrack for Young & Restless in China. Music files provided courtsey of Modern Sky Records.

Wang Xiaolei (aka MC Sir)

Young & Restless in China features quite a lot of rapper Xiaolei's music. Producer Sue Williams wanted to find a young person who was just starting out in the business, and rock musician Cui Jian introduced her to Xiaolei. A natural performer, he would often rap on camera, giving Williams the opportunity to integrate music directly into various scenes. Currently, Xiaolei has an agent and a manager, and he is working on a new CD, a fashion line and a tour. Read more about Xiaolei here.

+ Read some of Xiaolei's lyrics

+ Visit Xiaolei's MySpace page

Listen to "Get Money."

Wednesday's Trip

Wednesday's Trip is a standout in Beijing's live-music scene, largely because of its frontwoman Wu Zhuoling. Sent to study English in Beijing from her native Chengdu -- severely impacted by the May 2008 earthquake -- Wu, now 30, became enamored with the city's underground music scene. She later moved to the city permanently, without the blessing of her parents, and in 2001 formed Wednesday's Trip.

DJ Ben (Hao) Huang

Regarded as a father of China's club culture, Ben Huang emerged in the '80s as a self-taught, self-styled electronic musician in Beijing. The Shanghai native began collecting records from friends and importing music from Hong Kong and Europe. Mixed together, the result combined funk, experimental, jazz and techno.

Huang cultivated the club scene by playing parties in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong; he even organized raves at the Great Wall in the early 1990s. His sound soon caught the attention of European promoters, and he was one of the first Chinese DJs to tour around the world.

+ Visit DJ Huang's MySpace page

Listen to "From There."

P.K. 14

Named one of five Asian bands to watch in 2008 by Time magazine, P.K. 14 has been nominated for Chinese Grammy Awards and has had videos in regular rotation on MTV China.

Critics haves described them as electro-infused, post-folk, post-punk social critics. Their sound has been compared to Sonic Youth, the Pixies and Talking Heads, while singer Yang Haisong, 34, says his lyrics are inspired by protest musicians like Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan.

The band just released its latest album, City Weather Sailing, which was recorded in Sweden. After an international tour this summer, P.K. 14 will record its fifth album in Chicago.

+ Visit P.K. 14's MySpace page

Listen to "Garden of Eden."

Gemini Trip

Gemini Trip, or "Two People's Travel," is a collaboration between DJ/producer Hu Zi and folk singer and guitarist Wang Juan. Their eponymous 2005 album was conceived as an experimental marriage of acoustic and electronic music, reminiscent of the British band Portishead or Icelandic artist Bjork.

Hu, 30, arrived Beijing in 1997 to attend the Chinese Academy of Music, but his interests soon veered toward electronic music. By 2000, he was established as a pioneering DJ who presented avant-garde visuals alongside his music.

Wang, a native of Shanghai, helped popularize folk music among young Chinese in the 1990s. Wang was drawn to folk first as a fan, practicing songs by the Beatles and the Carpenters. Now she's modeled herself in the tradition of Bob Dylan, promoting folk as a genre that can capture the spirit of China's cities.

Listen to "Gemini Trip."

Listen to "What I Ponder."

Listen to "Solo Trip."

Dead J

A 25-year-old minimalist techno producer in living Beijing, Dead J is a major composer in China's electronic music scene. His 2006 album, Mental Magic, released on Modern Sky Records, earned him Best Electronic Artist at the Chinese Music Media Awards. He is prone to visual theatrics during his live performances, often appearing on stage donning a space suit, white face paint and rubber gloves. He has cited German electronic music as an early influence and, as such, his sound tends toward more industrial, punk-infused rhythms.

+ Visit Dead J's MySpace page

Listen to "Atmosphere."

ME:MO

ME:MO, a 28-year-old native of Beijing, is perhaps best known in the electronic music sphere for incorporating multiple traditions into his sound. His style is rooted in the industrial syncopation of early electronic music, but he also uses drum and acoustic guitar lines over samples. In 2003 he produced a self-titled album on his own label, and in 2006 he released his second offering, Static Scenery on Modern Sky Records.

+ Visit ME:MO's MySpace page

Listen to "Peaceful Spot."

Gefei

Gefei mostly performs as one half of milk@coffee, a Chinese pop band. A classically trained pianist, he serves as the band's producer and provides all of its instrumental and electronic tracks. Kiki, a female singer he met online, is the duo's main vocalist and lyricist. They released their first album, Burn Little Universe, in 2005, but Gefei has continued to produce his own solo electronic music.

+ Visit milk@coffee's Last.fm page

Listen to "Te-Spirit."

Chen Xing

Chen Xing grew up in a working-class family in southern China and is most celebrated for writing about China's migrant workers. In the tradition of Woody Guthrie, Xing travels with his guitar to urban industrial centers. He writes about the isolation and danger migrant workers experience, but also about the hope that propels them to leave their homes.

In December 2007, radio producer Gideon D'Arcangelo recorded Chen Xing as part of a piece on the music of China's migrant workers for WNYC's Studio 360. Listen to that segment here, which includes "Migrant Workers Love Song" as featured in Young & Restless in China.

Cui Jian

Widely regarded as the godfather of Chinese rock, Cui Jian's song "Nothing to My Name" became an anthem to the student protesters who occupied Tiananmen Square in 1989. In 2003, American music producer Matt Clark (a.k.a Kemaxiu) wrote an essay about meeting Cui Jian for the Web site of FRONTLINE's China in the Red. Two of Cui Jian's songs, "Wild On The Snow" and "Lost Season," appear on the soundtrack of Young & Restless in China.

Xiao Fan and Kemaxiu

Chinese tax consultant Xiao Fan and Matt Clark (a.k.a. Kemaxiu) met in Beijing in 2006. After Xiao Fan taught Clark some traditional melodies on her dombra, he convinced her to perform a live show at a Beijing music club. The tune featured in Young & Restless in China is a traditional one called "Yuelianghua," or "moonlight flower."

Thanks to Michael LoJudice of Modern Sky and Matt Clark for their help in compiling this information.

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posted june 17, 2008

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