"At least Beijing's horrible pollution is good for something," a friend said, when commenting on the dreamy hues bouncing between Shouwang's face, his guitar and the surrounding apartment complexes. From Shouwang's 23rd floor rooftop, the toxic dust and the cold, distressed textures of the city become beautiful. In this way at least, this shoot was like walking amongst the ancient Greek sirens: an island meadow, "starred with flowers" with a suave gentleman perched in place of the myth's treacherous winged maidens, at home among the clouds. It's a wintery melody, performed in the dusk of Beijing's warmth, that not only awed us with a likeness to the moment and place, but beckoned us closer and closer to the island's edge, leaning out, desperate to bring a piece of this fable home.
In the end, an Australian native Cockatoo can be heard screeching through the chords. This lone bird, pacing along the upper most ledge was a beautiful twist of circumstance in our documentary and a the perfect segue into Shouwang's first Australian tour later this month, with the Carsick Cars.
We also captured, Shouwang communicating with the mysterious cockatoo and an amazing version of Shouwang's single "Invisible Love" in second, unreleased video. If you want to see it, send us an email (blog at dabaoge.net) or a Weibo (weibo.com/dabaogeshows) and we'll send you the private link.
We ran into some sound issues on this shoot. Without getting too technical on you, the vocal mic was malfunctioning and didn’t pick up much sound. Oh, and it was 8am. That’s not an excuse, it’s just…8am! Moving on…the great thing about 8am is the light. Especially golden streaks bouncing around the concrete walls of this incredible, hidden laneway, quite literally a stone’s through from Shanghai’s Suzhou Creek. We’ve accepted the floors in this film, but we want to share it with you anyway, because we still love it like we would our own child, if we had one.
For us, this beautiful track—written by Pei Pei (黄佩) or Little Punk as she’s known—is in an odd way, about acceptance, denial and being your own boss. Like a moment of self-reflection, when you see yourself making mistakes and at the same time being seemingly helpless to stop it. A little part of you accepts the perceived reality or maybe gives up and ignorance kicks in. You’re not the boss of me. I’m the boss of me. I can fuck it up if I want to.
Amid the constant banter with Boys Climbing Ropes bandmate, Jordan, Little Punk painted us a vivid picture of this kind of acceptance and her future life as an older, plumper, hairier, living-room laoban.
“Morgan, get me a another beer!” Little Punk screeched, impersonating her future self.
Jordan: “Yeh, you’ll be the laoban in the relationship one day”
Little Punk: “I’m already the laoban!~”
Please enjoy this special version of “Fine Darling” by Little Punk.
Hanggai dropped in from Beijing to play the world music festival, sharing the bill with some other buzzing names in Chinese music like Beijing Opera singer Gong Linna. By chance, we met them on a weekend when I was in fact supposed to fly to Beijing to see my fiance for the first time in many months. Instead, a modern day personification of the evil witch in this very folk song, clipped my wings. The boys have a new album on the way, but chose to play an older number on this morning, in a small pagoda with an unsuspecting audience of young lovers and extra-marital [see 1min 35sec]. "Yekul Song" is music for the soul that in a matter of minutes excised any demons that were lingering from my thwarted plans to return to my sweetheart. Here's a loose interpretation of the folk tale.
A long time ago, there were two young lovers. A young man named Namujila who fell in love with a beautiful girl called Hu. Later Namujila joined the Genghis Khan army, but he kept thinking of his sweetheart, Hu.
The young man rode a horse who could sense his master's feelings. Eventually he told his master, "Every night at midnight you'll ride to me to a house in the east. I will send you to your sweetheart in the yurt door.
But you can not open your eyes during the ride, you can only open your eyes whenever you stop.
From then on, Namujila rode his spirit horse each evening to see his lover and returned before down.
One night he went to his lover's door and as they touched the ground, an evil woman saw his spirit horse's wings and when the two lovers entered the yurt, the bad woman took scissors and cut off the wings of the spirit horse.
When Venus rose, Hu and Namugjila left the yurt and realized that the horse's wings have been cut off and the horse had died. Later they discovered that the horse's wings were cut off by the evil woman.
So they used their own horse bones to make a zither [stringed instrument like a harp] and covered the piano with the horse's hide, used the tail to make the strings and the mane to make the bow.
The village was full of music and singing too, so that all the people passing could learn about the vile, ugly woman.
As a result, the bad woman could not bear to see people and committed suicide.
The Black Atlantic responded to the call to shoot with us while on the road in Wuhan. But it wasn't until we turned up at Shanghai's Hotel Indigo on the Bund that we found out they'd literally—and very kindly—jammed us into a schedule that guaranteed their Shanghai experience would be limited to the inside of a music venue and the fleeting views from a cab window.
Setup, shot and packed down in the space of an hour, Geert, Kim, Matthias and Simon took it all in their stride. Their tunes complimented the dusty treasues pilled-up around us at the hidden antique warehouse in the Pudong district.
It was an intense experience that could only be guaged in hindsight, by the warm glow of having experienced something special, a milestone, and having someone else to share it with.
The Black Atlantic performed two tracks for us. Their brand new (unreleased) track "Of This Unfortunate Event (The Aftermath)" and "Fragile Meadow".
Our third DaBaoGe release is very different to the first two, but still very much embedded with the spontaneity and artistry that defines this production style. We quite literally decided to turn up at the venue (Mao Livehouse in Shanghai) and pitch the idea to brothers Robert and David Perlick-Molinari (French Horn Rebellion) after their stage performance. Popular local Shanghai act Duck Fight Goose warmed-up the sparse crowd, scattered over two levels and huddled in glassed-off nooks. We eventually found STD promoter Reggie Laxatives, who turned out to be from the same mid-sized Australian city as Andy.
Their stage performance was a DJ set infused with slapstick theatrics and eponymous french horn solos. Let's be honest, we had no idea what to expect aside from a the few clips cued on MySpace while getting ready to leave the house and rumours they shared a producer with MGMT –in fact the 'Time To Pretend EP' was produced by David Perlick-Molinari himself. We only realised the band were willing to shoot with us when they emerged into the main bar, necking a bottle of bourbon, offered us some and said they'd do it "later".
At 3am, with their entourage already outside hailing taxis we recorded this little ditty jam. Ambient vocals supplied by six drunk punters supporting the flaccid limbs of a friend—a life size marionette drifting in and out of consciousness—in the stairwell below. It didn't turn out exactly how we expected. But in a way, that's what it's all about.