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Cobra (眼镜蛇, Yǎnjìngshé), all-female rock band from Beijing

Background Information
Genre rock, avand guard
Years active 1989 - 2000, 2003 - present


Introduction by John Corber

Cobra is an all-female rock band from Beijing and has started in 1989. In 1988 Xiao Nan, lead vocal and guitarist, listened for the first time to The Beatles and other rock music.

Just half a year after the official band forming, they performed in Chengdu in January 1990 playing foreign cover songs and rearranged traditional Chinese folk songs. Shortly after they performed during the "Concert of Modern Music" in Beijing, playing two songs of Cui Jian. Thereafter they started to compose their own songs.

World Beat Records has released their CD for the international market including the song '1966', that can't be found on the domestic CD version.

Their lyrics are intelligent and poetic, and though somewhat dark, they transmit a fierce sense of determination to face personal and social realities that are less than ideal. Some people say that in China, simply performing rock music is subversive. -- John Korber

Cobra's arrangements are complex and beautifully woven with a variety of instruments including the Chinese xylophone, piano accordion, and some orchestral accompaniment. -- John Korber

Front woman Xiao Nan herself later formed her own electro band Supermarket and is currently working as stage manager on Midi Festival


Cobra in the early 1990s, photo from book 揺滾夢尋
Cobra in 1994, photo from Hypocrisy
Cobra in 1995, photo from Cobra
Cobra in 1999, photo from New Bees Music

During the tumultous spring of 1989, Cobra began in the imagination of erhu player Yang Ying. She told her best friend Yu Jin about her idea of starting an all girl rock band. They knew Wang Xiaofang and asked her to start the band with them. Wang Xiaofang in turn suggested they ask Xiao Nan to join as the guitarist. It was an odd combination in some respects as Yang Ying, Wang Xiaofang and Xiao Nan all shared lead singing duties. One night at a gathering in Cui Jian's apartment the girls were thinking about a name for the band. Yang Ying's then boyfriend San'er, the drummer of ADO (at the time Cui Jian's back up band), suggested they call it 'Cobra'. Thus began China's first all female rock band.[1]

In January 1990, they performed during a concert in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. In February they participated during the 90現代音楽演唱会 concert together with Tang Dynasty, The Breathing, Baby Brothers, 1989 and ADO Band. They were introduced as a band for girls and they only performed cover songs. In May they performed in Shenzhen together with Black Panther, The Breathing and 1989. Chang Kuan joined them for the concert. In July, Lin Xue (Sax & Flute) joined the band.

In December 1991, they performed during a concert in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, together with Tang Dynasty, The Breathing, Overload and 1989.

On March 8th 1992, they performed at a concert at the 国際会議庁. During that concert they presented 5 new songs, however due to the diversity in style, the songs were not popular. The band noticed the same and thereby decided in April to separate from their bassist 杨英 for which Suo Yi entered the band. Hence the lineup consisted now of: Wang Xiao Fang on drums and vocals, Suo Yi on bass, Xiao Nan on guitars and vocals, Yu Jin on keyboards and chorus and finally Lin Xue on Saxophone and Flute. Gradually they arranged for a style together. On September 18th, they participated in the shooting for the Qinhuangdao film 孩子 太陽 世界. Related to this film is the song 不是遊戯的年紀 that was included without permission in the 1993 compilation 中国大揺滾 - 献給国際減災十年 (released January 8th).

In January 1993, they performed at Qingdao's 匯泉体育館. In February they performed in Germany alongside Cui Jian during the The Chinese Avantgarde, a tour through four German cities. Thereafter the documentary film '1966-我的紅衛兵時代' was released including their song 1966.

In 1994, after having finished recording their first album in Beijing, they returned to Germany for mixing and mastering. During that time they performed around 30 times in various European venues. Later that year, German independent record label NETWORK Records released their album Hypocrisy.

In May 1995, they signed a contract with Red Star Music 紅星生産 and in October their record Cobra is released in Hongkong. At the end of the year they go to Hongkong to promote their record.

In 1996, they performed during the 第二十一回密歇根(ミシガン)国際女子音楽節 12th International Women's Music festival in the USA and also in New York's CBGB on September 11th.[2] Hypocrisy was also released in the US and they were interviewed by CNN.

From 1996 until 1998, they live in Beijing and perform on concerts at that time. (Details unknow)

In March 1998, they record a demo for the upcoming new release. In total 16 songs are recorded. In June they performed during the 第1回新郷揺滾音楽節 music festival in Xinxiang, Henan Province. They also performed during the 澳門除夕晩会 (New Year's Eve in Xiamen).

In January 1999, their contract with Red Star Music (紅星生産社) ends. In February Lin Xue leaves the band after many years. In August the band signs with New Bees Music.

On February 18th 2000, their second main record Cobra II is released by New Bees Music. In September Yu Jin leaves the band and moves to Germany.

In 2001, Suo Yi moved to Australia.

In 2003, the band restarts their activites and they performed on November 22nd in the Get Lucky Bar for the release of compilation record Scream for the Chinese Rock'n'Roll Yesterday (VA). After that, they still remained active, however restricted their performances to big events.

Lineup from Mid-2004 onwards is: Wang Xiao Fang (Dr&Vo), Xiao Nan (G&Vo), Lin Na (B) and Wan Fei (Key). On August 7th, they performed in Yinchuan City, Ningxia Province, during the 中国揺滾的光輝道路 concert.

In April 2005, they performed in the Hard Rock Cafe Beijing during an event sponsored by Malaysia TV. On July 23rd and 24th, they performed on Xi'an Da Yan Ta Guang Chang, the Great Wild Goose Pagoda Square, during the 大唐芙蓉園2005流行音楽節 music festival.


Major releases


Appearances in Podcasts


  • Wong, Cynthia P. (2005). "Lost Lambs": Rock, Gender, Authenticity, and A Generational Response to Modernity in the People's Republic of China." Ph.D. dissertation. New York, New York: Columbia University, 2005.
  • Steen, Andreas; Der Lange Marsch des Rock'n'Roll--Pop und Rockmusik in Der Volksrepublik China. Hamburg: LIT Verlag, 1996

External Links

Official pages

Other pages



  1. According to
  2. Jon Pareles (New York Time) (1996-08-31). "New Wave Styles Return, On a Visit From Beijing". Retrieved on 2010-01-09.