New Sounds of China (Series 2)

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General Information


Episode Information

New Sounds of China is devoted to introducing the best in alternative Chinese music.

Each of our five episodes tackles a particular theme, illustrated with music examples and informed commentary, as well as interviews with band members, industry experts, academics and journalists. Beginning with the history of alternative Chinese music (episode one), we then explore the contemporary Beijing music scene (episodes two and three), before uncovering the little known sounds of Chengdu (episode four), and finishing with an exploration of ethnicity and music in the People's Republic of China (episode five).

We tackle music ranging across the genres of rock, electronica, folk, hip-hop, and ska. Standout musicians include Cui Jian, the dissident godfather of Chinese rock; Car Sick Cars, China's answer to Sonic Youth; and Hanggai, an internationally-acclaimed throat-singing band inspired by the traditions of Inner Mongolia.

Produced by London Chinese Radio, this English-language second series follows a highly successful bilingual first series featured on London's Resonance FM. We will be rolling out the five episodes one by one over the coming weeks. Please feel free to contact us directly with any comments or questions.

Episode One - History

Finally it’s here, and just in time for the Spring Festival! The second series of New Sounds of China is back, bringing you the best of contemporary Chinese music from the Middle Kingdom. This time we have a new line-up, still produced and presented by music journalist and musicoligist Paul Kendall, but this time co-presented by Hu Pan, former guitar and vocals for Beijing indie band “The Lilei and Hanmeimei’s” and Beijing Opera performer.

This seasons first episode sifts through the history of what Paul terms as “the old sounds that have influenced the new sounds” to create the music scene of China today. This episode features music from Deng Lijun (Theresa Teng) – to Retros, from Zuoxiao Zuzhou to Wang Fei to SRC.

Episode Two - Maybe Mars

Following the sweeping historical introduction of episode one, we tighten our focus in episode two, and feature the music of just one record label, Maybe Mars. But what a label! Since 2007, Maybe Mars has been generating attention well beyond the domestic Chinese market, with its acts and attitude gaining coverage in publications as highly regarded and diverse as The Wire, Time Magazine, The New Yorker, The Guardian, and The Wall Street Journal.

Rather than simply heighten the existing wave of adulation, we assess the reasons behind the phenomenal success of Maybe Mars, as well as its sister venue, D-22, located in the happening Beijing university district of Wudaokou. In between experimental, post-punk and plain old punk tracks, we talk to New Yorker Michael Pettis, the man behind the label, who combines previous Wall Street banking experience with connections to avant-garde artists such as Glenn Branca, Blixa Bargeld, and Elliot Sharp. We also interview two artists on the label: Zhang Shouwang of Car Sick Cars, China's answer to Sonic Youth; and Chen Xi of the dark and brooding Snapline.

Paul Kendall, a former music journalist (Time Out Beijing, China Radio International, Billboard) and current Chinese music PhD student presents the show alongside Hu Pan, a Beijing-born rock musician, Peking opera performer, and music journalist.