fbpx
CultureFeatured

Yin: Amplify the Sounds of These 10 Women Making Music in China

0

Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly RADII column that looks at Chinese songs spanning hip hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion.

Have you seen that Twitter meme about amplifying the voices of ten interesting, entertaining, or just generally follow-worthy women? Here’s one from Washington Post Beijing bureau chief Anna Fifield with ten journalists covering the coronavirus outbreak in case not:

In that spirit (and although most of them aren’t on Twitter), here are ten women making music in China to follow on your streaming platform of choice:

Dreaming With Friends

Fishdoll

Right off the bat we can recommend quality tunes from seven excellent producers featured on Eating Music‘s brand-new compilation, Dreaming With Friends. Here’s the label’s intro for it:

“We invited 7 independent female artists/producers […] to finish this special annual feature with their different ages, lifestyles, genres in music and experiences. 7 tracks including sound sampling, experimental and dance elements pictured 7 different views under the same, straightforward expression. Sensation, delication and power gather around and turn into an emotionally complex and unvarnished sonic dream.”

 

My personal favorite is “Yao Ni (Bite You),” a provocative bit of left-field hip hop by Nanjing rapper Peng Xiyue (彭喜悦), aka tingting (pictured up top). “Caused by hatred, her emotion breaks down into endless despair and aggressiveness,” say the liner notes: “Ting spits ‘bite your skin off’ in her first verse with furious anger from screams and roars to exhaustion. Self-liberation is to exterminate hatred.

Yu Su (photo via NTS)

Other highlights include “Every Star Has Its Own Story,” a lilting house track by Kaifeng-born producer Yu Su, and “宇漫 (Yu Man),” a dreamy and unhurried tune from Beijing-based musician (and 2019 Eating Music Camp mentor) Fishdoll. Here’s a suitably spaced-out music video for the latter:

Buy/stream the full Dreaming With Friends compilation here.

Laughing Ears

laughing ears new album

It’s no secret that Laughing Ears is a RADII fav. Her debut LP Tidal Effect was one of my top releases last year, and the young Shanghai producer has already hit 2020 hard with not one, but two follow-ups. In January she came out with Metamorphosis 形变, six tracks of pensive ambient electronica spiked with sparse, footwork-inspired rhythmic flashes in all the right places. Metamorphosis is, ironically, the first release by a mainland Chinese artist on one of the best labels out right now, Chinabot. They say:

“Despite a knack for experimentation, her classical training is evident throughout in the precision of her compositions. The complex aural relationships created in this process have come to mirror the unstable nature of human relationships. ‘If people can be seen as a medium in the world, the relationship between different people is a process of reaction,’ she says. ‘As an unstable individual, the process of contact with others means we can begin in a different direction.'”

 

Stream that in full (or grip it in the form of a slick-looking blue cassette) over at the Chinabot Bandcamp, and chase it with an even newer Laughing Ears EP, Blue Dusk, released today on the Air Max ’97-curated label Decisions:

 

L.Y.Li

Next up: some good, old-fashioned “techno/ house targeted for the dancefloor,” in the words of RAN Music label-runner Shen Lijia. RAN’s first release of the year is a 12″ EP with four dancefloor melters by Chengdu-based techno producer and DJ L.Y.Li.

 

L.Y. is also known as Diva Li, and for over a decade has been one of the best-known and best-loved DJs on the scene, a de facto resident at seminal Beijing techno temple Lantern (which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year) and TAG in Chengdu. “L.Y.Li has her special point of view towards electronic music and dance music, with her music always being full of rich and exquisite emotions, intense and minimalistic melodies as well as her own soulful vocal lines,” says RAN. “These characteristics have guaranteed her uniqueness within the country’s techno music scene.”

Buy/stream Escape by L.Y.Li here, and keep an eye out for a later-2020 release on RAN Music by HUAN HUAN, a Shanghai-based producer also featured on the Dreaming With Friends comp above.

Zhao Cong

Zhao Cong (right) performing in her band Xiao Hong Yu Xiao Xiao Hong at XP, Beijing (photo by Nevin Domer)

Rounding out this list with an adamantly minimal and experimental artist, Beijinger Zhao Cong. Just the thing to clear all the 4/4 cobwebs out of your head.

Zhao started making music in the all-over-the-place band Xiao Hong Yu Xiao Xiao Hong with her husband Zhu Wenbo, breaking out as a solo performer towards the last days of Zhu’s long-running experimental music weekly (and now tape label), Zoomin’ Night. Over the last few years she’s developed a hypnotizing, if somewhat sedative solo practice characterized by longform ambient sound poems concocted on a rotating battery of ad hoc electronics and household items.

Zhao Cong – “Practice 5#” (screenshot by Edward Sanderson)

Zhao Cong – “Practice 5#” (screenshot by Edward Sanderson)

Most recently, she spearheaded the “Practice” series of livestreamed, stay-at-home sonic deep dives that have so far seen her, Zhu Wenbo, London-based Zoomin’ Night affiliate Li Song and Dali-based noiser Ding Chenchen open their intimate quarantine zones up to the rest of the world. Here’s Zhao’s “Practice 5#” from two days ago:

And here’s a 2018 release by Zhao Cong, recorded from a live set she gave as part of Beijing experimental music scene stalwart Yan Jun‘s ongoing miji concert series:

 

Cover image: 彭喜悦 aka tingting (courtesy Eating Music)

Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a Shanghai-based writer and musician, and RADII's former Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, MIT Technology Review, Artsy, Bandcamp Daily and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.