Proudly presenting Radii’s newest podcast: B-Side China, monitoring the flip side of cultural stories in the PRC.
My guest for round 1 is Kristen Ng. Kristen’s a New Zealander who’s spent the last few years in Chengdu, a hotbed for underground culture in Sichuan province. She’s been involved with the Chengdu scene on a number of levels: as the founder of Kiwese, a blog and booking platform aiming to bridge New Zealand and Chinese culture; as the booker of NU Space, one of Chengdu’s key venues for underground art and music; and through Kaishandao, her solo noise-techno act that provides this episode’s opening and closing sounds.
Kaishandao (photo by Colin四四)
I caught Kristen at the beginning of her latest Kiwese adventure: a nationwide tour for Wellington’s The All Seeing Hand that took them to China’s furthest corners on the slowest trains imaginable. We sat down at the Arrow Factory pub in central Beijing (apologies for the background noise, I’m new to this) to talk about the heat bubbling up from Chengdu’s rap and rock scenes, the controversy sparked by rapper Fat Shady’s recent anti-foreigner diss track, the cultural pride and sense of self-sufficiency that Sichuan artists hold as a badge of honor against megacities like Beijing and Shanghai, and the fate of the recently closed Poly Center, a 21-story building next to the American Consulate in Chengdu that until a month ago hosted offices by day, and the city’s wildest clubs by night.
Opening/closing track: Kaishandao live in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. Thanks to Daniel Rothwell/Loreli for loaning the gear to record this podcast.
Soundcloud embed (if you’re in China, turn your VPN on):