Beijing is a city of both “radical possibility” and “radical uncertainty,” in the words of one of today’s guests. This year especially, Beijing’s top-level ideological tightening has been felt even in areas of underground culture — art and music, especially — that are used to developing in a gray area of benign neglect.
Today I’m joined by Krish Raghav, an organizer of the annual Concrete & Grass music festival, and Becky Davis, a Beijing-based reporter for French paper AFP who has recently covered Jinan black metal band Zuriaake (pictured above). Rebecca has also been on the front lines of some of Beijing’s recent turbulence, reporting on the RYB Kindergarten scandal and migrant evictions, among other sobering topics.
On the podcast, we discuss to what extent music can be used as a form of social activism in greater China, including a special mention of the exemplary, unnerving output of Hong Kong’s David Boring, a band that stuck out to all three of us this year.
We also talk about the nature of the newswire business as it relates to cultural reporting on China, what Black Metal iconography has in common with ancient Chinese aesthetics, and how Beijing’s “radically uncertain” urban schemes are shaping creative production today.
Opening/closing track: David Boring – “Machine#1”