China is a country with a long tradition of music. The Beijing Opera is hundreds of years old. But rock and punk only go back about 20 years when a vibrant underground community emerged in Beijing. Meanwhile, Chinese rock has even found its way to Germany!
Kang Mao: Punk from China
George Lindt has always avoided the mainstream. He has also always been interested in China. The country itself, its people, its culture and especially its music -- rock and punk in particular. The 38-year-old music journalist and author founded his own record label years ago. Based in Berlin, Fly Fast Records now promotes young Chinese bands.
George Lindt recalls how easy it was to get to know young Beijing underground artists. He went to many concerts and talked to the musicians. But it was much more difficult to bring them to Europe. "They were very sceptical at the beginning", says Lindt. "They could not imagine that people in Europe or even Germany were interested in their music - because public media has never paid any attention to their music. Maybe in some underground magazines, but they don't have a great publicity."
But the German audience also had to be convinced. Rock and punk from China? Pirated tunes or authentic music? George Lindt had to fight against a lot of prejudice. For him, Chinese rock has nothing to do with rock music from Europe or America.
"There are many interesting bands who have developed their own style. They don't have this historical burden to bear which western bands have to reinvent themselves each and every time. They have a more relaxed way to perform their music. They just play it. That's why it is a very refreshing sound."
Punk means independence
Maybe non-mainstream Chinese music is also refreshing because the artists actually live their music. Kang Mao, a punk artist based in Beijing, for example:
"For me, punk offers a kind of independence", she says. "I can do whatever I want. Through punk I have learned a lot about freedom. You don't have to obey anyone. No one ever told me about this. You think you have to live life like your parents. But punk gives me the courage to stand up for myself!"
Often Chinese rock and punk is subjected to the censorship. Fly Fast Records helps Chinese artists to stand up and release controversial work in Germany. Although Fly Fast Records hasn't made George Lindt a rich man, he continues to promote Chinese rock and punk bands. He hopes his artists will find a wider audience in the future. He does it because he believes in it and has always avoided the mainstream.
Author: Chi Viet Giang
Editor: Anne Thomas