Text: Oskari Onninen
Chui Wan is a four-piece experimental psychedelic rock band from Beijing, China. They got their name from Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi’s ”Qi Wu Lun” (齐物论), a mystical work on the relationship between nature and human life.
We got an honor to have a chat with Liu Xinyu (guitar) and Yan Yulong (guitar, keyboard, violin, vocals) before their Club Niubi tour. See the tour dates below and enjoy the trip!
Which album have you listened the most in your life? What makes it special?
Liu Xinyu: ”A classic old album, The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat. Originally, this is my favourite album. I remember how once, after work, I was exhausted and extremely tired when I got home. I felt like listening to this album to help me fall asleep but my ears couldn’t help but follow the melody and my nerves just wouldn’t calm down. It was so good that even though I was extremely tired, it kept me awake.”
Yan Yulong: ”The album I’ve listened to most is clearly The Velvet Underground & Nico. It’s been eight years now since I first listened to it.”
Your music is clearly inspired by psychedelic rock bands. How were you introduced to them? What fascinates you in psychedelia?
Liu Xinyu: ”I used to like post-punk and no wave. But one day I listened to a more recent album by No Age, Weirdo Rippers, and it fascinated me. This album introduced me to psychedelic music, lo-fi style. At that time, because of No Age, I became obsessed with these detached sorts of sounds and surreal song structures. After that I started to get to know more psychedelic music bands.”
Yan Yulong: ”I started with the old bands and continued with the newer ones. China is a very psychedelic country. If you don’t believe it, come and visit!”
How is the Chinese record store culture? Are the Western indie records easy to find?
Liu Xinyu: ”In Beijing, during the 90’s, you could find records and tapes in some small shops in commodities and clothes markets, which is something that made many people discover many foreign bands. Nowadays everybody listens to mp3’s and record stores as such have nearly disappeared. Those who remain only sell Chinese indie bands’ cd’s from local labels. Lately, a vinyl fever has broken out in Beijing and many people have started listening to those kind of records again. Quite a few labels have started to release vinyls and many second hand markets sell vinyls, too.”
How marginal phenomenon indie music is in China?
Liu Xinyu: ”Indie music in China has still a relatively small following. Seeing an indie band on TV or hearing them on the radio still doesn’t happen very often. Also, relatively well known Chinese indie artists don’t give many concerts. At most, they perform twice a month, and at least perhaps once every two months. When there are a few well-known indie bands playing together, the audience will at most be of between 600 and 900 people.”
Yan Yulong: ”But this is something that will change to the better in the future.”
Which was the last album you bought?
Liu Xinyu: ”The last album I bought was Beijing band Mr. Ray’s last album. Mr. Ray just celebrated their first anniversary and they are my favourite band in Beijing. Their style combines post-punk, no wave and psychedelic sounds. The songs are brief and the arrangements are minimal. An atonal guitar plays alongside a steady bass and jumping drums. Listening to their music brings to mind the 80’s and the famous CBGB club in New York. Their new album is totally DIY; they’ve recorded the songs with iPhones, printed the artwork and burned the cd’s themselves. There are only 100 copies.”
Yan Yulong: ”I haven’t bought a record in a long time…”
How global music business will change in next three years? How Asian bands will be involved in that change?
Liu Xinyu: ”As far as indie music goes, I think it might go back to something similar to the past. I think the vinyl and magnetic tape markets will develop considerably and the people who are willing to buy cd’s will diminish. Japanese bands are probably the most well known internationally, amongst all Asian bands. Japan’s pioneering music has greatly influenced the international music scene and so will China’s new sounds, in due time. ”
Yan Yulong: ”I can’t say how the music business will change on the global level but I think that the most outstanding Asian bands will gradually become more and more well known internationally.”
Which three things inspire you at the moment?
Liu Xinyu: ”Musically speaking, the three things that inspire me most right now are our new cd White Night (stream it here in full), which came out in November 2012, our upcoming/ongoing tour through Northern Europe and… that’s it, there’s no third one!”
Yan Yulong: ”I don’t usually get very excited about things!”
What do you expect from your visit Finland in general? What are your expectations of Finland as a country?
Liu Xinyu: ”I hope we’ll have the chance to get to know many Finnish bands and venues and I look forward to sharing the stage with them, exchanging experiences and just meeting new, interesting people.”
Yan Yulong: ”What interests me most about Finnish culture and history is the Finnish bands and cinema. My impression is that Finland is a country of ice and snow.”
Please recommend us an Asian band and tell us why we should listen to it?
Liu Xinyu: ”Beijing’s Snapline and their post punk/dance music. They’re strongly influenced by Suicide. There’s something depressive in their music, but mixed with a noisy guitar and unique melodies and lyrics the result is very special. Snapline’s music is quite westernized and I hope that music lovers in Finland will like it.”
Yan Yulong: ”All musicians and bands who’ve been invited to the famed Zooming Night series in Beijing are very good!”
Club Niubi presents: Chui Wan
15 March Turku, Dynamo (w/ Kevin)
16 March Helsinki, Cine Aasia @Dubrovnik (w/ Kevin)
20 March Oslo, Brugata
21 March Stockholm, Södra teatern (w/ Värddjuret)
22 March Gothenburg, Koloni
23 March Copenhagen, Global