Archives for category: Music

Back in Hangzhou a year back I briefly jammed with some peeps, something I had increasingly wanted to do ever since I realized I never had the opportunity to join any bad high school bands (the Marin Symphony Youth Orchestra doesn’t quite cut it in this area unfortunately). I provided more details in a some posts from way back when, but basically I joined them in May of 2010 (please see the appropriately named Hey Baby I’ll Make You a Star) and ended with the academic year that June (with the also appropriately named Last Jam). So a month and a half, maybe five or six jams total.

Point being, some jams have surfaced! Fabian made a cute little myspace page for us recently and uploaded some of our jams/songs/pieces. So buckle your hat, hold onto your pants, and close the door behind you as you enter the dark and jammy world of…

Señor Eddy & His Vaudeville Backyard Jass Catacombo

Below I’ve listed some of the better I’ve run across, with suggested starting times, since there’s a lot of chatter or aimless noodling between when people decide the next song has started. Their genre is hardcore post-indie, falling pretty much directly under steam-punk and rocket rock, though with more of an acousto-tronic vibe.

Number 1 (start at minute two)

Numba 2 (start at minute six)

Number 5 (start around minute 3:30-4) A quieter piece.

Spooky Music at a Distance (please ignore the rhythm issues for the first 20 secs… >.> )

Señor Eddy/鄂冬 (È Dōng), guitar, drums; Ask, drums; Emi, vocals; Michael, violin, guitar, piano, bass; Fabian, saxophone

Comment on this entry

I’ve been sitting on this song since two summers ago, but I thought I’d share it with the world at large after reading a random comment from a random article asking, “How soon will we hear the first fully computer-generated mashups?”

What was my methodology you ask? What algorithms did I use for my immensely laborious task of teaching a computer how to mix those beats so goddamn fresh? Well… my hard drive crashed. Hard. And in the recovery process, my computer decided to give back not the original songs but a Now That’s What I Call Music compilation of all the hottest hits from my collection, mixed just for me.

This mashup in particular caught my attention, though if I felt like diving back into it I might be able to find some mixes of equal or better quality. I present “Mine Again”, the original name of the track from Black Lab’s 2007 Passion Leaves No Trace (not recommended), which thankfully had no influence on the music. The first track of the hot new album by My Computer:


Successfully made it here, the day after finishing an… unpleasant finals week at the HNC (three papers, two finals, three days). Yay body not breaking down into component parts!

As an aside, I decided to just post some entries I had been slowing working on (/not working on) and not finished, and you can let your imagination fill in what more they might have contained. Honestly not going to have enough time to get back to them, the present is busy enough as it stands without having to worry about the past : ) Apologies for not updating enough, the school year has been a constant stream of Things. For your perusing pleasure: Tassie & Oz and What Work Unit Are You?

Chennai has been controlled chaos. The colony-era taxi blasting celebratory traditional music as it continually threads the needle between motorcycles and buses, the lively-suburb feel of the corner of Chennai I’m staying (with restaurants, shops, homes, apartments, temples, stands, all along one main busy tree-covered road that motorists share with pedestrians), constant honking (though unlike China for actually purpose)…

Thankfully (a big big thankfully) Shakthi helped me get situated, letting me to stay in her apartment while she was off in Goa with some friends celebrating her birthday (she’ll be back tomorrow). I arrived at the airport at 8am, got to her apartment by 9:30am where Mani the watchman–with b/w photo of me in had–greeted me and led me to the ground-floor apartment. Therein were her cook and her cook’s son, with key in hand and lunch in the fridge.

Her friend Aniruddh, who lives down the street (~15 min walk), arrived just after I’d settled down, and after chatting a bit we headed over to his place. There we proceeded to drink cups upon cups of chai and listen to Indian classical music and nerd out. Ani, who is much more knowledgeable about classical music than I am, helped me analyze through all the listings of concerts for the day and pick out one close by a young vocalist Abishek Raughuram whom I sampled on youtube and was sold:

Mine ended up being sponsored by Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited : )

We took a couple minute walk down to the beach, then out shopping for some stuff for dinner (Ani was going to have a friend over for dinner), before coming back to the apartment. After a while I took an auto (auto-rickshaw) to the concert location, a small single hall temple flush next to stores and restaurants outfitted with a hundred-odd plastic lawn chairs. A 50INR ticket (~$1.10) got me entrance and I stayed for the whole concert, from 6:30pm til 9:15pm. Abishek was accompanied by a violinist and two percussionists (mridangam rather than tabla like in video, as was Carnatic music), and he would often trade off with the violinist, which I enjoyed muchly.

Then it was an auto back to Ani’s place, meeting Ani’s friend, dinner leftovers (nom nom nom), and back to the apartment for night.

Today has been sleep recovery, and internet recovery, currently at Ani’s place drinking chai, listening to vocal music and tip tap typing away.

Much love!

Comment on this entry

As part of a weekend of performance, I played with the Nanjing University Symphony Orchestra [南京大学交响乐团] on Friday with a Chinese choir at the new Nanjing University campus far from the city center. An oodle of center students and friends (~8) came to watch the performance, which went pretty well, considering that the orchestra is probably a bit worse than MSYO back in the day (though perhaps my memories are rosy with time).

Some pictures Breeana was kind enough to share with me.


The chorus was quite glowing.

After the performance I spotted my International Law 国际法 professor in the audience and said hi, though he was pretty embarrassed since he had cancelled class that whole week (included that very day!) due to business things (turns out he had to show around some visiting academics or something).

While the center peeps enjoyed the show, what they REALLY enjoyed was meeting the conductor, whose portable sheep of a haircut instantly won them over:
Me, Tammie, Alysson, our librarian from the center (part of the choir!), librarian friends surrounding Mr. Lv Xiaoyi 吕晓一 the conductor, Hanna, Breeana, 常妙 Chang Miao (Alysson’s roommate), and Cooper (cut off).

And one of just Cooper, myself, and that glowing, haloed man


On Saturday the orchestra headed to Suzhou to perform and accompany some pianists. Cooper didn’t come so it was just me representing the foreign contingent of the orchestra. Woke up at 6:45am (8am) to find out that in the process of turning off my alarm, getting out of bed, and taking a shower I had somehow lost an hour and fifteen minutes. Got to the bus just as it was leaving and promptly napped the three/four hours to Suzhou. Nice big banquet lunch, rehearsal, cafeteria dinner (played Mafia 杀人 on the bus to and from which was a lot of fun), lousy performance, back on bus, napping the way back, in the center ~1:30am, with the center Halloween well over and me tired. More of a meh, especially since the performance wasn’t good. You know if if the orchestra isn’t that amazing there are usually two types of concerts, the ones where the orchestra screws up but the audience doesn’t notice and the ones where the orchestra screws up and the audience can’t help but notice? Yeah… Doesn’t improve the situation when the conductor rushes three out of the five pieces. Still a nice experience though : )

Comment on this entry

Today was an experiment. It was Sunday, and I woke up at 7:10am (7:45am). Shower, collect things, out. Get a 鸡蛋饼 egg omelet thing off a street vendor for breakfast, then wait for the car to pick me up. A mid-aged man with perm-curled, white-dyed hair pulls up, Cooper in the back tells me to get in, and off we go.

The man whose talk on Sino-Japanese relations cuts through my foggy sleep-deprived mind is the conductor of the local orchestra, and his artistic affectation of a head of hair is a testament to his position. When the talk expands to pan-East Asian relations, he mentions that one time at a McDonalds a group of Korean students started hitting him, thinking he–with his artistic shock of hair–was Japanese.

The ride is 40 minutes long to the new Nanjing University campus where we hold rehearsal, and Cooper assures me the subway takes just as long. Although because it’s so far outside the traditional definition of “the city”, I’m rather impressed the subway gets there in the first place.

We arrive at 9am, I slide myself into an empty seat in the second stand of the second violins, while Cooper goes for the second stand of the firsts, at it begins. My first participation with an orchestra (rather than a certain music ensemble) since 2005.

We don’t play symphonies; instead, the music is mostly overtures or songs. Things like Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, the overture to Verdi’s La Traviatta, the Nanjing University school song, and two Chinese songs: one of which the title escapes me, and the other 去一个美丽的地方 Going to a Beautiful Place.

We rehearse from 9am til 11:45am, then take a lunch break (at the cafeteria) before continuing at 1:00pm. As we begin again, a large group of elderly people, the chorus, filters into the room. The chorus director takes over conducting the orchestra, and then we are away, playing these various songs with choral accompaniment. The song it works best for, by far, is Going to a Beautiful Place, a lush, pretty, almost-interesting piece.

Energy starts to sag around 3pm, but we are driven to play over and over again the complete songs. I’m already hating La Traviatta. We finally break at 4:30pm under the influence of the orchestra conductor, this time for the day. I am ready for a nap.

The conductor is kind enough to drive us back to our neighborhood (where he lives), and I get back to the Center by 5:45pm, and promptly fall asleep for a couple hour nap.


In two weeks the orchestra will be going to Suzhou to perform, and I think I’ll accompany. Post that performance I’ll reevaluate my time commitment, especially since it eats Sundays with no qualms. In November/December they are heading to Japan, but I don’t think I’ll last that long nor be able to take off class for the long weekend that would entail. An entertaining thought though : )

Comment on this entry

On Names

So. At long last I have decided on my new Chinese name for myself. I couldn’t go around being an amalgamation of Western fast-food chains and globalization for ever, and so it came to pass that I am now 胡波 Hu Bo (Hú Bō, Who Bwah). Could be translated as “Whisker Wave” or “Foreign Wave”, things like that. Influenced by Hu Shih and Liu Xiaobo. Hu Shih was the Chinese intellectual influenced by John Dewey I did my thesis on, you can read about Liu Xiaobo in this well-timed IHT article.

Speaking of names, yesterday a fellow student (an Australian hipster) came into my dorm room while I was away and yelled at my roommate because I had the same Chinese name as him (I had given the Center an interim name between my old Maiken and the new Hu Bo) and he flipped out for a good 20 minutes. Apparently the name had been passed down to him from Chinese adopted parents or some crazy story like that and as such HE OWNED THE NAME. I ran into him at a party last night and he told me how not okay it was that we had the same name… I was like: “Well, we ARE in China, so I can guarantee that there are probably other people with your name…” But then I also told him that I had changed my Chinese name anyway, so no need to constantly flip the fuck out. That seemed to do the trick. But seriously… China? Name? Unique? You’re kidding me right? I told him to go google his name. Angriest. Hipster. Ever.

FUNNY STORY. I’ve told this before so apologies for repeating, but I find it Mighty aMoosing and would like to share it with the class. The setting is dinner sometime last week, and we were talking about a Chinese idiom 入乡随俗 (literally “enter village follow customs”), which people usually translate as “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. The Chinese didn’t know the Romans back then however, so more accurately it should be “when in a village, do as the village people do”…

On Music

Last Saturday night went out to my first music event here in Nanjing, saw the band Miserable Faith 痛苦的信仰 at a small club. It was pretty nice, the first time I saw them was at the West Lake Music Festival in Hangzhou (they’re the ones playing in the one video of that entry), so it was nice to see them up close and personal. Midway through the second song the speakers blew out (or something) emitting this air raid siren sound, with only the drums and rhythm guitar still carrying. And so there was a drums and rhythm guitar solo. It was pretty silly, they handled it well.

Two days ago on the 22nd was Mid-Autumn Festival, and the weather accordingly dropped ten degrees Celsius (to the much more reasonable ~24 degrees). The Center had an event in celebration, with various performances by students, whether stand-up, music, or story-telling (as was the case for one adorable five-year old child of a Center person). I helped out a group of cool kids do a (fake) Mongolian minority song called Three Auspicious Treasures 吉样三宝 (fake because it’s in Mandarin and written in 2003 by a Han). Let a friend (Tammy) use my violin, during practice played backing guitar, then brought in another friend (Hanna) to play guitar, then brought in another person (Stan) to do the male singing part, so I ended up having the role of surprise sign-holder so the audience could sing along. Aaah nothing quite like shirking responsibility! Though I honestly do enjoy being the behind-the-scenes person making sure everything goes well. The performance itself was quite enjoyable and very silly. You can watch a video of it to see just how ridiculous it is. The female singer (Jessica) added a couple of her own lines about the Center that were very amusing. Note in the song how the chorus ends just like Afternoon Delight…!

Here’s a random picture of us at the end, from left to right: me, Tammy, Jessica, Stan, and Hanna. My sign says ‘Sing!’, one of the response lyrics. It was cool believe me!

The day before we did an impromptu late-night hallway performance of Best Coast’s Boyfriend (streamed) with Hanna on singing&guitar and me on guitar, which was fun. Maybe do a bandy-ness at some point, assuming we all don’t die of homework overload. Also through the connection of a friend (Cooper) might join the local orchestra, since it’s been a while : )

Comment on this entry

On Sunday it was a lovely day, so I biked over to the downtown side of the West Lake where the West Lake Music Festival was having its last day of festivities. The line-up wasn’t quite as nice as the music festival back in October/November, but I knew all the Chinese bands from past samplings in non-live form and it would be good fun.

The West Lake on the way there.
I still can’t figure out how to unbend panoramas well.

Got there during an Italian medieval ambient group Ataraxia’s set, wandered around a bit. Afterward was a nice, very Brit rock, Chinese band Re-TROS (complete with British accents). PK14 followed, which I wasn’t a fan of, and during it all I got near to the end of the book I brought (The Unbearable Lightness of Being).

Finally came the highlight, Queen Sea Big Shark 后海大鲨鱼.


Hear Hard Heart 硬心 on Youku.

The girl who fronts the band, Fu Han 付菡, has become something quite popular with the indie/whatever crowd, with various stage antics and really getting into the music, and she didn’t disappoint.

Afterward I wandering outside of the festival area to find some food, and came across a nice fruit shop with some really nice looking yangmei 杨梅, the newly-discovered fruit from the Shanghai adventure. Bought two-thirds a jin (two-thirds a half-kilo basically?) and returned to the festival munching.

What they look like, partially-eaten.

Up next was a British band I hadn’t hear of before, These New Puritans, who were really terrible, and it was around 8pm, so I decided to set the banana stand on fire and bike back. A nice night.

And today I finished Unbearable Lightness, which perhaps most people have read before since it’s pretty famous and all and it’s got a lovely film made out of it but I would definitely recommend it if you haven’t. Thank you Bridget for recommending it to me!

West Lake Music Festival 2010 西湖音乐节 was originally published on Travellerspoint.

Comment on this entry | | |

A recent album that has quite taken my fancy, Tame Impala’s debut Innerspeaker on Modular Recordings is a rich, laid-back update to the 60s psychedelic sound. The immediate comparison that comes to mind is of a cross of Grizzly Bear’s harmonizing vocals with the Black Angels’ pulsing psychedelic rock. Two songs that I can easy recommend are the album opener “It Is Not Meant To Be” and the thirdsie “Alter Ego”. Interspersed in the album are some nice instrumental tracks (“Jeremy’s Storm”, “The Bold Arrow of Time”), reminiscent of the days when such tracks were fixtures on classic psychedelic rock albums (like “Section 43” on Country Joe & the Fish’s Electric Music for the Mind and Body). A great debut and easily recommended!

Tame Impala – Alter Ego:

  • The past weekend involved one friend’s birthday and three first-time visits to clubs here in Hangzhou, one of which was on the invitation of one of the djs there, a Japanese named Yoshimaru, who we unintentionally thought was rather named Yoshi Mario. Had an enjoyable time, though I have no particular desire to return to those clubs. Danced to music that ran the gamut from German techno (Yoshi Mario), live Chinese hip-hop, and the more usual bland club music. One song stuck in my head that I pretended the DJs played: Zeigeist – Humanitarianism
  • Finished my entry for Wenhai village, a remote village on the slopes of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain near Lijiang that I partly horseback rode to and spent three days two nights in before hiking back. Definitely the most ‘village-homestay’ experience I had, and surrounded by beautiful scenery.
  • Ran across a very good article that highlights some of problems China shares with Thailand in relation to the recent events in Thailand. Even mentions a very appropriate situation that happened here in Hangzhou two years ago. WSJ: Thai Turmoil Resonates in China
  • Just in case you missed it, them intarwebs has finally been restored in Xinjiang, after ~10 months being shut down following the July riots. So that’s nice of them.
  • Also, an audio recording of the Kent State shootings has surfaced and been analyzed, and the researchers believe it points to a direct order for the National Guardsmen to fire at the students. Pretty big news considering the question marks that have hovered over the shooting over the years.

Grabag was originally published on Travellerspoint.

Comment on this entry | | |

Sunday had an experience I’ve been wanting to do but not pursuing for some time: playing around / jamming with some peeps. An Austrian friend Fabian invited me to meet at a random Chinese dorm on campus at 4pm, where we met another one of their band (Eddie, Chinese). We headed down to the dorm’s Air Raid Shelter Basement, passed through three submarine-style reinforced metal doors, walked through the darkness ’til we hit one last set of metal doors into a comfy, lit room of amps and instruments.

Brought my violin, ended up starting on an electric piano Eddy brought, which was very enjoyable. Fabian plays sax as well as some bass and drums, Eddy plays guitar as well as drums and xiao (vertical flute), Michael ended up playing piano as well as melodica, rhythm guitar, some bass, and violin (too quiet). Next time I’ll bring the violin pickup I made and we’ll see how that works out. Played random jammy rockness, very fun and just serious enough. Ended up heading out for din din at 8:30pm, split at ~10pm. Fabian gave me a call about how he and Eddy’ll talk to the other members about adding a ‘yanist, as they’ve got a gig coming at the end of May, which was nice. Looking forward to future jenga jams.

Hey Baby I’ll Make You a Star was originally published on Travellerspoint.

Comment on this entry | | |