Podcast Ep. #19: Chengdu Underground Music

Note: aside from the embedded podcast below, there is the Chengdu Underground Vibes documentary which is hosted on Youtube. If you’re viewing Chengdu Living from China, you will want to have a VPN on.

Chengdu underground music podcastIn this episode of the Chengdu Living podcast, Charlie sat down with local documentary producers Harry and Deven to talk about their most recent project, titled Chengdu Underground Vibes. Filmed and edited in the summer of 2016, this documentary is their most recent and most talked about, after producing some earlier works on subjects like electric bikes and tea house culture in Chengdu. In our conversation, we talk about subjects like:

  • How Deven and Harry met and got started working together
  • What inspires them to capture and publish local stories
  • Their experience speaking to dozens of local musicians, promoters and musicians to create this documentary
  • Our thoughts on Chengdu’s underground music scene: where it’s come from and where it’s going
  • International and local participants of the music scene, and how they interact
  • The peaks and valleys of the local scene: Dojo, The Poly Center, Strawberry Music Festival and more
  • Future projects, and more stories which are waiting to be told

Download & Stream Links

Download Episode #19

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Chengdu Underground Vibes on Youtube

14 thoughts on “Podcast Ep. #19: Chengdu Underground Music”

  1. Nice podcast, Deven + Harry definitely have upped their game on recent videos. I also had the question about what qualifies as “underground” and wasn’t *totally* satisfied by the response, but I sort of get where they’re coming from. It seems it’s one part musical style one part venue management (ie not running it like a classic tea-and-whiskey-warm-Carlsberg-no-dancing-cept-the-Michael-Jackson-impersonator-halftime-show-table-service Chinese club). Anyways, my misgivings about the liberal use of “underground” aside, nice chat and very cool documentation of the club scene here.

    • I hear you, in my opinion Dojo is the only thing in the documentary that qualifies as underground, but toward the end of Dojo it started to begin to lose that distinction. Poly Center was definitely underground at one point but Strawberry Music Festival never was. “International DJ scene” may be a more accurate description but it does not roll off of the tongue the way that underground does.

      But it is nice to see that someone is documenting this. There is another documentary about China’s music scene coming out soon which features footage from Chengdu and Chongqing. Here is the trailer for that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVl5dtqX6p4

  2. You’ll find that genuine “underground” music still has a pretty limited market in Chengdu. A few weeks ago the French noise band J.C Satan played a phenomenal set at Nu Art. To a crowd of maybe 20…..

    • The Anderson Paak show in Chengdu was supposedly amazing but also not very well attended. That is a real shame, a definite sign that Chengdu is not ready yet for the bookings on the Beijing/Shanghai tier. The audience is much larger and more well educated in those cities, although Chengdu’s music scene has advanced considerably in recent years. There is still a long way to go.

  3. It was a great gig, fanatic energy. I really like the space NU has for live bands too. The documentary these guys have put together is s good one, but I think a little misleading as to just how vibrant the music scene is here. admittedly they focused mostly on the EDM scene which I’m not that into..

  4. to be fair, I’ve never been in tag before 2.00am. I think chengdu is missing a venue like the original shapingba Nuts club(CQ). Decent size and not pigeon holed to one genre. techno one night, thrash metal the next. plus 5rmb cold snows. Also, chengdu needs an indie disco, chinese indie hipsters are an untapped resource.

    • The Shapingba Nuts club was indeed a lot of fun! I think the new Nuts in Jiefangbei is a better venue for live bands (larger, better sound, not as deafening) but not as great for DJ performances. I agree with you on the musical diversity. Indie disco in Chengdu would be fun! I hope that happens. I, like many here in the music scene, am getting tired of the Poly Center in general.

  5. Hello, I’ve been enjoying your podcasts that are available on Overcast. It seems that the first 10 aren’t on there now or on iTunes now. Any chance they’ll be put back up? I tried the streaming option you have on this site, but to be honest, it wasn’t working very well. Anyway, good stuff, hope to hear the first 10 sometime. Thanks!


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