Interview with Matthew Niederhauser

China Music Radar interviews Matthew Niederhauser, whose photography book Sound Kapital documents Beijing’s alternative rock scene:

[AH]: … My issue with the Western media is this idea that they take something, and if it’s hot and exciting, they’ll blow it out of all proportion. People are now expecting Beijing to be this melting pot of dynamicity and creativity. That concerns me, because these bands are still working their asses off to live up to this hype.

[MN]: That was also one of the things I’ve witnessed firsthand over the past two years. Seeing big sponsors get behind these bands, the international media attention. One of the things that drew me to this music in the first place is a sort of humbleness. They weren’t in a Brooklyn scene in New York that sucks. In some way it’s weird cause it’s a little bit early, especially looking at these younger bands playing college nights at D22 and other places. They still have to cut their chops for the next three or four years – I feel like they’re expecting some hype because they’re in Beijing and they’re in a band. Quite frankly, to sustain the Beijing music scene over the next few years there is going to have to be some new bands that step it up. I don’t think it’s gotten to the point where everything is being recycled, but it’s been reaching a zenith for a while.

[AH]: For years and years in this tiny scene there was no money, no hype. There was none of this current posturing, “we’re worth this”. For me, it doesn’t seem that the Chinese public has developed a love for the bands as quickly as the bands have developed a love for themselves.

[MN]: That’s the big thing that we’re going to see in the long run – the potential power in the Chinese scene is unlocking that domestic audience and acceptance.


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