In April 2011, I posted an interview with Josh Feola, co-founder of Beijing’s Pangbianr and central engine of Beijing’s DIY music community. Pangbianr, which translates loosely as ‘fringe’, was a wee one year old at the time, and was only beginning to feel its way, coalescing a sense of energy and self-sufficiency in the city’s underground music scene.
Almost two years later, Beijing DIY still feels like a nascent phenomenon, ever-morphing and ever on the brink of becoming (as any good DIY scene should). It’s more international than ever, hosting an increasing number of overseas acts, from punk to experimental to noise. At the same time, though, there are more mid to top-level labels in town, more of a push to ‘discover’ and promote Chinese rock – and an urge to become a ‘real’ band.
Contemporary China has a habit of building industries, or art complexes, for the sake of economy and reputation, overlooking the value in grassroots cultural communities. In this catch up interview, Josh gives an update on the scene, pointing to the value in the DIY ethos, and the dangers of commercialising too early.