Genjing Records: Connecting China’s Underground with the World, One 7″ at a Time
Let’s head off to Beijing to have a chat with Nevin Domer, US expat, musician and founder of Genjing Records, one of Asia’s leading underground hardcore, punk and left-field labels. We had a talk that will be leaving any Communist Party eavesdroppers on the line somewhat confused! We talked about the label’s creation, its ambitions and what’s coming next. Domer recalls that he started the label back in 2010 as a way for him to release records for his Beijing hardcore-punk band, Fanzui Xiangfa. He quickly realized that the label could also help other Chinese bands without access to the mainstream release vinyl, something that wasn’t happening in China at the time. He also wanted to provide a more DIY outlet for his musical endeavors while still employed at China’s biggest independent music label Maybe Mars.
Domer’s desire is that the label serve as the best curator for new music coming out of China, and although he says he is not focusing on any particular style, output tends to span punk and post-punk, as well as some (anti)folk and experimental music. Domer has, through the split 7″ concept, aimed to engage the Chinese underground scene with similar acts around the world.
“We function in a DIY way, not signing bands, which also allows us to do 7″s for bands on other labels and co-releases with labels abroad. We’ve focused mainly on 7″s so far and generally like to do splits with bands abroad as a way to bridge the gap between the Chinese scene and scenes abroad. We’ve worked with foreign acts like SS20 (Germany), Daighila (Malaysia), Tussle (USA), pg.lost (Sweden), God Bows To Math (New Zealand), Underground Lovers (Australia) and Flavor Crystals (USA). Each time, we pair them up with a similar Chinese act as a way to introduce them to audiences here while spreading awareness about the Chinese acts abroad.”
Genjing currently has 32 releases under its belt, most recently a split 7″ with Fanzui Xiangfa and Bad Nerve (Umeå, Sweden) and the Fanzui Xiangfa discography LP, both of which were released for their recent European tour. The label has also released a 7″ for Maybe Mars act AV Okubo titled Opium/Herion, produced by Andy Gill from Gang of Four. The A-side is from their Maybe Mars sophomore release, Dynasty. Genjing is about to release the new After Argument LP, This Is Not Your Game, a side project for PK14 frontman and Maybe Mars label head, Yang Haisong. It’s worth noting that the most recent PK14 album was produced by no less than Steve Albini.
Domer’s now a busy man with the label. There are three 7″s coming up in December. First, a rockabilly split with Beijing’s Rolling Bowling and Spain’s 13 Bats. There will also be a single with an unreleased B-side for the Maybe Mars band The Yours from Hong Kong — a band that started its career in the mid-2000s sounding like a wonderful fatal car crash between the Fall’s Live at the Witch Trials and My Bloody Valentine. Your writer remembers putting them on in a warehouse back in 2008 and they all turned up dressed like characters out of a D.H. Lawrence novel and made an unholy racket for 40 minutes or so. That still brings a smile. Their sound has somewhat matured over the years as studios and producers have worked on polishing them up. Check out the early Yours on YouTube and their most recent full length on Hong Kong’s Lona Records. Last, but by no means least, there’s a split release between Beijing’s Hot & Cold and Tonsstartsbandht from the US in the works.
Now, we know that it’s all well and good telling you about all this great new music, but anybody who’s actually tried to buy underground Asian music will know that it can be quite tough to actually locate what you want. But don’t worry, the releases are available in the US through Far Out Distant Sounds and in Australia through Tenzenmen. Anybody can download and listen to the mp3s from all the releases and upcoming ones here. They are available to stream on the Genjing Genjing Bandcamp page and are available for purchase worldwide from their website.
Metal Postcard Records, Hong Kong
This is a guest column from Maximum Rocknroll #379, which you can order here.