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Chinese bands rock Europe

2014-03-31 16:20 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Si Huan

When Michael Vonplon from Switzerland came to China in the mid-1990s, he learned Mandarin and made lots of friends, becoming one of the first people to organize raves in China, such as the party on the Great Wall in 1998.

Almost 20 years on, he still puts on parties, but on a larger scale, such as the China Drifting Festival.

Under the label Miro China, which Vonplon founded in 2006, China Drifting Festival is a vehicle for the introduction of Chinese avant-garde music and visual arts in Europe. It has been held annually in Zurich, Switzerland, to expose Europe to the vibrant Chinese music scene.

In 2014, the festival will travel outside of Switzerland for the first time, making stops in Beijing, Shanghai and Berlin, Germany. It will be headlined by Beijing-based rock bands Re-tros (short for Rebuilding the Rights of Statues) and Pet Conspiracy, Shanghai-based Duck Fight Goose and Swiss band One Sentence. Supervisor.

"China Drifting evolved from my various previous projects. I wanted to create it as a brand for cultural exchange with China and establish a festival with this content - to have both sides working together on a creative and playful event and to shape and design the content on the same level," Vonplon says. "But it should also be an unpretentious party for people from different regions and with different backgrounds."

For Vonplon, there are few people in Europe who understand China and its underground music scene. "There are still a lot of prejudices against China, and I would like to surprise people with the country and its rebellious side. Not with the China you know from the media, the economic growth or traditional cliches, but with the progressive, open-minded and maybe sometimes also radical form of China," he says.

According to Tobias Walti from the China Drifting Festival, after years of efforts, the most popular Swiss act in China is Bubble Beatz who played at Midi Festival Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen in 2013.

As for Chinese artists touring Europe, he says that folk musicians like Hanggai and rock acts like Re-tros and Pet Conspiracy are familiar to many music lovers as they have been playing in Switzerland for some time.

"The different approach to music of the audience and the exposition to new places are very enriching. That's what we try to create with our China Drifting events," Walti says. "In previous years we focused more on acts from the electronic scene. Now we're focusing more on the indie scene."

One of the indie bands from China, Re-tros, who established their name in China's indie music scene in 2003, started to collaborate with Miro China two years ago and did a seven-country tour of Europe. They met up with Vonplon in Switzerland, who helped to organize the biggest show of their European tour in Zurich, with a crowd of nearly 500 people.

Formed in 2003 by singer-guitarist Hua Dong and singer-bassist Liu Min, the band was inspired by '70s post-punk masters like Bauhaus and Gang of Four. Drummer Ma Hui joined later.

The band has played an active role in China's indie music scene with their renewal of post-punk by incorporating synthesizers and evocative melodies.

In May 2013, Miro China helped Re-tros play one of the most famous music festivals in Europe, Kilbi Music Festival. The band shared a stage with Liars, the Flaming Lips and My Bloody Valentine.

"It was a big success and now people in Europe are beginning to know more about Chinese rock music through Re-tros, Miro China and, of course, this time, China Drifting," says Jacky Zhang Yi, manager of Re-tros.

Walti adds: "To me, it is a good sign that there are some Chinese bands, who can play in Europe in front of a sophisticated crowd and win them over with their music. This shows that the quality of their music has reached the same level as the music of Western bands."

If you go:

9:30 pm,March 28. Yugong Yishan, 32, Zhangzizhong Lu (Road), Dongcheng district, Beijing. 01064042711.

9:30 pm,March 29. Qianshuiwan Cultural Center, 179 Yichang Lu (Road), Putuo district, Shanghai. 02162663190.

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