pangbianr radio: Lumi (Eastern Margins)

By , 2020年 4月 18日

For the latest episode of pangbianr radio I caught up with London-based DJ and promoter David Zhou, aka Lumi. Active on London’s “post-dubstep” landscape since 2009, Lumi’s main creative outlet now is Eastern Margins, “a platform for sounds from the margins of East & South-East Asia and its diaspora.” Launched two years ago as an event platform, Eastern Margins introduced a label arm in February with the release of Ill, the debut EP for Bo Ningen bassist/vocalist Taigen Kawabe. Just before that, they hosted Hong Kong label Absurd TRAX in London, where they’ve also crossed paths with Chinabot, a London-based label with a similarly diasporic roster but a more experimental sound. In addition to his work as a DJ/promoter, David is also a lawyer who formerly worked at Mixcloud and is now at TikTok.


I spoke with Lumi a few weeks ago about how Eastern Margins overlaps with and complements other labels in E/SE Asia and diasporas, how the pandemic is affecting his operations, and what alternative models may emerge in the post-Covid period to connect artists with fans in a way that’s both financially and culturally sustainable.

In the second half of the show, David selects some artists he’s been listening to recently from Tokyo’s rap scene, which in his telling has taken on a dynamic, idiosyncratic & weird form due in part to the way streaming infrastructure has been built in Japan over recent years: “These artists, who have been creating quite organically and quite DIY, all of a sudden they have a means to be able to bypass the traditional Japanese music industry infrastructure and get their music to an audience, [and don’t] have to rely on a big commercial hand from things like reality TV or other big tele productions.” (The latter point resonates with anyone familiar with how streaming shows like The Rap of China or its South Korean forebear Show Me the Money have shaped industry discourse around “hip hop” in those countries.)

Finally, David talks about music scenes in Saigon and Hanoi, where a massively growing economy and greater freedoms of communication than neighboring China “accelerate the channels for incubating culture” via “cultural understandings learned from elsewhere in the diaspora.”

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