Interview with Kunming’s Québec Redneck Bluegrass Project

By , 2010年 10月 23日

I have fond memories of time spent in Yunnan, many of which are obscured by baijiu. But I have definitely never partied with these guys. Almost certainly Kunming’s only “redneck bluegrass” band, these Québecois mix French, English, Chinese, Kunming hua, and mouth-harp in a cauldron of baijiu and stale Dali beer. Makes me extremely nostalgic for Yunnan and anxious for them to bring their unique musical concoction to Beijing…

pangbianr: What drew you all to China in the first place and specifically Kunming/Yunnan? How long have you been in China? how did you get about making music/starting a band there?

Québec Redneck Bluegrass Project: We have been based in Kunming for 6.9 years… well actually 6 years and 9 months. Before, we travelled in SE asia and heard that China had the cheapest beer in Asia, so it was an easy decision. But we still spend more money on beer than on rent. Also, Kunming is a really cheap place to live, and the girls are famous for not being so pretty, so it’s way easier for us to score. Also, there´s no other bluegrass bands in town, so we were sure we would be the best.

pbr: QRBP seems to draw from a lot of different influences – both linguistically and in terms of the content of the lyrics, and of course the music itself. What are some of your musical influences? Obviously the base is bluegrass and there is some very impressive guitar work on display, but I also picked up some seemingly Chinese elements like the “mouth harp” you always see folk musicians playing in Yunnan…

QRBP: Our main influences are Tupac and Enya. Tupac may have been a bad ass gangster, but he secretly loved mullets, tractors and sleeping with his relatives. Enya´s music is obviously amazing, but like us, she just has one set of grandparents. Also, she loves getting wasted on baijiu, which is our main Chinese influence. The mouth harp is really cheap and easy to play, so we had to use it.

pbr: As for the lyrics, how much is drawn from your China experiences? I think I’ve had some similar experiences to what you describe in “Didier” so i’m guessing this may have been a Kunming exchange…

QRBP: The lyrics are about our lives, which consist of getting wasted, hunting, darts, engines, guns, gasoline, dodging the police, taxidermy, getting wasted, bowling and collecting sea shells. Which, in case you didn´t know, is really rock and roll.

pbr: Linguistically, you mix English, Québecois and Kunminghua… it sounds great to me though I can’t understand most of it. How did you pick up the Kunminghua? Can you share some key phrases??

QRBP: We picked up many useful phrases of kunminghua, but we got our asses kicked too often to share them.

pbr: How does QRBP fit in with other bands? Do you play with mostly Chinese bands, or Laowai bands, or a mix? Do you play with bands that play a similar style or is it all over the map?

QRBP: We´ve played with magicians, models, chickens (at the biggest cock festival in Yunnan), Michael Jackson impersonators, karaoke singers, deathcore metal bands, breakdancers, the laser guy and also some good Chinese bands like Yerboli Kazakh Spirit, AK-47, Made in Dali, 脑震荡, Noise Addiction. Everything except a bluegrass band.

pbr: Have you played out much besides Kunming? I’m curious how these different scenes compare.

QRBP: We just played the Snow Mountain Festival in Lijiang, which almost all of us remember. In 2008 we did the Welfare Tour to Laos, Thailand and India. This year we did the Sweet Mama Tour in Canada. And we´re planning a national tour of Bhutan next year. But also The Suckin’ Robot tour of China next January. To as many places as we can. A North Korean tour is our dream for the future.

pbr: What is your favorite place to play in KM? Can you give a quick synopsis of the key live music clubs, their strengths and weaknesses and what kinds of bands usually play at each?

QRBP: Each place has different qualities, but the crappy disco with the bikini girls has to be number one. We´re still waiting to hear if we can play at the local prison. Outside the Carrefour on NanPing Jie is a pretty good spot to make a few kuai. As for bars, The Hump, LaoWo, LaBa, Speakeasy (RIP) and Halfway House are all good fun.

pbr: Do a lot of touring bands come through KM? What would be your advice to a band thinking of coming through?

QRBP: Quite a few come through actually, but not enough. One piece of advice would be not to charge 250Y at the door like a certain German popstar… Also, before getting naked on stage, check if there´s any kids around. Because their parents will get angry. Horse and carts are not allowed downtown anymore. But you can always use our stable on GuLou Lu. For touring comfort, you can order an electric pulley bed and have it delivered and installed for 6000Y. But if you don´t have that kind of cash you can rent the bed plus a local girl for 400Y a night. Don´t buy coke off Johnny because it´s shit. Don´t mistake baijiu for a banjo. And most importantly, if you sleep with your cousin, don´t tell anyone because people are really prejudiced about that.

pbr: Any interesting stories/thoughts you’d like to share about QRBP or Kunming music scene in general?

QRBP: Not really, we spend most of our time indoors watching wrestling and monster truck dvds.

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