By Josh, 2010年 12月 22日
《 查看中文采访 》
Music writer and sound artist Yan Jun has been active in Chinese experimental music since its inception in the mid-1990s. He launched publishing platform Subjam in 2001 and Kwanyin Records a few years later. Through these two labels he has produced hundreds of experimental recordings, documents of live performances, publications, videos, event series, and sound art exhibitions.
From June 2005 through January 2010 he organized a weekly showcase of extreme rock, laptop compositions, harsh noise, and other forms of sonic strangeness under the name Waterland Kwanyin. Later in 2010, Subjam collaborated with UCCA in 798 on a monthly event series, which will culminate in a performance this Saturday (view douban event). I talked to Yan Jun about the history of Subjam, his motivations for organizing Waterland Kwanyin, how the UCCA series fit into the evolution of Subjam’s engagement with experimental music in Beijing, and his plans for the future.
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pangbianr: When did you start Subjam?
Yan Jun: In 1998 I made a small magazine and I thought, “Ok, I need a title now.” Subjam jumped in my head. But that was only one small book. Two years later in Beijing I started to use this name for a label. I had a Chinese name too, TIE TUO. We used this name in 2001 but later we stopped using it. TIE TUO means very supportive. More than fans, more than a groupie. It means a supporter. TIE means very good relationship. In Beijing we say “TUO” when I’m selling something and you’re my friend, you come to buy this again and again, you make other people believe this is a good thing. So TIE TUO means a strong supporter.
pbr: What artists were you working with when Subjam started as a label?
YJ: The first release was a compilation. My book, Noises Inside, was a collection of reviews. I decide to make a compilation [also called Noises Inside] that included ZUO XIAO ZU ZHOU, SHE TOU (Tongue), YOU DAO SHE (Lure), WANG FAN, FENG JIANGZHOU, HU MA GE… everything I could find at that time, every underground thing: some noise, some experimental rock. After this I released P.K. 14 and SHE TOU, their live recording, and NAO ZHUO (Brain Failure). We started from rock. After that was WANG FAN (experimental) and SUN DAWEI (electronic). By 2004, we had released 15 or 16 titles. After that I decided to do more. I started to make music myself. I decided to make more releases as just sound or more experimental music, so we started a new label. LAO ZHAO (Christiaan [Virant]) and Zhang Jian from FM3, Wang Fan, Wu Quan and I started this new label: Kwanyin Records. Now Subjam is more like a company, a group, a mothership. No more music released on Subjam, just Kwanyin records.
pbr: What were some of the earliest musical influences for the first generation of experimental musicians in Beijing and China?
YJ: The influence was actually just DA KOU [打口碟 — smuggled cds], rock and roll or a little bit extreme rock and roll. In the mid-90s, the first generation of experimental musicians, without exception, everyone was rocker. So I wanted more rock, more hard or extreme or loud. I needed a more extreme direction, so just discover from DA KOU. For example, the label Earache, that was a death metal label but they released some really extreme things like John Zorn’s Painkiller and Kevin Sharp’s solo project, and Justin Broadrick from Godflesh, something from the underground scene but a little bit avant garde or experimental. This feeling was very experimental for the rockers. I think they were hungry, looking for everything different, looking for everything extreme.
So on one hand, looking for the DA KOU [was an early influence]. On the other hand they’re trying to make something with guitar and synthesizer, and 4-track recorder. In the mid-90s people did a lot of experimental stuff, but it’s not really experimental music, just experiments about how to make rock music or songs strange. But later some people like LI JIANHONG and WANG FAN start to try really different ways to make noise using some machines. So I don’t know how to say where’s the influence, I think it’s half influenced from everywhere, from the mess of the DA KOU, and they have a very strong desire to do something. At that time there was a very underground feeling because in the 90s this country was very boring. After Ju//e fourth, people were just feeling disappointed. It’s like, “OK, now we have chance to make more money, to change our life, so let’s do it.”
pbr: When did you begin the Waterland Kwanyin concert series?
YJ: 5 years ago. Yesterday I read an article I wrote in 2004. I tried to describe what will happen in the next year. I said, “There will be more small concerts, more experimental activities, more strange musicians.” And then next year I had the will, I wanted to do something, and then I found 2Kolegas. I found this place and I found some people to work together. That was June 2005. Actually I just wanted to find a place for myself and my friends. At the end of 2004 I went to Europe for the first time with FM3 and WU QUAN. There was also another group organized by YAO DAJUN, it was LI JIANHONG and WANG CHANGCUN and ZHONG MINJIE from Guangzhou. We met in Paris and Brussels and after one concert in Brussels, WANG CHANGCUN got a contract with Sub Rosa and released an album. That was his only time in Europe and outside of China.
After that trip, I was very excited. I came back to Beijing and organized some small concerts, but I felt I don’t want to play after a rock band, I want to play with some more little bit pure feeling [pure nose/experimental musicians]. I wanted a quiet environment. 2Kolegas is not a quiet place, but it’s very warm. I was accustomed to River Bar, a very important place for the for the folk music scene, the singer/songwriter scene. Some underground bands also hung out there. There was a little bit hippie style, family feeling. So when I went to 2Kolegas for the first time I thought, “Wow, it’s another River. I love it!” I forgot I wanted to find a quiet place. I think 2Kolegas is not so professional, so I decided to do that. This makes everything very easy, very warm, very loose. I didn’t design that, but everything — the people from 2Kolegas, the environment — everything together makes the result. But now I changed my mind again.
pbr: So Waterland Kwanyin started in June 2005 and ended December 2009?
YJ: The last one was this year  actually, January 16. There were 167 times [total]. Always changing… In the very beginning there was a lot of improvisation, instrument-based improvisation, because FM3 and instrument players always joined. Sometimes we even had CUI JIAN, XIE TIAN XIAO. Once I said to XIE TIAN XIAO, “You should come on stage and play some improvised guitar. You should try.” After playing he asked me, “Do you think this is ok? I’m not sure…” That was a very good concert actually, but he was… he wasn’t sure, maybe that was his only time to play like that on stage.
Then there was maybe one year of a lot of laptop. It’s like everyone who came to China and contacted me was a laptop player. And then, next period everyone was harsh noise. I didn’t design this but it always changed. And audience always changed. There was about a year where every show had 150 people, except winter, in winter only sometimes 50, but it’s quite a lot. That was very successful. This success made me think it’s good, but I don’t like that. I know I have this ability, I am maybe a very good party host, but I want to do something else. I want to do something more. I want to have a good music environment. So I start to think how to change. One day, I think, “OK, stop.” Now I think we are in a very hard time.
yan jun + … + vavabond – June 26th trio at ucca by Sub Jam
pbr: How did you initially get involved with UCCA?
YJ: Actually they invited me. This is the second time people from UCCA invited me. The second time was Cui Qiao. We had collaborated on MIDI Festival. Cui Qiao [worked for] the Goethe Institute, and after that she changed her job to UCCA. She started to make UCCA like a supermarket with thousands of events, everything, put everything into the space. But anyway I know her before that, so she invited me to do something. That was end of last year I think. I really loved 2Kolegas because the people, the sound system and the space, the feeling is very… it’s not the best soundsystem but very good for my music actually, I like it. But I hate the bar feeling, you know. While you’re playing some people shout at the bar, maybe just lovely drunk people, your friends maybe. I think maybe let’s try some different place, a quiet place. The result was a big fail[ure]. But it makes me know more, makes me know about this time, this country, this cultural situation. So I think, “OK, you lost something, you get something. That’s balance.” I was very disappointed. Almost everyone involved in these UCCA concerts had this disappointed feeling, but I think, “OK, we get some knowledge, it’s a good lesson.”
pbr: Why were you disappointed?
YJ: They’re trying to do something very Western, professional, mechanical. Like I call, we talk, and we decide to do something. But no more support [beyond that]. For example, the acoustics in the space are not good, and the environment, and the audience… The most disappointing thing is I like to make something, not just organize something. I want to talk, to think with the organizer, with the venue people. [I like to] spend some time to eat something, drink something, to talk not about the concert but about everything. You have to waste some time to create. I want to create something with people, but they [are] just … very capitalis[tic]: “Let’s make more production in the shortest time with very few resources.” The feeling is too much like capitalism.
We did have some audience, but 99% were just tourists. This is a time of tourism, it’s a douban time, a douban culture. You get thousands of pieces of information, invitations, and suggestions in one day, and you pick up everything as “I’m interested in this this event, I’m interested in this guy,” but you don’t have time to go to the concert, you don’t have time to listen to this guy. You don’t have any patience to focus on anything. Compared to several years ago, the underground time, it’s like everything you want 10 years ago, now you have it. This is your dream. Ok, you have your dream! And now you are just a tourist of the world. “You” means the “qingnian”, my generation and younger. Of course we are lovely people, we love the culture, we love art, we love music, but we lost the patience. We’re just tourists from one new phenomenon to another new phenomenon, from one kind of music to another kind of music, from music to exhibition, from exhibition to party, to, you know… We just move, and make a mark on the map and take a picture, “I’m here, bye bye.”
So this UCCA [series] gave me a very very good lesson about the “supermarket” and tourist culture of this time. It’s not only about culture, it’s about this time, this society. I have more knowledge about this new form of capitalism. I extended my mind to some place beyond, I think about something I [wasn’t able to] answer 10 years ago. 10 years ago I think new is good, different is good, it is what we are trying to find and trying to create. Now I know “new” is just an illusion. “New” is not my logic, it’s capitalism’s logic. “New” is a lie, actually. It’s not about possibility, it’s just killing the possibility. Capitalism’s culture is always the same: we are creating a new thing, we are discovering the possibilities of the world, of everything. But this discovery is actually to manage it, to name it, to fix it. After this, no more possibilities. Real possibility means you have to keep something in the unknown, in the mystery, in the chaos. So now I rethink everything in my mind since 15 years ago, 10 years ago, and now I feel very happy. I worked with UCCA 12 times this year, and it’s helped me to improve my mind. It’s good. I think now the next step will be more clean. I feel it’s a very hard time.
pbr: What do you plan for this last performance at UCCA?
YJ: Before I thought I’m angry, I want to… fuck… I want to destroy! I want to use very powerful low-frequency sound, I want to rent two subwoofers to destroy, for example, the ugly [chandelier], AI WEIWEI’s work. I want to do something very aggressive. But now I decided I won’t do anything, I’ll just go there, I won’t make any sound. Now I have to work with these people. During the Waterland Kawnyin years I worked with a lot of musicians and other people, I worked with these lovely people, but now I think every one of us is in this situation. Isolated as an island in this tourist [system]. So I want to work with them again, or at least I want to talk with them again. A lot of my friends feel so powerless. Life is better: more information, more art, more everything, but it’s more boring and I can’t do anything, this feeling. So I want to talk with them, I want to share my mind with them. I think this concert is actually not a concert for other people, it’s for [us]. I want to meet them, have this reason to meet them, and share this. I wrote an email to them, I said, “This is a chance to face … the reality.” I want to talk about reality. I feel quite lonely, but I think I’m not the only one. I want to talk about this. I don’t think I can find a lot of audience this time, so I want to work, I want to talk with this group of people, and in the future I want to work, I want to talk, I want to make music for small audiences. Just come back, come back, smaller, smaller, and smaller, but just like…. to have less “girlfriends” [laughs].
pbr: What is your plan for Subjam and Kwanyin in the future?
YJ: I think in the future I [want to] make more creation, more than organizing. And organizing, for me, will be more like another kind of creation. I need more reason to organize something. So come back to make more exciting feeling for myself… it’s not just “Hey, next Sunday we have concert, please come with your instrument.” No, no more. I want to talk with people. “Why do we do this?” And also I think I have a more clean mind, clean thoughts about music. For Subjam, whatever the release and the concert, whatever it is, I think we will have clear direction. You have to be very clear inside of this great mess. I want to make something more extreme. You have to go extreme to survive. This is a really hard time. If you want to survive you have to go extreme, you have to be very clear. Now it’s not very exciting to discover everything, all the possibility of sound, focus on less things but dig in deeper. Now I’m thinking, “What is the music i’m making?” I think it’s music for listening. Of course you can use music in a bar, you can play music for your party, your lunch, your writing, and also music for film, music for dreaming, for crying, for dance, for making love. But I want to make music for listening. I mean less chance to be used, to be shared. I will lose 90% of my audience because I will refuse that you use my music for a purpose. I will choose my audience, I will choose my listener. I think this is the only way to survive in this time.
I’m coming to a very thin door. I try to go through this thin door. I opened Subjam for anyone, myself and my colleagues, my friends. We don’t think we are unique, we are artists, we are different people, we are high people, but we are normal people. The difference between artists and other people is artists are more normal, I think. So we are open, we are trying to open these possibilities. I think next year I will do a small tour in Beijing. I’ll go to audience’s home to play. We create a special environment, a special space to play. I’m sure I can play for anyone, whatever his background. I will make a very good communication between this sound, this music. I can do that. So less audience but higher, better results, better connection. This is the next step. Actually this thought is very important. The form, the result is not important.
Recent release from Mini Kwanyin, a new Subjam production spun off from Kwanyin Records (design by Ruan Qianrui):
You know in the last 2 years of Waterland Kwanyin I really felt lost, I felt tired and lost. I can’t trust myself, I didn’t know the future, [what] to do. RUAN QIANRUI asked me once, when he joined us, “Do you know what’s the next step, what’s the future of Subjam?” I said, “Sorry, I don’t know, but maybe we can discover this together.” We shared the hard time, and now I think we are very clear. It’s not only from UCCA, it’s also from myself. I was lost for a very long time. That was very painful. To think about what is music for me. To think what I will do in this world. Who am I? I’m a writer? I’m an artist? I’m a musician? I have thought about this a lot. Subjam evolved to a lot of musicians, a lot of people, so I think, “Ah, we are [influential].” But now I don’t care about this. This is just an illusion. I had a lot of illusions and now I think illusion is everywhere and I am more experienced with illusions. This is a very interesting feeling. A lot of illusions. I think my generation of musicians had a lot of problems inside, a lot of problems from the 90s and then we keep this as a kind of treasure. We have some memories, we have problems, we have some questions. I think this is our treasure. And now I’m using, I’m [digging into] this treasure. I enjoy that. It didn’t just start from UCCA. It started from Waterland Kwanyin, it started from underground rock…
To receive more Subjam updates, join their mailing list by contacting Yan Jun: Subjam Mailing List
颜峻： 最早的发行是一本我写的评论集——《内心的噪音》。当时我也决定做一个合辑，也叫”内心的噪音“，里面包括左小祖咒，舌头，诱导社，王凡，丰江舟，胡吗个……所有我在那个时期能够找到的，能够听到的，所有来自地下的声音：一些噪音，实验摇滚等等。在这之后我发行了P.K 14和舌头的现场CD，还有脑浊。我们从摇滚乐开始，然后过渡到风格偏向实验的王凡和孙大威。到2004年为止，我们总共发行了十五六张吧。之后我决定做更多的事情，尝试更多的可能性。首先我开始了自己的声音创作，同时我希望尽可能多地发行一些实验音乐或声音作品，这就有别于我们之前所做的一些项目，所以我们决定创立一个全新的厂牌。于是，来自FM3的老赵和张荐，武权和我一起创建了这个全新的厂牌：观音唱片。如今的撒把芥末它更像一个公司、一个组织、一个机构、一个巨型母体，因为它不再只是负责发行新的声音，不再仅仅是一个厂牌。主要的发行项目我们都会放在观音厂牌下来做。
颜峻: 我想如果说比较大的影响的话，打口碟，地下摇滚乐或者一些极端音乐算是很大的一部分。90年代中期，第一代实验音乐家，他们无一例外都曾是摇滚乐手出身。所以我需要更多的摇滚乐，更多的极端音乐或者噪音。我需要一个更加极端的指引，那个时期，我们从大量的打口CD中获取到这些。举个例子,死亡金属厂牌EARACHE,但是他们也发行一些更极端的音乐，比如John zorn的painkiller和Kevin Sharp的独奏计划，还有Godflesh的Justin Broadrick 等一些更极端的音乐，他们同样是来自地下音乐圈，但风格更偏向前卫和实验。这种充满变化和可能性的创作风格对当时的摇滚乐手来说非常的实验，可以说非常的有新鲜感。我想他们在那个时刻是，可以说是相当饥渴的，对可能性和变化充满渴望，希望不再拘泥于旋律，可以突破束缚，可以更实验，更极端。
颜峻: 5年前，昨天我读到一篇我2004年写的文章。我试着在文章中叙述在接下来的一年将会发生什么，我说 “会有更多小型的演出，更多的实验音乐活动，更多我们不曾见过的艺术家。”之后到了那一年，我带着我的愿望，决定着手让它变成现实，首先我找到2Kolegas 酒吧。我找到了这个地方，并凝聚了一群人。这一切发生在2005年的7月。 事实上，我只是想给自己和我的朋友们找一个这样的地方。起因是2004年底我和FM3,武权第一次去欧洲。当时还有另外一个类似的组织，是姚大钧创建的，主要成员李剑鸿、王长存和来自广州的钟敏杰。我们在巴黎和布鲁塞尔见面，在布鲁塞尔的演出结束之后，王长存联系了Sub Rosa厂牌并出版了他的专辑。那是他目前唯一一次在欧洲发行唱片。
颜峻: 事实上是他们邀请的我。也是UCCA的人第二次邀请我。第二次是崔峤找的我。我们曾经在MIDI音乐节的时候合作过。她以前在歌德学院工作，后来到UCCA。她想让UCCA变成一个富含着艺术活动，集合一切领域的超级市场，想把一切都放进这个空间里去。但是不管怎么说，我是在这之前认识她的，所以她邀请我参与进来。那是在去年底的时候。虽然，我真的很喜欢2Kolegas，我喜欢那里的人，那里的声响氛围，音响设备，那种感觉真的…..很舒服.当然或许那里没有最好的音响设备供你演出，但是我喜欢。不过说老实话，你知道我不喜欢酒吧的感觉。当你在演奏的时候总有一些人那里一边喝着酒一边大吵大嚷，即便只是一些可爱的酒鬼，可能就是你的朋友。 我想我们也许可以尝试一些新的场地，一个相对安静的氛围。但是最终的结果是失败的。但是这让我看到更多，让我知道这个时刻，这个国家，这种文化氛围的实质。所以我认为“好， 你损失了一些东西的同时你也获得了一些东西，似乎是某种平衡。“我确实很失望。大多数参与Ucca演出的人都或多或少有一点失望的感觉，但是我觉得”好，我们学到了新的知识，这是很好的一课。