The Nanfang / Blog


British singer sees future for rock music in region

Posted: 06/27/2012 7:00 am

Intrepid expats trying to make the Middle Kingdom rock are not a new phenomenon. In recent years, British man Archie Hamilton has been organizing rock concerts in China, with both local and foreign talent. Russian woman Liu Ba sings rock songs in Chinese. As The Nanfang has said before, Shenzhen is slowly developing a music scene of its own. At the forefront of this is rock band The Smiling Knives, fronted by Briton Gary Hurlstone.

When The Nanfang spoke to Gary, he expressed optimism about the future of rock music in the PRD, but stressed that Shenzhen was still far behind Guangzhou, where there were more venues and more bands, and Shenzhen suffered from lack of demand for live original music. The band also includes Liang Ying, a Shenzhen-born singer and percussionist who is more influenced by Jimmy Page than Jimmy Lin. So he is confident that there is a hungry rock audience out there somewhere. He also pointed to The Nanfang’s own Rue Moyer, who is covering the most interesting music in Shenzhen on his blog.

Because the line-up includes members from Britain, Mexico and China, and has collaborated with musicians from all over, its influences are eclectic. As well as rock, their sound includes funkadelica, British folk and Balkan and Arabic fusion. Their new album is called The Zen Kick, but they also play covers when they perform live.

Rock music in China has a short but colourful history. It began to emerge in the early 1980s after Deng Xiaoping introduced reform and opening up policies. Its birthplace was in Beijing, and much of it remains underground due to censorship of lyrical content and lack of mainstream demand.

You can hear the Smiling Knives’ music here.

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