Rock on, Beijing-Style

Friday, November 27, 2009

Photographer Matthew Neiderhauser first discovered Beijing’s underground music scene two years ago as a student. He noticed young artists flocking there and live music venues popping up all over town — all under the radar of government-controlled media outlets. So Neiderhauser picked up a camera and got to work.


“It was just natural, I just wanted to start taking photographs of everything,” Neiderhauser says. “I was totally blown away.”

He chronicles these Chinese rock bands in the book, Sound Kapital: Beijing’s Music Underground. It’s jam-packed with vivid poster art and photos. But, Neiderhauser says the music itself is hard to describe.


“It’s this really crazy mix of rock, punk, folk, electronic, experimental, and the scene is still small enough that there’s a lot of overlap. They sort of pick and choose from across our own musical history in terms of clothing and sound. So you have a very diverse amount of styles going on.”

Some of the bands he tracked, like Carsick Cars, PK14, and Xiao He, are touring the U.S. for the first time.

“For us it’s a very new, fresh new experience to play in the United States, in New York,” says Yang Haisong, PK14 lead singer. “For us it’s quite a special city.”


American audiences can be brutal, and Haisong has been warned. He’s worried people won’t take their music seriously.

“We don’t want audiences to treat us like the rock band from China, or the Chinese rock band. Although we sing in Chinese, it’s rock, you know? It’s very simple, it”s just rock music.”

Janaya Williams’ full story for Morning Edition is here:



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