To start

Nathan and I were listening and watching to the group of musicians on the stage. He spotted the bassist and just went “I want to play with her”. And then he did. For him, it is just natural to go after what he finds interest in. He just goes. Grabs it. Which is why he playing everywhere with everyone all the time. We could all use being a bit more like him.

 

This night, was amazing. The gal worrying mostly about what to wear when walking in to 4C every Thursday, wanting to just be around real musicians, my 24 year old me. Would give me a big hug and a high five. Why? Because my outfit has turned to more like a uniform, and I am last night I was art of creating the fun from nothing.

Before ever entering anything anywhere, you gotta know your room. Always nr 1, listen first. Feel the vibe. Literally, feel the vibe. All (new?) situations in life involving other people, are like sitting down at a table where people are already engaged in a conversation. Would you sit down and start telling about your day without having no idea what they are talking about? NO! Unless you’re a dick. You enter quietly. You listen. You teach yourself what is going on, before you start adding to it. Or changing it. This out of no bigger reason than decency. Simple decency.

If sitting down by the table is hella scary, remind yourself, that if you belong just like everyone else. You are not that much worse than anybody else. You might even do a good thing, if you aim at adding rather than changing.

At 4C they were all inspiring, aspiring, writers, musicians, singers. What brought them together, what made those evening possible, was the fact that they were all doers. Bringing my camera made me a doer too. It got me in. And it was well done, because it has made me some money at the end and made a me loads of friends, brought me wonderful experiences and people. However, all I actually and really wanted was to have someone, Tavey, teach me how to not be such a nervous wreck so that I could join the fun. Someone to just come and say “I know you’re hiding something amazing. Something that your shyness is’nt letting you bring out to the world. Something so new, so refreshing and just so amazing that the world needs it. You’re talents are too important to be hidden away, so Im gonna help you. By next year, you’ll be as comfortable on this very stage as you are on your on toilet at home”

Now listen up ya’ll! The world aint werkin like dat.
If you want one thing, do not get comfortable doing another.

Because as soon as you do, that place is where people around you will perceive you comfortable. All of a sudden, that is who you are. I became the photographer, not the girl trying my stuff out at the Open Mic. Then it is a big shift that needs to be made, rather then just slipping into something new while at a new place. Environmental changes are great for these shifts. When I was still new there I should have just gone and do it, but at the same time. No. I was not ready. I loved to just listen. Feel the atmosphere. The energy. I loved falling in love with the place, with everyone. Being around people singing and jamming together became like a drug. It filled my soul and it still does.

I have been singing and writing songs on my own, sometimes with my best friend Matilda, for 7 tears now. 7 years… I dare to say I have found my voice. I dare to say, my songs are good. All that is missing, is a band.

Doesn’t matter what your dream is, if you are doing something completely different because you are scared of what might happen if you give it a shot. At this point, I had basically made a decision that the dream of joining the fun does not get a chance to flourish. Basically, I had killed its pulse by getting comfortable not doing it. By bringing my camera instead of bringing my book of songs I’ve written. It was my job to keep the dream alive, not give it valium. Keep its pulse strong! My other job was to show other people where the pulse is. That there is a certain fire withing me, not in hot flames, but glowing. If people are not aware of those glowing pieces of creativity within you, who in their right mind would try to help you away from where you are already doing? Especially, if that it what you have made your identity? That would be mad. So its up to you, to inform them. Its up to you, to make it happen.

Keeping it alive at home is ofc a way to keep its pulse strong. To maintain the glow. Not even doing that, will cost you a lot. So always at least believe in yourself when you’re alone, if you cant when with others. Now I have reached a point where this glow needs to become fire. I want the flames to go high, so that I can dance naked behind them and still be invisible to people. That is how much fire I have. I cant imagine how my soul will feel when I am jamming with musicians playing to my words. Aaaah euphoria.

What if my 24 year old me would have seen the 28 year old me sitting there yesterday singing with 2 strangers and a the manager of Hot Cat, drumming with my Chinese fan on the table, the Bai Jiu bottle and my lap – not being scared. Just having fun. Just enjoying. Trusting the others to take me seriously, just like I did them. Grateful to be a part of it, not even thinking about wether I belong or not. If I am good enough or not. Realizing today, the morning after, that I didn’t even get the traditional “I have dared to sing when people can hear me stomache ache”, which usually lasts for about 40 very intense minutes. But nothing. Nope. Zero. Nada. Why?… Because I just allowed myself to enjoy. None of it was a performance where result mattered.

That turned out to be the key for the out coming, for the soft opening of sharing my voice in social situations without it being agony or something that needs “powering through”. Taking the pressure off and focusing on why I was doing it, was key. Joy! Doing it for the same reason there as I do at home. Because it makes me happy! Because it comes naturally! Because I love doing it. When I didn’t have anything to bring to our circle beyond the tapping of my fan, I meditated on how happy I was to be there. How beautiful this moment was, and I even dared to close my eyes and just listen. Tap and listen. On my gratitude that I had been invited to play. Invited to this idea “That hey, lets make some music right here, right now”. All I had done to be counted in on that, was admitted that I sing and write on my own. That joy in my heart I got from them giving me room, also made the singing come easily. It came from my heart and I was more than happy to share.

There was this lovely girl from France, Felia, who is a major Erykah Baidu fan and I could’nt believe how lucky I was that she was there. I love people who sing like that. Its so weird, and so amazing. Its so free. So not square. Such an outburst of a feeling one cant explain with words, because human has not come up ith them yet. But with this singing of sounds, you can feel it. The whole thing was magical.

Give room to those silly outbursts of joy, whatever they are.
Joy will make you bigger and bigger, while lighter and lighter. Give Joy room, not Fear.

Follow your joy goddammit.

And be nice to people.

 

INSOMNIUM at Yu Gong Yi Shan

A late brunch at Schiller’s is always a good idea. Especially with your most vulgar buddy who loves drinking, smoking, cursing and trashing people. Through him, I get to release my eccentricity and it’s amazing. When with him we are fabulous in a world not good enough for either of us. A diva duo giving zero fucks escaping into a fairytale where I am not the queen, but where to I always make sure to bring one.

Its like I enter a different mind space when with him. Because I am not an arrogant son of bitch usually, but with him, I am absolutely obnoxious, but not rude. Still to the point I know I’d wish to slap myself if I’d walk by myself. But that’s ok… because I am many things. All of my mind spaces has to respect and give room for the others, no matter how contradictive they are.

We met up at Schillers for late brunch. 2 Qing Dao drafts and a 90 kuai awesome snack plate later, we headed over to ADAM’S. Adam’s is a gaybar run by a guy named Mondo, who has hired Hathor a.k.a Heather to be the hostess. Mondo is a bitch diva for sure, teaching the other ladies Beyonce moves and how to properly put on the whole doll face in make up. ADAM’S, I believe, has been created for his personal use. The club is his playground. Men come and men go, and no night is ever slow! Each event he has planned has full attendance and a hot n’ sweaty dance floor where the the guests and employees are all having a great time. Never have I seen before a bar with staff enjoying themselves they way they do here. On our way through Sanlitun we got photographed by a middle aged man with a lens mostly used by bird watchers out in deep forests. But hey, those are great for bored men with expensive cameras hanging out by shopping malls as well.

I do wonder what they do with those pictures…

3 Pinacoladas later we headed towards my hutong to go see mom. I was supposed to be joining her for a Metal event tonight and I was running late. We got on the bus for a few stations until we realized that SHIT! We wanted a beer and a smoke. So we got off as soon as we spotted one of those Alcohol and Tobacco stores. Then there we sat, drumming on an old empty cardboard box that once used to store beer, with Zhong Nan Hai smokes and Yan Jing Beer in hand. This is when we finally started working on our own version of Androgynous. Such a lovely tune. We gathered a small crowd who were all very discretely listening and filming with their phones, but pretending they weren’t listening.

Eventually we stumbled in at home just in time. We walked her to the venue, walked back home to walk the dogs, then Finn got tired as hell and went home. Shit, I was hella drunk and tired now too but I had stuff to do. So as anybody would do, I had a drunken 20 minute spread eagle nap on my living room floor, before I patted my face with some powder, put on some red lipstick, drew my liner perfectly, combed my hair and took off. Ran back to grab my camera and my fifty. Then I spent 20 minutes drinking my fifth beer of the day on a high chair at the back of the show, trying to figure out wether or not my mom was still. During my sixth beer of the night, I spotted a a small lady in a black hoodie with a big camera on the right side of the stage. It couldn’t be anybody else.

Punk Night at Hot Cat

Bastards of Imperialism

The mentioning of Punk music, immidietely paints a false picture in my head. Pink hair reaching for the sky, leather jackets with hella lot of pins and DIY patches with band names and logos. Loud music bursting eardrums and speakers. The people are rude, dirty and drinking or smoking at all times.

You see, this is not what Punk is in 2016. I don’t know if it ever even was, anywhere. The crowd was everything but a gathering of dirty people competing for tallest hair. Infact I spotted plenty of good outfits there. Girls were into a cute “I live on the country side” kind of vibe, or more modern all-over prints. Shannon who opened the stage, usually dresses in a mix between the two. Among the the guys, different shades of a dark greyish blue seemed to be the go-to. 

However, some of these people could just as easily have been life size cut outs from modern fashion magazines. True story. Looking around there, was not at all what I had expected. I did not feel as misplaced as I had imagined I would.

Realizing while writing that I don’t know what Punk is. My thoughts of the evening are not nerdy ones about who was inspired by what artist from what time, and why. Instead I noticed the presence very objectively. And as a person, I hope there is no need to be afraid to admit that I simply don’t know. That I arrived with the wrong impression, and that I am still deluded in some areas. All of us, must have the right to have false ideas of cultures, subcultures, specific people, even races and nationalities; without being chased out of the city. The only way for all of us to understand each other, is if we can admit we don’t. 

So I’ll go on.

The music was not an angry mixture of noise and curses, but beautiful riffs and harmony. Holy shit you guys, it is good! Mind.blow.

Maybe I ought to do some reading before the next punk event I attend. Find myself a “Punk for dummies”. Or just the right person to use as an information dispenser, and just throw it out there… “What the hell is Punk?!”

Is it so that, for it to be called punk it requires the 16th or 32nd note on drums? Is there a rule like that?  Oldie Baby’s “Teenager in Love” started off kind of folky, and later (for my untrained ear) turned into sped up. And this is punk, or is it not? If it is, what makes it that? Is Punk another word for SKA on speed?

Shannon Lethbridge

Shannon Lethbridge opened the stage with her experimental music with her sweet sounds of the ukelele, a wee bit of harmonica, looping outcries, celebrating womens day and sharing an instrumental song written for her cat. “Rooftop” is my favorite song, because it’s the simplest of joys to hang out with our favorite person on a rooftop, but the evening will never be forgotten.

Shannon is awesome. Awesome in its true meaning; something igniting the Aw. She makes everybody enter their own heads for a while, and hang out there. Thinking the thoughts we have forbid ourselves to think for a long time. Those of us spending most days avoiding exactly that with our best effort; appreciate her very much. Because she makes it feel ok. Her music is the comfort, and also the hand rail to lure you in. Just close your eyes and let her lead you there. Afterwards, you’ll feel a little lighter. That’s her gift to you.

Shannon is an absolutely stunning girl from the UK with long wavy hair, always sporting a short tops with pants belonging to the 70s. The wintercold has not ruined that for her, instead she just added a hat and a big all over pattern coat. What’s peculiar about her, is how her voice changes. She can sing the low notes, the very long and high notes, but when she talks; her voice is almost childlike. But I think it is deliberately applied, maybe the only sign of her being nervous? When her mind is focused, her face is content and relaxed — but serious. After the song, she flashes this brilliant smile and her voice changes. It’s so sweet. She is genuine, I can feel it.

 

OLDIE BABY

Oldie BabyOldie Baby was next; a duo with Nathan Borofka on vocals n’ electric guitar and Willie (I’m sure he has a surname too) on drums. There is something very cinematic about Willie’s presence, but I can’t explain it. His look is so SKA traditional, that it makes him a character from a movie nobody has made. The shaved head and the black shirt with the collar. When Willie was playing, the drummer from the next band came up to watch him. Judging from how excited he looked; Willie is more impressive than I can understand. Nathan has ever since he arrived, been a passionate musician pouring out energy and authenticity on stage. Together, they are perfect. Their Halleljuah cover is dope as hell! I’ll link a recording as soon as I get my hands on it.

Here’s an interview I did with Nathan way back when I was promoting for 4 Corners.

RHONDA. HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS!

Rhonda


Clip I found on youtube, filmed at School Bar last year.

When they got on stage I was hanging out in the back, getting to know a few new people and smoking cigarettes. I was not paying attention to what was happening on stage. 2 songs in it was time to back to my chair and that’s when I realized; I have only slept 3 hours last night. Fuck I am tires. And if peanut butter jelly time doesn’t count for dinner, my body should start eating itself right about now.

Sidestory: Like you all ought to know, Thursdays are Open Mic Nights at 4 Corners. Tavey has been hosting for a long time now, and he is purdy tired of it. Luckiliy, I have found a new guy! And I invited him, Jukka Ahonen, to 4C this week to check it out. Naturally, the evening turned into late Tequila shots, beers at Temple and a minor after party somewhere in Sanlitun. Back home at 6:30 and woke up to a fresh cup of coffee at 9. My dear husband, this wise man recommended I get up now but nap later. A great plan that went to shit. Instead I arrived at Hot Cat with fake energy, born from excitement. Running on fumes, as they say.

Fortunately, I was just there to check out Jukka’s band “Bastards of Imperialism”, not to shoot for a client. Last night he accompanied Taveys acoustic guitar and song so beautifully with his electric, that I got curious about this Punkband he ia in. I brought my camera ofc, like I do everywhere. 

Back to Rhonda: When I bring her, my camera, to a live show; I like camping by the stage. Not the closest possible seat, but the second. However tired, I still want the best seat to run up and get the shots if the moment is served.
So there I sat, dead tired, pulling up the back of another chair in front of me and rested my head for a bit. Closed my eyes. That’s when it started. It’s like I was tripping. Rhonda did something for me the others didn’t. No words for it but I felt so good. So relaxed. Looked after in a strange way. Almost comforted in some spiritual way. It was beautiful really, even though it wasn’t necessarily meant to be. It was the best thing in a long time. I felt high. The music is heavy and hard, but melodic and balanced. Fucking incredible.

What is Hot Cat? 

It’s a venue for all kinds of musical events, comedy nights, occasional markets supporting the local artists and just you know, all sorts of events to bring all sorts of people together. 

The space itself is really dope. Almost a perfect L shape. Enter from Fang Jia Hutong, and walk straight up, quite literally up because there is an incline to the bar, through the chill lounge with art displayed in cabinets to the left, couches and tables to the right. Nice and dark there! Supr chill. I fucking hate those places with lights everywhere. The bar  is neatly placed in the corner of the L facing the entrance, and to the left of it is where it all goes down. There is a good conversation piece by the bar as well, a well stocked beer fridge you scout and open yourself. 

Girls don’t have to stand there for long before a gentleman or random pervert offers you a recommendation.

The left wall running up to the stage is lined with low sofas and low tables. Separating all that comfort from the dance floor, is done by a row of chairs. Sit or sleep in them, both works! I pulled one out to face the stage, another one to rest my feet on. Dead tired with my eyes closed, listening to  Rhonda’s instrumentals – I was so happy. So content.

Beyond the shoulder tall, brick wall behind the stage, is the courtyard and the bathrooms. In other words, the pissing and smoking area. 

People here like to just sit around and enjoy, not everyone dances, so the modest dance floor is enough. Folks just wanna make out if they get the chance. If no such luck, I did mention the well stocked beer fridge right? For picking up a beer, or a someone.

BASTARDS OF IMPERIALISM! ALSO HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS!

Bastards of Imperialism

The lead singer was wearing a US flag on his head like a Saudi!! I liked his between songs talks, his interactions with us in the crowd and his fellow band members. The guy has social skills! To me, this was the most punk, punk band of the eve. He was shitting all over the politicians running his country, used very human gestures when acting out his lyrics and he kept the conversation very free. They were the loudest, most up beat, most political. They were amazing. To me it was really really cool to see a performance like this. 

Maybe he is the right person to ask what the hell punk is???

My most precious memory from the whole evening, actually was presented by this band. They have a song about “our civic duty”, called “Fuck All Night”. This song is an aggressive interpretation of sex and a parade of things people do during it. It drove people completely mental! The crowd was humping each other like animals! Even on stage! These well dressed people turned into apes! Maybe thats what punk is? 

Now I didn’t join in on that, cus I could barely understand what the damn hell I was going on! Wondering if I was hallucinating… but no. All that humping really happened and people were having so much fun. Laughing. Dancing. A short, but hella intense moment during a Punk night in Beijing.

Thank you, all of you, for making this evening. Musicians, guests, bar, everyone.

4 Corners Open Mic 14.11.07

The Stage
Jenae is the hapiest person I believe I have ever met, maybe that is because she happens to be the singer in one of Beijings best bands, Violette and The Hunters.
Ive forgotten the name of the guy to her left, but he is a lot of fun on stage when drunk. A lot of power in that man. My Spansih friend Chekah is behind the drums, he is one of the production guys at the Mexico event I was working on a while. Then ofc we have the standard dudes, Tavey and Cian. Today they were slapping the bass and it was a real turn on. They playt really well together.

This night was great, I love this place.

LUSH RUSH Open Mic

RanLast night of shooting Lush Rush. First assignment given to me by Aaron, who usually handles all the lush things. That dude is superbusy this week with other clients and trusts me enough to shoot an event. This was my 3d night at Lush and I have gotten to know some people, which makes it all a lot more fun.

People on the stage were amazing! Most of them kept me moving and singing along. This guy, Ran, to the left, pulled a great Lorde – Royal cover. This Japanese fella below, was an ex mob guy who first got on stage wearing a fancy suit. Took the jacket off and revealed these magnificent tattoos. He didn’t speak any English but he didnt need it. He brought up a translator and this other guy sitting him holding a sheet of lyrics to him up on stage. What a man, so much power.

Japanese guy

 

Robin

Dansken..

2014.05.18 Violette & The Hunters

Violette & the Hunters is a great cover band in Beijing. Seems like the musicians are changing a lot but Jenae is always the lead singer. I love her soulful and personal Amy Winehouse cover that Amy herself covered off of The Zutons, Valerie. Jenae is excellent with keeping the energy, taking beautiful long tones and she has one simple goal for every single perfomrance, to make people dance. Ofc she always succeeds.

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