Tag Archives: Yang Haisong

Yang Haisong Is Producing a New Generation of Underground Chinese Rock

Yang Haisong

Photo by Nevin Domer.

Ask any Chinese indie band formed in the last decade about their influences, odds are they’ll mention P.K.14. Originally from Nanjing, P.K.14 set root in Beijing in 2001, at a time when its underground rock scene was strictly defined by punk and metal bands. Drawing influence from ’80s post-punk, and artistic energy from vocalist Yang Haisong’s poetic lyricism and passionate delivery, P.K.14 founded a new tributary of art rock in Beijing that continues to influence bands today. (Check out Bandcamp Daily’s profile of the band here.)

In 2007, Haisong was approached by Zhang Shou Wang, singer of Beijing noise rock band Carsick Cars, who asked if he’d be interested in producing the band’s debut album. Haisong had been curious about the production process, and often peppered longtime P.K.14 producer Henrik Oja with questions during recording sessions. He agreed.

Ten years later, Haisong estimates he’s produced or engineered between 60 and 70 albums—mostly debuts for young Chinese bands who seek him out from all over the country. Many of these albums have been for Maybe Mars, a label that Haisong helped found and currently runs. He also worked with China’s biggest indie label, Modern Sky, on a 10-album series called House Party focusing specifically on producing debuts for new bands. Haisong says that this has been his driving force as a producer: providing that crucial first step for young artists that don’t yet know the ropes of the industry.

“That’s the best time to record them, to push them to go to the next step,” he says from the Maybe Mars courtyard office near Beijing’s city center. He’d grouped a string of meetings there for the afternoon. For the rest of the week he’ll hunker down in Psychic Kong, his studio located underneath a suburban parking garage, where he was in the middle of recording the debut album for Lonely Leary, his latest signee. “New bands don’t grow up by themselves. You have to push them.”

Haisong says his production work falls into two categories: bands that find him, and bands that he takes a special interest in pushing. In the latter category are Hiperson, a band from Chengdu that Haisong first encountered when they opened for P.K.14 on tour, and whose vocalist Chen Sijiang is described by fans as “the female Yang Haisong.” Another is FAZI, a four-piece post-punk band from Xi’an, with whom Haisong recently completed part of a 42-city China tour, scheduling impromptu recording sessions along the way. Bands that seek him out—like the duo Alpine Decline, who moved from Los Angeles to Beijing in part to work with him—also end up a fundamental part of Haisong’s program. For last year’s Life’s A Gasp, the third album Haisong produced for Alpine Decline, he joined the band on bass.

We asked Haisong to list the top albums from his prodigious catalogue, and to talk about how they shaped his path as a producer and mentor, how he absorbs bands into his DNA, and how he puts his into theirs.

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