Philipp Grefer on Owning a Record Label and Getting WISE-r

By Edoardo Donati Fogliazza, October 15, 2018

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FakeMusicMedia is one of the most respected and well-known record labels in China. Having booked the likes of Röyksopp, Hot Chip or Faithless while managing domestic artists like Nova Heart, SHAO and The Hormones, their co-founder Philipp Grefer has gone on to develop a conference exploring the intersection of creativity, business, science and technology. Under the name WISE, on October 26, they’ll partner with UCCA, a leading Chinese contemporary art museum. Grefer discusses telling his parents what he does, AI, and how technology affects the music ecosystem. 

What's it been like bringing Chinese musicians to the international stage with your label FakeMusicMedia?
When we started FMM in 2008 it was an absolute novelty to tour a Chinese band abroad or bring international acts to China. So when we took electro punk outfit Pet Conspiracy to Berlin, Cologne, Barcelona and Budapest, it was big news back here. They also played a legendary gig at one of the first editions at Hong Kong´s Clockenflap festival – every year when I go, people still ask me about it. Then, unfortunately, lead singer (and FMM co-founder) Helen Feng quit the band. We were just in Istanbul where we met Rodion, who would go on to become the producer of Nova Heart´s first album, so we put all our focus on this new project. Now Nova Heart is one of the best-known Chinese indie bands here and abroad. When we got a full page in Germany´s most important newspaper, I could finally tell my parents what I was doing all that time in China. Now we have our new signing, The Hormones from Chengdu, playing in Australia in November. It’s their first time playing outside of China, so that’s quite exciting. 

What started you thinking about combining music and technology?
It probably all started with Kraftwerk. When I was studying in California in the mid-2000s, you could already see that music was one of the first industries to be disrupted by tech. Companies like Spotify, Tencent, Apple or YouTube play an increasingly important role in the music ecosystem. But also, how music is produced has changed drastically. AI can now write music by itself, and it might soon be produced in VR or AR. 

Tell our readers about your most recent endeavor, WISE.
I wanted to create something where I can make good use of all the experience I’ve gathered in the last three decades and surround myself with people who are smarter than me. I studied political science, economics and history, worked in media, PR, a government agency, a gaming company, as an entrepreneur, and have been lucky enough to be one of the few foreigners involved in the Chinese music industry. It´s like a think tank for millennials, where we try to find answers to how we want to live in the future. 

What should we expect from the upcoming WISE event in Beijing?
WISE is a platform for big ideas as well as practical knowledge. It’s all about learning, for your job, for life, in a fun and inspiring way. It’s about looking at the world from different perspectives and having them clash to create new insights. We have a wide range of speakers at the crossroads of creativity and tech. We’ll talk about China´s emerging youth cultures, the state of the electronic music scene, hip hop, voguing, and where design is heading in the future. 

Your career spanned several disciplines and industries. What advice do you have for aspiring polymaths?
Try to stay ahead of AI, use your full human and creative potential to do so and enjoy your life.

[Cover image cortesy of promoters]


Fri Oct 26, 9.30am-6.15pm; RMB260; UCCA, see event listingFor more information visit wisenotwise.com and fakemusicmedia.com

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