Hangzhou Producer Guan on Punk Roots and Cinematic Influences

By Bryan Grogan, August 12, 2019

0 0

Known for combining punk and industrial elements with techno and experimental club music, FunctionLab have quickly become one of the most talked-about independent music labels in the country. As one of the co-founders of the label, Guan has had a major impact on the club scene in both his base in Hangzhou and farther afield in Shanghai. With his latest release, Tuning Forks, he creates a very peculiar atmosphere that feeds into a world of sound. Since that record came out, Guan’s label, FunctionLab, has also released an epic compilation album called Functory 03 featuring some of the most exciting names in underground club music today, such as Yikii, Laughing Ears and Zean.

We linked up with Guan to talk more about his own taste in music and the direction of his label, FunctionLab. 

How did your musical interests evolve over time?
I first started making music about eight years ago. When I graduated from high school, I was playing in a punk band. I was a guitarist and occasionally a lead singer. At that time, I played with GG Lobster (now one of the partners of FunctionLab). I rarely listened to electronic music, and never went to a club. But I suddenly found that techno, synth punk and punk share a common spirit, so I started trying to make my club music.

“If I had to do only one thing, I might die”

Tell us about the FunctionLab setup.
The core members of FunctionLab are Juan Plus One, GG Lobster and me, who were all punk musicians. We were good friends before we began to make electronic music. Juan and I found that Hangzhou’s clubs were filled with foreign artists, so we wanted to hold local DJ activities and founded FunctionLab. Because we were both producers, we decided to distribute as well as make party music. What we want to do most is to motivate young people in Hangzhou to engage with avant-garde music, because we find that all culturally mature cities like Shanghai and Beijing have groups of pioneering young people who do this.

Right now, in China, there seem to be quite a few producers who combine rock music elements with club music. Would you say that you also straddle this line of combining industrial, hardcore music with techno and what we might call typical club music? 
We all grew up listening to rock and roll and playing in bands. Although I don’t play in a band now, rock music still has a significant influence on my creations. Because we have experienced the pleasure of rock and roll’s emotional catharsis, that feeling still influences our thinking. When I am creating music, I care more about the emotions of music rather than the style. It doesn’t matter if it can be categorized as punk, techno or industrial music; I’m just trying to express my feelings. If I had to do only one thing, I might die.

Your music is very picturesque. Do you find inspiration from cinema, TV or art for the kind of vibe you want to create?
Yes, the movies that have influenced me the most are older movies, such as Kill Bill, The Holy Mountain and other sci-fi or cult movies. Cinema has been very helpful for creating a sense of ritual in my music.

What does FunctionLab have planned for the rest of 2019?
FunctionLab plans to release more than six records in 2019. We are also trying to collaborate more with foreign artists, as we want to focus more on reaching out beyond China. At the end of this year, I myself will release a new EP with Merrie Records, and I am still planning a tour.

READ MORE: GG Lobster Talks Punk Roots, Futurama and Hangzhou Club Scene

[Cover image courtesy of Guan]

more news

3 New China Albums to Listen to This Month

After releasing her record 'Arthropods' via SVBKVLT last month, 33EMYBW returns with Han Han for a new record via Merrie Records, under the Yadae (Duck Fight Goose) moniker.

5 China Cancelations and Postponements that Made Us Cry in 2019

It has been an epic year of cancelations and postponements for movies and music tours in China.

Founder of Letter Records, Nick Cao, is Looking to the Future

We caught up with Cao to talk about his decision to leave Shengjian Records, his opinion on bedroom rock in China and upcoming plans for Letter Records.

3 New China Albums to Listen to This Month

33EMYBW continues to blow us away. Gong Gong Gong’s Pitchfork reviewed album is immense, and C.O.W. 牛 bless us with another dose of enigma.

We're Automatically in Love with Pop Singer Carly Rae Jepsen

Talking to Carly Rae Jepsen is like listening to one of her albums: warmth, sweetness, flashes of fun and genuineness throughout.

Penicillin Vocalist Zhang Zhexuan Talks TV Talent Shows and New Album

Having been crowned one of 'The Big Band's' hot five bands for the summer, Penicillin are one of the most hyped indie groups in the country right now.

Yehaiyahan Delves into Her Background and Her Musical Journey

"I still don't quite feel like I'm a person who belongs in a city. When I go back to the mountains and to nature I feel much more comfortable."

3 New China Albums to Listen to This Month

Three equally great albums to wrap your ears around this month.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at ThatsTianjin for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in Tianjin With thatsmags.com

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Subscribe

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Tianjin!

Visit the archives

Get the App. Your essential China city companion.