Of all the albums I’ve brought, downloaded, or have been scheming to steal off of douban this year so far, I keeping finding myself going back to trououtin’s “Dots”. Slick, tight, full of whimsical and drone-laden beats that move at their own Beijing pace, it’s a handsome piece of work, even more due to the fact that Brad Seippel, the man behind the music, has manage to utilize the Chinese pipa, which he incorporates into most of his tunes, with captivating results. Brad allowed me to shoot him a few questions through the interwebz before his two shows this weekend at 13 Club and XP. Here’s what he had to say…
How did you wind up out here in Beijing? Was this always part of the plan?
Beijing didn\’t become the plan until I moved to China. Originally it was Madrid, but I ended up in Asia. My first station was in a city called Ningbo in Zhejiang province. There wasn\’t much of a music scene in Ningbo besides a couple expat bars and an even less impressive university area. After visiting Beijing in 2009 I decided moving here to peruse music once I went to a D-22 show. I meet the VJ from Pacalolo, Joel, and he put me in contact with a couple of bands. It just seemed that more was going on musically here than any other place I\’d been to in China at the time.
What’s your process in creating music? Does it mainly stem from pure experimentation or do you have a roadmap that directs that you follow that you’ve filled in over the years?
Experimentation forms a big part of creating music for me, but a isn\’t the main driving force. I most often start out with an idea and watch it change as the song or album progresses. My friends and fellow Beijing musicians influence me as well. I have an idea of what I want all my songs to sound like, but at the same time I try to have different flavors in each song. So when creating music I keep all this in mind.
When did the pipa enter into the picture? How’s it been all fruits and berries between you two?
The pipa was brought into the situation in 2009 after I moved to Zhejiang. I knew I wanted to learn an instrument while I was in China, but had no idea which one to pick. I looked up information online and decided to check out a couple music shops in Ningbo. I played guzhengs, erhus and eventually picked up a pipa. My first instrument was bass so the four string aspect of the pipa made it easier to pick up. There were two pipa\’s I really liked in the shop. One was black and the other was maple in color. I picked the maple one and brought it to the counter and found out it was 7,000 rmb ever since then I\’ve been playing a black, 600 rmb student pipa. It sat in my room as a boredom tool for a while and wasn\’t really made a part of my music until I started playing shows in Beijing.
I\’ve always battled with it as a live instrument because it\’s hard to get a good sound from the PA that matches that of the computer and vocals. There\’s been a lot of experimenting with different set ups and pedals. I think it\’s definitely better now in hindsight of those first dozen shows. Sometimes we go to Ritan Park and hangout while the old men fly their kites around the pagoda.
I have a lot of love towards your song “Zhangzizhong”, as it really the first time for me at least to hear someone speak from the point of view of a laowai, something that you don’t get too often here. How has living in Beijing shaped your music? Do you imagine people back home understanding a lick of what you sing about?
Beijing is a gold hustle. It has creeped it\’s dusty little paw into my music for sure. What I\’m doing could be made anywhere really. However, stuff like the pipa, erhu samples (Zhangzizhong), field recordings from around town, cut up Shanghai jazz vocals and super racist Chinese encounters have all found their way in my songs. Living in The China Beijing is a direct result of that.
I\’ve never really thought about if people back home understand what I\’m singing about. Somethings like dropping street names and local beer brands in the lyrics might have no effect on someone living somewhere else, but are part of the daily vernacular here and that\’s why I choose to use them.
It’s become common for a lot of artist in the underground electronic/noise scene to remix, collaborate, and work together. How does it feel fiddling with other peoples’ work, and vice vest?
Both Chinese and expats are constantly playing in each other\’s bands and it isn\’t uncommon to see people remixing each other from time to time. There should to be more remixes actually; hell, even more covers would be interesting. I mainly work alone so there\’s always some motive to work harder when collaborating with other people. As far as remixes are concerned; I have a blast doing them. The feeling of totally destroying someone else\’s work and making a new piece out of it is exciting and exhausting at the same time. I just finished a Rainbow Danger Club remix that must have driven my neighbors crazy with the amount of time I review it tweaking little minuscule parts of the song over and over. When someone else does a remix of one of my songs on the other hand it\’s a lot less intense. I don\’t have to do anything. Just wait to hear their interpretation. I welcome anyone to remix my songs. If anything there needs to be more of this going on. Especially among the expats and Chinese.
What’s on your slate for the rest of the year?
I\’m also a bit curious as to what\’ll happen later this year. For August I\’ve booked a lot of shows around town from XP to a new place on nanluoguxiang called 69 Cafe. I\’ll play a few shows in November in New Orleans and I\’ve already started working on a new thruoutin EP; which I hope to release in January 2013. There\’s also a collaborative album in the making which I can\’t talk to much about right now but involves a Beijing based producer and my favorite violist/beatboxer. If all goes well that will be done in October and most likely released on Jingweir.
Can’t wait! Be sure to check out thruoutin this Saturday with some of the city’s finest ladies at 13 Club, and at XP Sunday afternoon. You can also head to band camp to download for free his EP “Dots”. You won’t be disappointed.