Interview conducted by Michael Cupoli
Zhu Wenbo is a man that has many projects going on all the time. Currently, he has projects that go by the names of Not In Catalog, No Perform, and Xiao Hong Yu Xiao Xiao Hong as well as performing solo and doing a number of one off collaborations with various people. In addition to being a musician, Zhu Wenbo used to organize the experimental show called Zoomin\’ Night which was held first in D22 and then XP every Tuesday for 6 years. After XP closed, Zoomin\’ Night has since become a tape label that focuses on experimental music. He performs with Not In Catalog this Friday, September 2nd at the Schoolhouse Rock Vol. 2 alongside december3am, Future Orients, and WHAI.
What is your background in music?
I\’m a deep 60-70 music fan. I like that period\’s sound: King Crimson, Lou Reed, Last Poets, Can, Art Ensemble of Chicago, tape music….. And I would like to list White Light White Heat, Trout Mask Replica, Out to Lunch as my all time favorite albums.
Also, I like improvisation music, I\’m a ftarri fan; and ethnic music, especially Indonesia music.
And, if you organize a weekly experimental gig for six years, you have to make yourself listen to more and think more, and try to find yourself.
I like simple/direct music, without too many decoration.
What bands and projects are you currently involved with?
As you know, Not In Catalog(不在话下), a rock group.
And No Perform（不演了), a two piece project of me and Sean Lee. No Perform is a project between composition and improvisation, electronic and acoustic, or computer program and instrument.
Meanwhile I play solo, and collaborate with other artist, mainly with friends. Not any real projects, but we always meet each other, have diner, and share the ideas. That makes collaboration very easy. You don\’t have to talk too much.
And Xiao Hong & Xiao Xiao Hong, we don\’t have any detailed plans now. Sometimes we use this name for improvisation performance but very rare.
Your newest bands that I know of, is Not In Catalog. Who are the members of the band? How would you describe the music? What future plans do you have for the band?
My wife Zhao Cong, she plays bass guitar. In the very beginning she wanted to form a rock band. That was in November of 2015. So I suggest two other friends, guitarist Abing, he also play guitar in Boiled Hippo, and 洛的来, he is not a drummer, but I saw he played once in XP 2 years ago. It is the only time he played drums, but I believe he could play well.
And I\’m the last people to join in, after their 2 or 3 rehearsals. I play guitar, clarinet, and add some vocals.
Hard to describe our music. Simple structure, dry sound, a little inflexible. Song based work, sometimes with some jam parts. Not too many lyrics, not focus on expression. Is it fine?
We already finished our debut album recording, in Hangzhou, July, 3 days by Deng Chenglong. He will finish the mixing work, and I think we will release a CD. It is a full-length album, around 50 mins.
You ran the Zoomin\’ Night events in D22 and XP until it closed last year. What were some of the best moments from that time period?
I\’m not that kind of people who always recall his beautiful memory… It might be a big question for me, really hard to answer 🙁 Sometimes, I feel that I really miss Luxinpei and song-based Soviet Pop. Wish I could see their performance again in my life.
From my understanding Zoomin\’ Night has become a cassette and online label instead of weekly show. What has Zoomin\’ Night put out so far and what future releases do you have planned?
8 cassettes right now. Some are recordings in XP by Deng Chenglong, some are outdoor performances with a big environment sound, some artist\’s bedroom recording… I think improvisation plays some important part in these cassette, though not all of them are improvisation music.
And my favorite one is Maimai Plays the Beatles(ZMY 006). This is my top 1 Beatles cover album in the world.
Future plans: there will be two other albums to come out: Zhao Cong\’s solo album Afternoon(ZMY009), and Kiyasu Orchestra\’s debut album Cosmo\’s cassette version(ZMY010).
Last year, the P.K.14 album \”Music for An Exhibition\” was released on Maybe Mars which included you. What was it like to collaborate with both P.K.14 and Alpine Decline who were also on the album?
Before they asked me, I think they already nearly finished their four long songs. Maybe not very clear, but the structures were confirmed. They want some woodwind parts for the last song, crazy but calm performance I think, so they ask me to join. It was not hard work.
After that song\’s rehearsal, they said, \”maybe you could also play some saxophone in the other songs? just play what you want…\”
So you hear it. Actually I was not playing very well. P.K.14 and Alpine Decline like it, but I know myself. At that time I just played saxophone a few months, and I don\’t own a good clarinet, either. If I could do it now, I think could play better.
Last year and earlier this year there were some events organized at an underpass in Beijing which, at least to me, became one of the more interesting places to have shows. Are there any plans to continue doing these kinds of shows?
Yes, a interesting place. I would like to continue, of course, but not too many chances. I\’m very busy after Otomo Yoshihide\’s April performance there, and I don\’t have time to focus on it. Even I don\’t practice there very often. I wish I could restart.
Do you have any future plans for new projects and events that people might not know about yet?
No other new projects. I helped Yan Jun to organize Miji performance in Meridian Space with Yan Yulong. No Perform is making a big work these days, and we will play in Sept 4th afternoon in Maybe Mars office. Sometimes I play duo with Ding Chenchen, using acoustic speaker feedback system and he plays metal. I like to play with him, and hope we could play more.
Catch Not in Catalog this Friday, September 2nd at School Bar