Interview ::: David Kay (Junks) @ Xihu Music Festival, Hangzhou


TSOFD: Was this your first Xihu Festival appearance? How did you find performing and what are your thoughts regarding the festival as a whole?

DK: This was the first Junks appearance at the festival, but Ursula and I played here a few years ago as Party Horse. I thought the festival was great, and it’s a cool place for a music festival, positioned as it is behind West Lake and just in front of some leafy hills. The weather was shit leading up to our appearance on the Saturday (Oct 29th) and it was pissing it down most of the day too, which impacted the festival’s overall attendance. We played on the DJ stage, which is unusual for a band, but seeing as though our sound is pretty electronic, mixing elements of synthwave and nu-disco with more traditional rock and punk structures, I guess we fit in okay. We got a good crowd during our show, and as we began to play people flooded in from out of nowhere, which was cool. I love playing festivals mainly because they are so fucking loud!


TSOFD: Have you played other festivals in China? If so what have you made of the experiences overall and how does this compare with festivals in the UK either as a punter, performer or both?

DK: I’ve played a number of festivals in China and the UK, both big and small, whether it be with Junks, Party Horse or as DJ Ectoplazm in China or with Tiny Dancers back in the UK. I’ve enjoyed all of these appearances, and the ones in China have been particularly enjoyable due both to the novelty factor and the fact that the scene feels really fresh and embryonic here. It’s still early days in China in terms of festivals and festival culture, so it’s great to play a small part in this emerging scene. Some festivals in China have no alcohol for sale, however – none at all – which is a real bummer as it’s hard to enjoy a festival without a dozen pints of over-priced lager, right?

DK: There are lots of differences between UK and Chinese festivals. For example, the whole camping thing has largely been lost on the Chinese, as has the concept of partying until the sun rises. But, seeing as though I’m no spring chicken anymore, that’s probably a good thing.


TSOFD: Do you feel there was a healthy representation of different forms of music at the festival – any local or national acts you’d have liked to have seen play that weren’t billed?

DK: To be honest I didn’t get to see much of the wider festival as I had to get home pretty quick after our show to relieve the babysitter, but I was gutted to have missed Queen Sea Big Shark on the Sunday as they are probably my favorite Chinese band. Helen from Nova Heart also DJed on the Sunday and I heard she was great, so it was a shame to miss out on that too. That’s often the case when you play festivals though, you often miss other bands you’d like to see due to scheduling issues, although I did catch Chengdu rapper Kafe Hu, who was pretty cool.

Overall the line-up seemed pretty eclectic, with acts from the mainstream and the underground well-represented and genres like hip-hop, trap, pop, rock, electronica and house all getting a look in. I think it would have been nice to have a third stage, maybe one exclusively reserved for acoustic acts, as that would have given punters a place to kick-back and relax and, moreover, a chance for local singer/songwriters like William Gray and John Carroll a chance to flex their acoustic muscles.


TSOFD: It has been said that China’s live music scene is more geared towards festival season but this is steadily changing with more and more live venues opening up nationwide. How well do you think Hangzhou is currently competing with the likes of Beijing and Shanghai, or even Wuhan and Chengdu?

DK: I think Hangzhou is a little behind the cities you mentioned in terms of its live music scene, but with Mao Livehouse and Loopy opening up recently, at least we have a couple more great venues to call our own. I think Hangzhou has plenty going on – and has lots of good musicians and DJs walking its recently spruced-up streets – but the city as a whole lacks edge and any kind of deep-rooted music scene. There’s too many cigar-bar style venues and not enough CBGBs.


TSOFD: What’s next on the horizon for Junks – any new releases or gig or festival dates our readers should be making a note of? How about DJ events?

DK: We should have one or two more shows before Christmas and the work on our debut album continues behind the scenes. The best way to keep up to date with the band, and to find out what makes us tick, is to head to either our Facebook page for gigs and vibes, our Soundcloud page for music or follow us on wechat (ID: Junks_hz) for more detailed show info etc. You can also search for us on YouTube to see a few of our VHS-style music videos. We also making a short documentary about our musical adventures in China – so watch this space!



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