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Interview with Dirty Fingers : China’s got punk talents

If you have a little interest in what’s happening in China regarding music, you know that things are moving fast there. Since you can’t easily access sites such as Facebook or Twitter from the inside, it’s hard to spot new Chinese bands from the outside. However, there are plenty of talented and hard-working bands, like Dirty Fingers. We met Alex, who’s not Chinese but comes from Brazil, and plays the drums in the Shanghai-based punk band.

Hello Alex. Having Chinese bands is pretty uncommon for us here at Distrolution, and Chinese PUNK bands even more !!! What is it to be a punk band in China ?

Hello there! I got to tell you … it is really fun! I don’t see Dirty Fingers as a classic stereotype of a punk band, but speaking more in terms of the underground scene in China is pretty fun. It is a massive country full of wonders and possibilities.

From our side of the Great Wall, China seems to be sometimes frightening but also very exciting. How has the Chinese punk scene evolved during the last 10 years ?

I don’t think I’m qualified enough to talk about the evolution of the punk in China in general. I mean, I listen to old records of bands and so on, but I’m not someone who studies the scene. I just play with musicians.

For an inside observer, I know that bands such as SMZB, Demerit, Loudspeakers, Brain Failure, Gun Bleed, A Top Floor Circus, Misandao (not sure about the name or spelling), Gouride and PK14 paved the road of the so called “punk” in China around 10 years ago. When I say China, I’m excluding the Cantonese scene (Guangdong Province) because they a have more attachment with Hongkongeise scene than the rest of the country, so things operates independently there.

Listening to old people here speaking about the past and now, it’s clear that the scene is more organized and established now with labels, proper venues, managers and cyclical audience. Most importantly, the scene keeps renovating itself with kids making bands and promoting their stuff in a more DIY way. I see this more as a result of the economical growth that the country faced in the past 10 years as well.

Dirty Fingers
Dirty Fingers

Do you think that movies like “Beijing Punk” gave a worldwide exposure to the punk movement in China ?

Yes, they do. I watched “Beijing Punk” before I moved to China 5 years ago. But as the title pointed out, it only focus on the Beijing scene, excluding other regions that also have some amazing stories such as Wuhan for example.

Let’s talk about Dirty Fingers. Please could you introduce the band and what are your major influences ?

Alright! Let’s get dirty! Dirty Fingers is a mashup of Brazilian improvisation swag with Chinese Taoist poetical mind fuck. People say we play punk but I think we are more tropical drunk kung-fu rock. In terms of influences, it’s most about the past that we never lived or bands that play like bands from the past that we never lived such 70’s and early 80’s. But as I said it is
fucking mashup from metal, rock, bossa-nova, reggae, kungfu and sweet ballads.

You guys released two albums and toured a lot in China, always in the DIY way. How important it is for you to be DIY and how does it work in China ?

We started DIY first because it was pretty much the only way to do, here in Shanghai. But afterwards, we became so good at it that when we joined a label, we figured out that we manage ourselves better as we exactly know what we want. It is important because it help us to build our own resources and have a clear vision of how the industry works.

Don’t forget that this is a business for most of the labels, venues, promoters and managers. Bands and their artistic ambitions are completely irrelevant for them most of the time, so having this in mind, we feel that DIY is a more suitable place for us. Even in punk music, this is not a common practice for most of the artists and bands: most of them still rely on the agents of the industry to operate. I would use this interview to say that QiiiSnacks Records from Guangzhou is the B.O.S.S. of the DIY in China.

My guess is that China will soon be the biggest country for entertainment and music, so we can expect bigger festivals, more venues, more shows and more bands. What do you think about this ?

The market is pretty big indeed and still growing, but the censorship gives it a break from time to time. Music and Culture are powerful forces to move people so they keep it under very close control. My perspective is that it will keep growing and it can be the biggest market in the world but it wont be international, because being big in China in terms of money and figures is enough for most of the Chinese bands. Fuck the global market.

Do you have plans for 2018 and after ? What can we expect from Dirty Fingers in the months to come ?

Oh, we have a big DIY world tour plan for the next 3 years. By the beginning of 2018, we will launch a 6-round crowdfunding campaign to promote our new album, tour in South East Asia, Africa and South America by 2018 and beginning of 2019. We’ve just released our second album a few days ago (we already got more than 60k listeners on that little baby!) and we will going on a 14-city tour in China by December 23rd . For the next album, we are planning to do during this international tour, mashing up elements of local culture that we meet along the way, FREE JAZZ man that is our jam now.

About Greg Legarand

As a musician, I've been involved in bands since the early 2000's and have been constantly releasing records and touring since then. I use to play the guitar and sing in Bare Teeth and sometimes do solo stuff. I've founded Distrolution to provide bands and labels tools and services they need to get more exposure and help them as best as I can.

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