During their 7 date China tour including a date supporting the Japanese legend DJ Krush, we caught up with Junglemico Project's Liu Wei to talk about music, influences and relationships.
"A band is just like a couple falling in love. If your personality is exactly the same as your partner, then it will be a boring relationship. In life you need variety, in music you also need variety." -
Liu Wei, Junglemico Project
Under the Wall: The Junglemico Project is made up from a lot of different styles and different musical backgrounds. Tell us a little about how Junglemico Project came to be.
Liu Wei: When I was in the states studying abroad, I was exposed to this kind of (electronic) music and discovered that this is the type of music I really like. I studied Jazz at school in the States. After living in the States I discovered that each different type of music is related to the country’s culture, background and language. After studying it I realized that I didn’t like Jazz as much as I thought. I discovered that it isn’t the right language for me. I started studying it because it (Jazz) is difficult. After, I realized that you should be doing things because you have a true like for it, not just because you think it’s difficult. But on the other hand it is a good method to study something.
At that time I was continuously searching for a type of music that I truly loved.
That’s when I found electronic music. (While in the States) I saw a lot of DJ’s Live and started listening to electronic music and discovered that this is the type of music I truly love.
About 2014 I went on a world tour with another band of mine. During that tour I was exposed to a lot more international artists. That inspired me to start a new project – a three piece band consisting of drums, bass and guitar. To me this lineup for (an electronic band) is really interesting. A powerful lineup. No need to have a singer, but instead have a Videographer. (Through videos) you can express a lot of ideas.
Under the Wall: How would you sum up JMP’s style of music?
Liu Wei: We think of ourselves as a ‘Live Analog Techno Band’. Quite often I think that, we as a band, are like a DJ. In fact, we’re not a band, we are a DJ.
I’m a guy whose thoughts dance around a lot, so I like a lot of different kinds of music. When I’m creating music or performing live, I like to take blend a lot of different styles together, and not just boring and monotonous ‘Dunce Dunce Dunce’ Rhythm.
Under the Wall: What new experiences does JMP give to their audience?
Liu Wei: I reckon the biggest attraction is that (as a techno band) the audience can see how the different elements to the song are made. Most people are not quite clear on what a DJ is and does. Does a DJ just play music? Or do they create music? What do they use that computer for?
A lot of the time, the audience don’t know what it is the DJ actually does.
But with The Junglemico Project, the audience can see what we do and how a song comes together because we’re face to face. Another thing that is different is that our sound is much different from that of a DJ. Using instruments (to create the techno sound) offers a pretty special dynamic.
Under the Wall: Going back to Junglemico Project’s style, all the core members come from different musical backgrounds such as jazz, metal, punk and rock and roll. How do these backgrounds come together and form Junglemico Project’s unique sound?
Liu Wei: This is our biggest appeal to our fans, in that all three of us have completely different styles.
To be honest, I think that these days typical genres are much more fused with different styles. It’s not like before where Jazz was jazz, electronic music was electronic music, but now you’ve got different styles fused together that sometimes it’s hard to put a label on.
Because of our different backgrounds, the three of us all like different styles of music. I think this is awesome. When we are in the studio or rehearsing, everyone throws out different ideas that you can see comes straight from their original musical background. We all have the same target, so drawing on different styles brings lots of different elements into the mix.
Another point is that our personalities are also much different. A band is just like a couple falling in love. If your personality is exactly the same as your partner, then it will be a boring relationship. So different is a good thing. Different is the only way. In life you need variety, in music you also need variety.
Under the Wall: You just likened making music in a band as being in a relationship. Do Junglemico Project ever have arguments regarding these different musical styles?
Liu Wei: Yeah, we do. The outline and structure for most of the songs is composed by me. Most of the time I will compose around half of the song and then Gao Yufeng and Fei Fei (JMP’s bassist and keyboardist respectively) will add their ideas on to it. We’ll often argue about the direction of a song, but I think that’s completely normal.
Under the Wall: How much do you think these arguments and conflicts enrich Junglemico Project’s music?
Liu Wei: Playing in a band can be hard. Everyone is an independent musician and artist. You need to respect everyone in the band as individual artists. You can’t demand someone to play this way and that way, if that’s the case then you can hire a session artist to do that. But what’s the point?
We are all pretty respectful of each other and all listen to each other’s ideas. We all have times where we will persist on following our original ideas, but after time we’ll adapt our ideas and develop them with the rest of the band. Which is awesome.
Under the Wall: Your currently on the back end of a 7 date tour. How valuable is touring to development of Junglemico Project’s music?
Liu Wei: To tell you the truth, I love touring.
We once toured up to Lhasa as part of a 10 date tour of West China. At that point I was quite scared of touring. It wasn’t that I didn’t like touring, just that it was a bit scary. Playing in Beijing, not a problem, because we know that a lot of people will turn up, but we didn’t know what to expect going outside to tour for the first time.
Under the Wall: Were you scared because you thought people hadn’t heard your music, or wouldn’t like it?
Liu Wei: Both. But at that time Gao Yufeng (Junglemico Project bassist), told me not to worry saying that it’s a certainty that very few people will turn up to the shows to begin with, because they don’t know us. But if we don’t play, they’ll never know who we are. But if we play to only one person that one person will tell their friends and the next time we play there will be more people.
He is right. Even when we started playing in Beijing, there wasn’t anyone who would come out to see us. But slowly more and more foreigners started coming. In China, this kind of music resonates more with foreigners than Chinese people. This is to be expected, as it’s more a western culture. But now more and more Chinese people are coming to see our shows. This makes me so happy. Now when we play Beijing, its mostly Chinese that come out to see us.
And if only one person comes. Then no worries, I will definitely conquer that person and turn them into a fan. I’m confident that they’ll like our music.
Under the Wall: What new points of view have you picked up from this tour?
Liu Wei: Each time we tour we get a lot of really good feedback. This tour is the same. Our mood on this tour was good.
Under the Wall: is there anything else you like about touring?
Liu Wei: Another thing I love about touring is that you get to experience the different feel of each city we go to. China is a big place and each year I get to see more of it’s nature, culture and also get a feel to how it is developing.
Under the Wall: Talking about developments. Through touring China, what recent developments have you seen in China’s underground music scene?
Liu Wei: I remember about 3 years ago China didn’t have a lot of Livehouse’s at all, but now there is over 100. This is a huge change. Each city has cool people, people who will play and listen to new music (So having more livehouses is important).
Under the Wall: Do you think that this is the sign that Chinese underground and independent music is changing?
Liu Wei: Yeah, it’s changing.
Under the Wall: For music that doesn’t have any lyrics, it sometimes can be difficult for the audience to pick up on the feeling that you are trying to express. How important then is having a videographer to your live shows?
All of our songs all express a certain story, concept and feeling. We use these scenes and videos to express them.
Our main concept is the feeling of wandering - roaming through life. Our main slogan for our concerts is ‘roaming through life’. Almost like you can fall into a dance filled dream-like trance at our shows.
In my opinion, Chinese people are still not that open, still a bit shy and not very good at expressing themselves or letting themselves go. Saying that, they (Chinese people) are good at letting themselves go at one place, KTV.
But in public places, they won’t (let themselves go).
Under the Wall: Why do you think that is?
Liu Wei: Because of our culture we were brought up in when we were younger. Western people are much more open.
The other day I discovered a really interesting thing. I was helping a Chinese pop star (Liu Wei didn’t mention who) compose a song. So I was researching what is popular right now and listened to the USA billboard chart and the Chinese billboard. I discovered that the US chart is all filled with high energy songs that you would hear in a nightclub, or hip-hop or rock n roll songs. But when I listened to the Chinese billboard and discovered that Chinese people are only really interested in one tempo, that kind of slow tempo.
I think it must be down to two completely different cultures. Chinese people like to listen to quiet and slow songs that are emotional and moving. In the west, it’s like ‘come one, lets go!’… much more high. Much different.
Under the Wall: Do you think that in 10 years time, the Chinese billboard will be like USA’s and have a more diverse range of styles of music?
It maybe won’t change in 10 years. I think when this current generation’s children are around 20 years old or so. So probably 30 years from now.
Under the Wall: Talking of change. How do you think Junglemico Projects music will change in the future?
Liu Wei: To be honest, I haven’t thought that much. My only hope for the future is to have more shows, have more people see us play and introduce us to others. I also hope that we’ll have an album out each year. Each album different from the last. This are my goals for the band. As a musician and an artist, you need to continually be creating new things and not just copying what is popular.
Under the Wall: If you could choose to tour live with one band, who would you choose?
Liu Wei: I’d really like to play with a Danish DJ called Trentemoller. He’s my favorite DJ at the moment.