CITY MIX is a RADII series in which we give you a sonic spin through the underground music of a Chinese city outside the Beijing/Shanghai nexus.
Shenyang is a city located in northeast China, in the province of Liaoning. If you haven’t spent time in China, it’s possible you haven’t heard of it, and even if you have you probably haven’t visited. To be honest, I didn’t know all that much about the place myself, aside from the fact that it gets extremely cold in winter. But I recently compiled a short mixtape of tracks from there, and I’m glad I did.
I was surprised to find some artists making electronic music, but also managed to discovered that Shenyang is rife with young hip-hop producers and MCs. What I wasn’t expecting was to find ambient drones, techno and post-rock as well. Here is a slice off the top of what Shenyang has to offer:
1. FUNG LOK – “Don’t ever need”
When looking around for electronic music in Shenyang, everyone I talked to seemed to mention FUNG LOK. This producer is one of the more renowned artists from the city, and I felt like I should start with his music. stream
2. busy.e/焦壳儿/奉天组 – “BOYBACK Ft.joker”
MUKDENBRO, or Fengtian Group, is a hip-hop label out of Shenyang with MCs busy.e and Coke Shell (焦壳儿). stream
3. Kang – “特别关注”
Kang is a self-proclaimed “young lady rapper” from Shenyang who was born in 1997. This track title means “Special Attention.” The track was produced by Gum J, who seems to work with a few other artists in the city. stream
4. M03 – “BETRAY”
M03 is one half of the trap group OB03. Check out the music video for this track for good usage of road flares and drone footage.
5. OB03 – “Baby U Know”
This duo is made up of MC/producer M03 and MC OBi. These guys are on their music video game with a sort of Keith Ape & vaporware zeitgeist aesthetic met with a smooth, keyboard-laced trap track.
6. NaCho/Cheney – “唱歌给你听”
NaCho is another Liaoning native who now resides in Shenyang. He’s the MC on this track, which features a guest verse by Cheney. The title of this track, which was produced by San E, translates to something like “Sing a song for you.” stream
7. 杀手耗/傲傲/忘词THUG,KID – “帅到没朋友DEMO”
These are some more MCs from the aforementioned MUKDENBRO label. This track’s title could translate to “handsome, no friends.” The MC’s are Shashou Hao, Ao Ao and Wang Ci. stream
8. Tommy3000 – “Iced”
Aside from the locals, there are a handful of foreigners making music in Shenyang as well. One of them is Tommy3000 from Moscow, who does not actually release any of his material, so I had to do some deep WeChat and Yadi.sk digging to track his stuff down. He describes his music as “Techno in the traditional method.”
9. 泥塑上帝SoilGodliness – “Cold space”
This post-rock outfit was formed in 2015, and this song title is super fitting for the region. It doesn’t seem like they’ve made a proper album yet, but I did find some a release that appears to be taken from their rehearsals, aptly titled “RehearsalRecord.” stream
10. Untitled Band – “intro F#”
Untitled Band is a side project of Pool of Light (see below). It is surely the most rock-oriented selection on this mix, and perhaps one of the hardest to search for, considering their name. Regardless, it’s a very relaxing song.
11. Pool of Light – “Thousand Cranes”
Originally from Siberia, Pool of Light is an ambient artist and guitarist who now lives in Shenyang. This is one of his shorter pieces, but you can really ruminate on some of his longer drones. stream
If you stick around to the end, you can see that Shenyang is a pretty diverse place, albeit mostly under the radar.
This is by no means the ultimate guide to Shenyang, but should serve as a good jumping off point. If I have overlooked an act or have made mistakes about something, please feel free to let me know: [email protected]
Cover image: Shenyang rapper NaCho (source)
Full track list:
1. FUNG LOK – “Don’t ever need” (00:00)
2. busy.e/焦壳儿/奉天组 – “BOYBACK -Ft.joker” (02:46)
3. Kang – “特别关注” (07:00)
4. M03 – “BETRAY” (10:36)
5. OB03 – “Baby U Know” (12:40)
6. NaCho/Cheney – “唱歌给你听” (16:05)
7. 杀手耗/傲傲/忘词THUG,KID – “帅到没朋友DEMO” (19:00)
08. Tommy3000 – “Iced” (22:30)
09. 泥塑上帝SoilGodliness – “Cold space” (28:05)
10. Untitled Band – “intro F#” (36:00)
11. Pool of Light – “Thousand Cranes” (47:00)
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