New Weird China: Interview with South Acid Mimi Dance Team

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Mar 1, 2018 4 mins read

Kunming, nicknamed the City of Eternal Spring, is known for its pleasant climate and laidback atmosphere. Directly confronting this reputation is South Acid Mimi Dance Team, a trio of childhood friends who share an affinity for obscure Japanese heavy psych, regular inebriation and fluffy animals.

The band namechecks artists like Bjork, Bikini Kill, Suicide and Rammstein when asked about their influences, and you can kind of hear all of those at the same time in their music, which is fun, sometimes brash, always weird and characteristically held together through all of its stylistic twists and volatile shifts in tempo by an uneasy tension that tickles the back of your skull, especially when seeing their singular live show.

A few years ago, South Acid Mimi perked up on the radar of some tastemakers from Beijing-based label Ruby Eyes Records, who flew to Kunming, saw them play, and signed them on the spot. After some trials and errors and a lot of Chongqing liquor, the band has recently put the finishing touches on their debut album, Mimism, which will be out in March or so. Ahead of that, I asked them about their influences, how Kunming’s vernal vibes do or do not percolate through their sound, how their many pets influence their compositional process, and how “60-kuai yogurt” fits into their visual aesthetic.

RADII: Can you introduce yourselves? What is your name and what do you do in the band?

South Acid Mimi Dance Team: Shi Shi, Yi Xiao, 00. We all play synthesizer and sing.

How did you meet? How and when did you begin making music together?

00: We grew up together, so it just naturally happened.

Shi: For a quite long time, we spent almost every day together. Back in 2015, 00 and I had a punk band, then 00 left Kunming, so I asked Yi Xiao to be the vocalist. We were high school classmates, and we both dropped out in the 11th grade.

Xiao: In the early period of the band, I was still working at a design company. I met them at a small store that Shi owned called Ai Bai Huo (爱百货) after work every day, and we got drunk and made music together, laughing the whole time. Later Haifeng and Li Qing [from Beijing label Ruby Eyes Records] found us on Douban and came to Kunming to watch us perform. After that, we signed a contract and I quit my job. Ai Bai Huo closed too.

What are your musical influences?

So many. Those who come to mind immediately are Nina Hagen, Rammstein, Bjork, Bikini Kill, Atari Teenage Riot, The Prodigy, Nirvana, Suicide, Cobra Killer, Yura Yura Teikoku, Yoko Kanno, Kousokuya, Tokyo Incidents, Rage Against the Machine, Bauhaus…

What other interests besides music do you share?

00: From handicraft needlework to movies and paintings… we do handicrafts together quite often.

Shi: We’ve been learning oil painting from my dad recently.

Xiao: And we’re passionate about animals. 00 has a dog named 33; I have two cats, Yi Xiu and Little Fire Dragon; Shi has a dog named Big Beauty, a cat named Dai Mi and a hamster named Gua Zi. Some of our melodies were inspired by fluffy feelings.

Does living in Kunming influence your music or your attitude towards making art in any way?

There’s always sunshine in Kunming, and not much industrialization. It’s very leisurely, entertaining and mixed, which lets us listen to everything. Our understanding of electronic music is not systematic. People always played rock’n’roll at all the parties we went to when we were young, which actually influenced Mimi’s music a lot, but it’s hard to describe.

How often do you practice? Perform?

It’s kind of special circumstances… We live in two different places now, so there’s no regular time for either practice or performances. But we really like the state we are in now. We fly to a city to meet up, then spend a day drinking Jiang Xiao Bai [a Chongqing liquor] and chatting at the hotel, practice for two or three days, then perform. Recently we stayed in Yiwu for a week, wrote new songs, performed, and went back home.

What is the local music scene in Kunming like today? How does it compare with scenes in nearby cities like Chengdu and Chongqing?

It’s hard to say, because we don’t watch live shows that often. If I have to compare, I guess the difference is that there are a lot more friends in Kunming, and we drink way more……

Last year you signed with Ruby Eyes Records to release your debut album. What’s the status of that? When can we look forward to hearing it?

This album is full of love. We put so much love into it, and now it’s done. You can hear it pretty soon, in the first half of this year!

I really loved your music video for “NUNUDUGU,”which you shot in 2015. How did that collaboration (with Kristen Ng and Erika Sklenars) come together? Do you have plans for more videos or other projects like this?

When Kristen and Erika and [New Zealand band] Orchestra of Spheres came to Kunming, we were their guest performers. We drank a couple of glasses of plum wine, then decided to make a music video. Although we were really hungover, we found an empty bedroom in a friend’s house, then bathed in 60-kuai yogurt. We are going to make a new music video with cellphones next.

What other artists or bands from China do you like?

Kaishandao, Dirty Fingers, Bedstars… two guitarists: Li Jianhong and Li Qing. and some local bands from Kunming, like Plastic (塑料), La Cao Girls (辣糙女孩), and Oolong Gas (盖世乌龙).

What else do you have planned for 2018?

Release the new album, and go on tour! Then release another album! Ha!

South Acid Mimi Dance Team’s debut album Mimism (咪咪主义) is out on Ruby Eyes Records in early 2018

All images courtesy South Acid Mimi Dance Team/Ruby Eyes Records

English translation by Fan Shuhong

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