Future Orients is a new Chinese rock band from the Beijing label Maybe Mars, who’ve just finished recording their first album. Humbly self-described as just another ordinary four-man band, the group was born by chance when the four kindred spirits first met in a university dorm and discovered that they loved the same music. Their sound has been described as post-rock, post-punk, math rock, indie, and even dance – but guitarist Guo Zhen actually considers their sound to be more or less pop. Ultimately, he says, what they are aiming for is psychedelic disco, or just something with a beat that people could dance to.
Take a listen to some select demo tracks from Future Orients:
Their influences include Mogwai, PK14, DIIV, NEU!, Joy Division, Kraftwerk, and Pink Floyd, but the one band that they all seem to agree on is Foals, whose angular and methodically kinetic style of post-punk has clearly had a stylistic influence over the Future Orients’ sound. Lead singer and guitarist Yong, despite all of their rock influences, insists that the band know nothing about rock music and that that is not what the band makes. What Future Orients make is “sissy pop and middle-aged 70s disco music”, and what they are are just a pop group who like to write songs that are hard on the ears.
We meet the band in their own basement studio under an apartment complex in West Beijing, where they rehearse all afternoon for an upcoming gig. Lead singer Yong tells us that, “Right now in China, things are pretty good. There are more festivals, gigs, and foreign musicians coming from abroad. It’s not a bad time to be in a band. People are taking copyright issues more seriously, and more money is being invested into the independent music scene. These are all good things.” The band admit that, despite just starting out in their short career, they haven’t really encountered too many challenges so far.
他们自己的工作室位于北京西边一处公寓小区里的地下室里，他们在这里为一个即将到来的演出排练了一下午，我们也在这里碰面了。主唱阿勇告诉我们: “现在中国都挺好的。音乐节多了，演出多了，国外过气大牌来的多了，最近版权问题搬上了台面是个好事。独立音乐圈也开始有资金流入，也是好事。” 乐队坦言，尽管他们在这条职业道路上刚刚起步，却迄今还未遇到过太多挑战。
Guitarist Guo Zhen says “the independent music scene here is improving all the time, and there are more and more opportunities (for us) to perform. Also more good bands from overseas come here now to play gigs, but if anything, the whole music environment and local rock scene here is not stimulating enough. It’s not as competitive as it is abroad where there are just so many great bands making great music. I prefer to be more stimulated. Because there are far fewer top bands here, sometimes some really strange acts can play music festivals, which I don’t think is so good.” One thing that is worrisome for the band is how over the past two years in Beijing, many performances and gigs have been suddenly canceled, and there always seem to be some new censorship regulations.
The band have only just finished recording their first album, which includes ten songs in total, and are now in the process of mixing it. Their goal was to record it quickly and to keep on making new music. For Guo Zhen, the band’s immediate goals are to keep on rehearsing, continue to explore their sound, and keep playing gigs until they have exhausted themselves. Yong says that the only thing that really matters to them is to make the best of today, after all nothing in the future exists. Perhaps a good description of this young band’s mindset can be found in the lyrics of one of their songs: “Sing with all your passion / put your hands up / let me embrace your dreams / let me see your real face / let’s smile, now we’re young / let’s look forward to a better tomorrow.” Maybe Mars plans to release Future Orients’ first album later this year.