As electronic music continues to enjoy gain popularity where it previously had little, China is slowly but surely embracing the genre. While electronic music godfathers Kraftwerk were denied a work visa by government officials earlier this year due to the German’s group’s association with a Tibetan freedom concert they eventually didn’t play in 1998, the fifth annual Intro Music Festival which took place this weekend in a disused Capital Steel Factory in Beijing’s Shijingshan showcased 80 or so electronic acts whose styles ranged from breakbeat to techno.
According to China.org, the festival is one of many examples illustrating how the genre is taking root in China.
DJ Ouyang, a veteran Beijing techno-house artist, told the site, “I think people who come to music festivals are becoming increasingly diverse. Initially it was only people who were already exposed to electronic music, now there are people who bring their children and come here to enjoy the atmosphere and the surroundings. I think this is such a successful transition – it is bringing music to a wider audience. To bring new music to an old setting is a successful integration of the two.”
Michael Ohlsson, the founder of the Antidote collective and an organizer of MIDI festival, one of Beijing’s largest and oldest, concurred, offering that there are a wealth of professional opportunities for artists in the field. “There are a lot of musicians and DJs and electronic artists in China and I think a lot of them are discouraged by the opportunities that they have. But actually there are fantastic opportunities out there if they’re dedicated. you can tour the world, I think a lot of the young people think that they don’t have the opportunities that they have in the Europe or the States but actually its better. It’s exciting. When there’s an exciting new band/producer, people get really excited about it and they really put a lot of respect and energy behind it.”
While dance music has traditional flourished in countries where freedom of speech and a free press have been the law of the land, could electronic music follow the success of the country’s contemporary art scene? While reports of massive investment in China Music Valley, a joint venture between LiveNation and Pinggu local government and acts like Metallica to Pet Shop Boys touring China often make headlines, in recent weeks there have been raids and arrests reported by bloggers at various shows.
As politics and art wrestle with each other, electronic music’s future could still reside in one of the more unlikely places on earth.