AN ICON­O­CLAST’S POWER

Queen Sea Big Shark’s lead vo­cal­ist Fu Han ven­tures into pho­tog­ra­phy while rid­ing a re­cent wave of re­newed pop­u­lar­ity for her style of rock

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CULTURE - By CHEN NAN chen­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

98 Art Zone, the hottest place to ex­plore the con­tem­po­rary art scene in the cap­i­tal, is fully packed with week­end tourists. In one cor­ner of the zone, dressed in retro high-rise black pants, white blouse and black win­klepick­ers, Fu Han sips her iced cof­fee.

The lead vo­cal­ist of the indie rock band Queen Sea Big Shark, Fu is shar­ing laughs with the three other band mem­bers, gui­tarist Cao Pu, bassist Wang Jing­han and drum­mer Xiao Wu — when her cell­phone isn’t buzzing.

“If I knew we could do it (as a band) for 12 years, I wouldn’t have done it in the begin­ning,” gig­gles Fu. “For­tu­nately, play­ing mu­sic is still fun.”

Queen Sea Big Shark, founded in 2005, is one of the cap­i­tal’s most pop­u­lar rock bands. With its wild spirit, trendy mu­sic that blends rock, elec­tronic and the retro sounds of the 1970s and 1980s, the band has been a fix­ture at Beijing’s live mu­sic venues and at out­door mu­sic fes­ti­vals around the coun­try for over a decade.

In March 2016, the band re­leased its third full-length al­bum, Beijing Surfers’ Ad­ven­ture, un­der Mod­ern Sky, one of the coun­try’s largest indie record com­pa­nies. Last year the rock­ers also kicked off a 12-city na­tional tour.

On April 15, they re­leased a doc­u­men­tary, Queen Sea Big Shark: Beijing Surfers’ Ad­ven­ture, at Ul­lens Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Art (UCCA) in 798 Art Zone. The band also gave an un­plugged per­for­mance af­ter the screen­ing.

The doc­u­men­tary fol­lows the pro­duc­tion of the al­bum and lat­est tour, with stops in cities the band vis­ited for the first time, in­clud­ing Urumqi, cap­i­tal of the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion, and Lhasa, cap­i­tal of China’s Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

“A young man drove for 500 kilo­me­ters to see us in Urumqi along with his mother and sis­ter,” re­calls the gui­tarist Cao. “I had to take the oxy­gen dur­ing the per­for­mance in Lhasa for hight at­ti­tude sick­ness.”

The new al­bum, which com­bines jazz, hip-hop and indie mu­sic ele­ments, took the band six years to fin­ish.

Af­ter that, the band mem­bers spent three months trav­el­ing in­de­pen­dently, with­out any con­tact.

“I went to a mu­sic fes­ti­val in Texas (United States), the others went to In­done­sia, the Philip­pines and the Grand Canyon,” says Fu. “We did it in­ten­tion­ally be­cause we wanted to have some time ‘alone’.”

“We have known each other for many years. We are so close like fam­i­lies. We agreed that it’s good to sep­a­rate for a while,” adds Fu.

Their trips and sep­a­rated days in­spired them to write songs, in­clud­ing Bling Bling Bling, Beijing Surfers and Drift­ing on the Earth for the new al­bum.

Timed with the screen­ing, Fu launched her pho­tog­ra­phy ex­hi­bi­tion Play­ing on the Earth. 80 photos were taken by Fu and se­lected from over 3,000 photos from 2008 to 2016.

The on­go­ing ex­hi­bi­tion at UCCA con­tin­ues through May 30.

“I started my pas­sion for pho­tog­ra­phy from tak­ing pic­tures of my­self. Then I re­al­ized that pho­tog- StaroftheOcean

ra­phy is not just about doc­u­ment­ing ev­ery­day life but also about self-ex­pres­sion,” Fu says.

In her photos, Fu started fo­cus­ing on her friends, in­clud­ing the band mem­bers, au­di­ences, and the places she trav­eled.

Among the images dis­played is a girl in blue tight skirt and a roost­er­shape head­gear look­ing into the mir­ror. The photo, ti­tled Mys­ter­ies, was taken in 2013 by Fu when she was in New York tak­ing in a Hal­loween party.

An­other photo, of a skinny girl sit­ting on a mo­tor­bike, cap­tures a high school class­mate of Fu.

“She is the coolest per­son I have ever seen. She rode that mo­tor­bike from Beijing to Lhasa to be a vol­un­teer teacher. She also trav­eled to In­ner Mon­go­lia to live on the grass­land alone for a year,” says Fu. “She has no de­sire for ma­te­rial things. She en­joys the free­dom and lives her life at her own pace.”

“It seems to be a lux­ury to be one­self and stay true to one­self,” Fu adds. “She is my idol.”

The in­ter­view was con­stantly in­ter­rupted by fans, who wanted pic­tures, au­to­graphs and chats.

“My 2-year-old daugh­ter en­joys your songs very much. I took her to your show in Beijing’s Star Live last De­cem­ber. She likes lis­ten­ing to the song Beijing Surfers, be­fore she goes to bed ev­ery night,” says a woman, who claims have been a band fan since she was a univer­sity stu­dent. She watched Queen Sea Big Shark’s per­for­mance for the first time at the Straw­berry Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

“It feels good to see th­ese peo­ple, who have been with us for years,” say Fu, giv­ing the woman a big hug.

Born in Beijing, the 30-some­thing Fu was born to a pi­anist mother and a doc­tor fa­ther. She at­tempted to learn pi­ano but failed.

“I was not a quiet girl. I was very naughty and couldn’t sit down for hours to prac­tice play­ing the pi­ano. Thank­fully, my par­ents are open­minded and they are very sup­port­ive of my choice,” say Fu.

With a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in ar­chi­tec­ture from Beijing Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy and a maste’sr de­gree in graphic de­sign from the Cen­tral Academy of Fine Arts, Fu was in­flu­enced by the indie rock bands in the cap­i­tal then, in­clud­ing Joy­side and PK14. She founded Queen Sea Big Shark with gui­tarist Cao, her class­mate Beijing Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy.

Then Cao in­tro­duced the other two mem­bers of the band.

All the band mem­bers are Beijing na­tives and they of­ten hang out around Beijing’s Houhai Lake, once a peace­ful, scenic spot that’s be­come a tourist site.

“We just wanted to have fun with mu­sic and didn’t plan any­thing,” says Fu.

In 2007, the band re­leased its self­ti­tled al­bum un­der the Mod­ern Sky la­bel, which fea­tured Chi­nese and English lyrics.

Be­sides the dance rock tunes, the band mem­bers also won fans’ at­ten­tion for their stage pres­ence, es­pe­cially the lead vo­cal­ist, who re­flects her fash­ion sense in her stage out­fits.

“I de­signed my stage clothes by my­self. I col­lects cloth pieces, fab­rics and ac­ces­sories,” says Fu, who also de­signs posters and al­bum cov­ers for the band.

In 2009, Queen Sea Big Shark em­barked on a tour in the US, open­ing for fa­mous acts such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

In 2010, the band re­leased its sec­ond al­bum, Wave, which has strong elec­tronic beats. A year later, they per­formed at Sum­mer Sonic in Osaka, Ja­pan.

“In the past, we just had dozens in au­di­ences to our shows but now we per­form in front to hundreds of thou­sands of peo­ple. The change of the coun­try’s indie mu­sic land­scape is also ob­vi­ous. Peo­ple are open to dif­fer­ent types of mu­sic,” Fu says.

In 2016, the band ini­ti­ated a con­cert called Young Friends Con­cert, invit­ing their mu­si­cian friends, in­clud­ing bands like Car­sick Cars and Youth.

“We want to make this con­cert a se­ries, which aims at in­tro­duc­ing orig­i­nal Chi­nese indie rock bands,” says Fu. “We want to do some­thing for peo­ple like us.”

Fu Han, lead vo­cal­ist of the indie rock band Queen Sea Big Shark

PHOTOS BY ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY AND PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Fu Han, lead vo­cal­ist of the indie rock band Queen Sea Big Shark; the photo ti­tled Mys­ter­ies; the band gave a live show in Qing­dao, Shandong last by Fu Han; mem­bers of the band at Houhai Lake in Beijing.

Clock­wise from top: year; a photo ti­tled

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