Hong Kong experimental cinema, 80’s Kungfu movies, triad gangsters, Chinese and Japanese cartoons, Qian Xuesen and China’s early space program all collide together in AV Okubo’s sound to create a weird kaleidoscope of modern Chinese sensibilities. The combination of retro-amusements combined with deeper social critique, along with their ferocious dance rhythms, has quickly brought this young band to the attention of fellow musicians and audiences across China and got them a coveted invitation, even before the release of their first CD, to Austin’s South by Southwest festival in 2010.
Formed in 2006 in the dirty industrial megalopolis of Wuhan, AV Okubo has captured the eyes and ears of China with the members themselves living out their music’s conflicts of a changing society. Frontman Lu Yan (vox/keyboard) is an aspiring film director while Tan Chao (guitar) works a day job as a train engineer in a major steel factory. Filling out the band, Zuo Yi (bass) and Hu Juan (percussion) are both active in the local music scene, traditionally the home of China’s hardest and wildest punk scene. They have played with, and at times overshadowed, such bands as Orange (Uruguay), The 4 Sivits (Germany), Ratatat (USA), These Are Powers (USA) and Battles (USA). Several large festival appearances, including 2008’s Modern Sky Festival and 2009’s JUE Festival, have exposed them to larger audience and their infrequent trips to the capital have become occasions for packed and crazy shows at Yugong Yishan and D22 attended by eager fans. In late 2008 the band set up in A-String, Asia’s largest studio, to record their debut album with acclaimed producer Martin Atkins.
For the band, music is the half-remembered memories of growing up in the social construction project that is China, the places they’ve been to, the people they’ve met and things they’ve experienced along the way. New wave, experimental noise, disco punk, ultimately their sound smashes together everything they have encountered set to a massive beat. AV Okubo has grown up in the entertainment era. Neither punky criticism nor a complete overthrow of modern culture, they slide obliquely through a loophole and force on us their version of change.