He Guoheng, known in the world of music as Xiao He, is one of the most creative and influential artists in the Beijing music scene. Besides his recordings and his solo and ensemble music performances, he is active in drama, writes incidental music, and is a creative force in the underground movie industry. He is also the head of Maybe Horse, a Maybe Mars sub- label dedicated to supporting and developing Beijing’s and China’s most innovative folk and ethnic musicians.
At the same time Xiao He, which is the alias he settled on for his folk and improvised music performances, played guitar, drum and accordion at River, a legendary old Beijing folk bar. Between these two projects Xiao He quickly developed a serious following among artists and music fans in the China music scene. In 2003, Modern Sky, China’s largest independ- ent label, released his first CD, a live recording called “The Bird that Can Fly High Landed on the Cow that Can Run Fast”. Almost immediately this was received as one of the most important recordings in contemporary Chinese music.
Except for a very few special performances with Glorious Pharmacy, today Xiao He only plays solo performances. Calling these multi-faceted improvised performances “Free Folk”, as much to express his anarchic playfulness as to suggest the total freedom which he approaches musical instrumentation, vocal performances and stylistic experimentation, he has become the inventor of a deeply weird and immensely moving style of music, mystical and surreal, which abruptly veers from the plaintive cries of Mongolian or Western Chinese music to the barbed and sometimes childlike humour of the avant garde. Complementing his stylistic creativity is a wholly unique way of playing acoustic guitar, loops, synthesizers and any other instrument that catches his fancy.