MAGAZINE

transmitCHINA - Changsha Day 2
// by Louise Upperton, photos by Tobyn Ross / May 31, 2010

Changsha during the day is chaotic. Everyone and their dog rides a scooter, and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the direction in which they drive. With an extra day to spend in the city, members of Flash Lightnin' are keen for more of a glimpse of local life. Drummer Chris Henry was up early for some breakfast. "We took a tour around and found some little traditional shops and grabbed some nice breakfast. I couldn't tell you what we ate, but it was wonderful!" Henry says.

Chris Henry and his bandmates Darren Glover and Darcy Yates negotiate a taxi ride to a large market they noticed on the way in to town yesterday. Walking around the market is a onslaught of the senses and finally we get to see some of the things we are eating in their raw state!

"Changsha is a very cool town and I'm totally happy to be here, I'm loving it," says Henry. "It's our first time in Asia and I would love to come back here. My grandmother was raised in Hong Kong as a child when she escaped from Peru, so there's some family history here for me that I would like to come back and have some more time to check out – and play some more shows of course. But there's a little bit of family and a little bit of heart here."

Later in the day, Kimberli Persley who manages The Racoons and Flash Lightnin', shares her thoughts on new frontiers for business and why she's eager to dip her toes in the Asian market. Persley works with Nick Blasko & Piers Henwood Artist Management and has attended transmission for three years running. Nick Blasko has also attended transmitCHINA for the past two years. "It's two fold in terms of a general experience: fun and travel, and having your music heard in a new market and by an entirely new audience," says Persley. "I don't have pie-in-the-sky hopes that one of these bands will come here and make it big on one tour because that's just not how it works. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained. We want to get bands experienced in the market and see if it's something they want to continue to invest in, because you have to pick which markets you want to invest in, pour some money into touring and if it's the right time and the right place, then it will pay off in the long run."

transmitCHINA's roadTALKS and the conference in Shanghai are rapidly approaching, and Persley is ready to meet local players, promoters and brands. "What we've been hearing at transmit for the last couple years is that the way to make it happen in Asia is through branding and partnerships. People in Asia and China in particular consume music in an entirely different way and have different ideas than the West about what is worth money – they don't pay for records even more than North Americans pay for records – so touring and live shows are even more important here and that's where the brands come in. They help you get over here and so it's win-win. When it comes to combining your name with brand it's a different attitude over here… it's acceptable. You get a brand that you feel good about to underwrite your tour and you get to come over here. It's your ticket into a new market." Persley adds, "I'm excited to meet some of these people and see if they have interest in the bands and what opportunities there are for Canadian artists who have an interest in investing in Asian markets."

During soundcheck at the club, John Doherty and Anthony Carone of illScarlett and James Bunton of Ohbijou engage in a friendly gambling dice game. Dice games are quite popular in China and you can often find cups and dice on the tables inside bars and clubs. With everything set up and ready to go for the evening performances, a large group head down a small alleyway near the hotel, where we find a very small, local restaurant. It's more of a kitchen than a restaurant. There's no sign on the door and a few tables are scattered on the main floor. The hosts lead us upstairs to a tiny room with one large banquet table for our group. There's one fan for the room and the air conditioner doesn't appear to be working. Tour manager Dostav and the sound technician Marcel both speak Mandarin, so they order for us and the food arrives quickly and in large quantities. There's a sweet barbecue pork dish, bean curd and green vegetables for the vegetarians, noodles and soup. The dishes are simple, but they taste amazing. We leave stuffed and happy. As we do, one of the ladies tells Marcel that it is a huge honour for them to have a room full of foreigners eat there. We are honoured too...

Back at Live House 4689, Anissa Hart comments on Ohbijou's performance. "Tonight's venue was awesome. I think it's a good size for a band coming for the first time to a new market. The sound is good there." Hart is already looking forward to the next cities. "I'm super excited to see Beijing; the Olympics were there. And Shanghai is going to be nuts with the Expo on right now. It will be fun to play a club in a big city like that." She adds, "I would love to come back. I feel like the indie music market here is just kind of starting to grow now, so this is a good first step into it. But it would be nice to come back when there's a bit more of a scene going on. China is a great country… We can't believe how many places we've already been and China was kind of a dream come true. Asia in general is a dream come true. We're always open to going anywhere we can with the music."

To see the full gallary of Changsha Day 2, please visit Tobyns website HERE.

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