Around this time, Feng grew increasingly interested in non-music subjects such as science, technology, and politics, observing that these fields were characterized by an energy and dynamism that her own industry lacked. After her partner, DJ and promoter Philipp Grefer, returned from Berlin-based interdisciplinary technology festival Tech Open Air, the pair were inspired to create their own event: , which gathers the brightest minds from a range of sectors for lectures and discussions on “everything.”
Unfortunately, at least for a vocaloid novice like myself, the novelty of the whole thing starts to wear thin after about an hour. But the set clocks in at nearly two hours, including a three-song encore with the openers, an video game–themed electronic band from New York called Anamanaguchi. Still, it’s surprisingly easy to accept our fate, wherein Miku and her friends are our technological overlords, here to give us music that’s programmed to give us maximum joy. But these bots are a little perfect. At least Taylor Swift’s hair gets caught in her lip gloss sometimes.
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I think a lot of the time [internationally], people go to festivals to enjoy a happening that is surrounding a certain kind of lifestyle. The music is the soundtrack to that lifestyle, and the festival is the place you go to be with people that share a similar belief system to you. Music is kind of a name card.
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Helen Feng: There’s so many. I think the biggest challenge right now is that there’s a in the way that music is distributed — in digital distribution. You have a couple of major players that are more or less moving with each other, except for maybe one or two on the sidelines. The way that the distribution works is just like in the West: Very, very little ends up trickling into the hands of artists — most of it stops in the hands of middlemen, the person who controls the data, the record company who gets the advance from digital streaming, etc. All of this music is being commodified in some way or another, but the community is being broken down in a way.
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Sixth Tone: One of NEU China’s stated aims is to “explore the opportunities and challenges of our near and far future.” What do you think these might be in China’s music industry?
Thai – they’ve barely spoken one language before the conversation ..
Helen Feng: I think there is. On the positive side, it’s basically training an entire generation of people to appreciate music, to interact with music, which is very important. Even if there’s a big ugly logo on the back of the stage, a not very well-done sound system, it’s still the beginning of something, so I have to give it that. But I think that trend peaked more a few years ago; I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s in a rapid moment of growth now. Four or five years ago, there was a huge explosion when — all of a sudden — music festivals started popping up everywhere, and brands started getting interested.