The Beijing Post-Rock compilation released by 1724 Records caught our eye a couple of weeks ago. And as I started to dig deeper into the post rock scene of China, I noticed that 1724 Records is quite active on Last.fm and the owner Road End is a user there. For the record, 1724 has reached over 2500 listeners with 24 thousand scrobbels. Put that in comparison with Maybe Mars Last.fm power of 8000 listeners and 100 thousand scrobbels and you will realize that 1724 has an enormous reach in the overseas market.
As such, I contacted Road End, whose real name is Niu Lei and interviewed him with our basic questionaire to bring light into the dark. Niu Lei had responded in Chinese and a dear friend of his helped with the translation. In between the answers you will find music sniplets of 1724 Records and the corresponding record cover.
Azchael: Can you please introduce yourself and 1724 Records?
Niu Lei: My name is Niu Lei, 34 years old, male,divorced. I am living in Beijing and was born in Hebei province. Had no higher education. Formerly worked as worker,courier,editor(newspaper),and my last job is a project manager of a NGO. I did liberal professions about 3 years. When I was 19 (in 1997), first time i listened to The Beatles and rock n roll became my favorite music.After that,as a fan,I bought lot’s of rock cds,read different kinds of Chinese rock magazines. Also chat with others who like me and share our feelings about music on the internet. In 2004,with one of my net friends,we started a music bbs,try to gather people who has the same music taste together,that bbs is “indiechina.com”. In that time,there weren’t any similar websites in China. I knew some musicians,they didn’t know how to promote their music,or how to held a concert though i think their music is excellent,such as the band “48V”,the first artist of 1724 Records. They found me by one of my friends, and hoped that I can help them to release a first full-length,and make an inner-land tour for them. So,I started to try to these things for 48V,with 5 friends of mine.That is the beginning of 1724 Records. As a fan, I tried to be professional and I chose to use the internet. That was on Children’s Day of 2006.
48V and their record South II
Azchael: 1724 has recently released the compilation Beijing Post-Rock. How did this record come into existence?
Niu Lei: Beijing Post-Rock is a promotional CD. Beijing Post-Rock is made for the same title concert,I just want more people to know this gig,and these new sounds are created by persons who are living around them in this city.And before this concert,2 of the performing bands have joined in 1724 Records.Besides all,when I was young,I found some sounds from various compilations,and finally these sounds become to my favourite.Now,most of people who listen to the music,will choose the digital not physical,so this limited compilation is a salute to my experience,or a generations experience.
Azchael: How did you contact the bands?
Niu Lei: Half of this compilation’s bands are signed with 1724 Records.Except them, one (Hualun) is managed by myself now,and the other 2 bands are my friends.In fact,the relationship between me and bands is the same inclination of music,we both like instrumental rock.So,the contact between the artists and me also very simple.
Summer Fades Away and their record Time Flies and Memory’s Cruel
Azchael: 1724 Records has chosen to put the compilation for free on bandcamp. Why?
Niu Lei: For promotion.I want to spread it as big as I could. Not only on bandcamp,we also put the compilation on lastfm and indievox (a Taiwan based digital music website), additionally,also on our official website and in our official newsletter. BTW,the limited physical editions in China are free too.
Azchael: As you are selling your CDs online not only for China but also internationally, how many from overseas buy Chinese records?
Niu Lei: Not too many, first of all,about 4 months ago we just started to sell albums to overseas, it’s not a long time. Second,our promotional work is not well enough. And the major reason I think is that foreigners are not interested in Chinese modern music,because that what we “created” more like “another copy version” to the foreigners.But,we still have something really special and creationary.I believe in this for sure,and that’s why I’m working on this.
Azchael: How do you usually promote your music?
Niu Lei: Almost completely by internet.such as this time we are noticed by Rock in China.
And,we also promote our music by holding concerts and tours.
By internet,more people will just heard what we did,but at the concert,maybe people will love what we did.
Besides all,I’m trying to make musicians to be convinced of this:to spread your sounds,is the begining of independent.
Pentatonic and their record If you don’t’understand then I can’t explain to you
Azchael: How many records have you released already?
Niu Lei: Now,1724’s catalog is 027,but in fact,we have released 20 productions.We will release more in this year.
Azchael: What are your plans for 2012?
Niu Lei: In the beginning of 2012, 4 new bands have joined in 1724.They’ll release their new albums,and take inner-land tours.
Some of our earlier artists will also do same thing in 2012.
Now,my major work is to build our bands’ official websites,for promotion & sale.
By what I already did,I just hope that:take my bands to some local music festivals;got more cooperations with other organizations,or foreign labels.’cause I am not a super man.I can’t do all things only by myself.
Azchael: What is underground for you? Are you an underground label?
Niu Lei: Underground to me is like something Anti-Goverment or Anti-Humanity.
In fact,I think most of underground are poor or nervouness.
I dislike nervouness anymore,and 1724 don’t wanna be poor(yes,we are still in proceeding).
I think 1724 is not an underground label.
Azchael: What do you think of Rock in China?
Niu Lei: Rock in China is a really cool website.I knew it long time ago.
You should make rock in china really be cool.
Azchael: Thanks for the interview!
Niu Lei: Thanks a lot!
Amber and their song Drunk Star