The word “legend” easily attaches itself to any Beijing musician who manages to stay relevant for over a decade, but it’s not the best word to describe Yang Haisong. The PK14 vocalist’s famous stage energy is transparent and real. He’s not some sunglasses-at-night, aloof stage siren. He doesn’t exist in mythic space. He’s a bedrock, a touchstone. As his own band has grown more and more popular, he’s kept his energy steadfastly focused on tilling the soil, keeping the underground vital. PK14 has undoubtedly been canonized in the pantheon of Chinese Indie greats, but Haisong’s personal influence runs much deeper than his band’s. As a producer, he has worked tirelessly as a hands-on mentor to dozens of fledgling musicians from all over the country. As a musician, he’s continually diversified his range, simultaneously writing, recording, producing, and touring multiple side and solo projects. As a person, he’s grounded, humble, pragmatic, and patient.
PK14 hits their next milestone in September, when they release 1984, their sixth studio album, and spread it far and wide on a 30+ city tour. The official Beijing release show isn’t until October, but you can catch a more intimate glimpse of the new material next Tuesday at XP.
The following interview was conducted in two parts. I sat down with Haisong in November 2011 to nail down all the historical details and get the scoop on his then-new band After Argument and label, Share In Obstacles. He’s kept going full speed since then, so I sat down with him the other day to catch up on his staggering output as a musician and producer over the last year and a half. Here’s Yang Haisong on the Culture Bureau: