Interview: Goodbye Honey Boy

Goodbye Honey Boy had a great breakout year in 2017. They released a pair of stunningly atmospheric and dreamy albums (available on Xiami) and almost as quickly saw the potential for demise as their members started to focus on different artistic endeavours (they are not, as I mistakenly asserted in my previous article, a duo!)

What happens now is that they become a changeable group made of friends and collaborators.

I spoke with the very eloquent and thoughtful Qiufan, producer in Goodbye Honey Boy, about the group’s plans for the future.

You have lived studied abroad before, can you tell me what was your experience of America and Spain? Why did you come back to China?

In the U.S., that was basically where I built my own identity. I left China as an angry young kid, like a punk. I was quite fed-up with the censorship, social inequality and the stupid people who had lots of money doing stupid things. I’m not sure why, but I think I expected to live in a society where the culture and arts blossom.

By living in New York, I learned much, both about the world outside of China and about myself, because being there alone made me become more sensitive about the surrounding and about observing my own consciousness and cultural identity.  I went to New York to pursue music and arts, but I majored in Philosophy which turned out to be a huge help to me on clarifying the questions in my mind. I grew up in terms of knowledge, information, profession, value and aesthetics.

But the last two years in New York, I got really lost by studying composition with a contemporary classical composer. I was not sure what should I do, and I felt more and more alienated with the subject I was studying and practicing, and I also had trouble with the idea of “avant-garde”. Luckily, I made a correct decision which is to pursue a music production degree at Berklee. It moved me to electronic music, sound arts, and popular music production etc.. It finally set me on a creative perspective for music.

Spain was like a happy ending, I left my identity crisis, the food is so much better that the U.S., I was just chilling by the Mediterranean sea.. haha, not exactly… I gradually sorted out the things that I really wanted to do and the music that I really wanted to make, felt myself is on the right track.

I thought a lot before I came back. Like I said before, I became more conscious about myself and my culture. I realized it is hard for me to really create based on a foreign soil. I’ve seen many artists who live in New York, but their subjects are all about China. I didn’t want to do pure aesthetic subjects that has nothing to relate to the social world(like talking about space and time) or being a technician-ish person who earns wages abroad. I knew it was hard to play or get inspired with a role in a society that I’m not connected with in terms of cultural identity. The inspiration often came from the feeling of the friends and the society that we live in. The expression is often a reaction or a message to where I live and care about. It is much easier to find people who share similar interest and vision here. Mainly, I’d work with people who can share with similar subtle senses. And the audience also would understand better. Even music is so abstract, but at least when you as a musician or artist who publish your work, you would have to talk about it. The ideas and inspiration that you share with audiences contains so much of cultural and local understandings. a bit similar as politics. Like the Speechless, it may just plays some sweet sorrow feelings that I experience constantly however don’t think too many indie bands in Beijing (or in China at least now) wrote pop songs about it, but I knew people would love to listen to it. Also  as to production it’s not so diverse in China, we could add on to it. These factors become motivation for me to do this thing as well. So I came back.

in Beijing last year you had quite an impact, lots of people liked your music and were excited to hear more. What things did you learn from being in a band in Beijing? How did your future plans change after gaining a certain amount of success? Do you look back on 2017 as a success?

I think the subject of a band has to be clear in order to be recognized. Even the members are good friend but still we have to balance the ideas, I’m the producer, so I often need to think about this question what is the message that this band/project want to tell, later I labeled ourselves as “little psychedelic sweet song” something like this, to help the band grow an identity/voice.

I don’t think it’s too much of a success yet. Yes, we did signed a record label, and drew some attention from the mainly the shoegze circle. But especially today, I didn’t see our name on the Abby Road Award by Douban… which makes me feel a little disappointed. I felt GBHB is way better than some of those nominated ones.

My plan is that while I’m making a 20’s – 50’s mainly American pop music inspired nostalgic album with a singer, try to keep the GBHB tone(the main subject) going. But collaboration oversea can be difficult and inefficient, plus Zhoutong(guitarist) has to make a decision, he can’t mange both architecture and music and same time right now I think. The singer will mainly work on her fashion business in Hangzhou. So right now I will move on to make two EPs one hypnotic music the other is to take the material from the hypnotic one to make dance tracks. So it probably won’t be a band form, but maybe audiovisual group.. I’ll bring in other friends to participate, like I wrote about GBHB at the beginning that it is a musical collective made by a group of uncertain members/artists.

Will music always be your main passion or are you also interested in expanding artistically to make visual art or perhaps do you want to eventually make an all encompassing piece that brings together many different forms?

Making records for indie pop music is my main passion now. But I think I will eventually move towards to sound arts and scoring music. as I accumulate some reputation and get more experienced in the regular realm(record music) then I’ll jump to the irregular(contemporary arts) realm, do some multi-media exhibitional stuffs… well but that’s a really long term plan.

You can catch up with Goodbye Honey Boy’s music on Xiami, QQ music player and Bandcamp

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