Zhang Shouwang (Carsick Cars)

The Creators Project: When did you first become interested in music?

Zhang Shouwang: During high schooI I listened to music a lot. I would even skip class just to keep listening. At that time, most of us still bought tapes instead of CDs. During the weekends my friends and I would go to the music store to buy albums, and there would frequently be lot of people competing for popular albums. I remember one time when we were all in the music store right after the latest hit album had just been released. Lots of people had scrambled and pushed past each other to get it, and when I flipped through the stacks there was blood covering the merchandise around it. Of course, it wasn’t mine. People don’t really do these types of crazy things nowadays—we just get our music from the internet.

Who were some of your early musical influences?

The first time I heard Steve Reich was on a trip to New York in 2006 when I was 19 on a trip to New York. I had a friend there who was a symphony conductor, and he took me to some music stores. He also introduced me to some popular rock stars, including Steve Reich. When I listened to his album, I was stunned by his music. His music still influences me a lot today.

In your opinion, why has “experimental” rock become popular in Beijing in recent times?

I think rock music has some limitations, and lots of expressions couldn’t be incorporated into rock music in earlier years. I once read an interview with Suicide; they said when they took the subway in New York City, the noises the trains made inspired them. I had the same experience while I was there. I heard those noises from the metro and I think those noises were better then any sound from the studio.

What are some of the main differences between Chinese and American audiences?

The only difference is that when we sing in Mandarin, Americas may not really know what we’re saying but they still can feel the melody of the music and enjoy.

How much are Chinese bands like yours influenced by Western music and culture?

The generation before us didn’t have as many chances to get to know the rock music of Western countries, but nowadays we listen to music from many other countries. I believe that when my bands write songs, we might be influenced some elements of Western culture. I think the next generation of bands will be much different than ours. But for me, I think the songs I write are Chinese in style because I live in China, and no matter how I am influenced by the West my main concepts are based on my country.

How does the internet aid and inform your work?

The internet brings lots of idea to me. It provides information and examples of art and design. I can search for equipment on the internet, and sometimes it’s really cheap.

If you had the chance, would you want to make music in other countries besides China?

Even if I had the opportunity to do that, I think I would still choose to stay in Beijing because I’m already used to the way of making music in our own place. It has much free space for creating music. I think it’s because Beijing is still a developing city, and there are not too many restrictions on playing music. If I wrote songs in New York City, I might come up with ideas people have already used and it would be much tougher to make music.