Jun with Sonic Candy
Sonic Candy’s doors opened 12 years ago and Jun has maintained a presence in the rock, metal, and underground music scene ever since. I had the pleasure to sit down with him and talk about the emergence of western music in China and how it shaped his life. We began with a little bit of history.
Before the 1950s the city of Tianjin was enamored with swing jazz and rockabilly parties. Within China, Tianjin was referred to as the “North Tianjin” city. The destination for excitement, recreation, and a location with a vibrant music scene and a rich culture.
Much of that was lost as time marched on. The traditional Chinese music was gradually replaced by western influenced dance and pop beats. Strangely enough, the best place to find that traditional and ancient soulful music now may be in distant places like Japan or Korea.
But how did western music make it into China in the first place? The answer lies in a historical oddity, the "cut cds."
After the proliferation of CDs in the west as a form of music consumption came the inevitable discarding of used CDs. However the material used to create the CDs was too valuable to just throw away. Music production companies in the US would put a small cut in a discarded CD and then mail it to China to be recycled. The Chinese realized much of the music was salvageable and an entire generation of music lovers were raised on the music recovered from cut CD’s.
Jun works, in his own humble way, to restore some element of a lost appreciation for music and musicians to his community. As he puts it: “To respect artists and respect the culture, that is my dream.”
As he surveys the music scene today, Jun is dismayed at the new emphasis on materialism. The value of enriching the mind through music and arts seems to beforgotten. But for Jun this value is more than enriching, it sustains him. "Before, when I was growing up, I needed the music. Now, the music needs me."
Jun is a proficient guitarist and enjoys playing indie rock, noise rock, punk and blues with his jam bands. He lists the Black Keys and the John Spencer Blues Explosion as some of his biggest influences in addition to Sui jian 崔健 - The godfather of Chinese rock and roll.
As Jun and I chat he explains his conception of the different musical styles:
"When I was a teenager, I enjoyed heavy rock and noisy music. Rock is more about feeling your emotions. Dance music is more of a lower body workout, a time to jump around and not have to think about things."
As we walked to the front door of his shop past the shelves and crates of curated music, ever changing, Jun regarded his collection with a wistful smile. "Every record is a memory for our generation. Every time I put on a record; the air, the memory, and the place are relived."
In addition to his brick and mortar location Jun sells records online. The majority of his sales are now made through wechat, and his market has expanded outside of China. You can browse his inventory at: SonicCandyJun on WeChat
The 1990’s was the golden age for modern music and arts in Tianjin.
Before when I was growing up the I needed the music, now the music needs me. I must stay here, it is my duty.
A big city needs culture. “So I do it”