This article has been written by Leo (from Kaiguan Culture).
Colt Silvers, a band from Eastern France, who invest time and energy in China, will it pay? We don’t know, but we support them anyways because they’re great on stage and that’s what counts!
FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH COLT SILVERS’ MUSIC
The first time we heard about Colt Silvers it was in 2013 through a young dude from Alsace (a part of France that almost became German during second WW so people there have really long and hard to pronounce family names). The guy formerly studied in Nanjing and really wanted to bring his friends to tour China.
He sent us some links and we got our head nodding in no time when the catchy tunes of Colt Silvers started to spread around the office.
Colt Silvers，一支来自法国东北的乐队，三年里他们在花了大量的时间和精力在中国演出和推广，但到底有用吗？他们到底又图啥呢？ 我们也不知道，但我们会一直帮他们，因为他们的演出太棒了，赔钱也值。
我们第一次知道这个乐队是2012年，从一个法国小伙儿那儿听到的，他是阿尔萨斯人，（法国东北，二战时差点变成德国领土）那儿人的名字都异常的长和难念，所以咱们就叫他Pierre B吧，Pierre B之前在南京上过几年学，赶上了中国摇滚新浪潮，回老家后也一直在音乐圈混，所以一直想把身边的一票音乐人朋友们带到中国来走一遭，结果阴差阳错的就找到了我们。
It sounded a bit like Alt J with a hint of Foals and also a bit of early Strokes, not very French sound at all, rather global hipster sound I would say. Unsurprisingly the lead singer, Tristan, has a big beard…
结果我们刚听完他给我们发来的几个链接就把这事儿给应了，没错就是因为Colt Silvers – 这乐队听起来像Alt J，有点Foals的吉他，框架上又是Strokes早期的新车库路数，还都不是扒出来的，充满新意，质量颇高，不像法国乐队，听起特“国际Hipster”范儿，尤其是主唱Tristan还留着大胡子… 总之就是不多见的好乐队。
And now what do we do with this? Translate their bio in Chinese and tag some related artists…hmmm… Well. We helped the young dude from Alsace, Pierre, to set up his tour and do some promo for him because he sounded like a nice lad and that we were just like him 10 years ago. Finally in May 2013, him, Colt Silvers and 1984, another band from Strasbourg based label Deaf Rock embarked on a 4 cities tour – Beijing, Zaozhuang, Nanjing and Shanghai.
I don’t know if they broke even on that tour. Only thing I know is that I saw them in a pretty empty Yugong for the first time and I have to say I was blown away by the quality of the show. Beardy Tristan is an amazing leader, constantly moving and dancing kind of gracefully despite his strong body, guitars are played high and staccato, drums are pumping and the whole thing is over-layered by beautiful engaging choirs. Yes, their live is even better than the records.
好的，事儿应了，怎么整呢？翻译简介，推荐搭班儿的乐队，联系媒体发文…行活，上就行了，嗯… 但接触中我们越来越喜欢Pierre B 这孩子，他越来越让我们想起来10年前的自己，结果我们就帮把整个巡演当自己的来做了 – 2013年五月中旬，Pierre B，Colt Silvers乐队和1984（另一支阿尔萨斯乐队，和Colt Silvers一起签约了当地厂牌Deaf Rock）从北京踏上了4站中国巡演的征程，北京 – 枣庄 – 南京 – 上海，我们不知道巡演最后他们到底是赔了多少，但我们记得在北京的那场演出，那天尽管有Nova Heat助阵，但愚公还是很空荡，可Colt Silvers感染力极强的演出让我们都忘了这场赔大了… 大胡子Tristan是个好的乐队领袖，虎背熊腰的他在台上上窜下跳，气氛控制的很棒；乐队其他几个哥们也不含糊，高频的吉他断奏和扎实巧妙的鼓点儿还有美妙的和声伴唱让人欲罢不能。他们的现场水准比录音还棒。
To be honest, this concert is quite representative of gigs of small western bands like Colt Silvers in China. Promotion wise, everything is done, but the tour is just an economic failure ,except the gig in the 3rd-tire City Zaozhuang, a random gig which was arranged through the local friend of a friend of Pierre, we heard that they did an ass-kicking sold-out in the little venue and the whole band received VIP treatment with baijiu and all. Because of the fact that they are unknown in China, that the time and budget for promo is limited, that their music doesn’t get a chance to get on bigger music portals because let’s face it , distributors don’t care about one single indie bands, they want whole catalogues (that’s the current trend, look at Tencent signing exclusive deals with Sony, Warner, HBO etc…) these bands just can’t collect the same revenue from concerts as their Chinese counterparts, even though they often do better music.
这场演出可以说是很多国际小乐队在中国演出的一个典型，所有该做的都做了，但各站票房依旧惨淡（除了三线城市枣庄，Pierre B 通过朋友的朋友定了这么一站，结果据说在那儿他们的演出卖爆了，而且乐队还受到了当地大哥们的官员级接待…），乐队虽然质量上乘但微弱的影响力和有限的推广周期与成本使他们的演出回报和影响远逊于很多相对平庸的国内乐队。
This happens a lot to us, even if the band is already somehow popular but… wait, I just realize an interesting fact – how come, as a French, who also have been in the music scene for more than 10 years, I never heard of them before?
我们所做的小演出经常遇到这个问题，一些在法国和欧洲已经小有名气… 唉等等，突然反应过来一个事实 – 我是法国人，在音乐圈混了10几年了，但竟然我也从没听说过这个乐队，何况他们还真是个好乐队…怎么搞的，我不禁想开始想这个问题
THE FRENCH MUSIC SCENE AND ENVIRONMENT
Colt Silvers 在法国音乐市场
Well, I guess it’s because they may not belong to a certain French hype which gets recognition in the mostly Paris based media. What does French hype wants then? Well, as you may know, France music market is no exception to the ruthless rule of fast food products. Labels rush to trendy looking bands, preferably bands who sing in French with a post 80’s attitude and a twist of electronics, (even better if they have some entry with hot fashion brands), put resources and marketing to make a buzz online. If the buzz actually picks up they’ll put more resources to get the band on tour, and that’s where you find out that most of the bands actually don’t have the stature to go on the road and string together 20, 30, 40 gigs.
Alike other bands signed on Deaf Rock, Colt Silvers are familiar to stage like athletes are to running tracks, playing, touring is just what made their sound and their presence on stage, simple as that.
“We focus on long term development for our bands” says Label manager and Colt Silvers drummer, Julien. First of all bands need to be solid on stage, and then we can implement the rest, recording, marketing, licensing etc… There are so many bands currently that just get hyped up really quickly and when they go on tour they literally get sacrificed, some of them will never play ever again after.
但来自阿尔萨斯的Colt Silvers显然不在巴黎那个眼花缭乱的圈子里，而且压根没想去。“我们专注于乐队的长远发展，”乐队鼓手和Deaf Rock 厂牌经理Julien这样在聊起这个话题时这样说“首先乐队在台上得站得住脚，之后才是其他的录音、推广、授权等等等…现在活在媒体中的这些乐队其实是一批牺牲品，他们中很大一部分可能现在已经达到了自己的音乐生涯巅峰。”
Besides the unavoidable fast consumerism within the music market which is common to the rest of the world, France is still a very special country to live in when being an artist: based on the statement that people who work in the leisure and arts industry, including actors, musicians, technicians don’t have a steady employment but rather event/ project based contracts, they receive an allowance to sustain themselves in between contracts. And this allowance is financed by taxes which are paid by employers and normal tax payers like me. A country where people sustain artists career and creation? Doesn’t it sound like paradise? well ,it is indeed a model other countries envy France but it demands a good understanding of French administration which is to say resilience and patience towards heavy paper works which can reach Kafka-esque levels you’d rather expect to find in totalitarian countries.
Imagine an experimental rock tattooed guitar dude filling up his monthly worked hour’s declaration? Hard, no? That’s why management companies and labels such as Deaf Rock cumulate a lot of responsibilities. They do more than providing good recording and touring environment, making sure the band has his ration of Sneakers and Absolut vodka backstage, they basically take over the shittiest part of an artist’s life. They deserve respect for all that pampering, and of course, they take a cut for that too J
“All of the bands at Deaf Rock make a decent living, each of them has cumulated enough hours while playing gigs to get the official artists’ status so they also receive their allowances when they don’t play. We only work with bands who have gained their artists status and do their music 100% , not with dudes who have a day job”. Julien adds.
THE CHINA EXPERIENCE
While they were in Beijing, they recorded this nice unplugged hutong session for Niurenku, check it out.
Following our first crush on Colt Silver’s music in 2012 and the fact that Tristan, Liet, Julien and Agnan are all very sweet boys, with funny low brow tatoos and all, we decided to invite them back to China to perform at DongDong 2014.
13年他们巡演后我们就一直对Colt Silvers念念不忘，Tristan, Liet, Julien和Agnan乐队几个哥们也都是那种满身特缺的纹身的逗B，于是2014年11月的东动音乐节我们就又把他们请回来了。还是在愚公，这回他们带来了比上次还好的演出，而且还是在一屋子的音乐产业人面前，迷笛音乐节的于洋和蛾子就这样相中了他们，所以，今年5月，他们又要回来了，登台迷笛，并再来一次中国巡演。
And once again the magic occurred at Yugong but this time there was Chinese promoters in the venue including Yuyang and Ezi from Midi Festival who also kinda got captured by them. And so here we go again, Colt Silvers will be back this coming May to rock Chinese festivals and sweat across the countries’ live houses.
Which is a nice investment for them given the low economy of the new tour shaping up when you think that these young dudes (they are all 80 hou) just treated themselves a composition and recording retreat in Waterfront Studio in Hudson (NY) under the guidance of magician Fab Dupont (the producer behind The Do and Santigold) for a whole month this winter.
但这次我们有些奇怪，因为Colt Silvers已经终于攒够了钱录新专辑，这大半年都要在纽约的Waterfront Studio和大腕制作人Fab Dupont（The Do， Santigold）一起干活来着，之后还有专辑发行、公关等一大堆事情要忙，但为什么又要在这么个紧要关头来干中国巡演这（多半会）赔钱的买卖呢？
Why do they do that, you would ask? Why do they come to China while they should be focusing on polishing the new album, work on artworks and PR? Well because of 2 things: First, because manager and founder of Deaf Rock Julien is a nuclear battery who doesn’t need much sleep and can deal with managing a label and artists, raising a kid and play drums (in Colt Silvers and Plus Guest). Second, because China counts on the map of new Indie music kids who have been growing in a post label crisis era anyway. While their predecessors were chickening in front of a country like China because of piracy , language barrier and all thinking that only the anglo saxon world counted in music ,these young entrepreneurs know that export and mobility are the key to evolution.
我们觉得有两个原因 – 1， 乐队经纪兼鼓手兼厂牌经理是个不用睡觉的工作狂，演出、录音、管厂牌、谈音乐节、养孩子一手抓；2，因为中国音乐市场对这些在传统音乐产业危机后成长起来的80后音乐人们来说是一个有可能成功的市场 – 在他们先辈们被中国市场中像盗版、语言障碍和西方音乐内容由英美主导等问题吓退之后，这些年轻的头脑看到了这些问题正在随着产业变革和新技术慢慢消失，而且他们知道“走出去”与不停的改变才是更进一步的关键。
“When people back home see that we toured China, they’re always quite impressed, even if we’ve played in dirty clubs with only 30 audiences, it doesn’t count for people. What they see is that we’re moving our ass and we’re traveling the world with our music.”
We really love playing here, it is great to feel you’re witnessing and participating to a whole emerging movement and scene, to feel the energy of bands, audience and youth. We found that people are shy at first and then get friendly and a bit crazy too!
Each gigs we had there has its load of funny stories, the first time we played at Temple in Beijing, we nearly ended up inked by a tattoo girl there. We finished up at her place playing video games, she finally declared that she was too drunk to tattoo us, so we just played guitar heroes until dawn, we almost missed our flight actually.
“而且我们在中国的每场演出都有点好玩的事儿，就像我们巡演完回北京在Temple演了一场，那天晚上我们都喝大了被那儿的一个女孩儿带回家纹身，结果我们几个大老爷们就都去了她家… 玩了一晚上吉他英雄… 因为她说她太醉了纹不了就自己睡觉去了… 我们真的玩了一晚上游戏机，连早上的飞机都差点误了…”
This bike was “borrowed” by Agnan outside a bar last november in Beijing. In Strasbourg, his hometown bikes get often stolen, he assumed that Beijing was the same so he brought the bike back to his hotel room for more safety!
The only frustrating thing about China as a market, is that there is just no room for records and we don’t know how to get visibility on the big internet portals, I guess that’s a new challenge for us. Sooner or later there will be room for more local and western Independent music on more mainstream channels.
Yes, these dudes are ready to come and learn from China, scan QR codes instead of giving phone numbers, eat with chopsticks and get their music pirated on Xiami while being part of the building of the new independent scene.
I’d like to be able to say that this will pay off soon, let’s see after they blow everybody’s mind at Midi!