I come to you now from Shanghai, on a brisk and beautiful Sunday afternoon from a little café tucked away off a cozy boheme-esque stretch of 长乐路。
With only the SHANGHAI and BEIJING showcases left on my breakneck summer solo tour of China, it’s high time I dish you all a little dirt. Allow me to take this time to address the many questions I have heard burning on the tips of your fingers and tongues:
*Commence the OFFICIAL NATTI VOGEL CHINA TOUR 2010 FAQ*
Q: Why would you want to tour China?
A: Why not? I know there are some great Western bands like Radiohead who refuse to play for China in a misguided attempt at protesting human rights abuse and suppression of free speech. While I do agree that infringement of basic individual rights should never be tolerated or simply chalked up to “cultural differences”, I find it particularly ironic that Western bands would intentionally limit their own range of expression in a boycott supposedly aimed against the suppression of free expression. Implicit in a Western band’s refusal to play for a Chinese audience is a) the dangerously false conflation of a people with its government, which, if you ask Rachel DeWoskin or any other American expat present in the PRC during the US/NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, can be truly frightening when you’re among those being conflated and b) the folly of arrogance in assuming that denying a country your live act will accomplish anything other than further tension, disappointment and cultural misunderstanding. I have come to China neither to demand that China “Free Tibet”, like Björk insisted during her performance two years back, nor to mitigate my own political opinions (I am pro-gay-marriage, anti-consumer-culture, ferociously environmentalist and anti-oil, for instance) in an attempt to please the locals. I have come here to be open, be myself, share my music with living, breathing, free-willed people. When I played my first headlining solo show in Beijing last July at 愚公移山, I was stunned to see rows of audience members dancing to just a piano and a voice with spasmodic joy. I’m not playing for or against the government, I’m playing for the people. That’s why I’m here.
Q: How did you get the gig?
A: Through dumb luck, naive optimism and brave friends.
Q: Are you singing any songs in Chinese?
A: Yup, every night I play the one Chinese song that I’ve written along with a self-modified cover of my choosing … kinda like this *
*xo to NYC scene queen Shien Lee for introducing me to this sultry little Old Shanghai number
Q: What cities are we talking?
Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Zhenzhou, Xi’an, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lijiang, Kunming, Changsha, Wuhan, Hefei, Nanjing, Yiwu, and three dates in Shanghai, followed by an extra-special finale show in Beijing on July 10th @ Starlive
Q: Biggest WTF moment on tour so far?
A: Realizing that NO WHERE in China do they make secure X-stands for digital keyboards. Seriously dudes, the first company to market one in China gets me as their poster child. I will promote the hell out that thing, no joke.
Q: Biggest WTF moment on tour (in a good way)
A: Successfully kicking ass at my first Chinese-language radio interview in Wuhan, sharing the earbuds of our cellphone mouthpiece with my manager while she furiously scribbled Chinese characters and funneled beer into my mouth during questions to help me relax.
Q: When do you return to New York?
A: I have no return ticket. I’ll have to get rich first. Please assist me in this endeavor by racing over in hordes to buy my newly available, extended debut vintage EP for a ludicrously cheap price: My Chinese Visa runs out mid-August, so act quickly!