Earlier this year, Beijing-based indie folk band Shanren (literally “Mountain Men”), traveled across China’s Yunnan province to take in and film the rich indigenous musical traditions. The band members, whose own songs mix folk melodies with rock and world music influences, visited rural villages of Yi, Lisu, Nu, Tibetan, and Wa minorities. While joining the villagers in song and dance, they found the music so tied up in the drinking culture-downing copious amounts of the local equivalent of moonshine, fiery homemade liquor distilled from rice or sweet corn-that they turned the boozy footage into the video for their “Drinking Song.”
2,000 miles southwest of Beijing and home to 26 of China’s 55 official ethnic minority tribes, Yunnan is thought to be the inspiration for the fictional Shangri-La of James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon. As the home province for three members of Shanren (the fourth is from neighboring Guizhou), the remote and colorful province, tucked between Tibet and Southeast Asia, continues to inspire artists.
Based on a Yi minority folk song, the lyrics to “Drinking Song” translate to, “you have to drink whether or not you want to.” As the band found, when you’re a guest in a rural village, that’s pretty much your situation-the hospitality can be overwhelming!
Album due out on China’s 13 Month record label early next year.
For more information, please contact Jennifer Conrad (North America) at firstname.lastname@example.org and +1-347-564-8137 or Sam Debell (Asia) at email@example.com and +86 152-1027-0868. High-res photos and Chinese-language materials available.
“…known for its eclectic style-songs move fluidly from electronica to reggae to metal-and arrangements inspired by traditional music from the country’s ethnically diverse southwest, a melange of loose falsetto harmonies and twangy pentatonic lutes.” -The New York Times
“Although the ethnic sounds of Yunnan are at the core of their music, their membership stretches out to Kunming and Guizhou, covers three ethnic minority groups, and incorporates a polyglot of world music and modern rock influences-Afro and Caribbean sounds, rock proper, reggae, even some death metal, ’cause why not.” -Smart Shanghai
“These south-western boys, whose name means ‘mountain men’, mix minority instruments and perky plucking with a hippie-jam band feel.” -Time Out Beijing