Josh Feola has been active in Beijing’s scene since 2009 as a writer, curator and musician, most notably as former drummer of Chui Wan and now of Subs. Now he’s added yet another line to his CV: Charm, a solo electronic music project. He talks to Liz Tung about his newest creative outlet
How do you describe your music?
I would call it a field recording- and percussion-based drone. I think drone is a key word because it’s really amorphous; sometimes there’s a semblance of a beat or a rhythm or some kind of structure but it fades away very quickly.
You’ve played in bands as a drummer. How is this different?
For me this is the first time I’m doing a band [where] I call all the shots. Everything is coming from me, so there’s no one else to fall back on. I have no background as a songwriter, so thinking about making music on my own is the biggest difference.
So is it all improvisation?
It’s like 99.999 percent improvised; I don’t even really practice.
What kind of mood, if any, are you trying to evoke when you play?
Contemplative, I guess. In someways it’s me trying to recreate my own sonic memories, which aren’t directly correlated to any specific mood. In general it’s a bit dark, but it’s not depressing – I guess sombre would be the word for it.
Your approach to music is fairly intellectual.
Yeah, I’m definitely hyper contextualised, so on one hand I’m always thinking about how I can make what I’m doing meaningful in the context of the Beijing music scene. But on the other hand, I still have that kind of punk strain where I want to viscerally affect people. I’m not doing 30-second powerviolence songs, but I am using sound to shake people up and get them out of their normal state.