Mei li
Mei li

Fazi’s real name is Fa Wei Mon.  However, he had adopted Fa Zi as his moniker.  Not only is “zi” a kind of suffix that can be appended to many Chinese words to denote a relationship or state (kind of like     “ite”, it literally means ‘brother’), but Fa can be –with the right pronunciation– a synonym for rich.  So it is not really a bad name.

But mostly he had adopted it because it sounded like the English word for “Father”, and he was sort of considered the Godfather of electrified rock music in the college town area of Hai Dian where he lived (close to Peking University, or Bei Da).

Everyone knew him, everyone sort of looked to him to handle arbitration in the Colony, and, with his size, he did seem to be a kind of father figure. Of course, on top of it all, he was the only person anyone knew with a car.

But the best example of how he was kind of a father figure to his neighborhood might be illustrated with one of his songs.

One day in late 1995 I dropped by Fazi’s home studio in Beijing and he had four schoolgirl’s standing there.  He had a new song and it needed kid voices.  Having lost my “rock and roll” attitude a long time ago, I thought it was a great idea. 

 Damn Cute!  And I think that’s basically a Chuck Berry riff.

Pop music is basically just children’s rhymes anyway, and the best music appeals to all.  So… Just listen! It’s so damn cute, and it shows that Fazi’s imagination, production and arrangement skills were fantastic.

I mean, this one was originally tracked on a Pentium2 486 computer using Voyetra and Cool Edit Pro. The “studio” was basically an illegally thrown-up home-made garage.

Still, it was big enough for the giant drum or Da Gu you can see in some of the photos on the website.  Fazi also had bought a giant Led Zeppelin sized gong.  Man, that thing was awesome when struck!

With the four girls, the drum, a trap kit and the computer, there wasn’t much room to stand in that little home studio.  But the girls were nice and went over the song (and one other) again and again until they got a great take.

I wish I knew their names but as the song was never commercially released no one but Fazi would remember their names twenty years later.  Still, it’s a lovely little song.

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DJ Youdai

Rock and roll in the West came about when post-WWII youth were given cars, television, and the mass-produced electric pickup by Les Paul and Rickenbacker.

Suddenly, for the first time in history, there was a race to find out how much independence and influence people of basically immature age could have in the modern era.  The tinge of rebellion, the sweat of dance and sex, racial integration and the overturning of the old order… these were their mostly juvenile obsessions, and these were also the serious threats which were wrapped up in that bubblegum doo-wop and malt shop  pop about “Open the Door Richard” (he maybe boning in there!)

Teenagers in the 30s and 40s did not get their own cars.  Teenagers in the 50’s did.  Suddenly they had the power to gather in large numbers, commingle without a chaperon, and make babies in the backseat.  And they listened to the radio belting out The Orioles and Bill Haley while they did it.

Thus it was the DJ who was at the heart of the new teen culture, one which could create movements in a way that was not possible before those kids (who had grown up listening to their transistor radios under their blankets at night) were then handed the keys to their own cars.

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