Ma Haiping (aka MHP) is a pioneer electronic musician in China, native to Shanghai and born in 1981. During the past 14 years, he has made music that covers the avant-garde music, experimental, electronic dance music, soundtrack for visual arts and contemporary dance, and more. He has released 2 vinyl records in the US and many more in China. No matter the music genre or the production technique, he is the epitome of the development of Chinese electronic music scene. MHP is called “The Son of Shanghai Techno” because his music reveals a unique sense of screen and science fiction imagery. In recent years, he has been actively promoting the avant-garde music culture of China, organizing international exchange performances and academic lectures. In 2015 Ma Haiping has won 4th Abilu Music Award – the Best Electronic Musician of 2014.
Could you introduce to us the creative process of your new album Folding Traces? What do you want express to the audience?
I composed, produced, and mixed this album by myself. For “Entrance To My Emotions” and “Melbourne Sunlight”, I found other musicians, like trumpet, trombone, and zither to play and write with me. D Force Records sent it to Germany for the final mixing and mastering, now digital, CD, and vinyl versions of Folding Traces will be out soon. The album is made for Chinese music fans, the tracks are more melodic, with soft electronic dance music sound and movie soundtrack elements. This is more into Chinese people’s music aesthetic. I hope Folding Traces will be a door to lead Chinese listeners into a wider electronic music world. The theme of my album is the city and the future, it expresses science fiction and fable, the content is also about emotion. I believe in human emotion, there are no big differences even in different time and space. In my new album, I tried to describe the human eotion in the city of future through the music. I think it is a state of alienation and desire for close. The inspiration of Folding Traces come from certain places, futuristic art of 1910s, cyberpunk style science fiction and my understanding of the city. Folding Traces is a concept album, we could call it the new futuristic electronic music.
Nowadays, the recording industry has forced a lot of musicians to turn to releasing digital records, but you have been releasing physical for many years. What do you think about this?
What musicians wouldn’t want to see their records played on a turntable? Because it comes into the indie music era, more indie musicians and labels are unable to afford the cost, or we could say it is difficult to recover the production cost of physical records. It is mre convenient for listeners to open an APP and listen the music directly, so there is an illusion that makes people think digital albums are better than physical records . Your music has won praise from a lot of people, you are even being called “The Son of Shanghai Techno”. What do you think about the Shanghai techno scene? My music is much more than techno, I hope Folding Traces will give people a better understanding of my music. Shanghai is a good place, and people are always be welcome to visit. The sense I see is, 10 years ago techno was been considered as an “old fashioned” club music, at that time electro house was popular at clubs, no venue would let you play techno. The rise of techno music was mainly caused by both internal and external reasons. The external reason is after 2000’s, minimal techno started to occupy the Western music market. The appearance of software like Traktor changed the way DJs perform, and dance music with 4/4 beats start back to the mainstream. The internal reason is Shanghai always been a frontier place in the Chinese music scene, so there are techno groups from a long time ago. Starting in 2006, the VOID team started to make some underground techno parties. They invited local and international guest DJs, from old Detroit artists to current leading artists, and included more local artists as well. This year is the 10 year anniversary of VOID. I have noticed there are a lot of clubs and event organizers in Shanghai doing techno parties now. I think techno has come into a state of being consumed, or to put it another way, it means it will be outdated again. If you want keep the vitality of this music, we should get rid of all those gimmicks, and get back to the music itself.
Which musician is your favorite in your music career?
DouWei [a famous Chinese rock singer]. Foreigners may not know about him, so I’ll add one more, that’s Aphex Twin.
Could you introduce to us your coming China tour “Future City Spectrum”, what kind of surprises are you going to bring to us?
I have built up a band for this album. In the band, there is Xiabao playing trumpet, Gaajaahaa on keyboard, and DJ Jackie as scratcher. You could say we are a “hi-tech Jazz” band. Additionally, I have invited Wangling who is a zither performer, who also recorded with Gorillaz, for a track collaboration. There are some new-age elements that have been added inside the track. Also, the popular domestic science fiction talker YangXiaojun will read the “Manifesto of Futurism” from Marinette at the show in Beijing.
Check out some tracks of Ma Haiping: