Chinese traditional music – Mixed by Howie Lee

In celebration of the Chinese New Year, we asked Beijing-based producer Howie Lee to curate a specialist mix of traditional Chinese music.

If you’re not already familiar with the work of the producer, visual artist and label boss, Lee is seen as a leading figure of electronic music in China. And it’s easy to see why, with the artist embraced by a global audience. His music is an experimental mixture of such, blending Chinese traditional instruments with futuristic club music, trap or hip-hop. The themes of his work are an exploration of his identity, or a lack thereof; his sounds reflecting the digitised landscapes of China and his 2017 EP, 无家 Homeless, themed around a confused sense of belonging, globalisation and immigration. Released via a number of global labels, you can find Lee’s 2014 EP Swallow on Shanghai imprint SVBKVLT and his debut full-length, Mù Chè Shān Chū, on LA’s Alpha Pup Records.

Lee’s influence in the Chinese underground scene extends further than his own sounds, being the co-founder of the party-turned-label Do Hits, which was created in 2011 with Chinese producers Sulumi, Guzz and DJ Billy Starman. Via his platform, he’s pushed the sounds of various artists – such as Dokedo and Zhi 16 – and released genre-splicing compilations, including 2016’s Do Hits Presents Year of the Monkey.

Now, as celebrations are in full swing for the Lunar New Year, Lee digs into his record collection of traditional Chinese music for a stunning one-hour mix. “This set includes some of my favourite Chinese hits,” Lee writes via email. “Including the best traditional drum players 朱啸林 (Zhu Xiao-Lin), 阎学敏 (Yim Hok-Man) and 吴顺喜 (Wu Shunxi), folk music from different regions of China and some westernised classical Chinese orchestra.”

He adds, “Also, singers from the socialist time in the 60s and 70s, and more recent pop music such as 林青霞’s (Brigitte Lin’s) hit song from the movie 东方不败 (Swordsman).” As we enter the last year of the Chinese Zodiac’s 12-year cycle, soundtrack your celebrations with the mix above. 恭喜發財 (gōng xǐ fā cái or gong hei fat choi), everyone.

朱啸林 – 孔雀舞(傣族音乐)
上海爱乐民乐团 – 花开争艳 仙人贺岁
黑鸭子 – 青春舞曲
任桂珍 – 兰花花
任桂珍 – 阿里山的姑娘
郑绪岚 – 绣荷包
手拉风箱 管子, 曲笛二重奏
阎学敏 – 龙年新世纪(敲击乐协奏曲): 星辰
大研纳西古乐会 – 浪淘沙(曲牌)
林青霞 – 只记今朝笑
张也 – 浏阳河
吴顺喜 – 洪迈追舟(大锣鼓)