INTERVIEW: JC (What a Beautiful Day) Finding Her Way to Drums in China [China]

Drummer of What a Beautiful Day

Running this website all we’ve cared about is providing a space and platform for people from lesser-known scenes or communities from our world of Asia to shine – even for just a small tiny little bit in this world of the fast-paced, consume everything culture of the internet. China is certainly not known for its hardcore community, especially when comparing the mammoth metal and punk rock scenes throughout China. But there is a diehard community in China who have honed in their love for the big gateway hardcore bands like Madball, Terror, Sick of it All, etc. into the music and message they create. Sure, the world hasn’t really taken notice, but every year for the past 10 years China’s hardcore kids all converge in one city to celebrate their love and dedication to hardcore – at the annual event entitled CNHC Fest (China Hardcore Festival).

This year our good friends in Shenzhen-based melodic hardcore band What a Beautiful Day were on the bill and it just so happens that a month after their set, they are about to release their brand new EP ‘Love Won’t Wait’. We tracked down their drummer JC and shot her a few questions. Turns out, she was literally on the road with the band answering our questions via WeChat in the middle of sound-checking, selling merch, traveling, etc.

Mad respect to women involved in hardcore all over the world.

Yo yo! Where are you right now in China?
Hey! At this moment I am still in Chongqing. We just finished playing at this year’s 10th anniversary of the CNHC hardcore fest.

NICE! How was the vibe?! Was everyone excited!?
Of course! We have been building up to this moment for the past month! hahaha…happy hardcore new year!

So let’s get into your history! How did you start playing drums in Shenzhen?
When I was 6 I accidentally went into a drum practice room and just started pounding on the drums. Someone came into the room, who later ended up being my teacher, and was secretly watching me mess around for like 10 minutes. After watching he asked if I was interested in learning how to play! I said that I would learn if the lessons were free! Hahahahah…he ended up teaching me for free for many many years after that. A huge thanks to my first teacher!

WHAT?! That’s amazing! So your family was supportive of you playing music?
My parents have always supported me in all of my musical activities.

When you started out playing, what kind of music were you listening to? My daughter is 9 and she just started learning the drums too this past summer!
Wow! That’s so cool! I was a huge fan of pop music actually which is typical of what people my age were listening to. A lot of pop music coming out of Hong Kong and Taiwan – the idol stuff. You know what I mean?

Hahahaha…of course! Who was your favorite? And what year is this?
It was around 2002 and my favorite bands at that time were May Day from Taiwan and of course Beyond from Hong Kong. In terms of singers, it was S.H.E. and Taylor Swift. The first song I learned to play on drums was ‘真的愛你’ by Beyond.

At 6 years old you were already covering Beyond?!?!?
Yes hahahahaha…my first teacher was a HUGE fan of theirs.

That’s amazing! So how long was it until you started playing in your own bands?
I joined my first band in 2012. The was playing a mix of J-pop and J-fusion type of music.

And how did you find this band? 
In Shenzhen, we had a website called ‘Guitar Shenzhen’. This is where we’d all go to find events related to musical activities throughout Shenzhen. If we were looking for band members this is where we’d go too.

Why did you end up joining this band?
The music style was cool and I really liked the groove and melody of that style of music.

How old were you?
I was 16 and was pretty much the only female drummer in all of Shenzhen at the time. Hahahahaha…

DAMN! The only female drummer in Shenzhen!? What did your own friends at school think about you playing drums? That’s so fucking cool!
I think there must have been other female drummers in Shenzhen, I just didn’t know any. I was certainly the most active at the time. My friends all thought the same typical thing, that I was “bad” for wanting to play in a rock band. But they did eventually come to support my shows etc.

How far did that particular band get? Playing shows? Any recordings? 
We didn’t write any originals. We basically only played covers and a few shows around Shenzhen. It didn’t last very long and then I joined a metalcore band called FSMOKE.

Wow! You kept yourself busy! How long did the metalcore band last?
Only about a year and a half cause I went abroad for university.

So prior to you playing in bands, had you seen shows? What was the first you watched? Is this what made you want to start a band?
Actually, when I started playing drums I had zero self-confidence. I just thought I sucked at the drums. I didn’t even go see any shows before I joined my first band. The only shows I watched were on TV! To be honest, I have no idea why I started playing in bands. It was as if I just fell into that website just by chance and happened to come across that advertisement that someone was looking for a drummer and I thought maybe I could try. But ever since then, I’ve been playing in bands.

“Yes! I was terrifed! I didn’t know what to do and how to do anything!”

I see! That’s fascinating that before you started playing in bands that you actually had NOT seen any shows. So what was your very first show like when you finally started playing? That must’ve been SUPER nerve-wracking!
Yes! I was terrified! I didn’t know what to do and how to do anything. I had no idea what “soundcheck” was. I had so many questions and I was super crazy nervous.

Luckily at that show, everyone was super kind and patient. A lot of the other musicians from the other bands were all offering to help me and taught me a LOT.

I still can’t believe you played your first before actually SAW a show! Nuts. So let’s finally get to the question that I’ve been dying to ask you, when did you get into hardcore?
Hahahahahah…finally we can get to the point!

Hold on, I’m actually looking for a photo that I took with you back in 2013 at MIDI Festival in Shenzhen.

You and me? 
Yes! Found it!

OH MY GOD! I actually remember this photo! 
Now I can tell you the very first time I heard hardcore. It was watching your band at MIDI Festival.

That’s crazy! So what about hardcore got you attracted to it?
I think it’s the spirit and maybe the way that there is this community of people and friends who come with the music and culture of hardcore. All these people that I’ve met really care about each other and feel like a little family. We’re all very supportive and positive towards each other. And I’ve always been a fan of heavy music so all of this combined was really something I could get into.

It’s really cool to hear your perspective because you played a bunch of different styles of music before you found your way to hardcore. So would you say that what sets apart hardcore from the other styles of music is the community around it? 
Maybe. It’s hard to say, I’m not 100% sure. We as people involved in hardcore to try to spread the message of peace, love and respect a lot kinda similar to what hip hop tries to spread. It’s just the styles of music are different. So maybe, yes – it is the community.

The band you currently play in, What a Beautiful Day, is probably one of my favorite China hardcore bands. I just LOVE this band so much. So how did you end up joining them? 
I’ve known the guitarist Cheung for a long time. We used to jam on some funk and jazz music before at bars around town. One night after a show in 2017 he told me that their former drummer had to move back to Chengdu. He sent me a bunch of their songs and asked me if I knew of any drummers. When I listened to the demos I was so moved by the music and lyrics that I just asked if I could try out.

Hahahahaha…and what was their reaction!?!?
Surprised maybe? Hahahahaha…Cheung was like, “Oh yeah! Why didn’t I just ask you?!?!” The other members all responded, “Sure! Why not!?” When I started practicing with them I did feel like maybe I wasn’t qualified enough or I didn’t have a deep enough understanding of what hardcore is, especially the spirit. But they all decided to help me out and teach me by explaining everything. So now to this day I am in a band with a bunch of big brothers looking out for me.

I’m glad you joined them that’s for sure. I think it’s strange that the hardcore scene in China has so few women involved. Even here in Hong Kong there were ever only 2 or three women involved. Why do you think so few women get involved in hardcore in China?
It’s not just hardcore. Like I mentioned above, I’ve been involved with lots of different genres and playing all over China. There are only a small amount of female musicians no matter what type of music, but especially in heavy music. I think it’s because of the traditional Chinese mindset of women should be at home, women shouldn’t be out showing themselves off. When I first told my parents, for example, that I was going to major in music in college they said that it wasn’t a good choice for girls.

Luckily, things have changed a lot nowadays. There are a lot more parents who seem to be much more open-minded so I do think that in the future there’ll be tons of more female musicians.

Yeah I hope so too! Luckily in Hong Kong, there are actually TONS of women involved in heavy music (still not as much as men of course), but there are still very few involved in hardcore here. Actually, there are very few people in general involved in hardcore here. So now that you have a new EP to release, what are you excited about sharing? The new song is SO GOOD!
I actually cried listening to the new song again yesterday.

Any last words?
We are about to do a mini-tour with Unregenerate Blood hitting Hangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, and Tianjin. Then we’ll have our record release show on October 30th here in Shenzhen. The last thing I hope is that everyone stays safe and more people get involved with hardcore! is an underground Asian music news website created for the sole purpose of supporting our own world. We support all bands and genres HOWEVER we do not support nor have any sympathy for homophobic, racist, sexist rhetoric in lyrical content or band material. UNITE ASIA!