Hong Kong’s top indie labels
Mark Tjhung checks out the city's alternative record labels to find a whole world of avant garde goodness
When it comes to non-mainstream pop music, Hong Kong’s big labels have never been the most supportive. And while that’s starting to change, most up-and-coming bands and ‘indie’ musicians still look to Hong Kong indie labels or self-releases to get their music to audiences. With the indie label scene always changing, we check out some of the new players bringing some new ideas to town as well as the mainstays, who have been the heart of the indie recording scene in Hong Kong for the past decade.
Headed up by influential man on the indie scene, Arthur Urquiola, this 2012-founded label started up as a way to nurture a DIY-ethic in the Hong Kong local scene. In the year since Artefracture launched, it has released nine albums/EPs, from HK-based acts as well as Phnom Penh-based Tango & Snatch.
Type of music: No particular musical slant. The focus is more
on, as Urquiola says, ‘getting music out there that otherwise wouldn’t be released’
Mediums: All digital downloads via the label’s Bandcamp site on a pay-what-you-want basis
Some bands released on the label: Tango & Snatch, Defiant Scum, Shatalene, Shithotcynics, Heather Lowe
Latest release: Snagglepuss by Tango & Snatch
An iconic actor in the Hong Kong local scene, Harbour Records has been the home of some of the most influential and best-loved indie bands produced in this city in the last decade. They’ve recently seen a little bit of a revival, with releases by The Lee’s last year and Rachel Believes in Me’s debut adding to the label’s reputation of nurturing the finest twee-pop and indie-folk talents Hong Kong has to offer.
Type of music: Twee indie sounds, with an occasional dose of noise pop thrown in
Bands on the label: My Little Airport, False Alarm, 22 Cats, The Lee’s
Latest release: Sea of Days by Rachel Believes in Me
On the verge of celebrating its 10th anniversary, Lona Records, founded by everywhere-man Alok Leung, is one of Hong Kong’s longest running indie labels. It also seems to do everything, focusing partly on noisy pop, partly on more experimental output; partly on recordings, partly on events; partly on locally grown goodness, partly on overseas acts.
Type of music: Alternative rock, experimental and avant garde sounds and soundtracks
Mediums: CDs, vinyls and 3” mini CDs
Some notable bands on the label: The Yours, UNiXX, FM3, Jeffrey Butzer, Alok, Simon Sheffield, Maurizio Bianchi, Torturing Nurse
Latest releases: Collapsible by Jeffrey Butzer
Metal Postcard Records
Metal Postcard Records, and the man behind the label, Sean Hocking, has been an influential tastemaker of the Hong Kong scene for a number of years. The label, founded in 2002, was created to continue the same spirit of the great UK labels of the late 70s, looking to bring that same forward-thinking edge to Hong Kong. Hocking also runs Saffron on the Peak, a bakery-café-cum-venue at night.
Type of music: Underground and alternative music, particularly focusing on music from China and Southeast Asia
Mediums: CDs, vinyl and digital releases (with some cassette releases coming soon, we hear!)
Some notable bands on the label: Cambodian Space Project, Dub Addiction, Pairs, Reykjavictim, White Fang
Latest releases: Xiao Di Fang by Reykavictim
Founded just last year by Josh Thomson, Platinum Metres is taking the opposite approach to many labels of the modern era. Rather than going all digital, it’s going analogue, placing a heavy emphasis on producing vinyl records, books and physical art. Intriguingly, one of the label’s records, Thomson’s own record, also called Platinum Metres, will be launched into space aboard a rocket in August.
Type of music: No particular genres. According to Thomson, ‘the music just has to be interesting and have unique character, with a strong narrative or identity’
Some notable bands on the label: Joshua WF Thomson, Ski-A-Delics
Latest releases: Snow Bunny Bobby Katz and The Aspen-Aspirin by Ski-A-Delics