Why would anyone want to start a label? For me, it definitely wasn’t for money. I’ve spent more money and time on this ‘labor of love’ than I’ll ever get back. It also wasn’t for fame. Running a label, as with many of the behind-the-scenes tasks in the music ‘industry,’ is often a thankless task. Performing on a stage may fulfill a desire to be the center of attention, to have all eyes focused on you. Running a label, though, satisfies another kind of need, a need to collect, to document, and often to possess, in a way, a slice of time and life that you intuitively know is fleeting. At least, that was how it was for me.
Genjing Records, like many labels, I assume, started almost by accident. I was playing in a band, I was friends with other bands, there was a scene with great music, and I just had to document it. A single release for my band led to another for a friend’s, and then it was just natural to keep going. Collecting various feelings and emotions as I was experiencing them. Documenting the music scene around me as I heard it filtered through my interests, my whims, and personal friendships struck up in bars during long nights of drinking.
The story of Genjing Records is a personal story, a story of choices I made, good or bad, about how to spend my time and money. And about the people I admired, respected, or just happened to get along with. It is also the story of a particular place and time, the 2010’s in China, and how I saw the scene in relation to various other DIY scenes around the world. Through the label, I documented the music around me while also soundtracking my life.
While the label itself hasn’t ceased to exist, I have trailed off on the number of releases, and as the scene has changed, I’m beginning to look for something new, a way to reinvent the label, possibly reinvigorate it, or even just put it to rest and move on. Still, the instinct to document remains strong, and I feel the need to look back, in a self-reflective way, on the label’s history. The purpose of this blog, replacing the label’s official page, is to tell the story of Genjing Records, examine the choices I made for each release, and describe why it was special, at least for me. I hope to look beyond the music by situating the catalog in a place and time and in the web of relationships that made it possible. Whether this deepens the listener’s appreciation or completely ruins the mystique, I’ll leave you to judge.
For me, Genjing Records is more than music; it’s a document of ten years in a place that felt a release away from being the center of the world. This blog is a history of that time and my personal answer to the question, why would anyone want to start a label?