Jon Campbell

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Jon Campbell as he displays himself

Jon Campbell, musician, writer, promoter and scene insider in Beijing

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Arriving in Beijing in late summer 2000 with no idea of how to put his MA in China Studies to use, Jon Campbell used his extra-curricular time to join a string of bands and discover the local music world. Beginning with the now-defunct, bilingual, bi-weekly entertainment guide Jianwen, and then later with Beijing’s leading local English magazine, that’s Beijing (now known as The Beijinger), he began writing more and more about the music that he loved, hated, and loved to hate.

As a freelance writer, he contributed regularly to the South China Morning Post, among others, and his work has appeared in the Wire, Paste Magazine, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the Jerusalem Post, that’s, Voyage, and more. His column ‘Foreign Devil’ at should appear monthly, but well, that hasn’t been the case for a while now. He may not have written the book on Beijing rock, but he did write a chapter on it for the first three editions (2005, 2006, 2007) of The Insider’s Guide to Beijing, as well as contributing to the fourth edition (2008). And, indeed, as of 2009, he is, in fact, at work on what he hopes will be The Book on Chinese rock; certainly it will be A Book on Chinese rock. Look for it in 2010.

He began organising events under the name YGTwo in 2005, but had been putting on shows in Beijing and around China since 2002. He started the Time Arts Jazz Series at Peking University in 2005. He was the Foreign Affairs Director at the Midi Music Festival in 2006 and 2007 and manages the overseas affairs of Beijing garage-rockers Subs. He was invited to Oslo, Norway’s Oya Festival in 2005 and several times to Denmark’s SPOT Festival. In 2007 he sat on SXSW’s China’s Emerging Music Market Panel, was a speaker at the UK’s AIM (Association of Independent Music) 2007 Mission to China, was invited to Finland’s Music and Media conference, and was profiled in a Rolling Stone (China) article about foreigners in China’s music scene.

Campbell plays with two Beijing-based bands: Space-plus rockers RandomK(e), whose debut album was released in March 2009, and Blooze outfit Black Cat Bone, whose album came out in Nov 2008.

At the end of 2010, Jon Campbell moved back to Canada to concentrate on his book abour Chinese rock music. The official last show of his post rock band Randomk(e) took place in 2 Kolegas in December 2010. And old friend Abigail Washburn came all the way from US to see this show, she and Subs vocalist Kang Mao even performed an impro together with Subs guitarist and Randamk(e) musicians.

In 2011, he released his book Red Rock on the long strange march of rock music in China.

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