Meet Chinese Man: A trip-hop band from France

  • Manali Shah, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 16, 2016 09:55 IST
The band Chinese Man isn’t from China, but from France. But their trip-hop sound seeks influences from across the globe.

Chinese Man, a trip-hop band from France, describes themselves on their website in an intriguing fashion: “One quarter Cantonese, two thirds Manchou, the Chinese Man appears to be from the Wu Tang Mountain, not far from Marseilles, France. In 2004, the Chinese Man (as we affectionately call him) decided to send his disciples around the world to spread the Zen spirit with old music samples and supersonic bass.”

Add to that, the band members — called SLY, Zé Mateo and High Ku — do not reveal their actual names. The description goes on: “It is now a real army… High Ku, Sly and Zé Mateo have sharpened their swords. Lurking in the shadow, they are waiting, ready to go fighting.”

Zé Mateo says, “Our real life was not really interesting. So we thought it was a good idea to create an original story that differentiates us from the other bands.”

The curious name actually comes from the band’s first song. They started in 2004, and initially produced only vinyl records. They are known for their tracks — Racing with the Sun, I’ve Got that Tune and Ordinary Man. Their influences range from US hip-hop, trip-hop and reggae, to Brazilian beats and global bass. “It’s difficult for us to categorise it too,” Sly says. “We’d say we’re doing bass-triphop-abstract-dubby-sound.”

Chinese Man’s sound is a mix of hip-hop, reggae and global bass.


Q) Apart from your gig in the city, what are your plans in India?

Sly: We visited Goa, and now we’re in a studio in Mumbai for a week before the show. Unfortunately, after the gig, we have to return to France as we have a lot of work to do.

High Ku: I love Indian food. Just have to be careful with the spices as we are not quite used to it.

Zé Mateo: We are going to record several musicians in Mumbai that we met thanks to Viveick Rajagopalan (musician).

Q) From your discography, Indi Groove and Bombay Calling have Indian influences. How did that happen?

High Ku: We found some old [Indian] traditional records and it just really influenced us. We love to take small parts of traditional Indian music because you can mix it with a lot of different styles.

Q) What are the group dynamics like?

Zé Mateo: I am the energetic guy, Sly is the quiet one, and High Ku a mix between the two. But as a band, we don’t like to talk about our personalities too much. We stay hidden behind our “master”, the Chinese Man.

Q) Which have been some of your most memorable shows?

High Ku: Our best memories are always from our worldwide tours. We have done a lot of crazy gigs and sometimes played in really strange places like a parking [lot] in Indonesia, and in some weird clubs in South Korea. It’s really cool to hit big stages in France in front of 30,000 persons but it can’t compete with a DJ Set on a beach in Brazil or at La Reunion (Réunion Island, France).

Q) How did your label, Chinese Man Records, come about?

High Ku: We started as a label in 2004 because we love being independent. Today, there are about five artists in the label — Scratch Bandits crew, Taiwan MC (who made a track with an Indian singer, Tritha, last year), Baja Frequencia, and LeYan... We don’t want to have too many artists because we are a small familial label and want to stay like that.

Be there

What: The Lost Party + Gently Altered present the Chinese Man (DJ Set) on February 13, 9pm

At: Blue Frog, Lower Parel

Tickets: Rs 700 on

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