First of all, thank you cdrk for forwarding this Xper interview link on his Facebook platform.
Otherwise, I guess I won’t read this article so quickly. This is an email interview from Josh Feola to Xper Xr. The original link is as follows. You can go to read that first then check my response.
1. First of all I want to say, Sound Factory is not just my personal own.
The company was co-founded in 1989 by Henry Kwok and me, at that time, Henry was an art school teacher and I was a student of graphic design college, without Henry and the support from his family, Sound Factory was impossible to operate until 1997.
Later, 1997, because Henry lost confidence and interest in the company's prospects, he transferred his shares to James, the owner of Phantom Record, James invested into Sound Factory in the name of Phantom and owns 49% of the shares on 1994. This is another important driving force that made Sound Factory operate until 1997.
Later James told me that he wanted to transfer all the company share to me, the company is more important and useful to me, but it is no longer useful to him, in this way, in 1997, I owned Sound Factory 100% and established a new company called Noise Asia. Sound Factory became a sub-label of NA, but after running for a few years, I think Sound Factory should stop and let the past become memories, I don't want to carry the name Sound Factory and keep going any more, here i wanna say thank you again to James for his big support!
2. I know Xper through Henry’s introduction, he is Henry’s friend
After cooperating with Henry, he mentioned that he and Xper had worked with a company called Cacophon, some of Xper's works were published and did some video show screening. However, I don't know which ones were published by Xper himself and which ones by Cacophon, I don't know much about Cacophon, and I didn't ask Henry about whats happen of Cacophon. I have only met Xper a few times in my memory, once I saw him in a recording session for his album "Voluptuous Musick" in OK Studio; once I visited his home, it was me first time I saw the out-of-print physical publication of Herman Nitsch; and then the music festival organised by Sound Factory and Xper is one of the performance group, regarding work matters, Henry direct communicated with him, so Xper and I were not familiar with each other, and we don't know each other's situation in private, we seem to have never chatted about music things in my memory, the only time we talked about music was when he commented on my first published work, which is a compilation of Sound Factory "Mi-Li -Ma-Li-Hung" under the name of PNF, that track is experimental stuff, we haven't seen each other since this time, and I heard the news from Xper again that he has gone to the UK already.
3. Henry told me that Xper wanted to release a second album but he was in UK and talked to me again if we wanted to publish it, I replied at the time that if Henry wanted to do then let do it.
But Henry never told me whether to publish it or not, I don't know if Henry and Xper do they contacted each other again, when there was news, it had already been received news from the UK, It was a British CD factory that contacted Henry, or Xper’s UK friends contact Henry, it seemed that it was EMI’s CD factory, they said Xper had placed CD pressing order, but when they went through CD mastering, they discovered that he had misappropriated pop singer's music, as if they wanted to take legal action against him, Henry was very nervous and worried at that time, if the CD order was placed under Sound Factory, we might be accused of closing down the company at any time, but I have never heard of the master tape of the CD, and I have not even received the demo (I don’t know if Henry has heard it), anyway we have never contacted the CD factory, and we don’t know that Xper has sent the master tape to the CD factory or through his friend place the order…..
In the end, the CD factory or Xper;s UK friend said that they couldn't find Xper, then they said let us wait for the news. This was all Henry told me at the time, and then nothing happened, I didn't receive any news after, I didn't know what to do in the end, Henry never mentioned Xper or this case in front of me since, I guess this incident has hurt Henry... At the time I knew about this incident except for my colleagues in the company, I only told Ah Hua that he was a mutual friend of Xper, Henry and me, when we mentioned about Xper that the topic brought up together with Ah Hua, I thought it was over, I didn't expect to be brought up again today.
4. As for Xper said that the establishment of Sound Factory is "base on ripping off my personal contacts and financial partnership", I have no idea what he is talking about.
If there is any problem with the cooperation between him and Henry, it is a matter between Xper and Henry. When Henry and I cooperated the company in 1989, I didn’t know Xper yet, I don’t even know if he and Henry set up a company before I met Henry, in 1989 that year I were 20 years old.
I met Henry first time is about I bought the bootleg LP of Throbbing Gristle and Diamanda Galas from him, I remember he came to Hang Fa Chuen shopping mall to hand over two LPs, at that time, I was a part-time buyer and sales at a CD & video shop, (I was still a graphic design student at the time), maybe I was working in the store, and I had purchases and contact with major distributors, there was a friend of the CD shop’s owner who was the largest parallel CD importer at the time, after that time we met, Henry talked to me maybe let set up a record company together.
Maybe because I know distribution network and retail outlets well, he has some experimental labels want to contacts that music also my cup of tea, and I personally want to officially represent some labels I like, such as 4AD, Mute Record, Factory Records…. because at that time a parallel import record from the UK was very expensive for a secondary school student, I hope that the retail price can be reduced (I will talk about this later, we were said to be robbed of their business by parallel sellers, and we were also boycotted by CD stores specializing in underground music after we became the official agency, also they never sell our label released stuff)
I remember that Henry and I talked back and forth several times. One day two of us talked about naming the company at McDonald’s in Kornhill, I like the word factory, which may be the reason why I liked industrial noise so much, the other is that the first LP in my life is New Order from Factory Record. In this way, the name of the company Sound Factory was settled, and then the company was registered, it officially started operation in 1989, the first office was in my public housing estate in Xiao Sai Wan, by the way, when I went to Henry’s home first time(maybe 2 years later), I found out that he was from a wealthy family and lived in mid-levels of the mountain, Xper was also from a wealthy family after his friends told me, and me, I used to live in the Shau Kei Wan wooden house and was demolished after living few years, then moved to Chai Wan Temporary Resettlement Area arranged by the government for 4 years, then moved to Xiao Sai Wan government own public housing, after that, this living room was the first office of Sound Factory (also home studio which recorded AMK 2 songs of debut ep, one song for Multiplex, my album “Past” all demos……), remember Wing Shya also been here to shoot a photo for me for an interview with the culture magazine called “Crossover Magazine”
5. As for the released of Xper's album "Volustuous Musick", Henry is responsible for communicating with Xper, whether Henry invited Xper or Xper proposed to make this album, It's a bit unduly to say that Henry felt guilty then publishing his CD, or is there any conflict or misunderstanding between Xper and Henry? I am not sure about royalties or overall production fees.
I was in charge of the cover printing, CD pressing, promotion and distribution, I don't know what publishing conditions exist between him and Henry, in company Henry is responsible for contacting with artists and overseas labels, and I am basically doing promotion and distribution. Looking back now, objectively speaking, we all didn't understand the contract at that moment, those who would publish the album at that time were all close friends, or good friends of friends, and the production cost of "Volustuous Musick” was not recovered when the first version of the CD was sold out on Xper CD, that CD was recorded in a big recording studio, a thousand CDs were pressed and given to the artists copy and promotion copy, it is estimated that maybe less than 700 copies were sold, by the time the second edition was printed 500 copies with different cover design, basically, very few were sold, Xper’s CD and some of the inventory left over by Sound Factory are now stored in the warehouse together with Noise Asia’s stuff, I pay a monthly warehouse rent of 4,000 HKD to store all the goods.
6. Regarding to "done a lot of damage and ripped off artists", I don’t know where he heard this, Xper,please tell one by one which artist has complained to you about me, I will answer them one by one clearly, you can also ask the artists who I have worked with, you can go to my personal website (www.dicksondee.com ) to see all the artists and projects I have worked with.
From 1989 to the present moment, our little indie company is the most willing to invest in artists, personally, I can afford for my daughter to go to the summer camp in her secondary school, because of the budget, but I will use expensive printing costs to make CDs for artists.
Its nightmarish for me was a Modern Music Festival in Guangzhou in 2005, when something happened totally lost control.
The artists are all friends I know, and everyone is invited by me, that time I cooperated with a company in Guangzhou, the boss from that company were introduced by my assistant back then, for various reasons, several artists did not get the full performance fee, and even the hotel and air tickets my local partner only paid for one night and bought one-way air tickets, after the Guangzhou Music Festival, I still need to go Beijing with a few musicians for extra shows, in the end, I basically paid all the remaining hotel fees, return air tickets and artists fee, all my credit cards were maxed out the limited, after that time I cancelled all my credit cards and only one was kept, the credit card arrears was also solved by the instalment payment after special arrangement with banks.
I was not they guy should responsible for that money issue, but I had to borrow money from friends around me, just coz all artists invited by me, even some friends who just came to see the show then helped me send the artists to the airport and paid for tickets at the airport, that was a Japanese friend of mine, It took me 8 years to return this loan, the others is similar, the fastest is 3 years, at that time, some of the artists who have not paid off and one is a Japanese musician (duo group), after, during the period, we also met and performed together, every time we met, I paid part of the performance fee i owed him, but I didn’t expect him to complain to two of my good music friends that I did not pay him performance fees and told them not to work with me any more, but the fact is that I had paid most of it at the moment, at that time, I should still owe him 700 dollars. This is why I will respond to Xper this time, there are some things that cannot be late and must be dealt with immediately, Xper if you hear some story maybe is probably from this Modern Music Festival things.
At that time, I received emails from two music friends explaining the situation, and I was very angry at that moment because that Japanese musician came to the mainland China and Macau tour for the first two times was arranged by me and gave a good fee, even for some cities I did not receive the performance fee immediately, but I paid in advance to him, and some of the cities were not collected afterwards, there was also a Beijing musician who I didn’t gave full payment, later told me through our mutual friends that I didn't have to pay the rest for as a friendship, and there is Berlin girls duo group also got no free to return home, also one Vienna artists and his group just got half of the fee before left China…….. maybe some close friends loaned me money for an emergency, I might have forgotten (I remember it was written in a notebook, but I haven’t found it yet), except for this music festival, I basically keep investing from my hard-earned money into company and projects.
7. I am not a person with rich family background, I rely on my own hard work, and my monthly income is just enough to cover the basic operations of the company and the basic life of my family.
I was married early, I have my eldest daughter at the age of 22 and my second baby daughter at the age of 29, because of this music festival, I eventually sold the property that my parents gave me the first down payment and it was still sold under negative equity, in order to save monthly expenses and repay the financial loan on time, we rented a house which is much cheaper than a mortgage payment, my sister and parents also borrowed me money to pay back to the financial company part of the loan, at that time, I paid 800,000 (HKD) included interest, but so far I haven't paid off all to my sister's loans, for me, I really don’t have 500,000 (HKD) cash at a time, in the end, 300,000 was interest.
I still live in that building with a monthly rent of 17,000 (HKD), when I look back now, many people may think that I am from a rich family, at least some people in China have asked me and some said I am the prince of Rubber Plantation, also some said that I’m the mafia! Hahahahaha
If said I lied to someone, it should be said that I have suffered varying degrees of harm along the way, I thought this way before, but now I can see it more clearly, I should pay the price to learn, and there is no harm at all to me, In addition to that, I also owed the payment of the printing factory during that period and also CD factory too (both are my friends too), but was paid off in the next few years, I’m really appreciate they accept me to return the money on that way, but I still continued to do what I wanted to do, I didn't stop.
After a few months, I started going out to perform again, I firmly believe that this is the path I must go through, there was even a German artist who knew what happened at the Guangzhou Music Festival, he also borrowed his cash on hand and told me no need to return it, I really want to get back the musicians and make music with them. Thanks again all my friends who help me!
I hope the epidemic will pass soon, I will post this article on my personal website and forward it to my various social platforms, If anyone thinks that I lied to you or didn’t pay back the money i own you, come to me, you have my email below, you can find me directly.
8. Regarding the International Independent Music Festival said it is Xper's idea, I really don't know that.
At that time, Henry told me that he wanted to make a music festival asked me if its worth to do, I still the same said that if he thinks it is worth doing then let do it, because Henry is in charge of finance, he knows whether we can afford to do such a big music festival or not, then Henry is in charge of contacting artists, hotel booking, take care artists during the time staying, and me help production and handle promotion, then I went to find some partners, and finally cooperated with Mr Tang who is owner of "Youth People Weekly”, he didn't put any cash , and in the form of media cooperation, he published many weeks of advertising from cover and inside pages, I remember that we lost most of invested money on this music festival but no idea how much is that, maybe Henry told me but i forgot now, It should be that the production cost was too high and the ticket sales was bad, In fact, many details at that moment were very vague, the memories are really messed up, I remember that time 1993 i were 24 years old.
9、 I don’t know what Xper’s "stealing other’s idea" means I stole his idea? Or who I stole it? Please directly point out what I stole, otherwise this is slander.
And do you know everything I did when I managed Noise Asia independently after Sound Factory ended in 1997? You said that I destroyed my own bridge in the Hong Kong music circle and only performed in mainland China (yes, it is quite a lot but not all). where you heard that? and when you see my response, please tell me, when I was return back in Hong Kong, I basically didn’t do performances, mainly I spent all time with my family, but if you check my personal website (www.dicksondee.com), you can see it clearly, I receive a relatively bigger budget projects invitation in Hong Kong almost every two years, of course also other smaller projects like modern dance or small gig……in fact, the internet is so convenient now that you can find my all information in seconds by google.
Speaking back to the 89-97 Sound Factory period, we put our best efforts to publish CDs for Hong Kong indie musicians, as well as released CDs for musicians from other countries, and almost every time we released a new CD, we organised the concert or little tour for them in Hong Kong, Taiwan or mainland China, in my memories all those concerts or released CDs were lost money, maybe just 2 or 3 titles albums we can cover the cost and earn some little money, If it is not for the stable income from international major indie label distribution, the company may close earlier. Objectively speaking, we have promoted Hong Kong and the mainland China to help to go next step development of independent music or experimental music, we have given out a large number of CDs for free to the media, musicians, especially mainland musicians and media. We have brought many good international musicians to the greater China area to perform and put local musicians to play together.
I rarely interact with people in the music industry in HK, mainly with musicians who have common interests or say close friends, It has always been difficult in Hong Kong to find a suitable venue for this kinds experimental music, or who will pay you to do the show, most of the time pay our own money for experimental music shows, in addition to being unable to lose money for a long time, sometimes the venue is not rented out to us, It may be that our bad performances records were always in large and small issues in the early days, or damaged the stage floor, or even hurt the audience by accident….. anyway I will talk about my experience in performing and publishing in Hong Kong and China in the past 30 years in Greater China area in my future article.
As for Xper's saying that I "underpaying a lot of people", at this point, I also want to ask who I underpay and what is that? how much I should pay? In the Sound Factory period, I don’t know how much on each artist’s fee is, and I’m not responsible for the finances, I can only tell you clearly the cost of our purchases, who the CDs were sold to, and how many copies were sold, spent how much in the publicity, where we advertised and cost, but if from the period of Noise Asia to the present, and I know everything clearly, and each artist we work together both parties agree on the budget in advance, no one comes over with know nothing about the things. Xper, please tell who are the names, I don’t mind to tell the real budget unless a confidentiality agreement is signed (normally company to company). If one day I really need to tell the budget from each artist, I will communicate with the artist in advance and disclose it if allowed (my friends don’t worry),
But friendly speaking, we are not making pop music right, these kinds experimental music were all funded and performed by artists self in that era, at that moment, Sound Factory paid for the basic production costs, booking, handle promotion… no need our artists to be responsible the cost, we did our best to do things together, the company doesn't have that much budget to do like the pop music industry.
10、I have been living in Hong Kong. I accepted an invitation to join one IT company to establish a joint venture company in Guangzhou and Beijing in 2000. (Therefore, some stories happened in Guangzhou and Beijing, I will write these stories and share them with you later) This company closed down because of burning money too quickly within one and a half years, after that, I changed my work style, I found that more and more people came to me for requested my music performances and art projects or music production, then how i spent my times, there are 2 or 3 months in Europe every year, I stayed in China for 5 months average, I spent the remaining 3 or 4 months with my family in Hong Kong. I kept it like this for many years, but it changed on 15 years ago, I reduced my performances (from a year over 80 shows to 5 shows in a years) and only made handle large budget projects to have stayed in Hong Kong for more time (I will talk about the reasons for the changes in the future). Up to now, the company's business direction has been changed 4 times from Sound Factory to Noise Asia, Of course, the biggest change has been in 2000 and 2019 ( I'll talk about it later too), from the completion of a modern dance soundtrack work in Beijing at the end of December last year, after that, it should be the idlest but also the difficult times (or say sadness) in my life since then, work re-start again at the end of November this year and will be arranged until the end of January next year, and March after the lunar new year, I will busy again, It should be my first solo big tour, I will go to many cities for several months, Of course, it depends on the epidemic!
Later, Noise Asia became specialized in doing my work most of time, my label didn't publish many CDs, I rarely wrote a proposal to knock the door to find projects or jobs, maybe just two or three in 31 years only in my memory, both of which were projects in China, fortunately, there have been many friends who have given me help and support, and they have taken the initiative to find me to perform and projects, it should be these friendships that have made me confident and have been doing on my own way and never give up, even my father has been opposed to me running this record company.
11、Another point why I want to respond to Xper’s interview is because of Henry.
I personally think that if Xper u didn't apologize to Henry privately, I’m shame on you, every time Henry mentions Xper, he is discussing with me about how to do a better work for his CD promotion and distribution, about the UK CD factory issue, he didn’t say anything bad words about Xper in front of me, but from this interview, he mentioned Henry just in one sentence, no matter what happened between Xper and Henry, Xper do you appreciate what Henry did for you in Sound Factory era?
I am personally grateful for Henry’s big contribution to the Sound Factory, spent his time and money into the company, I remember he drove the old BMW and we went to pick up the
goods and deliver the goods together, made the concerts happen together, also got big support from his mother and his uncle to give the company survive smoothly, and Sound Factory has done so many things in the 8 years, such as AMK’s first EP to the last of the “Great Song” 4 CDs of Otomo Yoshihide, Tats Lau’s 2 soundtrack albums, the first two albums of Wang Lei, Gerogerogege’s live cd, Midnight Flying first CD, Tanko’s Dragon Blue live cd, Steven Chou’s duet, Dancing Stone’s debut album, Multiplex’s debut album, Peril second album, Jon Rose album, Juno’s albums, then organised the concerts to friends like John Zorn, Eye, Mike Patton, Misha Mengelberg, Jon Rose, Peril, Ikue Mori, Otomo Yoshihide, Tenko, Ground Zero, Masada, Dancing Stone, Steven Chou, Wang Lei, Multiplex, AMK….. live concert in HK, China or Macau….. and there are more live performances during the Noise Asia period and there are still on going some plans and schedule in 2021.
From the above my response, you can see that I have basically no contact with Xper, but there are still chaos things in it, and I don’t know these things, and I saw his emotions through this interview seems most of the things not related to me, the world is full of surprises! Actually, there are still many details, but I won’t talk about it this time, I will continue and follow up this article later, I finally feel that I have to respond to some issues from Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Beijing, Hong Kong and Japan, in fact, there are only two or three things, and of course, there are also included Taiwan, maybe also take a chance I want to talk about greater China area experimental music history, a lot of people doing a great job in this area now.
yes, 2021 should be a different year.