Time Beacon, Shining a Light and Leading the Mind
Written by (作者): Agnes Tong 童安然
Photos by (图片来源): Time Beacon 灯塔音乐, Yang Liu 刘洋
I met Evan, the founder of local music label Time Beacon, at the Ningbo Library on a scorching summer afternoon. A cool guy with a subtle artistic feeling, he took me to his studio and cut to the chase real quick. If you’re curious about the meeting location, Evan works at the music archive inside the library as a part-time thing. Music is his life, and Time Beacon is where that life has brought him.
“ I’m a local, Time Beacon is a local label, and we work to help local musicians.” Evan was laid-back and humble when talking about something he should be proud of. He knows very well about the current situation of Ningbo’s music world, underdeveloped as it is. As a born-and-bred Ningbonese, he embraces the responsibility to help promote and guide the local musical culture and artists. “To be honest, I can’t come up with a single local band who has really made it, the time they spent in the studio practicing is way longer than the actual performance time on stage. Opportunities are what they really need.”
Evan told me the name Time Beacon has two meanings. The first is that the label is a guiding light for local artists like a beacon in the middle of the ocean. The deeper interpretation is that there is an unobserved reef near the beacon, the light is also a warning for boats to not get close. “We are not a dock or a place for them to get ashore and stop, I’d rather Time Beacon be a stepping-stone, a bridge for the artists towards a more promising future.”
Like many other labels, Time Beacon hosts regular musical events, inviting every band in Ningbo to come out and perform. The special thing about Time Beacon is their desire to keep the performances small and local. Musicians perform in cafes, old gyms and theatres. That being said, Evan says he hopes Time Beacon will have an exclusive stage in the future. What’s more, they don’t cater solely to professional musicians. “Normal people need opportunities as well, we help them to have concerts of their own. We also help with recording, practices, poster design, ticket printing, you name it.” The idea is to make music accessible to everyone, not limited to a certain group of people nor a certain genre or style. The idea or taste can be different, but the enjoyment of the feature is universal.
At the time this issue goes to print, Time Beacon will be preparing to co-host the Donghai Music Festival in Zhoushan. Several big names in the Chinese music world were invited, including Dou Wei, former lead singer of the band Black Panther, considered by many to be the Chinese Lou Reed. Although Wei was the voice of the 1990s, he disappeared for years, choosing to live a reclusive life. His appearance at Donghai is a big deal, bringing out fans of varying ages to the festival.
Evan is no newbie to the music business. 5 years ago he helped found and run CMK Music House in Yinzhou. Due to personal health issues and the pursuit of higher quality live shows, he quit the team to take a break and eventually founded Time Beacon. “It was a precious period of time for me,” he says. “We’ve made mistakes, and when I look back now it’s nothing but gems. What I learned from CMK helped me enormously with Time Beacon. We know how to avoid mistakes and trouble now.
When asked about the future of Time Beacon, Evan tells me “there is still a long way ahead. I’ve always looked up to another music label, New Noise. They focus on post-rock artists, making sure musicians’ rights are protected, giving their best to promote events. They are sort of a role model.”
With the signing of their first band, Exit 4, Evan feels like Time Beacon is riding on the right tracks. “It’s for sure that we’ll be signing more artists in the future. Exit 4 is legit, and we’re glad that they’re our first band.”
签下他们的第一支乐队Exit 4之后，Evan感到整个团队都走上了一条正确的路。“未来我们肯定会签更多的艺人，Exit 4是一支很棒的乐队，很高兴他们是我们开始的地方。”