This one man Brit performer extraordinaire has blossomed out of his day job as an examiner in China, and moonlights as a storytelling punk singer-songwriter around the world when he can. Having come back for his second visit to Malaysia months back, JUICE talks to the man about touring the USA, being sneaky, and a very elusive skateboard guitar…
For the uninitiated, what is GuiGuiSuiSui?
It’s a story of movements being told through motion and music, and costumes. It started off as like a band, but it’s moved and evolved now. GuiGuiSuiSui means sneaky in Chinese. For some context, my dad was in a band called Sneaky for many years, and so I decided I’d name my band Sneaky in Chinese. And in Chinese, you’d see that a lot of people like looking for four characters – for design, or just for it to sound good. I mean, in Beijing there’s a band called Chinese Modern Guys… I think they know it’s a bit sh!t but they just roll with it.
So, how did you end up in China?
Well, I was in Asia for seven years, and I first went to China in 2009, and it was just so much fun. I was living in South Korea for a few years then, and it was much more expensive there. Here was a huge piece of land, and it was polluted, and people didn’t really follow the rules. You could do whatever you want. After three years, I realised it was time to move on from Korea. I tried going back to the UK but I didn’t like it that much. So I decided to head to China to see what I could do there. At that time the only job I could find was in Chengchung, which is closer to Pyongyang than Beijing. So here I was in this cold city, with not a lot going on, depressing, dark. Everyone was drunk or abusing substances. So, I decided to make this band, this character, and that started it.
Well, that’s pretty rad.
That’s not all. What really kicked me up my arse was when I went back to the UK for a bit, I saw a skateboard guitar in my best friend’s house. He’d made it as a joke. It’s called a diddley. The moment I saw it, I was fixed. And he said that I could have it. And it’s taken me on an interesting road. So, from the get go, you’ve got to think outside the box with something like that. And people can see it too.
How did you get into music?
Well, my dad was a professional musician, so I kinda grew up around that. Then of course there was skateboarding and those music videos. Stuff like The Dead Kennedy’s from the first Tony Hawk [game]. I met older people from skateboarding who got me into Cannibal Corpse and the like. I started playing music when I was in high school, and through that and university I went through a sh!tload of bands. Played jazz, played bass. Without music it’s just weird.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Five-year plans are good. I hope to be further along in my career, for one. Managing scores and the like, still in Asia I suppose. In terms of art, I think I’d want to be on my third or fourth album. But I’d want a lot of other stuff as well – books, art and the like. A little similar to what I’m doing now, but a bit further along the road. And I’d want to have toured USA. I don’t really care about touring it, but I just want to say, “Oh, I’ve played in LA.”