Interview with Bamboo Yan
Bamboo Yan, from the Sichuan province of China, studied classical music composition and piano. After getting bored of classical music she turn her attention to pop-electronic as the girl band leader of the famous band named “Asiadolls”. The Asiadolls performed fusion music playing electronic cello/violin and singing original songs with an Italian DJ. They traveled and performed in many countries.
Bamboo Yan is the No.1 Chinese body model. She started her modeling career in 2005 and quickly became one of the most sought after body models. Her pictures can be seen in numerous Chinese language magazines and websites including FHM, VOGUE, ID, VERSION and many others. She also has collaborated with many western photographers and Movie directors.
In 2007, she made her own fine-art solo photography exhibition “Body and Soul” in Beijing’s “China World DASHAN International Gallery”and is the first model who has had her solo body-art photo exhibition shown in China.
Beginning in 2010 Bamboo set up her own fine art studio and began work on the art project “Asian body beauty”. She has selected and trained some of the best Chinese body models and created highly artistic body-art pictures with creative photographers. Presently she is working on the “Asian Body Beauty” project, with French and other European photographers, to create a very special fine art exhibition and photography book between China and Europe. She is trying to lead Chinese nude art to another level.
Bamboo, it is a pleasure to meet you. You started off studying music. What this something you had wanted to do or was it something you were pressured into doing?
I have to say in China, most kids are forced to practice musical instruments, it’s not normally instigated by their own passion. When I was kid, my passion was painting and drawing. Although I had an interest in playing music when I was young, I soon became bored playing piano. It was my mummy who insisted I practice piano until I got in the music conservatory.
What bored you about it? Was it because it was classical and there were other areas and styles of music you wanted to learn?
I feel I was born for ‘entertainment’ and so playing piano lost it’s appeal. Studying classical music gave me strong base to understand and master the techniques of writing music. However, I really like electro/pop music. In the conservatory, all the students thought pop is too easy, but since I started to learn more about real pop music from western countries, I think the most difficult thing is to write simple but impressive songs. I typically like relaxed music and would like to become a DJ.
Tell us about how you first got started with the Asiadolls.
I arrived in Beijing in 2005 with virtually nothing. At the start, I was playing piano in a hotel lobby and it was there that I met a Rainbow; a female violinist who played with me. She was still a student at the time and we were both earning very little money so I suggested that we build a band to get more money. Soon I started to play cello (as had I studied cello in my school since I was 15) and found a few other girls who could play with us. I composed some easy house string songs with Italian music producer and DJ Markino when he was still in Italy. Markino and I were net friends through Myspace. He decided to come China and work with us and that’s what spawned “Asiadolls”.
When you were with the Asiadolls you traveled to many places. What were some of the most memorable experiences you had at that time?
“In 2008-2009, Asiadolls were in Malaysia for 2 months doing a show. That was the most beautiful memory I had. The people there are so nice, I always like sunshine, good food, ocean and anyway, the original idea of making a music band was to travel for free, hehe.”
Who were the other members and do you stay in touch with them? What are they doing now?
Judy and Rainbow are the other two members. We were living together for a while and we still meet up regularly. We’re going to the USA to perform next year, however this year I’m busy with my new family, so those two will perform in China with the other cellist, who is my replacement.
Do you still play music from time to time?
You have accomplished a great deal as a model. How did you get started and do you remember your first photoshoot?
I first started modelling because I needed money to buy instruments and by doing modeling I was able to get a free poster shoot for my band. However, I was also doing modeling before I came to Beijing.
What is it you like about modeling?
I do not like fashion modeling, I only like creative work that results in visual art.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment or the one you are proudest of?
My photograph exhibition in 2007 is something I’m most proud of. China is still a very conservative country, so I’m proud that I can do what other people can not do; nude art and it’s the best level in China
What is a “body model” and how does it differ than other types of modeling?
Body modelling has different standards of body beauty as opposed to fashion modelling. You have to have the perfect shape, healthy mind and good taste on art. If you lack of any of those points, you are essentially doing porn.
You are the first model who has had her solo body-art photo exhibition shown in China. Is it because it is restrictive there that it has not been done before?
There is an art precinct here in Beijing named 798 and the artists there have often done good nude exhibitions in the past. The apparent lack of nude art is not due to any restrictions, it’s just that none of them are made by the model and thus none of them are at a particularly high level. My dad is a very famous sculptor now and in about 1980 he did nude art, but he was caught by police at that time. Things are a bit more open now, but peoples taste in art is not too developed yet.
Tell us about your studio.
My studio is a fusion style studio, I collaborate with different photographers and painters to make creative art work such as nude photos, sculptures and videos. All the works are created by my ideas and my understanding of fine art. We then exhibit those art works to galleries.
What is your goal in promoting Chinese Nude art?
To let the Chinese understand that nude beauty is not only about sexual attraction, but that it’s also an effective way to immediately impress the viewer about what is being communicated in the work of art.
Can you tell us a little about your Asian Body Beauty project.
I plan to make a photo exhibition with nude models to explain some of the more mysterious aspects of Asian religious culture. There are also some other projects associated with old Chinese cultures.
Who are some of your favorite photographers and models?
Nobuyoshi Araki, the Japanese photographer, he made the porn into a real art. I don’t have a favorite model.
As a woman who understands both the modeling side and the photography and styling side of the business, what do you look for in a model or in the final photograph?
I think a good body model must understand what the artist wants to convey and how the artist wants to make the photos unique. The human body can be used in such a wide range of ways to convey the artists ideas, but it’s important that the model has the ability to recognize this. You have to have the ability to use your whole body to express the intention of the art, not simply through using your eyes.
Can you tell us about some of your favorite images?
My favorite images are where the model’s eyes, hair or fingers portray the moment in detail. I also like vivid color in an image, such as Tang Ka (one Tantric picture) and also black and white photographs.
What do you hope to turn your business into in the future?
I plan on growing a great visual art studio that produces fine art exhibitions and also hold great parties. Bands, DJs and other performances would all be part of this too.
When you are not working, what do you enjoy doing?
Sleeping, eating, traveling, partying and enjoying family time
Where can we go to find out more about you and your work?
Well, I have a lot of information on my Weibo (Chinese twitter) but its all in Chinese.