Chinese Man is a French trip-hop-influenced rap collective that emerged in the mid-2000s with its own record label and a series of EP releases. Comprised of High Ku, Sly, and Zé Mateo, [...] With a sound reminiscent of early dub-heavy Gorillaz, Morcheeba, and DJ Shadow, Chinese Man combined genres with a heavy focus on beats and samples. Formed in 2004, they made their recording debut in 2005 with The Pandi Groove EP on their own Chinese Man label.

Biography by Jason Birchmeier, from AllMusic

Jana Saleh: You’re originally from Aix en Provence. When we think of the French touch we usually think of Versailles for Electro - Paris for Pop, its suburbs and Marseille for Hip Hop. How did growing up in Aix influence you to get into Trip Hop?

Chinese Man: Well Aix en Provence is the City where we all met but quickly we decided to move to Marseille, the City was way more adapted to the kind of music we wanted to produce. But maybe south of France mood has influenced the way we're doing music, in Marseille we use to say "easy in the morning and not too fast in the afternoon".

JS: Were you mostly influenced with what was happening musically in the UK at the time?

CM: UK was a great inspiration at this Time with a label like Ninja Tune, but there was also Quannum, the Bay Area label of dj Shadow and Le Peuple de l’Herbe in France.

JS: From I’ve Got That Tune released in 2004 to Step Back released in 2017, you were able to maintain Trip Hop remixes of 1930s music. Is Chinese Man as a name an homage to the idea of an “oriental années folles”? Colonial Hong Kong on one hand and cotton club post Great Depression in the US on the other? I’m also referring to the visuals of both tracks with Betty Boop and a pre-apocalyptic City in Step Back.

CM: The name of the label is the name of our first track. We chose this name to create a story around the label, the Chinese Man is our mysterious master who sent his disciples around the world to spread the good sound!

JS: In a track like Wolf, you’ve managed to update your sonic palette while maintaining a classic Trip Hop feel, could you talk about the evolution of the genre and how you think your sound is going?

CM: We always try to create a new style of trip hop influenced by all the new kinds of music we can hear in parties. So we add some drum and bass, some dubstep and now even some trap shit!

JS: Could you tell us about Chinese Man Records? Why did you decide to launch a record company and what does it mean to be independent music? Considering you’re the generation that lived the switch from major label signing to independent distribution, are you able to maintain and expand a scene with the record company?

CM: First, we created the label since we were DJ and wanted to produce our Own vinyls. So the initial project was clearly not for majors. But some of them came and tried to sign us but there was no point for the project, we don't share the same goals. When we sign an artist at CMRecords it’s firstly and mainly for artistic reasons, when others have in mind to become famous!