The news of the Vice Magazine’s VBS.tv pairing with CNN came last week (see Ned’s thoughts on it), but last week also saw the debut of CNN’s first original web series with indie label Sup Pop Records—Indie Asia (above). Being billed as “CNN.com’s new online series,” at first glance it’s a pretty straightforward travelogue docu-series.
Its hosts however aren’t your typical multi-accented CNN journos. Instead the twosome of Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry, who make up Sup Pop-signed indie rock duo The Handsome Furs, take us on a considerably less newsy jaunt through East Asian spots like China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand. The married couple are self-described “travel nerds,” plagued with lifelong passion for making music and seeing the world.
But it isn’t just mindless observations and digital scrapbook fodder. We get a unique spin on travel in these countries, especially that of a indie rockers traveling to work in countries that aren’t always hip to western influences, or unauthorized work stints. “As a band it’s a gamble getting into any country,” says Boeckner of border crossings, “because you’re ostensibly working.”
At times there are some stiff plot-moving voiceovers that feel read from the couple’s journal each day, but where it shines is in the real moments caught on their Flip camera. There’s no camera crew or field producers tagging along, just smart editing (by Michael Senzon) of their point-and-shoot vignettes of daily life—like grocery shopping in a Beijing supermarket. “It makes for a better show if you’re actually exploring the city,” added Boeckner, “so hopefully when you get on stage you have a better idea of who you’re playing for and the environment that they live in. It makes it easier to connect with them.”
New episodes of Indie Asia come out weekly on Thursdays on CNN.com.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this article alluded to this series being produced by Vice and VBS.TV, when it was actually produced by Sub Pop for CNN. Corrections have been made above.