My name is Luce, co-founder of SHFT
., Red 8 Studio, and soon to come - The Fixx. I'm from the North, what most would call the "6" and few would call Toronto. This is the story of a small town boy with a big hustle, who came out to Shanghai on a three-month exchange program in 2011 and never went back…
Ok, so some history real quick: In those days, it was a street fashion lifestyle brand dream. The plan was to come to Shanghai to study the language, network, meet suppliers, factories, while my partners back in Canada prepped designs and other brand assets. Eventually the grind naturally turned to nightlife and then dove deeper into the music and entertainment industry.
In 2011, it was Chinese class all morning, teaching English all afternoon and either passing out party flyers, or throwing parties at night. We were throwing parties for all people out there who wanted something different from the Ruby’s
(RIP) or the M2s
of Shanghai. We focused on good vibes and good people.
In 2013, I landed our first international artist booking, the hitmaker - DJ Snake. For all the mom’s and pop’s reading this, Snake is currently the modern-day Bono of Electronic Dance music, but back then no one in Shanghai / China had a clue who he was. I was running through campuses around the city playing "Turn Down For What" from my iPhone in peoples ears and handing them a flyer. Go ahead take a peak
Now here we are in 2018 and SHFT. has developed into an artist management and touring machine, event production and PR agency, as well as a music and urban lifestyle consultant. Red 8 is an audio production and recording studio, where we also put on DJ courses and workshops throughout the year. Everyday something different is going on, one day Gai and Bridge will be recording with like 10 people from their entourage, the next day will be voice over recordings for video game characters. Red 8 is a partnership between myself, Al Rocco, (one of the hardest working artists in the game), and Fader One. Fader is the Master of the studio, one of the freshest producers in the East and a super talented audio engineer that could make a Squeaky door nob sound like Just Bieber. Seriously, the guy is going to be the Timberland of Asia.
At the end of the day we love making people smile, laugh and feel, whether it’s the crowd at our shows, the fans listening to our artist's music, or even our clients. Here I'll let you tear up to this one
Where did we come from? We came from the mud! We used to throw parties at Dada
on Thursday nights because Michael [Dada's manager] wouldn't give us weekends haha. We were a three-man crew in a small, no-window room with a little electric heater. Now we are rolling about 20 deep at SHFT., and 4 over at Red 8 Studio. SHFT. is an amazing team made up of passionate young people who love music and fashion. You walk into our office and the music is bumping, everyone is working hard and the creativity is flowing. I LOVE OUR TEAM!
On the Sources of Shanghai Success.
Consistency, hard work, being fearless, understanding the youth, listening, educating, and did I say hard work? Like non-stop grinding, no days off, phone on blast, late nights, early(ish) mornings, hard work! No, but also I think that because we came up with 100% organic growth, there was so much passion put into what we were doing. A lot of these big fish coming in these days are trying to do the same thing we do with corporate funds but have no soul. Go look at their P&L’s and see what’s up. We like Ps and we keep the P’s consistent. Alright, I promised myself I wouldn’t go off on any salty promoter talk on this one. Let’s get to the fun shit!
Tell Us Some Good Stories. Best Show?
Best show, hands down… I mean this is a story; this is a tale I have to tell.
So last fall A$AP ROCKY got booked to perform a fashion convention called Innersect (which was awesome, big up’s to Conan and crew on that one). Anyway, as soon as I found that out, months in advance, I made a phone call to A$AP Rocky's cousin, A$AP NAST, who we had toured before and who also had a decent profile in China but nothing like Rocky's celeb status. I told Nast I wanted to book him for the same night Rocky was in town, in hopes that Rocky would support his cuz and make an appearance to our show at Arkham
. Nast read me like a book, and charged me double his standard, because he knew what I was up to. Anyway, I went for it.
The night of the show, I'm on stage DJing because Nast was a half hour late and the support DJ had just finished. An hour before the show started I was told by management that Nast did not have a DJ nor the music for his performance, not only that but I had already given up on Rocky because his set got cut short at Innersect by the boys in blue, so I figured he would be in a bad mood and head straight back to the hotel. I downloaded all of Nast's music off the internet and put it on a USB. I'm up on stage freaking out, the club is paccccccked, everyone in the room was praying that Rocky would show up. Suddenly a friend runs up.
"Luce, 6 black vans just pulled up, Nast is here, Rocky is here, the whole ASAP Mob (minus Ferg) is here... but their DJ is NOT here, you need to DJ for them."
And then it went off. The whole mob hit the stage, the place went into a frenzy, I have no clue the order of their track list, Nast and Rocky are calling song names out to me, meanwhile I’m scrolling through the USB looking for the track.
I remember when the show finished and the music went off there were like more than 10 kids crying with joy, including myself.
Thanks to technology, you can watch a recap of the show right here
More Interestingly. Worst Show?
It’s been awhile since had a soul shattering show. I couldn’t tell you how many Rooftop parties we have had shut down by the fuzz, or Bund Beach parties that got rained out. Shanghai promoters all feel me on this one, throwing parties outside in downtown Shanghai… is not for the weak-hearted.
Oh wait, this was good one – back like in 2012, we threw a party in the Cool Docks
with the legend Skinny Brown and had organized a bus to pick up kids from a popular dive bar named Perry's
. When the bus pulled up and dozens of people started getting on. Perry's Laoban caught feelings watching his full bar clear out. So Laoban, comes out with a crow bar and starts beating up the bus. The bus driver kicks everyone off and drives away...
That was a learning experience.
On the Evolution of the Promoter’s Tools.
Four years ago I would have said oh it’s tough to compete with the super clubs like M2 and Myst
, who have free entrance and provide foreigners with free drinks, but now even though it’s still like that, the local market is smart, they have taste, they know what they want and they know music. Now, it’s more about consistency of bringing fresh and new acts and new experiences for the fans. I think people are getting bored of seeing a DJ on stage. I think live music is going to make a major come back with the youth, this is also one of the reasons Hip Hop did so well in 2017.
On strategies/ avenues. In the beginning it was all street promotion. I swear I must have personally handed out 1 million flyers between 2012 and 2015. We were running such an aggressive street promotion team, we had other brands such as STORM Festival
flying us around the country running street promotion campaigns a month before the festival would happen. True story, 2014, we flew to Beijing to the Heineken Great Wall festival, with a couple hundred Budweiser STORM T-shirts and 10,000 flyers. We camped out at the bus meet point where everyone had to get on shuttles to the Great Wall and laced a few hundred kids up in the T-shirts, then had them raging in the Bud Storm Fest T-shirts at the Heineken Great Wall Festival, while we took videos and distributed flyers.
Now we have mastered the skill of digital PR. It’s a beautiful thing and a lot less demanding on the body. That’s not to say that you won’t see dozens of SHFT. posters up around the down town are and we will still send flyer squads to campuses for some of our larger scale shows.
On Where Hip Hop is Going in China -- Hey, Didn't I Just Read Something About Hip Hop in China?
I feel like [REDACTED]'s
name is almost like Voldemort now - He who shall not be named. Yeah, Hip Hop took a major blow at the end of last year. Now mass/mainstream media is going to be more heavily regulated, but Hip Hop will live on. It’s hard to kill something that came from the underground. I am already starting to see the live house shows come back, artists are starting to drop music videos again. Everyone's kind of like sticking their toes in the water right now and seeing if something bites. Time will tell. The tough part is there is no clear line. You have popstar rappers like Kris Wu who carry on business as usual, while others are not so lucky...
On Where Shanghai Clubbing is Headed.
I'm not much of a clubber. My friends and colleagues know that If it’s not a SHFT. show and I don’t have to be in the club, I'm usually not out. I guess that’s called getting old…or stacking paper.
In terms of where is it going. The champagne wars will continue at the super clubs and the cool trendy stuff will continue to grow. The market will get smarter and more selective. The winners will be the ones who provide the good flavor for the consumers with good taste.
Where's a Good Place to Go for Food or Drink that People Might Not Know About?
is the #1 top floor attic room and always a good vibe. If it’s for food, it’s hotpot, it’s K BBQ and it’s Indian! Mostly I’m at home cooking up Salmon and veggies. Carb free 2018 let’s get it!
Favorite Things About Shanghai...
#1. My Ayi
#2. I love Shanghai because there are so many creatives in this city, so many go getters and passionate entrepreneurs. When these kinds of people come together, great things happen.
Keep healthy, keep studying the language, keep learning, and keep growing a global network.
Okay, Do Your Thing.
Thanks for having me on this piece Smart Shanghai! It’s SHFT.'s 5 Year Anniversary tonight at Arkham
! If you have not been yet, it’s a really cool underground warehouse club/venue. We are flying one of my favorite live Electronic music acts - Keys and Krates. They will do a full live set with Keyboards, Drums and Turntables. They play everything from Trap and Dubstep to Hip Hop and melodic rhythms . It’s going to be a rave and we have a lot of surprises in the bag. Keys N Krates live show is next level. (Check it out.
Massive love and respect to the whole SHFT. Team: Lacy, DJ Claire, Claire Wang, Connie, Jason, Richie, Young Ma, 3veryTrashLord, Klevin, Candice, Axiss, Justin, Agnes, Callum, Riel, Loxel, Stas and special shout out to my partner Jacky.
Blessings to Red 8 and the squad: Fader One, Al Rocco, Blow Fever, Young Dragon, Andy, Louie Louie, and Warz.
SHFT. and Red 8 have huge project and big news coming up in the pipeline that we cannot wait to share with you.
One love to the City of Shanghai. ALWAYS STRIVE AND PROSPER – A$AP YAMS