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MP3 Monday: AM444
ChaCha + Jay.Soul = AM444 -- the PAUSE:MUSIC debut CD launches this Friday at The Shelter. Samples and a bit of chit chat inside.
By Mar 28, 2011 Nightlife

MP3 Monday is a weekly SmartShanghai column, serving up mp3s from bands living and making music in China (or coming to China, or thinking about coming to China, or whatever). Copyright holders: if you would like your song removed, please email us here, and we'll honor your request promptly.

Coming off recent releases from Rainbow Danger Club and Moon Tyrant, here’s more locally produced and minted music from the opposite end of the spectrum -- some preview tracks of AM444’s 8-track debut CD, "Eye Wonder”, out this Friday on PAUSE:MUSIC. Shanghai celebrates “Eye Wonder” this Friday at The Shelter.

Again, this is another one to really get out there at support -- your city kin forging the sounds of Shanghai, nahmean? Music is that funky, ill shit. Lyrics in Mandarin.

AM444 is a collaboration between two Shanghai-based musicians: ChaCha, of Uprooted Sunshine and Dutch transplant Jay.Soul, a producer/ purveyor of a mix of hip hop, soul, funk, and jazz.

Introducing the latter first, Jay.Soul is a constant player at the Quality Control and Back to The Classics nights, and was recently a highlight of the electronic stage at the JZ Music festival, whereupon he turned in a very legit and well-received collaboration set with a couple Shanghai horn players -- live horns and electronica. That performance was sort of indicative of his style, which is classicist roots music filtered through forward-thinking dance genres and electronica proper. No stranger to the independent release, his earlier, Shanghai-inspired stuff came out under the moniker Mr. Windmill & Jay.Soul , and he’s also done some remix work. Check out more samples of his stuff right here. Jay.Soul -- a man with some very good taste in soul music. Keep up with his latest releases right here -- some Shanghai and some international stuff there.

So AM444 is Jay.Soul with Uprooted Sunshine vocalist ChaCha, who comes to us from Guizhou originally, but has been living and making music for a few years now in Shanghai. This AM444 CD comes off an incredibly busy period for ChaCha, not only with Uprooted Sunshine -- a Shanghai-based reggae soundsystem who just toured nationally with Clive Chin, just last year -- but also as a solo vocalist, working with European producers like Jahtari (Germany), Desto, and Jimi Tenor. In addition to those projects, ChaCha also sings on four tracks on the upcoming Kode 9 album [Hyperdub], the first single of which, “Love is the Drug”, also featuring ChaCha, gets released this week. Big time. More on that at The BBC, donchaknow. (click here for The BBC radio show feature; hat tip: Newbdog).

So here’s two songs from AM444’s “Eye Wonder”.

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Here’s a bit more background on AM444 from ChaCha:

SmSh: Whats the story behind the name -- AM444?

ChaCha: Oh, we were trying to think of lots of different names, but we couldn’t come up with anything. But I was always recording in my little studio very late at night and I would always look at the clock – 4:44am.

So that’s it -- AM444, here we go…

SmSh: How do you go about composing lyrics? Do you go into the studio with something already written?

ChaCha: Not really. I just sit in my studio and listen to the stuff and when I hear something I like I try to catch pictures in my mind. I try to think about what kind of story will fit the beats and the feelings. After that it’s just arranging the song -- where should the main part sit, where should the chorus sit. And after that is my favorite part, which is making a melody for the beats. I listen to the instrumental composition and play around with melodies and try to find something that fits the beats, and then lyrics to fit the melody. After recording some demos at home, I’d send that back to Jay and he re-arranges the piece.

SmSh: What are your future plans for this collaboration? More recording? Touring?

ChaCha: We are taking AM444 as a long-term project and this album, “Eye Wonder” is just our first step. After the launch, we’ll start touring different cities in China, this summer and autumn. And then back in the studio very soon to records more tracks…


Keep up with AM444 on their Douban page. They're also featured at's podcast here.

And another important link: PAUSE:MUSIC, the Shanghai imprint this one is released on, is running a contest to win a pack of their entire mix tape series, featuring DJs like B6, DJ Fortune, and Ben Huang. Click here for more on PAUSE:MUSIC and to enter the contest.

Shanghai celebrates AM444’s “Eye Wonder” this Friday at The Shelter, presented by PAUSE:MUSIC. It’s what’s on for this weekend. Cover is 50rmb and that comes with the free CD. Support from B6, Alan Shanyinde, and Cavia.

Photo credits to Benoit Florencon.

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