Another great weekend of music has passed us by in this Gotham city we call Shanghai. My experiences: The Basement6 gig that featured Beijing’s L.O.B.I. and the Douban’s D-Force label showcase at Yuyintang were both packed with local kids. It's like there seems to be a widened interest among the Shanghai scene in Chinese bands incorporating varied genres of electronica into their rock sets. From the acts I caught over the weekend I heard elements of ambient downtempo, house, techno, darkwave synth, krautrock, and lots of psych.
Looking ahead, if you are looking for some live music this week has a few good options including the Elvis Fest with Banana Monkey, Parachutes on Fire, and Chad Romero & the Cadillacs. On Thursday, the respected chillwave act Toro Yi Moi is in town playing QSW. That one is a solid gig. I also want to check out the Korean musical titled Laundry, you know, to class up the week a bit.
Today on Music Monday, we are going to talk with a few DJs who run club nights in Shanghai. If you’ve read this column before you might have noticed I often slag off DJs for getting praise as artists when they play other peoples music. While that is true another truth is Shanghai’s local DJs contribute to the scene with original music productions, writing, art, and in Mau Mau’s case, just a friendly, lovable face to brighten up your day. The DJs featured in this article aren’t interested in making any Top100 lists but instead are trying to create genuine alternatives to the commercial over branded EDM club scene. On top of asking their plans for 2016 I had everyone share a track that represents the feeling of the upcoming year. All these positive vibes from local crews makes me almost want to learn how to mix. But then again you know what? Fuck that.
Co:Motion is silly excited for 2016. We (MIIIA, Laura Ingalls, Raz, Effy, Alvin and myself) just got started in 2015, throwing our first parties, releasing our first release (MIIIA's 'What Just Happened') and touring our first Asia tours -- we're looking to keep things rolling in the new year. The track we picked comes from Shanghainese dj/producer Deep19, and will be released as part of a Co:Motion EP this spring. We've long been a fan of his sense of groove, tight DJ skills, quiet gangster demeanor and all-around nice-dudeness, so when he finally agreed to send us the music that's being made in his cave in Zhujiajiao we started dancing around Laura's living room. He has a distinctive sound -- dark and bass-driven -- that fits just right in our late-night sets.
First up for the label in 2016 is a release of housier material by Shanghai-based sleeper talent/renaissance man Michael Cignarale (you can find his graphic design work in SmSh's 'best flyers' thing) -- he'll play a live set for the release party at Dada on February 27. On top of that we're conspiring to bring out some of our favorite international acts -- can't say who yet but stay tuned -- and a collaboration release between MIIIA and Laura Ingalls. Look forward to dancing with you this year :)
Deep19 - Dark Fall (premaster)
I’m old. My knees feel it, I’m losing more hair every god damn day, and my baby tried to stab me. Luckily I have Popasuda, my monthly oasis, giving me 7 hours where I can’t hear my phone, I don’t get WeChat updates, no one can email me, and I can indulge in soul quenching music.
In 2015, I really feel like Popasuda solidified its following in Shanghai. Now it’s all about expanding. 2016 will see me suffering through western social media, pushing my VPN to the limit, trying relentlessly to get my sound to the world at large. I expect I’ll be heading back to Japan and Canada to play, along with potential shows in the US, Korea, France, and probably Cambodia again. June will see me in Ireland, where I’m being flown down to Kilkenny to play a wedding. I’m super stoked about that, cause that’s just pure love, and the couple bringing me down loves my stuff. Real dope cats. It’ll also kick-start a few UK gigs I’m setting up.
Music wise, I’m trying harder to go more soundsystem style. I want custom everything, strictly dubplates. But I’ll still maintain the diversity in global sounds, looking increasingly to Africa and the Caribbean. Currently, I’m really feeling a producer down in Jamaica called Time Cow. He’s taking dancehall in a very cool new direction. He’s done some very unique tracks for me with an artist named Kemikal Splash.
I’m also going to try do, perhaps my first international booking with an MC/Producer/DJ called Poirier out of Montreal. But with the kid, a day job, and literally every minute of every day spent working on something, I’m not sure how it’ll go over. Either way, 2016 I’ll keep building, sincerely trying to bring Shanghai something unique, devoid of corporate bullshit, full of love, and with lots of new and exciting music. Big Up to all those who support. I really do appreciate it.
Popasuda – 4 Year Anniversary
Crew: Daily Vinyl
Since last year's summertime, Daily Vinyl's traditional record market event "Daily Vinyl Weekend" had a rest for several months. We will do a new one "DVW Vol.5" on January 24. We united some important venues and shops on Fuxing Lu and Yongfu Lu this time from afternoon to midnight. So we would like to call it as a block party. Should be little bit challenging, but also interesting for us. We would like to do more interesting and creative record markets in 2016. If there are any people out there who also love vinyl, music and fresh stuff, you're welcome to join us. Keep diggin', but not just diggin'.
We may do some releases in 2016. Maybe with the first self-release, our official website will also be launched that time. So there are lots of things to do in the rest of the year; should be a very busy year. And we wish everyone getting better and better, hope more and more people fall in love with records and start their own daily vinyl life in the near future. It's a way to live. For now find us here.
Rah Band - Messages From The Stars
2016 will see the Yeti Out collective launch a series titled YETI DIS:KO, pushing the envelope in soundscapes from Nu-Disco, House, techno, and other left field frequencies. Stemming from last year’s bookings with Tokyo disco legend Kenji Takimi to Beats In Space imprint’s Tornado Wallace, YETI DIS:KO will kick off 2016 with a special live show from Japanese soulful disco veteran, Soichi Terada. Having collaborated with the genre’s
'80s royalty like Larry Levan to contemporary sound design work on 8-bit video games, Terada’s selections will be matched by an an engaging Audio and Visual spectacular. We selected his remix of “Saturday Love” as the anthem to round up the year for this series, as we feel the lyrics also reflects our passion as a collective at Yeti.
Moving onto February, YETI DIS:KO will be jetting in Fantastic Man from Lets Play House Records at Shelter on the 20th to the grooves of Detroit orientated house. Plus, our own Allan Marshall will be celebrating his birthday, so we’re definitely equipped for a massive one! For the rest of 2016, Yeti Out will continue to bring genre defying acts from across the Atlantic and bridge the gap with local artists while steadily hitting the dance floor. We’ve can’t reveal too much yet but aim to take our parties to new musical depths and venues outside the norm.
Soichi Terada - Saturday Love Sunday
Crew: Same As It Ever Was
First -- no new nights this year. I can barely handle the one I have. It takes me two days to recover. What am I, 70? I'm taking January and February off to recover, from a shitty November gig and the big new year's shindig, where we had to turn off the music at 6.30am just because the 50 people who were still there were too drunk to keep buying drinks. No revenue, no music. That's the law at 6am.
Second, changes, nah, it's kind of in the name. I'm trying to make ignorance of new music a theme. Grime -- wtf? Didn't we go through all this 15 years ago with dizzee rascal? I'm ok, thanks.
My approach is to find great records that I hope no one else here has and play the shit out of them, over and over and over again. Then play a Talking Heads song in between them. Maybe a little Fugazi or Gang of Four or The Mekons too. Then back to boogie and disco and Black Soul's Mangous Ye.
I get tripped up a little bit by Tobias Patrick, who joined in with me in 2015 and has shown me up on several occasions with some fucking great music I've never heard before. I had a few other guests in to play this year. Wensen was really good. He does his techno stuff with Void but also has great taste in boogie, afro, latin and that kind of stuff. He put me on to DMX Krew's Galaxy Love. Like a white Dam Funk.
I'm also nurturing a couple jazz-funk-afro heads I met in 2015 who have begun collecting vinyl and learning to DJ. They did their first gig at my night in November and it was fun, so I hope to see more of them in 2016.
Coming up in 2016. I've got a 100 records or so in the backlog to bring over from Miami on my next trip home. In that pile: Joni Haastrup - Free My People, Fazon - Sopwith Camel, Black Heat - M & M's, New-Ro - She's A Nymphomaniac, The "V" Project - First Hand Experience in Second Hand Love, and James Gang - Collage.
Here is a new-ish thing:
Sinkane - How We Be
Crew: Wooozy Offline
We've decided to take a break for the first few months of 2016. Split Works have a lot of shows during this time and adding Wooozy Offline dates was going to be too much for the team. We're really excited to have an artist called Henry Wu coming to Beijing and Shanghai in early April, some more info on him below. Check his new collaboration with American House producer K15 here and this stand out track from last year here. Other plans for the rest of the year are still taking place, while The Shelter will continue to be our home base, we're looking at doing some more live acts in a non-club setting... more on this soon!
We'd be happy to share some links to artists/music that we're excited about and who may/may not be coming to China this year such as Endgame, Floating Points, Novelist, Leon Vynehall, DJ Koze, Omar S, DJ Nobu, and Steven Porter.
2016 starts with Discosmic Adventure joining hands and hearts with Co:Motion to throw a party at Lune on Saturday, January 16, to raise money for refugees on the tiny Greek island of Lesbos. We're working with local charity Hearts for Refugees, who in turn are working with registered UK charity Helprefugees.org.uk. The aim is raise funds to send 2,000 tents over from China to the EU. All money from the donation at the door (40rmb minimum) and the bar take for the DJs will be donated. Music wise it will be the usual genius mix of disco heavy hitters and emotional response mirror ball anthems from Discosmic. Co:Motion do their house/tech body music thing.
Fellow Discosmic members Lindberg and Tobias are launching a vinyl party called 12 Inches of Fun that includes house, disco, and boogie good times. That party is Saturday, January 23 at Dada. Velvet Robot continues her Synth Crush! parties with Illsee and Ludvic Orlando exploring electro-industrial, dark disco, cold wave. Next one is Saturday February 23. My theme for 2016 is "black acid disco" with the launch of Drum Clap, a new night with the hopes that people dance but don't have fun. Here is a track that sums that up ideology.
Mori Ra - Acid Indonesia Dari Psychedelia
Crew: Push & Pull
I'll share a mix I did for JCC, formerly of Guangzhou. It's gqom -- this weird, dark, broken sound from Durban in South Africa. Although I've been playing this for over a year now and Gaz is known to drop some as well, I think this sound is going to get a lot more traction outside of South Africa in 2016 and that will feed into Shanghai as well, either from local DJs or international DJs that are passing through. But mostly it's great music and people should listen to it -- one of the few things out there at the moment that I would say sounds genuinely different and new.
To be honest, I don't feel I play gqom enough so I'm probably going to try to do that a bit more. But obviously I'm still going to be playing grime and hopefully this year there are some big vocal tracks like AJ Tracey's Naila. There are a lot of new MCs about doing good stuff but the tracks they're recording aren't always club friendly. Even better would be if some Chinese MCs decided that the trap thing is really played out by now and it's time to try something new but I'm not holding out too much hope. (No, that Busy Gang EP with Conrank didn't count.)
Up to now, I haven't really had the chance to play music outside of Shanghai, but I think that's going to change this year. At the moment, I'm trying to put something together in Tokyo for March which will be a good chance to link up with the Grime scene there (we already had Sakana here last month) and the gqom mixes I've done have got a bit of attention from certain people in the bass scene in Japan too. Not long after that I'm trying to hit some places around China, particularly in the south -- hopefully that all comes off.
Lastly, it will be Push and Pull's third birthday in April so I expect something big will happen for that. Or it will be just us and our mates playing down at The Shelter like normal. Either way I think it should be good.
Alta - Mix for ChAos
2015 was easily the biggest year for Minimalist yet. Our crew was represented on festival stages around the world while I was lucky to DJ at U.K. festival Gottwood, alongside international DJ and Minimalist regular Jigsaw, as well as House legends Ben UFO and Motorcity Drum Ensemble for starters. They mixed throughout China and Asia, playing with technical wizard James Zabiela in Hong Kong. Jozef K appeared following releases on Chiwax, Acid Test, Skint records and playing Radio 1’s Essential Mix. There was even a Beijing jaunt with A Guy Called Gerald, all on top of their monthly Dada Shanghai nights.
Alas, lets look forward to 2016, April looks rather sizeable, as Minimalist hits 5 years of smashing the fuck out of Dada. Rumour has it there’s a few more international bookings for the special birthday affair so keep your ears and eyes peeled for that one. I’m returning to warm up for House legend MR. G at Gottwood festival too which will be gargantuan, undoubtedly followed by a much needed vinyl shopping spree for those sought after records that give the night its unique sound. If you've been to a Minimalist night or seen these guys play then you know that it’s a world apart from the sub-standard monotonous tech-house witnessed at many 'clubs'. Our boys have an unwritten rule of no laptops in the booth and they go back to back pretty much the whole night with whoever wants to jump in playing the next track.
We’ve got a special tune from the guys to give you a flavor of exactly the kind of sound you’ll hear at a Minimalist night. It’s not strictly 'Minimal' music which is a question that gets asked a lot. It’s a blend of Disco, House, Techno, Acid, and "basically anything that sounds decent and that has soul!" Enjoy, and see you at the next Minimalist.
Tribal Rhythm - Original Mix
Sorry if you’re a local DJ and I didn’t hit ya up for this article. I mean, come on we are talking Shanghai here, everyone is flipping DJ. Tst Tst Tst Tst Chk Chk Chk Boom Boom Out.