Music Monday is a weekly SmartShanghai column, serving up songs 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 contact us here, and we'll honor your request promptly.
Well kids, it looks like the big beautiful bubble around our little middle kingdom might be getting a little bit thicker in March, so enjoy all those locally-based foreign news outlets while you still can. Hopefully, the new regulations are not as serious as being reported in western media. In the past, I’ve seen articles about China dropping the kibosh on everything from time travel to a nationwide ban on bad puns. Results are, as always, varied. Although, last week I did receive not one, not two, but three visits from the Powers That Be at my humble, small-time record store because we were going to host an experimental rock show.
Let’s just say that gig got canceled... right quick.
Who knows? Maybe the Changning district higher ups just prefer solid song structure and traditional 4x4 timing as opposed to meltdown, formless off-beat snare drum spazz out sessions and harsh noise feedback loops fed through guitar amps. Can you blame them?
Let’s see what is else is (allegedly) going on, shall we?
From all accounts, the Lune closing party went well with about 20 DJs bidding a final adieu to the venue last Sunday. From what I hear on the streets, the revamped version of Lune is going to be a very positive addition to local nightlife so stay tuned for updates. Also, in club news commercial trance is coming down on Shanghai like a ton of bricks this week with old school player DJ Tiesto on Tuesday and Egyptian trance gods Aly & Fila on Friday. I have a love / hate relationship with trance music, but over the weekend I found myself binge watching Aly & Fila videos. Before I start today’s feature on the Ekali show I’d like to take a second to share which video I feel encapsulates everything wrong and right with trance as the same time.
For 150rmb all this Egyptian love can be yours….
Aly & Fila and Susana - "Without You"
Need some more hugs from the Nile? Check out this cut from the latest Egyptian Lover LP titled 1984. If I had to choose only one of these tracks for my desert island, guess which one I’d take.
The Egyptian Lover - "P.E.L.F."
It’s been a minute since I featured anything from the SHFT. crew, and this week they have a solid booking in the form of Canadian heart throb Ekali AKA Nathan Shaw. SHFT. seem to be an unstoppable force in the world of Shanghai hip-hop, trap, and eclectic electric parties. In the past year or so they've been representing the freshest, youngest faces of our scene. Maybe I’m too old to even be writing about this gig.
Wait, is YOLO still a thing? Do the kids still say that?
Hailing from Vancouver, the 24 year old Ekali is no stranger to hard work, doing double duty as an electronic music producer and also as a member of the respected indie rock band Said the Whale. In 2011, he received a Juno Award for his work in the band that remains active today with an upcoming 15 date tour in April -- that's like the Canadian Grammys. Ekali was also a participant in the Tokyo Red Bull Music Academy a couple years back, which helped him progress as a solo producer. I'm guessing. That's the point of the Red Bull Music Academy anyways right? And to move some units in the world of energy drinks, I'd imagine. But let’s get back to that bass (guitar) were Ekali cut his teeth playing live and helping with arrangements on the indie pop quintet’s multiple releases since 2007. Here now is a couple of my favorite tracks from Said the Whale.
Said the Whale – "I love You"
Said the Whale - "Camilo (The Magician)"
On the solo tip, Ekali produces heartfelt electro tunes in the realm of bass music, leftfield hip hop, trap, and even a little experimental vibes on the side. With less than a few years under his belt, Ekali is relatively new to the electronic producer game. That didn’t stop fellow Canadian and hit maker Drake from using one of Ekali’s songs on “If Your Reading This it’s Too Late” last year. I mean, yeah, fuck Drake but if his entourage called me up to use one of my tracks I’d probably let it slide. Get that cheddar. Along with learning how to master the art of original productions Ekali has been busy remixing the likes of Flume, Dpat, and Eli Muro just to name a few. For original productions he first started out on Logic but then quickly switched over to Abelton Live used alongside Reason. Ekali states his entire catalogue of music was composed, mix, and mastered with just a laptop and headphones, due to his intensive tour schedule with Said the Whale.
It's just that easy, kids.
While strikes me as particularly ground-breaking about this stuff, it's presenting a nice introspective side to the trap game. Friday’s Ekali show at Arkham is one of the best bookings of the month. Don’t sleep on this one.
aywy. & Ekali - "Another Girl"
Ekali - Unfaith
That’s all she wrote today, folks. With the start of March, we’ll see Shanghai get slammed with non-stop foreign touring gigs, local record releases, secret underground noise sessions, and an endless cat-and-mouse games with The Man. Let’s just hope we are still here to report on all of it!
This column is written by DJ Sacco, who runs Uptown Records, Shanghai's dedicated vinyl shop. Ironically, they don't sell Mp3s or dabble in anything digital, instead they have 7" and 12", EPs and LPs from rock to electronic, rare pressings, DJ equipment and band merchandise. Find them in an old bomb shelter at 115 Pingwu Lu.
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