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[Music Monday]: Shanzhai Club Culture

It's bombs over Baghdad as Sacco drops bangers from incoming producers Ivan Smagghe, Lee Jones, Mark Reeve, and Fatima Al Qadiri.
Last updated: 2015-11-09
I love Shanghai winters. During Spring, Summer, and Fall there are endless Sunday expectations for brunch, park birthdays, bike rides, and other outdoor social obligations. Not in Shanghai winter. When I wake up at 3pm and literally waste the day with a bucket of KFC and an Archer DVD I don’t have the usual guilt of not attending that benefit brunch to save war torn puppies from Ebola. No one expects you to leave the house in Shanghai winter and it’s fabulous.

To keep yourself busy from November through March as you bunker down in the corner of your apartment where the heater works best, here are a few activities to keep you busy. Take a six month walk through of the Tiny Mix Tapes music review site and download the past half-year of releases. Don’t worry about reading the reviews; anything with more than three stars, cue that up in the old torrent app. If an album receives five stars then start posting on WeChat about how it has changed your life (listening first not necessary).

Facebook stalking ex-lovers can kill a day or two easy.

Have you seen those little 300RMB internet TV boxes? Man that’ll kill some time. With a random mix of new movies, old Friends episodes, and tons of Korean dramas I suggest getting familiar with the strangest looking shows first. Basically any Korean drama where the ghost of a dead child is a main character. Pick one up at the Xujahui Metro City Mall. If you must venture out into the cold world this week I suggest staying in Shanghai’s dampest basements for the Ivan Smagghe, Lee Jones, Mark Reeve, and Fatima Al Qadiri gigs. I’d like to tell you about little bit about it. So here we go…..

Ivan Smagghe

Up-and-coming Shanghai promotion crew Yeti in the Basement are getting their chops wet with an international booking of DJ and producer Ivan Smagghe down at Shelter on Friday. Now with over 20 years of DJing experience under his belt Smagghe got his start as all the greats do -- working at a record store. While studying at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris he worked at the famous Rough Trade record store where shortly after he met Arnaud Rebotini who he co-founded the Black Strobe project with. Initially just the two, Black Strobe evolved to including over seven producers and musicians putting out EBM, deep house, and other bangers.

Holding respect in the Paris underground scene Smagghe has been part of countless projects over the years like the compilation series for fashion store Colette and the remix series with Tim Paries ‘It’s a Fine Line’ that put out tracks with artists like Superpitcher and The XX. Along with regular radio shows on stations like London’s NTS Radio, Smagghe also has started his only label LDdLm.

Friday’s gig is backed up by local DJs Allan Marshall, Stanly, Thoma Cher, and Tzu Sing who just had a record release last Friday. Well, it was called a record release but when I went and tried to buy Tzu Sing’s new record turns out none were available. Cheap move Tzu Sing, cheap move. But none the less Ivan Smagghe works hard for you so shell out that precious 70RMB for him this Friday at le Shelter.       

Ivan Smagghe – "NY House Unauthorized (IC.A.R. WHY WHY WHY Edit)"

Lee Jones

Hey what do you know house/techno crew Footprint are turning three on Saturday at Arkham. Do party crews really deserve birthday parties? I’m going to say no. But any excuse for promotion helps and even though the flyer that looks like it was made by a three year-old on Microsoft paint, this gig is solid. They've got not one but two respected acts: Lee Jones and Mark Reeve.

Lee Jones was raised in the ever lovely Essex but feeling the techno bug in the early 2000s he packed it all up and set down roots in Berlin. For the past 12 years he has been a resident at the famous Watergate parties. Jones got his start under the name Hefner producing solid downtempo and f. jazz with the British label Inertia. I’ve sold his Hefner stuff to Chinese kids at my shop and they love it. More recently he has teamed up with Ninja Tune’s Fin Grenall to create Quantum Entanglement, releasing their acidic, 90s influenced techno on Vakant. Check out this solid Tech-House song from Jones titled "YoYo".

Lee Jones - "YoYo"

Mark Reeve

Saturday’s Footprint birthday bill also includes Mark Reeve, another UK-to-Germany transplant who moved to Frankfurt in the 90s where his sound was influenced by the likes of Sven Vath, Ricardo Villalobos, amongst others. After releasing his first EP on Cocoon Recordings in 2011 Reeve quickly became a respected name in the production world and teamed up with Pig & Dan. Following the Pig & Dan collaboration he quickly released tracks on infamous Soma records and Adam Beyer’s Drumcode label.

Along with DJing and producing his own music Reeve has remixed tracks for the likes of Extrawelt, Dusty Kid, Sian, Justin Berkovi, Marco Bailey, Dosem, Gary Beck, Arnaud Le Texier and Moonbeam. Saturday’s Arkham gig will cost ya a mean 100RMB but that includes an opening set from local taste maker Mau Mau and that’s priceless.

Mark Reeve – "Metamorph"

Fatima Al Qadiri

Well what do you know…Sub-Culture has another amazing left-field booking this Saturday in the form of producer and visual artist Fatima Al Qadiri. The Kuwait born beat maker is based in Brooklyn now but was raised by resistance fighters on the flaming oil fields in the infamous region. She was just a child in 1990 when Saddam invaded Kuwait, and while much of the country's population fled, her parents stayed and joined the resistance distributing newsletters and organizing.

Her debut LP on Hyperdub is titled Asiatisch which is German for Asia. The music is grime/bass music woven into concept album based around China with song titles like "Loading Beijing" and "Shanghai Freeway". Fatima has actually never been to China and explains how the record is about her imagined version of our great red land. Saturday’s show at Shelter and her visit to Shanghai should prove interesting to see if her concepts based around the worlds perception of China pan out to have any truth.

She calls the album "Imagined China" and it starts out with a cover of Sinead O’Conner’s song "Nothing Compares 2 U" re-titled Shanzhai, which is sung by Nova Heart's Helen Feng. If you are looking for club bangers then Fatima Al Qadiri is not your ticket. However if you are a looking for thoughtful unique productions featuring minimal synth chords and carefully selected bass then Saturday’s show is for you.  

Fatima Al Qadiri – "Shanzhai (Ft. Helen Feng)"

Fatima Al Qadiri - "Knight Fare"

Feel free to hit up any of these big weekend gigs. Personally I’m staying home to work on my model train set.