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In(to) the Abyss: Talking Static to Shanghai Community Radio

Jun 8, 2017 | 16:56 Thu
Five Questions: Because "interviews" just sounds so staid and formal! This is where we talk to interesting people about interesting things. "Five" is more of a guideline than an actual rule.
Broadcasting from a hole in the ground straight to your internet speakers is Shanghai's newest arts, culture, music, conspiracy theories, conservative talk radio platform "Shanghai Community Radio". A joint project from some of the Basement6 art collective and Mute Studio, the nebulous team behind the thing is hosting a little pre-launch party tonight at Elevator, featuring a performance from "confrontational live act" Abyss X.

Check it: "Abyss X represents a particularly brutal honesty not often present in club aesthetics. It’s the t(h)reat of doom reflected in performance art, energy forcibly applied to music. Truth brings a confrontation."

Intense. Sounds like things will be flung around. Sounds like things will be broken. SmSh talked to Shanghai Community Radio's nameless and faceless comptroller to find out a bit more about what they're up to, and also to Abyss X themself.


SmSh: Can you introduce what Shanghai Community Radio is? Sounds like some unhinged dude in rural Alabama screaming about lizard people controlling the government. Can Shanghai audiences expect any of that?

SHCR: SHCR is a long title and quite bland but we went with it because its easy to understand the format. There are community radio's operating in other major cities and this one will reflect Shanghai. The difference is, we come from a different internet. We will be broadcasting Shanghai narratives, music sessions and visual performances to both sides of the GFW. Maybe some lizard people and a lot of doomsday talk and if you're lucky some bitching about culture dying (again) but Shanghai audiences should expect that already.

SmSh: Who all is involved? What's the format / schedule? How often is it coming out?

SHCR: So some people from Basement6 have partnered with some people from sound studio next door to us in the PingWu Lu basement. Gregor from Idle Beats helped us cut a hole in the wall connecting the two rooms. Some people emerged from that hole, we are a group entity covering music curation, audio tech, visual tech, performance art curation, media outreach.

SmSh: What sorts of artists are you featuring?

SHCR: The aim is 70% local, 30% international, 89% experimental 2% milk. If that is the question you are asking... What sort of artists. "Where are they from?"

Internet genre.

Abyss X, performing tonight with support from Hyph11e, Swaaamful, FUPA, and L-N.

SmSh: Where are you placing it? Are you looking to get it streamed on other internet radio platforms?

SHCR: So the schedule will be very slow and rare in the beginning, we aim to make our streams a bit more visual and performance heavy than the usual radio to incorporate a situational energy that happens in Basement6 with an online counterpart. So think like Boiler Room with less people of boiler room and more people of Shanghai. Yes we will broadcast thru FB live, Instagram, Youtube as well as Chinese Zhibo channels. And it will all be archived. To me, its a lot about thresholds here, physical and digital, online offline, in and out of the mainland internet.

SmSh: What's your sound effects game like? Slide whistle? Air horn? Sad trombone?

SHCR: Sounds more like a compressed screeching dial up connection and someone counting frame rates.

SmSh: Are you ever going to "Get the Led Out" (play five Led Zeppelin songs at 5pm for people driving home from work)?

SHCR: We have a special daily show only broadcast in Huashan park during ayi dancing sessions.

***At this point the featured performer Abyss X stepped in to field these last Q's***

What's is Abyss X all about?

Abyss X: Even when it takes the raw form of my live shows, is at its core a project that focuses on being sensitive towards the world and our surroundings. Sensitive, alarmed, aware, embracing. It can take multiple forms and will never settle for one sound, aesthetic, visual or feel.

SmSh: I heard you did a 4 hour set in Dada Beijing, what can we expect at Elevator tonight?

Abyss X: It was initially a live set of 40' but then I DJ'ed for another 3 hours and people were oddly enough very receptive. I can never tell what the night will end up like, I never prepare a live or DJ set I just go with the energy I get from the crowd. I hope this one is a wild one.

SmSh: In your experience how does live performance translate on archived radio shows and live streams? Especially for someone like you with a performance and theater background, how does that translate on the internet?

Abyss X: I am not a fan of archived sets unless it is a real event with a real audience, lighting, set design etc. Especially with live performance I feel that a lot of people get lazy and don't put any effort into the presentation. Also I find live streams with a green screen background particularly dull and visually unattractive.

SmSh: How do you preserve club vibes in a mosh pit?

Abyss X: I think a mosh pit is an explosion that channels itself through a cluster of energies coming together. I don't think it has to do with the sound itself, it is more about the feel, the rawness and freedom of letting go.


Shanghai Community Radio and Abyss X are at Elevator tonight.


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