Sign In


8 Questions: The Eating Music Camp, China's Answer to the Red Bull Music Academy

Where music producers go to school.
Aug 29, 2019 | 16:10 Thu
It’s back to school time, not just for kids, but for nine fledgling Chinese music producers this week, as the Eating Music Camp goes into session. An answer to the well-known, Red Bull Music Academy, the Eating Music Camp is run and organized by Shanghai label Eating Music, which itself is less than two years old. Ambitious! We talked to headmaster Cookie Zhang (who deejays as ollo-MAM) and made her summarize her ambitions, vision, history and everything else in eight lucky questions. School’s in session (and at the club with two events Friday — Kiefer and a Family and Friends showcase — and next weekend with DJ Soulscape)!

Cookie Zhang

SmartShanghai: What is the Eating Music camp? How will it be similar to RBMA? How is it different?

Cookie: Eating Music Camp is a music producer re-training camp event. So it will be a bit similar to RBMA because the attendees (students) already have basic skills. We looked for young artists with insightful ideas that aren’t professional producers yet. The biggest difference is the host (us, Eating Music) is a label, not just an organizer. So we will follow up with the artist's growth over time and may collaborate in the future.

SmartShanghai: Why are you doing this?

Cookie: I started the label from the beginning of last year and began to cooperate with artists from different cities. I wanted to create an opportunity to put them together to make something new and interesting. Also, around that time, I was running my old guesthouse (DV House) as a vinyl studio + living space + guest room in downtown. So it seemed like a natural next step to try an event like this.

SmartShanghai: How did you pick the participants (the camp attendees, not the mentors or performers)?

Cookie: We got 81 applications. Then seven of us went through the tracks without knowing any personal information, only listening to the music. We decided together on the tracks. Thirty people passed the first round. Then we sent all the music to our mentors Kiefer, Eric Lau, Fishdoll, Major,and together we narrowed it down to 10 people they want to share with or teach something to. In the end, we settled on nine people, all of them pretty good. We made a mix with all their tracks here.

SmartShanghai: Where is the actual camp going to be? What’s it like?

Cookie: Our campsite is in the countryside, like super far away from downtown Shanghai. It's kind of like an Airbnb hostel with a lot of houses that we rented from a farmer. We’re all living, producing and having our courses here. It's way different from our usual life as you don't have distractions, entertainment or many food choices. That makes it looks like a real 'camp'.

SmartShanghai: How can the public get involved in this? How can they support you?

Cookie: For the courses, we’ve already run out of seats for the public. But people can still join other parts in camp like our five showcases that includes artists like Kiefer, Eric Lau, Soulscape... They are our international mentors this year. Also, we will host four forums in afternoon. More details can be found on our website or on our official WeChat (宜听音乐EatingMusic).

SmartShanghai: How do you pay for all of this? Is it sponsored by a brand, like RBMA?

Cookie: Yes, but we have different kind of sponsors to support in many ways, including our strategic cooperation partner, the headphone brand Beats by Dr.Dre, which has supported the Camp since the beginning. Other brands like Carhartt WIP, Seesaw Coffee, Native Instruments, Ableton, Roland, Generic, and WKUP all participated in different ways. So this is something different as well — we are building our own brand basically, then getting the right brands to get involved. So we are not under any one brand. We are more like partners.

SmartShanghai: What gave you the idea to do this? What was missing in China or in Shanghai that made you feel the need to do this?

Cookie: First of all, I want to create some chances for 'bedroom' producers to get out their room and come together to communicate and jam or whatever, and give them ideas and inspiration to make exciting music. And I wanted to do something with a family, friendly vibe, so this idea to host a camp just jumped out. Also, I feel like there are more and more school / training classes in China recently, but China still doesn't have something like what we are doing, which is not based on money but about quality music first. Musicians need more chance and more choice to help them grow up. Developing their skills is the first step. Things like the Camp are the second or third step to help them find their own way to mature.

SmartShanghai: Will the students be performing in clubs around town? Where, when? Who should people in Shanghai really pay attention to?

Cookie: Pacoz, a student, will play a warm up set on Friday (August 30) before Kiefer's performance. I really recommend this one. He’s one of my favorite pianist and beatmakers in the last few year and he really fits our vibe. We're doing a Family and Friends night at Yona Cafe on Friday August 30 and a Soulscape show next weekend. We will also host a final camp showcase at our campsite. It's kind of like a secret show. People can buy tickets here and then we’ll let them know the details, and will arrange a bus to pick them up in downtown and take them to our site. All of the Camp students will perform. There’s more information on our WeChat account (宜听音乐EatingMusic) for people who are interested.


Editorial Policy: At, all of our editorial content is conceived of by our team who live in and critique this city, for our readers who do the same. We don't accept payment for content, unless clearly labelled. Read our full editorial policy here.