If Beijing is the rock capital of China, Shanghai is its foremost incubator for future-reaching electronic sounds. Here’s a short list of a few artists and labels that define the current state of the Shanghai electronic music underground, and will be making the trip north to perform at Douban Music’s Wetware festival
, which is happening this weekend.
(always five O’s) is the solo project of Han Han, who’s best known as the leader of Shanghai band Duck Fight Goose. Han Han has been an active seeker of underground cultural flows since 2006, when he launched his Miniless record label and began working with bands near his hometown of Hefei like Muscle Snog and Lava/Ox/Sea.
Han Han is an avowed sci-fi/cyberpunk nerd, a deep thinker on the intersection between humanity and technology, and for years GOOOOOSE has been his initial testing ground, a no-rules musical project where he freely (and often abrasively) mixes his interests in ‘20s ragtime, 160bpm breakbeats, modern minimalism, and whatever else he’s listening to at the moment His dense, dramatic sound collages tend to sound radically different from performance to performance.
33, Duck Fight Goose’s bassist, is newer to the solo game, but has put out some pretty amazing tracks so far (amazingly weird, really). 33 has a unique ability to conjure an aura of mystery and intrigue around her projects, which aside from music also include the fashion label Zuczug. Her performance at Wetware is one of the sets most highly anticipated by people in the know, since her solo output has been so limited but exceptionally good to date.
Genome6.66Mbp is the most promising new label to develop in the last year within Shanghai’s electronic music underground; while much of the early Genome output has been good, Hyph11e
’s has been the most consistently interesting. In addition to her opening track on Genome’s inaugural compilation, we're living for this excellent remix
Hyph11e did for brand new Shanghai label Push & Pull, which is an excellent sample of her style.
Originally from Taiwan, scintii
cut her teeth as a singer and producer while living in London and absorbing that city’s legendary underground dance music sub-culture. She connected with Sydney producer V Kim at a Boiler Room set in London, and later signed to his label, Eternal Dragonz, where she released her excellent Mica EP earlier this year.
In a recent article on US music site Tiny Mix Tapes
, scintii’s sound is described as 'a slick condensation of machinated, spectral siren songs timed to diamond-edge drums and lucid synthesizers, swinging pop melodies slowly across grime and dembow rhythms. The sound on closing track 'Papier' is a kind of club esperanto, able to play in London or Los Angeles, but also a snug fit with closer neighbuors like Beijing’s Do Hits and Shanghai’s Genome'. So yeah, we're excited.
Well known for her more popular vocal work in various hip-hop, dub and reggae guises, Faded Ghost
is singer-songwriter ChaCha’s outlet to get weirder, darker, dreamier and dronier. ChaCha funnels new ideas through Faded Ghost, using collaged field recordings and 'self-taught production techniques' to tie her influences and interests together in abstract, unconventional and pop-leaning compositions. Rumor is that she’ll be releasing brand new material at her Wetware performance.
This Shanghai label
has worked with pretty much everyone else mentioned so far, directly or indirectly, and their DNA is all over the Wetware program. This is largely because SVBKVLT’s boss, Gaz Williams, has been instrumental in organising the festival. His aesthetic taste has also been a guiding force in Shanghai for about a decade, through his label, his (recently closed) venue The Shelter and his Sub-Culture booking platform. At Wetware, look forward to a deep swim through Shanghai’s alternative currents, with sets from SVBKVLT artists Swimful, Downstate, Osheyack, and L.I.E.S.-signed techno producer Tzusing.
Disclosure: In addition to editing the Art section of Time Out Beijing, the author of this article, Josh Feola, also contributes music writing to the editorial section of Douban Music. This article was originally published in Chinese translation by Douban FM.