The MINIMALIST night has been a main-stay at Dada for the past couple of years, drawing in a faithful following of house & techno heads who always appear to leave with a smile on their face. Going the extra mile in booking international guest DJs for such an intimate venue, residents Will A & NMLSS have shown that they're committed to making an impression on Shanghai's ever-burgeoning underground music scene.
Ahead of their next outing this Saturday at Dada hosting German DJ Zuckermann (Lebensfreude Records, Berlin) for the third time, we set up a quick Q&A with the duo, who were also kind enough to put together the mix below for us:
Tell us about Minimalist and how it got of the ground.
Will A - Hey, Minimalist has been going for about 3 years now, it was all started by Milan J who was the only resident and promoter of the night and had regular guests each month to come and play. This party became quickly popular and Milan did a great job keeping the night fresh with promotion and really broke away from the regular mainstream music that was being played at other nights in town at the time. His focus was on the music, solid tunes and having a good time and when we met we clicked.
Milan had to move home and for the last 18 months I’ve been trying to cover for him and promote as well as he did! I’ve tried to up the ante in terms of the guests we’ve had and had some wicked artists to come play such as Oblique Industries from M_nus records as well as Eigenweis from Rawprintz and Zuckermann has been a firm favourite! I also managed to invite Murian up from Hong Kong and that party went off! Minimalist for me has always been a back to back affair between myself and whichever guests we have on, it turns into a right musical feast as PAF & NMLSS, (the other 2 residents) and myself have varying styles that give the night a nice structure and we can really get it going, we just kinda freely jump in when each other wants depending on how the dance floor reacts!
How did you get started DJing? Can you tell us about the mix you've done for us?
Will A - I've been well into tunes of differing genres for a long time and started actually Djing when I was at uni. From there I played a few after parties where no-one was in any sort of mind frame to judge the dubious mixing… and it took off from there really started playing a few nights in clubs in Manchester and my best mates have been producing and releasing some serious tracks recently and I hope to have them to come out to shanghai soon! The mix we posted is just a recorded session from other resident NMLSS and myself as we went back to back one night, recorded off the cuff, vinyl and CD only as I've always played, chuck in a few beers and it just flowed together naturally.
Nmlss: Don’t know why we haven’t done these jams more often, we’re pretty happy with the sounds that came together, hopefully this will become more of a regular thing.
How do you feel the underground scene in Shanghai is doing right now? Which artists and clubs are doing good work people should know about?
Will A - It’s a tricky subject this one and Shanghai is a completely different animal to Manchester where NMLSS and I did most of our clubbing. For me there is a clear leader in the ‘underground’ scene and the VOID boys are getting some insane bookings and really know how to throw a party. They've been doing it for years and are a solid favourite at Shelter. I like their idea of just laying down quality tracks, take it or leave it they book quality artists and don’t overcomplicate things. What we try and do with MINIMALIST, as the name suggests, is to keep it of a similar nature; it's just about the music and having a wicked time.
Nmlss: VOID got me down to play for them one time and we all get on really well, daylight hours included. Will and I haven’t been in the scene too long to tell about direction but we’ve asked the same questions ourselves, to people like Cammy who started VOID 6 years ago now. We find that it’s tricky to promote towards locals since we’re talking about the ‘underground’ scene here. This then leaves you with foreigners as your main source and they come and go quite easily, students / interns / young professionals etc. So if you’re talking in terms of building up a scene it can be tricky, but not impossible, VOID is living testament to that. I think nights need good backing and help from the clubs and places like DADA and The Shelter look after their own and surprise surprise they are the clubs that regularly attract the bigger and more vibrant crowds. No money thrown out into the crowd in these places, although I have had money thrown at me when I was DJing at Dada last time… (I dutifully returned it)
What draws you to book a DJ and how have the guest bookings you've had so far gone down?
Well to be honest the bookings I've had have really fallen into my lap, because MINIMALIST is a free night, no door charge its tough to secure international bookings so actually I've sometimes been approached by the DJ’s because they’re in Asia touring or on holiday most of the time.
How do you feel up and coming promotors such as yourselves contribute to the development of underground music in Shanghai and China?
Nmlss: Both a small and big part at the same time. Shanghai has what, 23/24 million people? It’s amazing how often you see other heads in the scene because it really isn’t actually that big. Which is great cos you meet and connect with other promoters constantly and everyone brings a taste of their style to the table. Variety is the spice of life! I feel this question does however require a forum of people chatting about it. If you’re talking in terms of underground music the lines between party goers/DJs/promoters are quite blurred, the scene is still very much in its infancy but you can see creativity flowing out of this unlikely band of DJs and promoters.There are good examples of the different types of growth and ways of thinking some promoters are pushing and the number of events being organised outside of Shanghai is very commendable too. The development is good, I for one am quite optimistic, now if only the government could relax their VISA laws…
Tell us a bit about this weekend's guest Zuckerman and your plans for future parties.
Will A - This is the 3rd party with Zuckermann and every time he’s come he’s really smashed it! DADA has been packed out with a great vibe all night! He just released his new album Serendipity which you should check out if you speak German or are handy with google translate then check out a review and you can listen to the album here:
Cant wait to have him play again, he’s an awesome guy who is great fun to hang out with before and after the night! I went to play DADA Beijing and at the end of the night he jumped on the decks with us, completely unplanned and again we just clicked! I've had great fun warming up for him with PAF & NMLSS too! Future parties I've been very busy networking and have a few links now in Tokyo and its looking like we are going to be booking some more DJ's to come over in the next few months, exciting times ahead!
Anything else on the cards for the months ahead?
Will A - I've got a few gigs lined up, one at Shelter on Aug 1st which I’m really looking forward to, a new night called Transit which will be wicked! That’s gonna be a busy weekend because I have Minimalist the night after with another special guest I wont say just yet. After that I am going to DJ in a club in Xian which will be interesting, then back to the UK to top up on records and also play one night there in my home town Shrewsbury! Then I’m off to Tokyo where im waiting for confirmation to play at a club there Friday night and then I head to labyrinth festival the next day in Naeba Greenland national park which is going to be insane! Actually hadn’t thought about all that… its going to be a hefty next few months!
Nmlss: PAF and I are trying to rekindle the 'Our House' night and are inbetween homes for it at the moment. The next gig we have lined up is the weekend after this at Shiva Lounge.
Minimalist host Germany's Zuckermann this Saturday 19th July @Dada.
Support comes from Chris Jobs, NMLSS, PAF and Will A.
Free entry, starts at 10pm and goes late.
115 Xingfu Lu, near Fahuazhen Lu.