Interview: Steve Aoki Sweeps Through Shanghai

DJ Steve Aoki snuck into town for a private show at Muse Park 97, where he played alongside Diplo as part of the China launch of Diesel's youth spin-off brand 55DSL. We stole a quick word with him about his music, majoring in women's studies and such. You can listen to some Steve Aoki tracks here.

You plus music equals what?

Fun, loud and with lots of punch. This is music for the youth. It reminds me of when i was 14 and going to hardcore shows. same kind of energy and attitude.

Where do you draw your influences from?

From my pops, dj am, my mom and a few friends.

You started out making records and organising shows from “The Pickle Patch,” your living room when you were still at university. Why was your living room called “The Pickle Patch”?

Our friend OB named it pickle patch. it's actually a sex reference but I'm not sure of the details.

Why did you decide to major in Women’s Studies?

Long story short. the most radical professors on campus were either teaching WS courses or associated with them in one way or another. I took one class, got hooked and decided to go all the way. Best year of my college career.

Pitchfork gave a pretty scathing review of your album Pillowface and His Airplane Chronicles. Thoughts?

At first I was shocked because when the label sent off the CD to pitchfork before the review they gave it a positive mini review and thrive used it in all the ad campaigns ... thumbs up from Pitchfork but when it came down to that person who hated it and didn't get the concept it was definitely a bummer because I like Pitchfork a lot. But at the end of the day everyone has their own opinions and of course there will be people that will hate or not like stuff that I like or put time into.

What were your ambitions starting out?

I had no ambitions to become a producer. My only ambition was to make Dim Mak a self-sufficient running ship.

What’s next for Dim Mak?

Releases by The Bloody Beetroots, Mstrkrft, myself, Zuper blahq, Armand Van Helden, All Leather, Willowz, Scanners, Shinichi Osawa, Autoerotique, Felix Cartal, Pase Rock, Machines Dont Care, Herve, Rifoki, Mustard Pimp and more...


- Sharon Li


New Eats: Pomodoro Bistrot

If Shanghai's international restaurants had a mum, she would've warned them growing up not to cross line 2 heading north. When they were little, that was the wrong side of the tracks.

Things have changed. Pomodoro Bistro is the latest restaurant to join in the excellentisation of restaurant options in the northern part of Jing'an. It serves up the Italian holy trinity of paninis, pizzas and pastas on Kangding Lu. It's a great lunch spot, with a broad deck out front and plenty of outdoor seating.

The RMB 68 lunch deal includes a pizza, pasta or panini plus soup or salad and a soft drink. It may not be quite as amazing value as Thai neighbour Chiang Mai's (RMB 25-30 for a curry, pad thai, or rice plus soup and dessert), but you'd be hard pressed to find better Italian food for cheaper.

We especially like the Crudo pizza with rocket and parma ham, and the parmesan cheesy chicken and mushroom rigatoni, which has sundried tomatoes! Remember sundried tomatoes?

The crispy, complimentary olive oil bread is pretty good too.

Pomodoro Bistrot, 1023 Kangding Lu, near Yanping Lu. Tel: 6218 3798

Hot Tickets

Holiday time is party time in Shanghai, and there are plenty of great shows to help us celebrate the PRC’s big ‘six-oh’. From classical to Kid Koala and everything in between.

1 October – The (International) Noise Conspiracy

To celebrate their 10th anniversary since first visiting China in May 1999, The (International) Noise Conspiracy is returning. It may have been 10 years but if you’re expecting passive performances and weak vocals then think again; this has been described as “one of the wildest and most compromising live acts out there”. Get there early to check out supporting acts Duck.Fight.Goose and The Offset Spectacles.

RMB 100 / RMB 80 (students). 9pm. Yuyintang, 1731 Yan’an Xi Lu, near Kaixuan Lu. Tel: 5237 8662

UPDATE: The (International) Noise Conspiracy show has unfortunately been cancelled, but party defibrillators have been used to keep the music alive. According to Shanghaiist, Jeans Team, Desert F**k Eagle and DJ Sacco are taking over.

2 October – Swan Lake

St Petersburg Ballet Theatre is presenting this version of Swan Lake. Only this time, the audience will be lucky enough to meet Russian ballerina Irina Kolesnikova, who's billed as "the No. 1 swan of Russia."

7.15pm, RMB 180-980. Shanghai Grand Theatre, 300 Renmin Da Dao, near Huangpi Bei Lu. Tel: 6372 8702 (tickets). Web:

3 October – DJ Passion

DJ Passion formed Bass Ill Euro producing bangers that represent, exactly, your definition of club sound. His remix of N.E.R.D's ‘Everyones Nose’ has been heard on radio shows all over. Expect Passion to bring electronic, hip hop, baile funk, mash ups, and everything in between.

10.30pm. M1NT, 24F 318 Fuzhou Lu, near Shandong Zhong Lu. Tel: 6391 3191. Web:

16 October – Uprooted Sunshine Fourth Birthday

The Uprooted Sunshine Soundsystem was founded in November 2005 and is Shanghai’s first and only reggae sound system. Consisting of five DJs and 4 MCs, Uprooted cover the whole spectrum of Jamaican music, from roots, rocksteady and ska to dub, dancehall, jungle and dubstep. Watch an impressive line up, including Uprooted Sunshine Soundsystem, Zenmala Jalama plus special secret guests from Uprooted’s past.

RMB 40. The Shelter, 5 Yongfu Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu. Tel: 6437 0400

17 October – Anton Kuerti

Enjoy an authentic presentation of Mozart, Hayden, Schumann, Mendelssohn and Beethoven's scores in this concert by Canadian pianist and composer Anton Kuerti. As one of today’s most recorded artists, Kuerti has recorded all the concertos and sonatas from Beethoven, Brahms and Schubert.

7.30pm, RMB 80-380. Shanghai Concert Hall, 523 Yan'an Dong Lu, near Longmen Lu. Tel: 6386 2836 (tickets). Web:

30 October – Kid Koala

Since releasing his debut album Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in 2000, world renowned Canuck DJ, Kid Koala has gone on to host and perform in his eight turntable live show around the world. And now he’s back in town and will be performing for one night only. Get yourself down to The Shelter to bid farewell to another October and witness a sensational solo performance from Kid Koala.

10pm. The Shelter, 5 Yongfu Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu. Tel: 6437 0400

UPDATE: Kid Koala has just made his latest work The Slew: 100% available for free from his website. The Great Firewall seems to have an objection to the download site, but even if you don't have a workaround you can listen to the tracks - described as “6 turntables meets the ex-Wolfmother rhythm section” - on his myspace page.



Sweet Talk: Godiva opens in Shanghai

How sweet it is! China's first Godiva shop opened in Grand Gateway mall this past Saturday. The famous Belgium chocolate shop is already attracting lots of attention, with a steady flow of sweet-toothed customers coming in and out its doors on Monday evening.

Godiva -- known around the world for its shell-molded chocolate pieces, legendary truffles, and chocolate-covered strawberries -- is settling in quite well, selling chocolate mooncakes just in time for the Mid-Autumn Festival. A second Godiva store is also set to open in Xintiandi. Yumm... another legendary chocolate experience is just what Shanghai needs!

 GODIVA, Grand Gateway, #162, G/F 1 Hongqiao Lu, Xuhui District. Tel: 6448-0990.

This Month

This month in Shanghai TALK magazine, there's plenty of good stuff to go around. Here is a preview of what you can find both in print and, very shortly, online.

With China's anniversary just around the corner, TALK interviewed 60 year olds from around the country to find out what this birthday means to them. Living through every step of New China, they shared their insights about how the nation has changed in 60 years, and how their lives have altered in turn.

We also took on Gavin Menzies, author of 1421: The Year China Discovered the World and 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance. Addressing criticisms about his contentious arguments, Menzies also revealed his latest theory -- which is bound to upset historians once again. In our feature, Menzies champions independent scholarship: "Keep an open mind. Do not seek popularity. Write what you think the evidence shows. Don’t write for your fellow historians. Don’t seek literary recognition. Don’t seek peer review."

We've also got an interview with the Bryan Brothers (the American tennis doubles team who will be going for another championship at Shanghai's ATP Tennis Masters 1000), and China's up-and-coming stand-up comedians, including Shanghainese sensation Zhou Libo.

Lots of southern flavour:  Travel to Cambodia with our cheat sheet -- a guide to the country's flourishing tourist destinations, as well as Cambodia's top temples. And if you can't be whisked to Asia's south, get a taste right here in Shanghai. Read this month's restaurant reviews on some of Shanghai's newest and most popular Hong Kong and Taiwanese eateries.

Lots in music and arts: This month we spoke to Shan Sa, author of The Girl Who Played Go, about her latest art projects and paintings that will be exhibited in Shanghai.

TALK also previews the JZ Festival, providing you with a look at what to expect in October's outdoor jazz bonanza. We also spoke with UK jazz-rap band Us3 and Shanghai's own Lions of Puxi. Their lead singer, Robichou Gauthier, tells us his recipe for making reggae in China: "I guess we need sea, sex and sun to play better music, but Shanghai also gives us a powerful inspiration, and helps us to grow in a different way. The lack of sun pushes us to consider our environment, adapt and find inspiration in the places others overlook. These Lions aren't going extinct!"

Lots of interesting names: We didn't make this up. Our interview subjects have some intriguing names, including Yu Er Rong (we checked twice and we are right about this one), Florian von Oppenheim (who sports a suit sensationally), and Natalie Wigle (it's pronounced "why-gull", not "wiggle", but we're sure she can dance).

Tool Talk: Tickler vibrators

Oohh la la...  Meet Mystic, Bunny, Sunny, Cute and Rebel.

They sound like cartoon characters of some sort, but these are five funky Ticklers, a new Swedish brand of vibrating toys. 

We met the Ticklers at a sneak preview hosted by Velvet Lounge on Wednesday night, where yummy drinks were served and giant blow-up versions of the vibrators bounced their way around the bar.

Tickler's marketing team is calling their sex toys "affordable, fun and free from traditional clichés." Their official launch will be at the Venus Berlin trade show in October, and Tickler is still under negotiations on finding retailers.

For now, get more info about these fun and colourful Ticklers at, or email [email protected], and find out which Tickler is for you.

Photos: People Get Ready, There's an Anniversary Celebration a-Coming

October 1 is the anniversay of the founding of the People's Republic of China, and epic, Olympics opening ceremony-rivalling celebrations are being planned for Beijing.

The organisers are making wildly optimistic attempts to keep the celebrations under wraps. Our editor in Beijing tells us she's been asked not to look out her window at certain times.

Nevertheless, photographic truth will out and all that, and one of our favourite news photo sites in the world, The Boston Globe's "The Big Picture", has a bunch of em. Here's a selection of our faves, featuring the might of China's pastry chefs and the flair of its armed forces.




Hongqiao Haibao: the Daft Punk Mash Up

There’s a statue of a tree composed almost entirely of flowers at the intersection of Hongqiao Lu and Yan’an Lu in a park called Yanhong Green Land which I’ll call “The Flower Tree.” It’s an absolutely garish landmark for many reasons, but I think it’s best to pick on the blossoms. (Please don’t pardon that pun; it’s as bad as the landmark in question.)

First, the blossoms are a psychedelic blend of every color imaginable. It’s a rainbow assault on the eyes that makes our poor tree look like a genetic modification gone horrifically wrong, reminding me of that nightmarish future where I casually munch on a purple tomato. To be fair to the possible apologists for The Flower Tree, I am well aware that the “Hong” portion of Hongqiao means “rainbow” in Chinese. No excuse!

Second, the blossoms are so full that they completely obscure the base of the tree from everyone except the most attentive observer, creating what looks like a giant egg made of flowers. Hence, I and many people I know have called The Flower Tree the “Hongqiao Easter Egg,” much to the consternation of countless taxi drivers, who never had any idea what the F I was talking about.

But this post isn’t really about The Flower Tree. Just when you thought this particular spot of Shanghai couldn’t get more cartoonish or absurd, here comes the 2010 World Expo mascot Haibao doing his own version of “It’s A Small World” in all of its amorphous gumby-esque glory.

In order to celebrate the coming of the Expo, the Shanghai city government has erected seven new international incarnations of Haibao around the world: Polynesian Haibao in a lei and a grass skirt; Scottish Haibao with bagpipes and a kilt; Chinese Haibao with firecrackers and robe; Indian Haibao with turban and langot; Mexican Haibao with poncho, maracas and sombrero; American Haibao as a cowboy and Japanese Haibao with kimono and fan. While the weather is still nice, it’s a great place to go with your friends and grab some ridiculously tacky pictures in what is on its way to becoming Shanghai’s park for the absurd.

All of a sudden The Flower Tree doesn’t seem as terrifyingly ugly as it used to… Better city, better life? You be the judge.

(Pictures by Jake Newby)



Indian Haibao looks even more like South Park’s Towelie than usual.



Bonnie Scottish Haibao wearing what looks like either a kilt purse or the red g-string recycled from Loveland.



Looks like Mexican Haibao just heard the news about free socialised medicine for illegal aliens in the US.


You heard wrong, says border control Haibao.


Haibao discovered Polynesia far earlier than even 1421 author Gavin Menzies previously thought.


Chinese Haibao, the under-aged pyrotechnician.

F Lounge: Your New Favourite Dive Bar

 Usually when I tell my friends about F Lounge the conversation goes something like this:

THEM: So is this a girlie bar?

ME: No, it’s not. It’s actually a good place to go and have a drink. It’s near all kinds of other bars, but NOBODY knows about it. I mean nobody. If you go in there, it’ll probably be empty, so you have to bring the party.

THEM: But there are girls in there, right?

ME: Waitresses.

THEM: Sure, that’s what they always say they are.

ME: Some of the wait-staff are dudes, too.

THEM: They’ve got to cover all preferences.

ME [rolling my eyes]: It’s not a girlie bar…

Getting to the place doesn’t make it seem any less sketchy, although it’s close to a number of other bars and restaurants that you’ve probably heard of.

F Lounge is located down a small dark alley off Xinhua Lu, directly across the street from an Alldays. You’ll know you’re walking down the right alley by the garish “Beer Bar” sign near the street, and one saying “F Lounge” closer to the bar’s entrance. Cotton’s on Xinhua is just down the road, and both C’s and the new Kaiba are about a block and a half away on Dingxi Lu.

The bar is owned by an ABC financier who spends a lot of time between SH and HK, so as a result, the drinks are up to par (decent beer, good mixed drinks) and despite the fact that the English level of its staff isn’t the highest, the service doesn’t suffer all that much.

The décor of the bar is tasteful, and not overly ostentatious, well not by Chinese standards anyway. To be fair, there are a few balloons bobbing beside the concrete walls of the two-story, vaulted room, but other than that your eyeballs won’t be assaulted. You’ll definitely want to head for the back of the room where the space below two lofted, KTV rooms has been fitted with long, comfortable couches, plushy rugs and tasteful, low tables.

It’s a great place to kick back with about 10 of your friends if you want a place to enjoy a drink and a conversation that doesn’t involve shouting over a giant sound-system. And trust me, you are guaranteed to get a spot. There’s almost never anyone there.

F Lounge, No. 5, Lane 448, Xinhua Lu, near Dingxi Lu. Tel: 5230 0368. Drinks RMB 30-50

(Photo by Stephen Yang)

Barking Mad

Oscar’s World Woof Tour is coming to Shanghai this weekend. As strange as it sounds, the tour basically involves Oscar, a dog that was rescued from a shelter, travelling to 30 countries around the world to promote pet adoption.

This is how he explains it on his website ( “There are 600 million woofs in this world. 125 million have it yappy; the rest have it ruff. I know what it’s like to live the ruff side of life when it’s all yelp with no help.

“This World Woof Tour is all about making one big, unified bark for my friends – the homeless hounds that yelp for help and a home around the world. My tour is about showing the world just how cool pound hounds really are.”

SCAA is hosting Oscar this Saturday 19 September at Lakefront Villas in Minhang from 11.30am to 2.30pm. The event will promote rescued dog adoption and responsible dog ownership and will include activities, a raffle, pizza, snacks and soft drinks. The entrance fee of RMB 80 for adults and RMB 40 for kids 5 and over will go towards helping SCAA’s foster animals, and food, litter and medical care for SCAA’s local project animals.

There is a pet-friendly shuttle bus heading out to the event in Minhang from the Ambassy Club at 1500 Huai Hai Lu. To book a spot for you and your pooch, contact [email protected].

And on Sunday, don’t forget SCAA’s adoption day at O’Malley’s from noon to 3pm. It’s the perfect place to pick up a companion animal for your family. See for pictures of some of the lovely animals available for adoption and everything you need to know before adopting.


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