The JZ Festival Is Great For Jazz In Shanghai, But What About Dance?

The subject of dance music in Shanghai is one that is near and dear to me. I have benefited from years of experience in the industry, since my early days as a UK Garage MC until now where I am the resident DJ at M1NT. Currently networking in LA and setting up management deals with my Vous Records label, I’m becoming increasingly well connected to have influence on the direction of music in China. 

The truth is, that China’s music scene is heavily undeveloped, maybe ten to fifteen years behind the US scene. With no access (for the majority of Chinese) to western influences, dance and house music is just non-existent here. However, there are a billion people, there must be some talent surely? Well there is. It just hasn’t surfaced yet. Over the coming years, I’m sure the government will relax its social media regulations and more western music will begin to influence young talented individuals, at which point I think China will explode with creativity.

Globally, the electronic music scene is incredibly diverse, with genres and subgenres of house, dance, trap, dubstep and tech filling the charts; none more prominent than the current Electronic Dance Music, or EDM, which has become synonymous for hard hitting 4x4 bass drum and heavily reverbed snare on the 4th beat. Hugely popular at festivals all over America, these producers/DJs are commanding hundreds of thousands of dollars for live performances, but effectively everyone is playing the same music as the next.

Of course there are exceptions, for the most part, Shanghai hasn’t quite learned to embrace the good stuff just yet as people focus more on the location of their table, who will be in attendance, the exclusivity of the club, and how drunk they can get on dice games. This is proven territory in Shanghai, renowned for its dance floors that are the size of a postage stamp.

Through the creation of my new record label “Vous Records”, I have already started making inroads with the DJ community of Shanghai. Future stars like Noel Sanger, DJ Dirty Draws, Ad Brown, and DJ@War have signed on to the label and I look forward to working with many others in a collaborative effort. The question is, “How can I get the public to modify its ways and rediscover music not based on the scene but on the quality of the music?”

The scene in Shanghai is one where dance music dominates as opposed to bands. This can be attested to by all of the big name DJs playing gigs here with a Top 100 DJ number attached to their name. Names such as Deadmau5 (no pun intended), David Guetta, Armin Van Buuren, Steve Aoki, and Skrillex have all graced the clubs of Shanghai at one time or another. The reality is, that like most aspiring DJ’s, they cut their teeth at clubs where people strictly went for the music, and not for the scene where Shanghai seems to drink the Kool-Aid of the latter, hopefully without the result of Jonestown.

As a DJ in Shanghai, the sound of dice clanking around in a cup is a sign that you have made it into the world of the pretty people where music takes a backseat to how cool one looks. DJs are not supposed to have their beats nestled alongside the sound of shaken dice and it should most certainly not be viewed as an additional form of percussion, but that is how it goes here. Unfortunately without the dice, what excuse do the girls have to get drunk and perform a walk of shame the following morning...?

Shanghai’s time in the dance music spotlight is definitely coming, but it’s a while off yet. Just be ready when it does finally arrive, I’m sure it’s going to be spectacular.

I’m Spencer Tarring, formerly and maybe more notoriously known as DJ Spenny. As M1NT’s Music Director & Resident DJ, I’m currently setting up my record label Vous Records, working with some big LA based artists and introducing them to China in new and inventive ways. Web: www.spencertarring. com, 


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