Interview: China Social Club

While I was researching the History of Electronic music in China (read article here) I stumbled upon the CHINA SOCIAL CLUB from Shanghai and learned about their collaboration with London based Internet radio NTS. Awesome name and a great collaboration, I thought. So I hunted down the two people behind CSC. I found them at Green & Safe, a high end organic supermarket/deli in Shanghai. Turns out they are as Australian (and organic) as the meeting point would suggest — Not even the fact that I somehow crossed their plans to watch Horse racing at The Melbourne Cup (sorry guys) could bring their sunny mood down: Phillip Caspar James aka PCJ and Matt Hildebrandt aka FRAU tell us how they came to China and what is the story behind their name, the collaboration with NTS and how the Shanghai scene is developing.

When did you come to China?

Phil and I both came to Shanghai 5 years ago. We’re both Australian. Phil’s from Perth and I’m from Melbourne. We were studying Chinese at Jiaotong University in the same class and got to know each other.

PCJ & FRAU socializing in Shanghai

What was the first electronic music party you remember / attended in China. What was the most memorable experience?

I didn’t used to go to electronic gigs. I was more a rock n roll fan. Early on I remember going to Yuyintang a lot. Perhaps one halloween party where they had a Metallica cover band sticks out.

The first gig Phil went to wasn’t related to the DJs but the venue. Some friends had visited and said he had to go to Shelter. It was that or the 100RMB all you can drink joints that put you in a coma.

What is China Social Club about?

We started off playing in a dive bar called C’s just for fun and because we realised we could party and play the music we wanted to hear, instead of going to other bars and listening to other random shows. There was a 2 channel mixer and broken turntables. We chatted with the boss and got speakers throughout the place, new amp, DJ gear and of course a disco ball put in. The night went really well and we started playing there weekly. Residencies throughout Shanghai at Dada, Le Baron and more all followed from that. We also do International bookings in Shanghai.

We’re interested in more than music though, and although that’s where we started, we’re expanding China Social Club to be a cultural platform. We’re working on curating an exhibition, a wine business, agency and of course more great music.

How did the collaboration with NTS come about?

I got in touch with them at the end of last year cause I love what they do. They were working on expanding more internationally and it was perfect for us to start a Live from Shanghai series. We found a great venue that is supporting the local scene and sound in Elevator and all went from there.

What us and NTS want from the program is something that is uniquely Chinese so we don’t pick just anyone to play, and those we do, we remind them we’re in China. Let’s show off the best in local productions with a Chinese sound and share selections from decades back throughout the mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan and surrounding.

All shows are recorded live at Elevator. We just completed our 7th show on Sunday and will continue to do the monthly broadcast in Shanghai as well as branching out into Beijing and a Hong Kong program in the works.

How do you see the Shanghai scene evolve from your first time there til now — and where is it going?

You can feel it in the air, things are on the up. There is quality international bookings weekly, the standard has improved in town but at the same time the DJs and promoters have to realise they have a duty to challenge and educate the crowd and not just cater to commercial and easy sounds. Perhaps there is a bit too much ‘DJ streetwear collaboration’ but at least kids are getting into the alternative clubs. Next step is working on creating a sound that is uniquely Chinese. One that people abroad can hang their hats on.

What will the future bring for CSC?

As mentioned before, we’re working on expanding more outside of the electronic music realm into a more cultural platform. Media, art, travel, food and drink, events and of course we’ll keep buying lots of records, inviting bands and DJs to Shanghai.

With NTS we will continue our monthly broadcast, from Shanghai 4 hours each time with local DJs, producers and bands. Also work on creating a regular Beijing broadcast and a Hong Kong show in the works.

The first broadcast from Beijing is TODAY (Saturday November 5th 2016) starting 8pm Beijing time til midnight featuring PEI (Bye Bye Disco), GUZZ (Do Hits), Josh Feola (Pangbianr) and DEMONE (tangsuan radio). Afterparty at DADA.

WeChat: cnsocialclub