Mixes of the Month

Catch up on Techno, Rap, Ambient, and Funk from China’s Best DJs

3 0
Simon Frank
6:58 PM HKT, Thu September 28, 2023 2 mins read

There’s never been a better time to listen to mixes by Chinese DJs online. Not only are new radio stations launching, like 8m2 in Guangzhou, but more and more Chinese DJs are playing music or even hosting their own shows on established overseas platforms like NTS and HÖR Berlin. Sadly, Shanghai Community Radio — one of the first of a new wave of online radio stations to launch in the Chinese mainland — recently announced its closure, but there is still plenty to hear, in almost every style of music imaginable.

This column will showcase recent notable mixes from DJs in Greater China and Chinese-speaking communities around the world, along with other radio shows with a special connection to China. This edition includes slo-mo dance music, intense electronic rap, futuristic pop, and vintage funk and ambient, showcasing the diversity of DJ culture in China and the diaspora.

Jascer - Meridian Sounds, Radio AlHara

Jascer is a Guangzhou-based DJ who has recently been gaining attention for his broad musical knowledge and sets at Shenzhen’s excellent Oil Club. In this mix for Xiamen label Meridian Sounds’ show on Palestine’s Radio Alhara, he opts for the hazy, slow-burning side of dance music —a breakbeat here, an acid bass line there, and occasional organic-sounding percussion that seems to nod to the episode’s broadcast location. Things gradually build in intensity, equally suited for an afternoon at home or the opening hours of a club night.

Lumi - Water Margins: Rap of Greater China, NTS

As part of NTS’s global rap showcase series “Rapmania,” Eastern Margins collective founder Lumi has presented a mix of Sinophone rap. As he describes it in his introduction, “Cloud Rap, Plugnnb, New Nu Metal, 网易-core, whatever you want to call it.” [网易 referring to streaming service NetEase Cloud Music].

That pretty much sums it up: angst-filled, auto-tuned goodness that will have you double-checking the definition of “yawenhua” (subculture). Highlights include tracks by Beijing emo rap king Bloodz Boi (who also hosts his own show on NTS) and 潮州土狗 (Chaozhou Tugou), a rapper of Aboriginal heritage from southern Taiwan, who offers an unhinged ode to betel nut.

D A N D I - Shy People Mix

Shanghai-based DJ D A N D I joins Beijing multidisciplinary label Shy People for their long-running mix series, sharing some of the music she played at a special event she staged last month at Shanghai’s 19th century Union Church, just north of the Bund. Shy People describes this as D A N D I’s “emo set,” which is apt — the DJ mixes glassy, high definition synthetic tones with sentimental melodies and vocals before unleashing more beat-driven tracks in the last 20 minutes.

Endy Chen - Digging Deep, LYL Radio

Jinhua’s Endy Chen is many things: DJ, crate digger, record label boss, bar owner, and a wine seller. This introspective mix for the show Digging Deep on Lyon’s LYL Radio ranges from jazzy, downtempo 1990s Mandarin pop to abstracted ambient and up-tempo synth pop by Caslean, an artist on Chen’s label 1asia. Head to FOND/SOUND, the website of Digging Deep host Diego Olivas, for an interview with Chen. (As a bonus, the site hosts an intriguing collection of rare Cantopop and forgotten 1980s new age from Taiwan.)

DJ Wife - Innocent Feelings: Mid-Autumn Festival, Baihui

DJ Wife is also a restaurateur, previously running 纯情商店街 (Chunqing Shangdianjie), a recently closed Beijing izakaya that was a key hangout spot for the city’s techno scene. Not surprisingly, this Mid-Autumn Festival special for her show on homegrown station Baihui skews towards Japanese music, from laidback funk to sophisticated electronic pop. But best of all, her selection of urbane pop draws upon music from the rest of Asia too, featuring tracks by Hong Kong’s Shirley Kwan and Singapore’s Dick Lee.

DJ Wife on Baihui

Listen on Baihui

Cover image of dv, Suzhou, via Endy Chen / LYL Radio; other image via Baihui.

Join the Conversation
Write comment

We assure you, this page will eventually load