Mixes of the Month

From dubby downtempo to club carnage, here’s what Chinese DJs have been up to

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Simon Frank
6:15 PM HKT, Wed November 8, 2023 2 mins read

Welcome to Mixes of the Month, where RADII highlights the music that DJs in China and across the diaspora have been sharing over the past month. Looking back at October, there was plenty of contemplative ambient perfect for easing into autumnal melancholy, but also a dose of high-energy dance music that can give you a taste of the music being played in Shanghai clubs right now.

Stella Z – Thoughts and Ideas, Mutant Radio

UK-based Chinese artist Stella Z has been gigging steadily around Europe and regularly dropping radio mixes since releasing her debut album In The Woods, Will Be Late earlier this year. Inspired by her home province of Fujian, the album blends calm melodies with watery textures and rhythms that propel the listener forward without breaking a sweat. This mix for Japanese producer Que Sakamoto’s show on Tbilisi’s Mutant Radio sits well with the sounds on the album, pairing simmering dance music best described by the wonderful adjective “chuggy” with 1990s Sinophone classics: Faye Wong, Wong Kar-wai soundtrack composer Frankie Chan, and Hokkien popstar-turned-ambient-master Lim Giong.

Alex Wang – SVBKVLT, NTS

Previously based in Shanghai, Alex Wang is now calling Berlin home for the moment. As a DJ, his style fits well with other artists in the orbit of ALL Club and the label SVBKVLT, but he also will often hit things from an oblique angle. This edition of SVBKVLT’s always-excellent NTS show is packed with precision-engineered club tracks with advanced sound design and intricate rhythms, allowing Wang to demonstrate his knack for swapping up the energy at just the right moment. He layers Brazilian baile funk with breakbeats, teases in ever-so-slightly more straightforward techno to maintain momentum, and even drops a club remix of avant metal band Sunn O))).

QiuQiu – LCY, Rinse FM

Yunnan-born DJ QiuQiu used to work at Chengdu techno mecca .TAG — that alone should tell you that booming techno is part of his musical DNA. But since moving to Shanghai a few years ago, his sound has continued to evolve. Here he contributes a guest mix to the Rinse FM radio show of UK club artist LCY, who he connected with after sharing the stage at their Shanghai show in early October. QiuQiu’s mix charges forward with unstoppable momentum, moving between tribal percussion, cut-up breakbeats, and pulsating dubstep bass.

There’s an intensity that matches the tendency towards harder and faster sounds currently sweeping through Chinese underground clubs, but also a refreshingly wide range of rhythms. Stayed tuned after QiuQiu’s mix for contributions by Tokyo’s SAMO and Taipei’s XIИ, part of the hotly-tipped event collective Pure G.

XIANGGU – poco a poco, Baihui

Beijing-based DJ XIANGGU/香菇’s Baihui show “poco a poco” is a treasure trove of low-key music, from new age-tinged ambient to eccentric synth pop, often boasting a focus on Japanese artists. Her most recent episode features a few Japanese musicians in its first minutes, but then expands its scope to encompass everything from the jazzy Mandopop of Yang Xiao-lin to a surprisingly mellow track by 1980s experimental group Bourbonese Qualk. Later in the mix, XIANGGU showcases so-called “Fourth World” music (think electronically-abetted ethnic music from places that don’t actually exist) by composers such as Jon Hassell and Vangelis Katsoulis, alongside slightly more danceable songs by young producers working in analogous styles, like K-LONE.

 XIANGGU radio show, with flowers

Listen on Baihui

Cover image via SVBKVLT/NTS; other image via Baihui.

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