China’s electronic music
scene has exploded in the last few years with an ever-increasing number of festivals and labels popping up across the country. Beijing is without a doubt the main hub of electronic producers making a name for China on the international scene. Despite the fact China has yet to manufacture a superstar DJ, a few underground producers have gained respect throughout Europe for their unique sounds. We've found four of the hottest movers and shakers in the city and asked what makes them tick.
The Classic: Mickey Zhang
Favourite track: 'China ft. WHAI'
Listen to Zhang's favourite track here [VPNs on].
Biggest influence: Laurent Garnier.
Favourite production tool: Roland TR-909.
Where to find him:
He is often seen at Yen and Dart parties as well as at everybody’s favourite last stop, Lantern
Mickey Zhang is arguably the first electronic producer of note to come out of China. He was the first Chinese DJ to perform at numerous events including the Amsterdam Dance Event, Berlin’s Tessor Club and Japan’s Wire Festival. He has toured the globe and is often considered China’s electronic music ambassador (he was even invited to play four cities in France to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations).
Despite his continued presence at festivals and events, it has been quite a while since Zhang released new tracks leading to murmurs he is old news. Stay tuned, though – we hear he has a new vinyl coming out soon featuring Diva Li.
The Current: Shao
Favourite track: 'Reflection Pt.1 & 2'
Listen to 'Reflection Pt. 1' here [VPNs on].
Biggest influence: 'Can’t sum it up,' he says.
Favourite production tool: Filter part of vintage Korg Ms-20.
Where to find him:
He just played at Hong Kong’s Sonar festival, but here in Beijing you can usually find him at Dada
Shao is currently considered one of China’s leading producers and is revered for his audiovisual performances. His music explores the relationship between sound and space. Formerly known as Dead J, Shao has been making electronic music since 2002, before the birth of Beijing’s electronic scene. His first album Mental Imagery was released on Modern Sky
in 2005 and later became the first Chinese artist to join the legendary German techno label Tessor on which he released his EP Doppler Shift Pt. 1.
In addition to his work as a DJ and producer, Shao is a highly sought-after sound designer. He was the sole sound designer for the 2010 World Expo’s Pavilion of the Future and works closely with influential avant-garde theater director Meng Jinghui. Needless to say his experiments with sound produce some strange and unique tracks. He’s not for dance music fans, but he’s gathering quite the underground following.
Leading Label: Hielektromen
' from his Beijing Eastside Jam Squad project.
Biggest influence: Chemical Brothers and Prodigy.
Favourite production tool: Modular Synthesiser.
Where to find him:
You can see him performing under both of his aliases at DDC
Hielektromen is the live performance alias of DJ Demone, who is on the famed Ran Music label based in Beijing. The label boasts some of Beijing’s most popular artists including Elvis T. and Soulspeak – who is set to release a new album in May. The founder Shen has kept Ran Music at the forefront of Beijing’s electronic scene since it was founded just a few years ago.
Hielektromen has his own band and a number of other projects including an online music radio show, his own label Retrodance and working as an album art designer.
The New: Guzz
Favourite track: 'An Elephant in the Jungle'
Listen to Guzz's favourite track here [VPNs on].
Biggest influence: Alan Tam.
Favourite production tool: A Macbook.
Where to find him: Guzz
has been playing all over the city, but he is most often seen at Lantern
Guzz has been on the scene since 2008 as a DJ and as one of the co-founders of popular label and party line Do Hits. A number of Beijing producers worth mentioning have released on Do Hits including Howie Lee and James Hou. Their frequent parties at Dada are guaranteed jam-packed dance nights.
Guzz has a unique way of mixing club tracks with traditional Chinese music that has gained him international attention. After several EPs, his debut album 'An Elephant in the Jungle' was released in 2016. His tracks keep things simple with discreet layers of sounds and tend to be rather experimental, but his sets range in style.