The Experimental Sounds of Shanghai's Underground Ravers
The Chinese kids today are so interconnected with the global youth culture, and the growth of it in such a short period of time has impressed us all. Every weekend, they put on their chokers, silk robes, velvet tank tops and tote bags, and flood underground through wartime air bunker tunnels into bars and clubs where the loudest and most experimental sounds are played, get high, drink up, and dance till dawn. China’s music scene is no longer just grander-than-the-universe ode to the nation or sad-and-forever-dumped poppy love songs.
On a sweaty August evening in Shanghai, or the “City of Demons” as the Chinese call it dearly, American DJ/Artist Eli Osheyack and his partner-in-crime stylist Dre Romero threw an ass-kicking party at one of Shanghai’s underground temples -- The Shelter.
Osheyack and Romero formed the perfect “Ghost in a Shell” ensemble. He is the shaved-head American boy with lanky figures and the style of a post-apocalyptic poet, while she is the anime assassin girl with a dash of sweet attitude from the likes of Harley Quinn. The duo, both coming from America, is living in Shanghai and injecting in an exciting new home-grown subculture drawn inspiration from this city.
It was the release party of DJ Osheyack’s latest album “Fake, Fiction, Fraud”. As soon as he put on his headphones and Dre flipped on the crazy blinking light The heart-ripping drum beats and the spaceship-like blinking lights slayed the crowd and kept us dancing addictively for little less than an hour. It was all too good to end so quickly, but we know they will come back for more. The moments breaking through the beat/light combination, transforming the atmosphere into a zone of temporary eternity, where time is broken into fragmented glasses and freezing every other second. Almost everyone had a choker on, made out of nylon, plastic and eclectic red warning lights, which made the whole scene felt even more like a cult worship session out from your hallucination. This is where blinking is useless, because you are supposed to be missing out on some of the reality.
We spoke with the DJ/Artist duo afterwards about their Shanghai dreams and how this Far East friendship developed into creative juices.
T: TOTEM COLLECTIVE
T: How long have you known each other and how does this friendship evolved into collaborations?
O: Dre and I have known each other for about a year and a half. We were hanging out a lot and were both interested in each other’s work so collaboration was very natural. Initially Dre created images to go along with my tracks and mixes, and that has evolved into working on a video together and her latest installation at my release party.
“The idea of youth culture is relatively new in Shanghai and there’s a sort of individualistic freedom that comes with that.”
T: Why Shanghai? And how do you see the youth culture here compared to Europe or the US
O: Shanghai is good place to make work, there’s a lot happening here right now, and a lot of support for it. Shelter has been a second home for us, it’s one of my favorite places anywhere. I think youth culture here contrasts the west in a way that there’s not much context for it. There is an idea in a place like Berlin or New York for who you’re supposed to be based on preexisting subcultures of the city. Because the idea of youth culture is relatively new here there’s a sort of individualistic freedom that comes with that. You see kids pulling from many different sources and creating completely new things.
Clown Series Styled by Dre Remero Starring Eli Osheyack
T: What’s the image in your mind when you are playing your music?
O: I don’t really have an image in my mind while playing live, if an image is brought to my attention while I’m writing something it can definitely influence me, for instance Dre’s images for the Clown mixes. I also make paintings and work with video. I have an exhibition of paintings coming up at the end of September in Shanghai.
O: Ballroom, Gabber, Coil, The Shelter, Katie Got Bandz, Alvin Li
Check Out DJ Osheyack's Latest Music Video Below: