In a nightlife scene that can revolve around glitzy bars, top 40 and Johnny Walker watered down with tea, the ravers and DnB heads are often the hardest pressed when it comes to finding quality music in Shanghai. I sat down with one of the newest bass-warriors fighting the good fight in Shanghai, Q-Kraft.
First off, how did it all begin for you?
I started mixing happy hardcore records back in London in the UK in my friend’s bedroom on a pair of old Sound Lab belt drive decks in 1993; it was really basic equipment but I feel in love with mixing immediately. They were awful decks to use; belt driven with a tiny pitch control. Then in 1994 I started to hear a lot of jungle music played by my friend's brother and I managed to see sense and moved away form the chipmunk vocals and started mixing Jungle and Drum and Bass. Even today, nearly 20 years later, I can’t help throwing loads of old jungle tracks into my sets. I love mixing up Jungle with long mixes over the top of new drum and bass tunes to get the best of both worlds - today’s production and the vibe of old jungle tracks. More recently I have been putting a lot more liquid drum and bass in my sets and playing more musical tracks, I think that just comes with age, and I also played after London Electricity
a few months back at the Shelter at Sweatshop which influenced this.
The name is real interesting, Q-Kraft, I have to ask where that came from.
So the name Q-Kraft came about after a long time spent dilly daberring between different names. I sat down one night and tried to think of names related to DJing like cueing the record and the craft involved with it and I ended up combining those words but spelling them slightly differently. It worked out well, because it’s good to pick an obscure name so you’re listed first on search engines.
How long have you been playing in Shanghai? Which venues do you look forward to playing especially?
So, I’ve been playing in Shanghai now for three months; I actually just moved here from Taiwan where I have been living for the last two years, So far I have been playing at the Shelter, Dada Bar, The Amber Lounge, Lune and the Mixing Room. My favorite venue so far has been the Shelter because the crowd is very accepting of the music; you don’t need to play bangers to keep people interested, and I love vibe of the club - its underground, dark and grimy with no moving lights. It’s all about the music in there, no pretentious bullshit, so props to Gareth for sticking with that.
You’re dropping your new single this Friday at DaDa, what kind of feel can we expect?
So this is actually the first track I ever made. It has been an aim of mine since I first got into DJing to make my own tunes and play them out; having people dance to your own music is a huge rush, especially if you love DJing. So after about 10 years of thinking about making my own stuff and experimenting I finally entered a remix competition last year with Rankadank Records
based in Shanghai and I won it. So after the launch party at Dada on Friday, 29th June, it will be released on Beatport and Juno etc.
The remix is based around a vocal line from MC Zulu
, a 10 second synth sample and a beat boxing sample from Killa Kella
that I used as part of the snare. I made the track around 8 months ago and my musical style at the time was predominately dubstep orientated. I tend to float around the different styles of bass music quite frequently but the overall feel of the track is still very much ragga orientated due to the style of the vocals.
Who would you say your influences are? Who are you listening to right now?
Whenever I am asked that I always think of my favorite band when I was younger which was Nirvana. I listened to them a lot growing up and played drums in a heavy metal band; so maybe that preference is based upon on memories as well. But then I discovered electronic music and I suppose my main influence from then on was The Prodigy
. I also used to listen to a lot of rap music like Run DMC
and the early producers of Jungle tracks like Mickey Finn, Hype, Zinc and then more drum and bass orientated tracks from Roni Size
. Right now my favourite track is Life Cycle by Friction.
You’re the newest member of the Sweatshop Drum & Bass team, what do you have to say about the music, crowds, and general atmosphere of Sweatshop parties?
Sweatshop was the first event I was booked for in Shanghai and my first impression was that you could drop B side tracks and have people still dancing, which after living in Taiwan for two years with quite a limited scene was really refreshing. The crowd seemed to really appreciate quality D n B, and as a DJ it leaves more room for experimentation, which is great. And the whole place is full of energy; I’ve been in there a few times and it was still going strong at 5am
What is your impression of the electronic scene in Shanghai, and more specifically the Drum & Bass scene?
Taiwan is an amazing place, but it is quite limited in terms of electronic music especially the less accessible styles like drum and bass and dubstep. So to me, arriving in Shanghai the scene is comparatively very vibrant with some really interesting electronic acts getting booked here regularly. I started up a group on the Internet called Bass Music Shanghai to try and help promote the scene here from a neutral position, which has been a lot of fun and I’ve met some cool people through doing it.
Which DJs in Shanghai are you a fan of?
I’m probably a bit biased in this respect because I always go out to support and DJ with my friends; I’ve seem some amazing sets here from Conrank
, Deadlock, Siesta
, Resinate, and DJ Roo. Away from drum and bass; I saw DJ Mia
play a few months back and thought her tune selection was dope. Although not a DJ I also need to mention MC Stride who has his last show at the Shelter for Sweatshop on Saturday 7th July.
When all the partying is over, how do you unwind?
Man, I have fallen in love with foot massages here. I would say having one once a week is a great way to unwind. I have a few projects on the go at the moment including setting up a music studio in Shanghai, Ctrl Sound Studios, with fellow business partners Marcus Manning and Diccon Mayfeld (aka Conrank) which is keeping me busy. In Shanghai there seems to be this invisible force that slaps you around the face every morning and says, “Get the fuck up and do something”, which is great, but makes it hard to relax here sometimes.
“Q-Kraft, a Taiwan based producer originally from London, UK stepped up to the plate with this killer dubstep remix which blew the judges away! Club filling basslines and slapping snares are the order of the day, and alongside MC Zulu's lyrics, it’s a must for any DJ.”
WORDS: Tony Deorsey / Q-Kraft