Where: (for Thursday) Source, No. 158 Xinle Lu, near Donghu Lu 新乐路158号，近东湖路 and (for Friday) The Shelter, No. 5 Yongfu Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu 永福路5号，近复兴西路
Starts: Thursday, March 11, 7-9PM for the workshop; Friday, March 12,
9PM-late for the show
Cover: Free for the workshop, 50 RMB for show
FREE the WAX is back in town for a gig. This time they are bringing DJ Vadim and MC Yarah Bravo (Ninja Tune/BBE) to China for the second time running. If you had missed their explosive show last year, you know what to do this time.
Tomorrow night, DJ Vadim and MC Yarah Bravo will also hold a FREE workshop and performance at Source, with an open dialogue session that will let fans understand more about their music-making process. Source will be supplying FREE Absolut Vodka and signed posters will be given out at the workshop.
We talked to them about their plans, their history and everything else… AND we’re giving you a chance to win free tickets to their show. Read on for more information!
When did you guys meet? Was it big-bang-pow-wow stars and explosions right from the start or did it take a while for you guys to decide that just music wasn’t enough?
VADIM: Well for me it was fireworks and explosions from the first point we met. Music came later.
YARAH: There was definitely a special connection straight away. One that I’ve never had with another person…ever! We were extremely drawn to each other, and everything about each other was just so fresh… we built a bubble around us, which then became a musical bubble, and the bubble is still here… bubbling away!
You live in England, the country of fish n’ chips. However, you guys have a very multicultural background (Russia, England, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Sweden, The States). Who wins on a kitchen fight over what dishes to make? What dishes you guys can’t live without and why?
VADIM: Hahahah. Great question. We both love food and going to great restaurants. That’s actually one of my few vices, going to high-end restaurants. We both love cooking and I would say 9/10 times we cook as good if not better than most restaurants we go to on tour etc… I love food from all over the world. In fact in most cultures there is something that I like that’s why my preferred style of cooking and restaurants we go to we would call modern European or modern fusion, basically a plethora of different stuff from everywhere – not in one dish but hints of different things so we could have a fish prepared in a Cajun way with some mango salsa or almond-encrusted fish with some Thai spices or spinach pie or… I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
YARAH: Well we just love flavors and also to cook for each other. For example if I’m all stressed out, Vadim will cook me a nice dinner, he did it last night actually… and brought it to me so I could eat it while working, and he was also working so I sent him a message and told him… this was better than any restaurant we’ve been to… you are by far the best chef i know!! 🙂 He cooked me a perfect tuna steak served on a bed of grilled asparagus, a rocket salad with roasted pine nuts, and poached pears… like blaaaow!! Hahaha and the presentation? Fantastic! I always joke with him I want him to go on those food programs on TV and whoop everyone’s asses!!
How do you think each of you have influenced each other over the years?
VADIM: Well for me, Yarah influenced so many things consciously or subconsciously – my style of dress. I think so much more about that than before, matching colors and photo shoots. Also about communicating with people, I have learned to be more patient, reflective. I got into Latin music because of Yarah, the whole South American thing. We discovered a lot of things together like cooking traveling, loving…
YARAH: i think we have almost blended into one person hahahaha… no but Vadim keeps me on my toes while I help him relax… so it’s a good team.
What has changed since the last time you were in China?
VADIM: Well I started to talk on the mic! Released a new album – U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun. Started a new group The Electric and recorded that album, remixed loads of people and been around the world five times!
YARAH: Well I moved to Berlin. Set fire to my flat on my birthday and then launched my solo show around Europe, The Good Girls Rarely Make History Show. It’s me, a drummer, a DJ, a back up singer and flutist. All ladies!! And it’s the first time I’ve done something this big, where I’m 100% in charge and creatively I can get all my ideas out. It’s an exciting time for me!
Both of you wear so many hats it’s nerve-wrecking just trying to keep up. Which do you think was the most unexpected turn your respective musical careers have taken so far and why?
VADIM: Well for me it was getting and surviving cancer. It was a very dark chapter in my life but one I wouldn’t want to take away because I feel that post-cancer, I am a happier, more loving person.
YARAH: Vadim’s cancer was by far the most challenging unexpected thing we’ve had to deal with, anything else that might have seemed big before fades in comparison. Hat-wise… I’ve always been a collector of hats… and I believe you can turn just an average-looking person into someone very interesting-looking with just the right hat… or wrong hat too for that matter. I can’t believe people who say they are not “brave” enough to wear a hat… I mean what’s the worst thing that can happen? It ain’t gonna bite you! Who knows, you might get a look from a cute girl… or guy!
(To VADIM) It’s been a long road since your debut. Helping put instrumental hip-hop on the map, producing more abstract tunes, finely-tuned hip hop, soul, Latin, down through an amazing (mainly) reggae record and quite a few more electronic influences on the latest U Cant Lurn Imaginashun. Having said that, what seems obvious is that you make increasingly more accessible (i.e. pop), quality music. If so, is there a conscious effort in your part to make quality pop?
VADIM: I suppose I listen to music quite differently that I did 15 years ago. Now I think alot about choruses, the song in general. Not that I’m trying to be ‘pop’, just that I’m trying to think of the complete song – the hook, the verse, the music, the bridge. I spend much time listening to the Beatles, Michael Jackson, etc. studying their sound and what made them work in a sense. I think every artist wants to make something that is appreciated and stands the test of time. I don’t want to just make some beats that sound like everybody else. I don’t want to be somebody else’s shadow. I want to create my own shadow that inspires people to create, innovate and take things to a higher level.
(To VADIM) Do you think an artist’s output generally gets diluted when they make that transition from more “underground” styles to music that can be potentially mass-marketed and consumed?
VADIM: Well it’s hard to say. In general I would concur that to be in the ‘pop charts’ as a ‘pop charts’ band, you will have to compromise your sound but saying that, there are many groups who have reached the pop charts who haven’t compromised – The Roots, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Angie Stone, Mary J Blige… Fat Freddy’s Drop from New Zealand sold a shitload of records, making a very uncompromising reggae soul album that touched millions all over the world. Ultimately music is either good or bad regardless if it’s pop or underground. Some music in the charts is utter shit. Not because it’s pop but because it’s badly sung, cheesy, no content and just style, no chorus etc… it’s there simply because it’s so heavily marketed – like the recent Cheryl Cole song. It sold millions but it was crap.
(To YARAH) You sing in your song “Freedom Fighters” that your father was once executed, survived (!) and still has a bullet in his body to prove. How do you think it shaped your character as a child growing up in Sweden having such an atypical background?
YARAH: Well it took me about 10 years to write that song just because I felt I could never capture or give justice to how my parents’ story truly effected me. I know I am extremely lucky to be alive, and to grow up in a society where I felt safe. Both my parents had to spend time in jail because of their political beliefs, thanks to Amnesty International they are both alive today, and therefore I am alive too. When there is a coup in your country, change of government, severe oppression of the middle and especially the lower class, you’re trapped, you have no way out, you have no choice but to fight and try to stand up for your people, my parents survived… but many others “disappeared”. I meet youths at concerts around the world… who share a similar story – their parents were also exiled, they also grew up in a foreign country, some lost a lot of family members… my story is not unique, which is what makes it so scary!!
(To YARAH) As a role model of female emancipation, what is your opinion regarding the state of hip hop music today? Any female figures influenced your attitude specifically in that sense?
YARAH: When I was growing up, I looked up to MC Lyte and Lauryn Hill. It only takes one girl to inspire many. One of the most beautiful things for me as an artist is when girls, especially younger girls, tell me I inspired them to start rapping or make music. What more can I ask for? That’s a planted seed for a future generation right there… and I ain’t even old hahahah. I think too many women in hip hop either act like dudes or complete sluts. How about just being human? This music is for everybody. I’m very confident in my femininity and I don’t feel intimidated by other men in the business. I know what I bring to the table is unique.
Top on your to-do list in Shanghai this time round?
VADIM: Eat duck and drink tea!
YARAH: Try some exciting food!!
What’s on the cards next?
VADIM: More shows, new album – The Electric and a holiday in Malaysia!!!
YARAH: CHINA!! Then we head off to a well-deserved holiday in Malaysia!!!
Please complete the sentence: “Ten years from now, we will most likely be …”
VADIM: Living in Bahia, Brazil!
YARAH: In Brazil, on a beach, surrounded by kids and drums…
Courtesy of FREE the WAX, Shanghaiist is giving away a pair of tickets to the show on Friday. It’s dead simple. Name us one song from DJ Vadim’s most recent album U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun. The first person to drop us an email at contest.giveaway (@) shanghaiist (dot) com with the correct answer, along with full name and contact number, wins! Good luck!