In 2007, three friends sat down together at local dive bar C’s and decided to take a proactive role in changing a part of Shanghai night life important to the them: the underground music scene. Three short years later and S.T.D. – the music promotional team that bar talk birthed – has become one of the very best in Shanghai.
Where: Mao Livehouse, 570 Huaihai Xi Lu, near Hongqiao Lu
Starts: 10PM, Friday June 18
Cover: 150RMB at door
From electronic to rock, S.T.D. has brought some of the biggest indie electronic names here to the city, including Ratatat (US), The Toxic Avenger (FRA) and Jeans Team (GER) amongst others.
With their Third Anniversary bash/concert/wall of sound and partying fun this on Friday (06/18), we chatted with one of S.T.D.’s three founding members, Reggie, prying for a little history on the young team.
So Reggie, what exactly is S.T.D.?
When S.T.D. started it wasn’t really anything more than three friends wanting to support Shanghai’s live music and party scene just for fun. Over time, it’s just grown and taken up more hours out of my day.
Who are they?
They are the other two founding members of S.T.D.. Albert has since moved on, but Nikki Li is the first person he and I went to when the idea came to us. She is integrated in the music scene all over China. She knows all of the musicians and venues inside and out. [laughing] Sorta a ‘Rock Queen’ if you will. [laughing]
And the name!?
[laughing] We were sitting in C’s Bar and wanted something, I don’t know, pretty whacky. So we settled on S.T.D, “Sonically Transmitted Disease.” It just sounded so wrong.
So did S.T.D. come together to fill a niche or a need in the city?
A need. Three years ago I was introduced to the underground music scene in Shanghai and didn’t see what I wanted to see. There was only a handful or so of people doing really cool stuff, like Logo and C’s. So I sought out how to support it, help out. Eventually I met Nikki Li and Albert Yu.
Tell us a little bit about when you started.
Oh man, it was pretty messy. [laughing] Our first show was in June 2007 at Logo. We brought in one of my favorite bands, Muscle Snog, and we made the flyers four days before the night of the show. When three hundred people showed up to Logo we knew we were onto something good. [laughing] Tickets were ten kuai and we gave out free condoms.
What about since then? How would you gauge S.T.D.’s success?
The number of local people coming out to a show equals success for sure. In the beginning we set out to influence local kids and teach them new stuff. The first shows I went to here [in Shanghai] were all foreigners enjoying it, the local Chinese not so much. They weren’t really into underground partying and music. Now we have a good mix in our audiences. People have a certain connection and trust in our shows, and dually do our best to meet their standards.
Is this where you succeed?
We’ve done pretty well here. In order to really have an impact, we need to impact locals. It’s been very rewarding.
What other ways do you measure the success of S.T.D.?
Definitely by the quality of acts and volume of shows. We go for a lot of artists and multiple shows a month. There is a certain volume and quality needed to keep Shanghai on the foreign scene, and things are really coming together now. The city used to have one show a month, and now there are sometimes three a weekend. S.T.D. has been a large part of that.
What have been some of S.T.D’s biggest achievements over the last three years?
It’s been a long three years. For starters, there was Ratatat in spring 2009. The atmosphere and crowd were overwhelming. We heard that selling out Dream Factory was impossible, and we did it on a Thursday night. There were even people outside who couldn’t get in. Then in October 2008 we had Regurgitator come play. I don’t think they’re one of the most famous bands in the world or anything, but they were my high school heroes and was awesome bringing them into town and hearing them play. Also, Mono was [explicative deleted] unbelievable, man. One of the best bands around playing one of the best shows ever. Wow.
So do you enjoy the shows that you organize as much as the ones you used to go to?
Absolutely. But on a different level. [laughing] I think I feel relieved now. [laughing] Seriously though, as a spectator there is a distance from the artist, which is good and all. But when all goes well now and I can see it, I get this positive feeling.
Do you see any areas of growth for S.T.D.?
Just keep going where we’re going. Every year try and step it up a notch. Like the second half of this year we have higher scale events, like our July “1933” party. A party in an old slaughter house. It’s featuring Go Chic from Taiwan, New Pants from Beijing and other deejays as well. It’s going to be July 24th. We are also looking at ways to take S.T.D. to the next level.
Now let’s talk about the June 18th Event. What is it?
It’s our third year event and it’s basically a mini-festival, in the sense of the amount of music in one day. It’s one stage and a tonne of artists. It’s going to be like local and international bands, and so much in-between. You’re pretty much going to have pick a spot to park somewhere inside with your friends, grab a few drinks, and then listen. I’m excited most about Danger performing with the amazing visuals show by BastardGraphics who used to work with Justice. I’m also a really big Lymbyc Systym fan, and it’s going to be great to see Pet Conspiracy in Shanghai again.
Tell us about the venue Mao Livehouse.
For its size and quality, it’s the best venue in China. We’re lucky to have it here in Shanghai. Also, the quality of the people there is high. And the huge screens behind stages are fantastic. It’s given us that real big concert feel that Shanghai was missing for a while.
How many people are you expecting?
With so many acts, how long will each set be?
That will vary. From eight to ten we have electronic musicians playing as duos. Then we have some local bands playing. Then we will work in our headliners who will get about forty-five minutes to an hour each. I’ll play with Liman after that, and then probably some DJs to keep the night going.
Are the musicians excited to hang out and listen to/party with each other?
Definitely. One of the first things that artists ask us is who else will be playing so that they can check out the other deejay’s stuff. Many are intrigued by China, and want to support it when they get the chance. They totally support the local scene here and want to know more about it.
Any final words?
Thanks for all the people that have attended one or many of our shows. Thanks for supporting us, thanks for supporting our brand of live/party music. See you on Friday, free hugs all round.