By Bridget O’Donnell
Pet Conspiracy (宠物同谋 Chongwu Tongmou) returns to Shanghai this week, this time to perform their first solo show at MAO Livehouse on Friday. The Beijing-based band, which first jumped on the Chinese electro scene in 2007, has become internationally recognized — it was named MTV Asia’s Band of the Month in 2009 and Best Electro Band in China in 2010. They’re also known for putting on some pretty wild live acts, which in the past have included scenographies, brilliant visuals, flamboyant theatrical affairs and french kisses.
Pet Conspiracy plans to drop their latest EP “Noise from the Future” this month. The album was recorded in China and mixed in Switzerland. Also planned: the release of a new MV, which was shot in Switzerland and Italy.
Shanghaiist caught up with Pet Conspiracy to talk about the new album and what antics they have in store for Friday’s show.
First off, can you give us a brief introduction of all the band members?
The band is composed by:
– Huzi (guitars, programming, production) has been into Beijing Indie scene since the 1990’s, as a front man of X-Doctor, DJ and producer. He is one of the main founders of Pet Conspiracy in 2007.
– Edo (drums, vocals) was a guitar player and singer for various indie bands in Italy. Right after moving to China in 2008, he became our drummer and singer.
– Fiona (vocals) is a video maker, graphic designer as well our cutest but powerful vocals
– Mary (vocals) works full time in healthcare during the day and screams very loud for Pet Conspiracy at night
Talk a little bit about the new EP. What were some of your favorite tracks to write? How is it different from some of the previous albums?
The EP was (unexpectedly) thrown out in three months in our Beijing studio, mixed it down in Switzerland and mastered it in Germany, all in one summer. We are gonna launch it at the end of September with a tour in China, Korea and Europe, till the end of November.
The main difference between this EP and previous works stands in the style, which is probably more electro, and in the composition process. This time, we spent much more time in the studio working out every details of each song, while before we used to be much more live-oriented and were much more in a hurry to go on stage to perform instead of working on the recording.
What’s fan reception at your previous shows in Shanghai been like? How does it differ from the scene in Beijing?
We had a lot of fun playing before James Murphy at the Ding Dong Mega Rave. Great party and great people there. On that occasion we brought our “club set” (vocals, DJ + electro drum), while at MAO we are going to perform our full show, including also guitars, live drums and visuals. It’s gonna be different.
Shanghai is amazing, especially for electro parties. Beijing is richer in terms of live music. Both audiences are great, we are very excited to have both of them during our upcoming tour.
You guys are known for putting on some pretty wild and theatrical shows in the past. What are your influences? What do you want the audience to get from those performances?
Being theatrical and playing on stage is one very important part of our shows, without which we would probably get bored to death. But the most important aspect is that the audience is with us on that. When we build that kind of synergy nothing can stop us.
This will be your first solo show at MAO Livehouse here in Shanghai. What will make Friday’s show a must-see? Anything special planned for the production?
Of course…we are now working on a new experimental project based on synchronized music, visuals and lightening, which will be controlled directly by us on stage and will interact with our performance. The idea this time is to bring the full music-visual performance with us during the whole tour and give the audience a full show experience.
Some musical influences?
Too many, also considering that the band members have different music backgrounds and tastes (electro for huzi and Fiona, indie rock for edo, and electro goth for Mary).
We just like to mix our tastes as well as our Chinese/international identity and take the best out of it.
You shot the most recent MV in Switzerland and Italy. What was that like?
It was very fun and very quick… On the same day, we finished the ep mixing, run to the train station to pick up our movie director (Alan Chies, from Italy) and immediately head to the mountains. The day after, we shot the video swimming into freezing lake water, standing in holes dug on the sand and getting burned by a considerable amount of colored smoke bombs we bought in Zurich. Part of the video was shot in the Italian mountains as well.
You also mixed the album in Switzerland. Is this the first time you’ve had an album that was mixed outside of China?
Yes, we had the luck to work with very talented and at the same time extremely nice sound engineers and we are absolutely happy of the outcome.
What’s fan reception to the band been like in Europe? Any major differences from China?
In Switzerland, the reaction we got was better than expected and made us more confident of our capacity to approach different kind of audience internationally. Of course there are differences between audience and audience, in terms of both background and approach, but when the vibes are good, it’s all about party.
Talk a little bit about electro’s emergence in China. It seems to be getting bigger and bigger these days.
China’s music scene has been growing fast in the past few years, not only from the
the electro point of view, and a lot of very valuable bands have come out. What is probably missing right now is more exposure to the international context, which would bring a lot of good inputs in terms of music and perspectives.
Pet Conspiracy @ MAO Livehouse
Where: MAO Livehouse: 3F, 308 Chongqing Nan Lu near Jianguo Zhong Lu (重庆南路308号)
When: Friday, September 28
Price: Tickets 80 RMB at the door
Find all dates for Pet Conspiracy’s 2012 on the band’s Facebook page.