China’s first large-scale indoor music festival, Electric Circus is set for this Saturday at the Pudong Exhibition Center in Shanghai! The high-octane event, organized by City Moments and Collective Concepts.
, will feature top electronic dance dynamos, including Roger Sanchez, Swanky Tunes, DJ Falcon, Conrank and, Surkin, and CNdY. We met with the organizers – David Lazarowicz, CEO and Founder of City Moments; Lee Lam , Shanghai General Manager and Partner of City Moments; Robb Pollard, CEO and Founder of Collective Concepts – to ask for their thoughts on the upcoming fest.
Tell us how you ended up in Shanghai?
David Lazarowicz: Hey Shanghaiist, thanks for taking the time to have this interview with us! I am originally from Munich, Germany but have been living on and off in Shanghai since 2006 now. The reason why I came to Shanghai in the first place was that my university offered me to visit Shanghai for an exchange program. So, in 2006, right after the World Cup, I came out here to study one semester at Tongji University. I have been travelling a lot, living in the U.S. for a year and in Africa for a while, but it was my first time to visit Asia. It took not long and I fell in love with the city. The energy, speed of life and the diversity here really made me feel like home. So here I am.
Lee Lam: I left Europe looking for my roots and some adventure, and found both right here.
Robb Pollard: You could say I got on the wrong plane…but luckily I did. My contract had ended with the Ministry of Sound in Singapore and I wasn’t really keen on staying and really wanted a move to Hong Kong at the time. So, with limited time, I got offers from Dubai and Shanghai and opted for Shanghai – little did I know about the city or anything in it…So I arrived in May 2006 with a suitcase and the rest you can say is history.
David and Lee, how did City Moments come about and what are you trying to accomplish with it?
DL: While studying here life was pretty stress-free and I had a lot of free time to experience the nightlife of Shanghai. During that time there were almost no websites that focused on the excessive nightlife here and that was when the idea to start a nightlife website here in China was born.
Together with a friend of mine, Wei, I launched City Moments at the end of 2008.
The first year was all about establishing ourselves and making a name for us. I bought a camera and started shooting nightlife almost every night of the week. It was an amazing time and great to connect with lots of people here in the city. Over the time the team changed and Lee joined the team as partner.
The idea was to build a massive social community, which at the end didn’t work out as planned. We still managed to build quite a big community on City Moments and started to host City Moments events for them – after a while we were asked by clubs to work with them and one thing led to the next and now organizing events has turned into our main business model. You can say that we are now a full-service-creative event agency. While working for brands such as Heineken, Pernod Ricard and Tiger we never let go of our dream to organize our own festival.
LL: After working in events in Beijing, I moved down here and randomly took over David’s room in his old apartment 6 years ago; I saw the potential of making something meaningful here, without leaving my love for music behind, so I jumped right in.
Robb, how did you end up in the nightlife business and to set up Collective Concepts?
RP: Coming from Manchester UK, nightlife has always been in my blood – we started to go clubbing when I was 14 and always wanted to be involved in nightlife. I got my first job in a nightclub when I was 16 handing out flyers, then slowly moved up to bartending, DJing in several bars and clubs in Manchester etc. I left home at 16, so I always had to support myself financially and ended up traveling and living in France for 3 years. In 2000 I decided to make the plunge and move to Ibiza, and on the very first day I landed a job working at a club. From then I worked over in the Balearics for 4 years between Ibiza and Mallorca working and promoting for some amazing branded parties and DJs such as Retro, Cream, Hed Kandi, Louie Vega, Judgement Sundays.
I arrived in Shanghai of course working for another company, and although my time brought some success with the company and I learned a lot, I always wanted to have my own place – the great thing in my 3 years there I met some great people and staff who still work for me today – mainly my right arm, Milica, who is now our company Marketing Director. We set up Collective Concepts back in 2010, and it’s been one big roller coaster ever since!
What’s the story behind Electric Circus? How did you guys decide to work on this together? Is this going to be an annual affair?
DL: For many years we thought about launching our own festival brand here in China. We have been working together with MIDI and other festivals but somehow it was always a bit frustrating to support others and never really getting anything back in return. So, at the end of last year, Robb talked to us about launching a festival together and we jumped right onto the idea! Now, almost 6 months later, it’s about to become reality! It was not always easy and pulling this off was a lot of stress but I think that’s normal. Now in less than 5 days Electric Circus will finally open its doors to electronic music lovers in Shanghai! I am super excited and can say the same for our whole team.
Electric Circus is not just a one-time event; we want to grow this into a nation-wide brand. So expect Electric Circus to happen several times per year in various cities around China.
RP: For years we had wanted to put on a festival and for years looking for the right angle and how/where to do it. Last year we were asked to host and operate the 3rd stage at Zebra Festival and do an all-EDM lineup. We worked with the great DJS in Shanghai (and there are many) and hosted it for 3 days.
Expanding on this and foreseeing the future of EDM in China we wanted to be one of the first to do something different. So we set up a plan and came up with a name, spent months hitting all the festivals – and visited 2 Sensation parties in the US.
After speaking with David and Lee we really had a similar passion and grasp for what we wanted to do – and decided to merge together and come up with something that will hopefully be around for years to come.
LL: I am super happy with our line-up! We really-really wanted to make this event a whole electronic experience where people can experience different genres of electronic music from underground to EDM with old-school heroes like Roger Sanchez and new dance floor killers like Surkin.
Also we’ve been looking at combining international DJs with local live electro bands because we really want to focus on the Chinese youth to experience a proper electronic music festival, and since, quite frankly, a big chunk of young Chinese are still more into live music and rock bands, we don’t want to impose electronic music on them but make them feel like they can relate to it, which is why we invited CNdY, one of the most famous underground electro live band, to start bridging the gap with young Chinese.
Because, in the end, a rock concert mosh pit and a party dancefloor going crazy to the sound of the bass are quite the same: it’s sweat, joy and the feeling of being connected with others for a couple hours. So, yeah, I’m thrilled by the line-up and I think everyone will find music they like, even for the most blasé Shanghai socialites.
RP: Having had to change the line up a little from original date caused a little bit of a headache, but fortunately everything happens for a reason and I do believe we now have a better line up than original – minus Nova Heart who I was really looking forward to.
How about the “unforeseen circumstances” that led to the postponement of your event? How did that affect your plans?
DL: As we all know, sometimes things bigger than you happen and you just can’t do anything about them. The big meeting in Shanghai was exactly one of those things. As you have already noticed a lot of events and venues have been affected by this already. What’s more important is that we as a team faced the struggle and actually made the date change happen! And believe me it caused us many sleepless nights and several gray hairs. But now all is set and we are ready to party with all of Shanghai!
Which DJs are you personally most looking forward to seeing in action?
DL: I am most excited about the set of Surkin and Roger Sanchez. Surkin plays amazing music and Roger is just a legend on the decks – this will be the highlight! But also Swanky Tunes is high up on my list. It will be a wild ride of EDM with those guys.
LL: DJ Falcon, just because he’s one of the coolest dudes on earth, CNdY because I just bought my own Unicorn mask, Surkin because Paris just does it better, Swanky Tunes because I’ve been practicing my heart hands, Roger Sanchez because I got to pay my respect to the BOSS, Conrank because he makes me wobble.
RP: Without question Mr. Roger Sanchez, having seen him play so many times over the years and trying to book him for over 15 years and it finally happened. I was over the moon when we finally landed him. I cannot wait – he is a true legend of all things house music.
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More info on the festival can be found here as well.
Electric Circus on social media:
Weibo: ElectricCircus电音狂潮 | http://weibo.com/u/5066136862