PYRO will feature one venue or event organizer located in China to share with our followers. There are thousands of clubs throughout China with a steady growth of events and festivals inside and outside venues and the typical environment. This new feature will bring to light all their unique approaches to the nightlife scene. Q：Hi Sam! Its great to have you featured this week, can you tell us a little about your background and where you’re from for those that may not know you? A：Hey Pyro! Thanks for taking the time to do the interview 🙂 I’m from a small town in the northeast of America. Musicwise, started DJing in university there in 2005, then started doing parties with Heatwolves as Baijiu Robot after moving to Shanghai in 2008. After that, I was helping put on events with TICT, before recently starting Co:Motion with MIIIA, Laura Ingalls, Raz, Deep 19 and Michael Cignarale, and six months ago opened Elevator together with the REHAB DJs Jung & Kelly. Q：How long have you been in China and what are your thoughts on the scene here? A：In total about nine years (studied abroad here in 2006, then went home to finish school before moving back). The music scene is probably the biggest reason I’ve stayed so long – it’s been exciting to see it grow and to help play a part in that expansion. From just a couple venues and a small group of DJs and promoters, now clubbers have a lot of options and places have developed more individual styles; it’s great now to see both more producers coming out of the city and also more participation from locals. Compared to a lot of other places, people are supportive of each other behind the scenes as well. Q：When did you first get into electronic music and what motivated you to take the next step with investing in a club? A：A friend’s older brother gave me some of his trance mix CDs when I was 13, but in a club context it was studying in Shanghai that really got me into it. Parties where I’m from back home all revolved around hip-hop and pop, so it was here that I started to discover dance music and the styles of partying and dancing that go along with it. I had been happy as a DJ and promoter and for a long time didn’t think I’d ever be involved in the club side. In the last few years, though, visiting and having an amazing time at clubs in NYC (Output, Good Room, Glasslands) and Tokyo (Air, Womb, Bonobo, Arc, Oath) made me think more seriously about playing a role on the venue side, and at the same time things in Shanghai were changing and there seemed like an opportunity for a medium-sized venue doing house and techno club nights and weird stuff (ping pong, cartoons screenings) on weeknights.. and here we are 🙂 Q：What attracted you to this particular venue, formally known as Lune? A：A lot of things.. for me, the small/medium size with low ceilings is ideal for more intimate parties and for connecting with the music being played. The fact that one side of the club is windows means we can let daylight in for afternoon events (or to kick everyone out at 6am), and the elevator is pretty romantic. With TICT we had thrown fun parties at Lune, so I had good memories of the space, and our partner Taipei who was running the space before I’ve known for ten years and worked with for a lot of events at the old Logo – everything together made it a natural choice, and we were really happy when we realized it would be possible. Q：What vision did you have when you first began to plan out the venue? A：Our vision started with making it a fun space to dance and listen to music – meaning good sound that won’t hurt your ears at high volumes (lucky to have our partner MODE Audio helping take care of this, they’ve done an amazing job), using materials that don’t reflect too many frequencies and don’t vibrate noisily, and a big clear dancing space (we shortened the bar to create more room this way, and removed the stage from LUNE.) We’re a group of DJs as well, so we wanted the booth to be comfortable for people to perform and hang out in. On the FnB side, from the start our idea was to incorporate fresh juices into our drinks, because we’re fans of juice, but also because for people who don’t drink (or just want to have something non-alcoholic) options are usually pretty limited in underground clubs. Q：Were there any obstacles you had to overcome when opening this club? A：No, everything was completely smooth (ha). It was a big rush up to opening – we mapped out a time schedule for renovation that left us ten days after the work was finished to test and tweak. To anyone who’s undertaken a big project here, that might sound naive – anyway, we ended up finishing renovation and getting some of our furniture set up about fifteen minutes after the doors opened on the first night. Everything smelled like paint (we were told a few hours before that the floor in our entryway couldn’t be installed, so we asked them to paint it black with (oops) non-smelling paint) – but the party was fun. At the end of the night, we realized that the guy who was supposed to install a lock on our front door hadn’t shown up, so I slept on the couch 🙂 Q：How has the support been from the local community since Elevators inception? A：We’ve been lucky to have great support. It’s a competitive time for underground clubs in Shanghai – every three years or so, there is a mini explosion of clubs into the scene, and around the time of our opening it happened again: with Reel to Reel, Celia, Harley’s Underground and EU the number of clubs booking house, disco and techno DJs had nearly doubled, so we knew we had our work cut out for us. Shanghai people are fickle and don’t like to stay with one thing for too long, but we’re really glad at how the parties have been going – for me, the fact that a solid part of our customer base are locals has been super nice. The old Lola on Yongjia Lu was where I used to bring international acts, and those were great experiences, they did a great job with that club but it was always kind of a bummer that the place was 95% expats. While our club’s concept and music direction might have a close connection to European clubs, we’re hoping to help build a scene here in a way that has local roots. Q：How would you define a successful club in your eyes and what are some negative qualities you try to steer clear of with a club? A：For me, a successful plays comes down to things you can’t really put your finger on – it’s a cliche thing to say, but maybe the ‘vibe’ still defines it best. Interesting music, good sound, good service all contribute to it, but it’s really more about the combination of people in the room and how they interact with those things that give a place character. A successful club is a place that any kind of person can come to and feel like they’re free to be themselves and express themselves naturally, and to lose themselves a little bit. The possible negative qualities come mostly from the fact that this is a business, and also needs to sustain itself, pay rent and salaries etc. It would be great if Elevator were the side project of a billionaire who didn’t care about losing money, but for better or worse we have to make decisions thinking about how to keep the lights on – hopefully in a way that doesn’t interfere with people’s freedom. Q：Whats next for Elevator? Any big goals that you’re shooting for by the end of this year? A：To keep bringing the acts we love and making improvements (top secret 🙂 to the space and the experience over time. It’d be great to see some more locals/Chinese get together and start running nights for house and techno. Looking forward to celebrating our label Co:Motion’s first vinyl EP release as well. Mostly, just to see more friends getting together and making shapes on the dancefloor. Thank you for your time! Feel free to give a shout out with your next upcoming event! Thank you! Have a big one with Binh from Berlin / Club der Visionaere this Friday with Footprint, then next Friday we’re really excited about the Giegling showcase that Shadowplay is organizing next week, one of our favorite labels.