I really love a wide range of musical styles, but when I heard about ‘Post-dubstep Chinese pop’ and ‘Chinese folk-step’, I have to admit I felt a little bit out of my depth. On the cutting edge of this East-West fusion is a DJ called Mobidextrous, and I asked him about his musical past, his current project with bewitching singer Miss Melody, as well as cocktails in Beijing.
What’s your background – how did you end up in Beijing?
I wanted to come to China because based on my reading and research it looked like the most fear-inducing place to live and to do business. I own and run a medium sized Executive Search firm and also thought that there would be talent shortages as the big multinationals and local firms battle to expand. I chose Beijing because Hong Kong was too much like England and the arts and music culture seemed a bit more fresh and gritty than Shanghai. I like the straightforwardness of the people here.
How long have you been known as Mobidextrous?
Since late 2009 when I got into producing music. My other alias is Mikey Dee. That’s the name I DJ under around China.
What was the one thing nobody told you about China before you came here?
No one told me that you could legitimately pass for fluent in Chinese to most cab drivers and many other locals simply by saying “Ni Hao”.
How did the team of Mobidextrous and Miss Melody get together?
We got together at the grimiest, darkest and most underground nightclubs in Beijing, most of which have since closed [nothing to do with me, haha] where I used to play pretty percussive tribal house beats. She began to MC/Improvise over these beats in a kind of operatic and folk-style and it just worked. We’ve been writing songs and performing together since about May of 2010.
What is the biggest challenge for you in getting your music accepted in China?
To my surprise, there’s a lot of enthusiasm amongst local people here for *new* and interesting music. There’s a huge amount of face to be had for local club owners and festival organisers having an “international” DJ on the roster, so finding work was easy.
Tell me about your biggest musical success.
After we put our single “Huan” out recently (Youku, Youtube), a friend of ours came back from Thailand excited because she’d heard our music playing in a high-end shopping mall out in Bangkok. For me that’s a hundred times more meaningful than some of the big festivals I’ve performed at in front of thousands of people [INTRO, ZOO, STRAWBERRY] because the music we make here in Mandarin can travel beyond even China’s borders.
Has DJing brought you to Shanghai? Any places you love/hate?
Yeah I did a guest spot at M1NT. Horrible place. Melody and I would love to do a show at the Shelter though [hint].
Your music with Miss Melody is a true crossover of styles. Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?
We like a range of stuff. Portishead, Massive Attack, Chase and Status, Diplo… and Melody’s singing has been compared to Kate Bush and Julie Cruise which kind of makes sense as it’s a bit operatic or breathy on certain tracks.
What social media services do you use to get your music ‘out there’?
The list is long. I could run a consulting service advising on Social Media here and in China. Soundcloud has been great, places like YouTube, Bandcamp, Ourstage, Reverbnation as well as obviously Facebook and Twitter (@mobidextrous @missmelodycn) but the most promising locally looks like it’s going to be Weibo which we’ve just started tinkering with. In the next 8 weeks we should have a pretty swish central website which will be a pillar for promotion, we’re having it designed by a guy who’s done work for Visa, Google, Mountain Dew and other big brands.
What are your short term plans for this project? And long term?
We’ve just got enough material together for serious live shows, so that’s something we’re planning to do in late summer. A tour would be a nice diversion but the terms have to be right. It’s a well known fact that almost no one makes money out of record sales any more so we’re probably going to approach selective brands for sponsorship opportunities. Longer term I’d like to have a hand in getting Melody more recognition not just locally but internationally too, we’ve got a deal which I can’t say too much about which should be a catalyst for that.
What is ‘Now Playing’ on your iPod?
I’m listening to Muse, on repeat. For Chinese music It’s all about a cool band I recently discovered called Acid Live. Those guys are sick.
What’s your favourite…
7-11 is the pinnacle of convenience.
Got to say LAN in Beijing because it’s so over the top.
Fried Jiaozi with peanut and cabbage. As greasy as possible. Sounds disgusting but there is no better comfort food.
Old Boy. I love those freaky Korean films.
Mine’s a bucket of dry martini with marginal olive dirt. Your shout Oli, yeah?