British DJ Adesse Versions Breaks Down His Ever-Evolving Sound Ahead of Apr 28 Dada Set

Plenty of burgeoning electronic acts dream of carving out a niche in the techno scene. But one man’s niche is another's rut, and after attaining some success in the techno arena Kevin Gorman knew he wanted more. The eclectic English DJ, better known by his fans today as Adesse Versions (listen here via Soundcloud), told TBJ in a recent interview that adopting that alias and dabbling with vocals helped him break free of the constraints that aided his success in the techno scene. However, it wasn't long before he grew weary of those elements as well. Ahead of his Apr 28 set at Dada, the restless DJ and producer tells us more about his ever-evolving sound.

How did you first become interested in producing and DJing?
I've been messing with music since my early childhood, buying 7-inch records and keyboards with daft sounds. I've always been drawn to music, it's an obsession that took no effort to encourage. In my youth there was very little mainstream information on being a DJ/producer, it's not like nowadays where it's everywhere. I just followed the music and the artist thing just happened naturally once I realized my obsession was for life. I studied design at university,  but as soon as I could produce music I lost interest in the design side of things.  

You've tried your hand at various styles and modes of playing music, with one early instance being when you "first appeared as a vinyl edits project [which] ... led to a Boiler Room set, memorable for being entirely his own music cut to dubplates,” according to Resident Advisor. What are some of your fondest memories of these early days of Adesse Versions?
The freedom of doing something fresh and different. I'd spent five years making and playing techno and being restricted to a certain sound. As Adesse I could work with vocals, or any other kind of sound, which was bliss, although I became pigeonholed for the vocals thing, so even that lost its appeal for me eventually.

Which of your tracks/EPs do you think helped you make your first big breakthrough?
I've been messing with tracks since 1998; my first release was in 2002. I'd say I got comfortable and had success around 2006, under my given name Kevin Gorman. At that point I started touring outside of the UK, getting to Japan, South Africa, and the US. In 2010 I took a break for two years, then came back as Adesse Versions in 2012. “Baayi”, “Pressured”, and “Pride” got me a level of attention that I really wasn't expecting. So yes, it did surprise me a lot. I've remixed people like Leftfield and other artists on major labels like Sony and Virgin, which I really wasn't expecting.  I'm proud of 99 percent of the music from 2012 onwards.

I really enjoy your “Don’t Stop the Acid” single from last year. What inspired it?
I'm generally drawn to simple raw grooves, so early hip-hop and Chicago house music is a big thing for me. The big thing for me was actually New York house, labels like Strictly Rhythm, Nugroove, and Nervous. I was a bit too young to live the Chicago heydays. The New York stuff was the shit anyway, because it used the 909 instead of the 707 and hit hard! “Don't Stop The Acid” is a cheeky remake of “Don’t Stop The Music” by Yarbrough and Peoples, a slow soul classic from the '80s. So I'm using that as a basis to make an acid house vibe.

Adesse Versions will perform at Dada on Apr 28. Doors open at 10pm and ticket prices at TBA. For more information, click here.

For a rundown of the best nightlife events this weekend, click here.

Photo: fieldartists.net

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Beijing Charity Roundabout to Host Grand Opening of New Boutique, Apr 28

Having long been touted as "Beijing's answer to the Salvation Army," goodwill group Roundabout is now taking its setup a step further. Nearby its secondhand shop in Shunyi, the charity will open a new boutique to raise funds for needy Chinese children on Apr 28. What's more: this new shop will provide a platform for local artisans to sell their handmade wares, with 30 percent of their sales going toward Roundabout goodwill efforts. 

Charlotte Beckett, Roundabout's volunteer director, says the new shop will also be a boon for Shunyi dwellers. "There's a gap in this part of the city, so we thought it would be good to open a one-stop gift shop where you can find nice cards, paper, and handmade gifts. We also sought out craftspeople who don't have a shop of their own, in order to be of help to them."

One of the 17 crafts organizations that will sell its wares at the boutique is The Bulk House. Founded by Carrie Yu, that organization is also a proponent of a different kind of goodwill: environmental activism, by selling zero waste products like reusable straws, bags, and more.

Yu says she's more than honored to team with the new boutique in order to bolster both their goodwill endeavors. "Roundabout is an amazing charity and it is amazing how much they do around Beijing – they seem to be everywhere!" she says. "We particularly like the fact that Roundabout distributes items that people no longer need or use onto people who do need them and so will use them."

Greeting card designer Liuba Vladimirova of Liuba Draws is another vendor who will attend the boutique's opening, and she seconds Yu's sentiment, adding: "I’m always happy to hear a new boutique gift shop opens up in Beijing, especially if the products are being carefully curated. The new Roundabout boutique gathers lots of beloved Beijing design brands that provide people who live in Beijing or just love this city with unique gifts and memorabilia. It feels great that because of the people at Roundabout everybody is able to participate in all this awesomeness while also supporting a great cause!

And the fun doesn't just stop at shopping. This new space will also serve as an events center, hosting seminars on Chinese culture, mindfulness, recycling practices in Beijing, and other such topics to help the Shunyi set live life in Beijing to the fullest. Beckett likens that aspect of the space to other Beijing cultural centers like The Hutong and The Bookworm, something that is currently lacking in Shunyi. As it is plain to see, this new Roundabout venue is set to liven up one of Beijing's sleepier neighborhoods with plenty of exciting new offerings.

For more information on the boutique's opening, click here.

Here is a list of all the sellers at the new boutique:

  • Liuba Draws
  • String Collection
  • Dot 3
  • The Green Room
  • Souky Souky
  • Pinyin Press
  • TCA- Beijing
  • Zoko Jewelry
  • Friends That Rhyme
  • Antonia Sampson Jewelry
  • DdW Textiles
  • Sew Gorgeously
  • M & Nik
  • Tai Tai
  • The Bulk House
  • John Wang Furniture
  • Changfa Furniture

Roundabout Boutique
Mon-Sat, 9pm-4pm. Cathay View Plaza, 2 Xiangjiang Bei Lu (behind Didi's market at the intersection with Jingmi Lu)
香江北路2号

Photo courtesy of Roundabout

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Beijing Beats: Liars and Visionist at Dada, Hayze at Aurora, Violin Wielding DJ Mariana Bo at One Third

Beijing Beats brings you the best in Beijing nightlife each weekend so that you can soothe the woes of a long and stressful week with some out-of-body gyrating and some experiences you'd rather forget come Monday. Check the weekend's full list of nightlife events here.
 

Wednesday, Apr 25

Be Stupid
Don't miss Dada’s weekly Wednesday house night. This week's edition includes Dada favourites Kaize, Shen Yue, Sunmeng (pictured) and many others. 10pm. Free. Dada
 

Thursday, Apr 26

Future Bass Artist K?D
By selling out venues across the states as a headliner, having his single “Lose Myself” chart on Billboard, and playing shows all over world, 20-year-old K?D has established himself as a force to be reckoned with and now comes to Dada to prove his mettle. 10pm. RMB 140. Dada

Syzz
This Dutch producer and DJ has worked with a number of big names, including the likes of Dash Berlin. Expect an accessible EDM set with plenty of high-octane, danceable grooves. 10pm. Price TBD. One Third
 

Friday, Apr 27

Liars
Angus Andrew, frontman of Liars and only constant member, hits up Dada on Friday for a night of synth-punk, disco rock, cosmic techno, and pop from another world. You can also catch him (+band) at this weekend's Strawberry Music Festival. 10pm. RMB 80, RMB 60 (advance). Dada

Mariana Bo
Hailing from Mexico, she began her musical career as a violinist before branching out into electronic music. She incorporates both styles into her set, playing that classical instrument in between hitting the decks, which makes for a uniquely eye-catching performance that'll also have your hips shaking. 10pm. RMB 150. One Third
 

Saturday, Apr 28

Pancake Lee, Mario Yu, Trust, Peng, Loading
This Saturday Aurora party is outfitted with some of the capital's best local techno talents like Pancake Lee, Mario Yu, and more for a free party that'll go late into the night. 10pm. Free. Aurora

Adesse Versions
This rising UK house star's sound has been described as "raw" and "timeless," while fans in one promo praised his "rough cut and paste" sampling style. Despite those rough and tumble qualities, Adesse Versions' music is also balanced out with uplifting melodic moments, giving his sets a wide appeal. 10pm. Price TBA. Dada
 

Sunday, Apr 29

Chad Valley
British chillwave star Chad Valley will stop by Beijing ahead of the release of his new album, Imaginary Music. 10pm. Price TBA. Dada

Hayze
In his native Malaysia, Hayze is a huge star. A 20-year veteran, his house hits have become a staple of the Southeast Asian nation's electronic scene. 10pm. RMB 80, RMB 50 (advance). Aurora

Holding by Mickey Zhang and Be Stupid! 
There’s something for everyone at Lantern this holiday Sunday as DJ Mickey Zhang takes over Lantern’s Room #1 for Holding, with support from Nigls, Aida, and Jackson Lee. Meanwhile, Room #2 gets silly with Sunmeng, Anton, Daodao, and Alex 8 from the Be Stupid! crew. 11pm. RMB 50. Lantern
 

Monday, Apr 30

Visionist
Visionist (pictured at top) is a London-based experimental grime composer and producer. Having first dropped releases in 2011 via labels 92 Points and Left Blank, he would go on to appear on compilations such as Big Dada’s Grime 2.0 and Keysound Recording’s Allstars series. He's also been very outspoken about his struggles with mental health, making him an inspiring figure in the electronic music scene. Read more about that at The Fader. 10pm. RMB 80, RMB 60 (advance). Dada

Natural Flavor '90s Hip-Hop Night
Head to Natural Flavor's latest night of local hip-hop and classic hood music this Monday, featuring Da Great Deity Dah, Nasty Ray, Def Capone & Buckchild, and DJs 4tael and Kang Starr. 10pm. RMB 150, RMB 100 (advance). Aurora

Back2Basics Presents: Yan Cook
Born in Kiev, Ukraine, 1991, Yan Cook   was introduced to electronic music, more specifically techno, at the age of 16 and the rest is history. Having now performed alongside and collaborated with many of the most respected techno talents from around the globe, he has since honed a signature style that strikes a balance between heavy and smooth dancefloor techno with haunting atmospherics and striking basslines. Catch him work his magic on Monday. 11pm. RMB 80, RMB 50 (advance). Lantern

As always, you can see these and all this coming week's nightlife happenings via our Events page here.

Photos: Dubspot, courtesy of the venues

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Barista Specialty Lives up to Its Name With New No-Frills Nali Patio Café and Jet-Black Coffees

Back in 2014, a few years before specialty coffee began to percolate into Beijing's mainstream, Alex Liu was one of the first café owners to help galvanize the trend with his aptly named Barista shop on Wudaoying. Now that plenty more Beijingers have acquired a taste for high-quality beans, Liu deems it time to open a second spot, this time called Barista Specialty on the first floor of Nali Patio.

Just like its moniker, the café is very much to the point. None of the eye-catching trappings that make Barista's competitors like Bracket, Soloist, or even the more minimalist Metal Hands so inviting to sit and while away the hours are to be found at this new, bare concrete walled venue. In fact, aside from a short row of stools opposite the hulking coffee machine, there's hardly even a place to perch in this matchbook-sized spot.

Instead, Barista is better suited for the Sanlitun set hoping to quickly order a quality cup of joe on the go. Their RMB 35 "dirty," for instance, is creamy enough to go down smooth but still packs enough potency to keep you caffeinated long after the last drop (a measure of the quality beans they use to brew).

Their RMB 30 soda iced Americano – a longtime favorite at the Wudaoying location – is an even more unique must-try thanks to the creative combination of ingredients summed up in its moniker (once again, Liu lets the name say it all).

And while Barista is devoid of pretty much any ambiance, some of its high-end hardware is at least pleasing to the eye. Aside from a mammoth coffee machine for lattes (RMB 35) and double espressos (RMB 25), there's also glowing futuristic siphon machines, plus an antique-looking siphon with wood trim adorning the corner by the entryway.

Those fancy gadgets are complemented by the imported specialty beans that Liu will have on a rotating basis. For now, that portion of the menu includes a couple of pretty cheap options like Costa Rica Perla Negra and Sumatra Golden Mandheling (both RMB 45) along with a pricier RMB 88 Panama Geisha.

Yes, quality at the expense of frivolity seems to be Barista Specialty's signature style – which won't leave coffee nerds copious options to pore over – but just like a jet-black shot of espresso, this new Nali Patio café will more than satiate your daily fix.

Barista Specialty
Daily, 10am-8pm. 1/F, Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (150 1080 9311)
三里屯北街81号那里花园A116

Photos: Kyle Mullin, courtesy of Barista Specialty

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The Beijinger Among Nominees for the 2018 Pride of Africa Awards

Appreciate Africa Network – a cultural group aimed at coordinating events for and offering support to African expats in China, along with their friends – has announced the nominees for its 2018 Pride of Africa Awards. Over 100 nominees have been selected across 28 categories that encompass awards such as African Woman and Man of the Year, African Young Achievers, Award of Creativity and Enterprise, Outstanding China Africa Organization, Outstanding Achievement in Media, and more.

James Sserwadda, an artist and co-coordinator of events like BlackEXPO, was nominated in five categories, an honor that he described as "humbling." He adds that the awards are crucial because they showcase "the beauty and culture of Mama Africa! I am proud to be part of this event and am encouraged to aim higher in the fields of Visual Arts and Creative Directing."

"This is a pivotal time in the culture and a great chance to highlight Africa and the talented people that come from her," Sserwadda adds.

Such sentiments were shared by Mikka Kabugo, a Ugandan student at Peking University who heads the campus' African Students Association (PUASA) and was nominated in the Pride of Africa Awards' Community Champion category. He said the nod "makes one feel celebrated and recognized. Any child of my generation will tell you how much excitement the mere prospect of that can garner."

Kabugo also says the awards are important because they highlight "the work of different people who would otherwise have gone unnoticed. I think one's growth in their work is definitely upgraded in that respect [through prizes and nominations]."

The Beijinger, meanwhile, has been nominated in the Outstanding Achievement In Media category alongside top media insiders like Daniel Mmereki (Botswana) and Nina Solange (Togo), along with Opopo Magazine (or One People One Purpose, a Beijing-based publication whose mission statement is "uplift and empower Blacks everywhere"; find them on WeChat at gh_187a43139332) and Thrive Beijing (which bills itself as "an open market for international musicians").

TBJ garnered its nomination in part because of its coverage of Africa-empowering events like Africa 2.0's "Being Black In China" seminar, the aforementioned BlackEXPO that Sserwadda helped coordinate, along with Beijing-based Africans' efforts to nix a racially charged exhibit in Wuhan this past fall. That being said, it's no secret that we're up against considerable competition from the other forward-thinking and ambitious nominees in this category, people and organizations who will only challenge us to up our coverage in future.

The awards ceremony will be held at the Beijing Marriot Hotel North East on Jun 16. To vote for your favorite nominees, scan the QR code in the poster below:

Images courtesy of the Pride of Africa Awards

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EDM Heavyweight Deadmau5 to Play Gongti Club One Third, May 3

Get ready to strap on your mau5head and rush to the dancefloor, Beijing EDM fans, for Canadian electronica titan Deadmau5 is set to perform at One Third on May 3, a mere 10 days away.

The Gongti nightclub announced the set, organized by Live Nation, earlier this afternoon (Apr 23) via its official WeChat channel, and aside from plenty of colorful gifs and photos of the famed DJ and producer's signature oversized mouse headgear, the post also featured an official poster for the show (see below).

Making the announcement so shortly before the set is sure to surprise many fans, but they'll more than likely clear their calendars for it. That's of course because Deadmau5, real name Joel Zimmerman, has risen to the very upper echelon of dance music, thanks to hypnotic smash hits like "The Veldt", "Ghosts n' Stuff", and "Aural Psynapse". He's also been nominated for six Grammys.

Apart from his successes in terms of record sales and awards, Deadmau5's famed headgear and bombastic stage setups have also gained wide renown. Fans have been known to sport Mickey Mouse-esque mau5heads of their own at his shows, which of course can be cribbed off of Taobao if you've yet to acquire your own. For example, try this one for RMB 800 or this even gaudier golden one for RMB 1,400 and hope that they're delivered before the big day.

Deadmau5 is no stranger to China, having played Shanghai previously, but this will be his first Beijing show (which at time of writing had not yet been announced on his official website). He'll also hit up Shanghai on Apr 29 and 30 before moving through Asia and onto the US.

Deadmau5 will perform at One Third nightclub on May 3. Early bird tickets cost RMB 180. For more information and tickets, click here or scan the QR code on the poster above.

Photos: thissongissick, Taobao, Live Nation

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EDM Heavyweight Deadmau5 to Play Gongti Club One Third, May 3

Get ready to strap on your mau5head and rush to the dancefloor, Beijing EDM fans, for Canadian electronica titan Deadmau5 is set to perform at One Third on May 3, a mere 10 days away.

The Gongti nightclub announced the set, organized by Live Nation, earlier this afternoon (Apr 23) via its official WeChat channel, and aside from plenty of colorful gifs and photos of the famed DJ and producer's signature oversized mouse headgear, the post also featured an official poster for the show (see below).

Making the announcement so shortly before the set is sure to surprise many fans, but they'll more than likely clear their calendars for it. That's of course because Deadmau5, real name Joel Zimmerman, has risen to the very upper echelon of dance music, thanks to hypnotic smash hits like "The Veldt", "Ghosts n' Stuff", and "Aural Psynapse". He's also been nominated for six Grammys.

Apart from his successes in terms of record sales and awards, Deadmau5's famed headgear and bombastic stage setups have also gained wide renown. Fans have been known to sport Mickey Mouse-esque mau5heads of their own at his shows, which of course can be cribbed off of Taobao if you've yet to acquire your own. For example, try this one for RMB 800 or this even gaudier golden one for RMB 1,400 and hope that they're delivered before the big day.

Deadmau5 is no stranger to China, having played Shanghai previously, but this will be his first Beijing show (which at time of writing had not yet been announced on his official website). He'll also hit up Shanghai on Apr 29 and 30 before moving through Asia and onto the US.

Deadmau5 will perform at One Third nightclub on May 3. Early bird tickets cost RMB 180. For more information and tickets, click here or scan the QR code on the poster above.

Photos: thissongissick, Taobao, Live Nation

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Guardian Art Center: China’s Oldest Auction House Finds a Worthy Home in Ole Scheeren’s Latest Creation

Credited as being the first auction house to arise out of modern China, China Guardian’s new Büro Ole Scheeren custom-built headquarters in the heart of Beijing serves as an understated emblem of its growing stature at home and abroad. Located across from the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), Scheeren’s two-volume glass and granite Guardian Art Center stands assured in its cultural understanding and makes for a worthy hub of exchange for some of China’s finest classical artworks.

As anyone who has walked a block in the capital knows, the city has in modern times favored utility over distinct aesthetics, a stance again renewed by president Xi Jinping’s attack on “weird buildings” in 2014 which went as far as to single out Scheeren’s striking and now decade-old CCTV Headquarters. To that end, the Guardian Art Center makes a conscious effort to incorporate design elements from Chinese art within the greater context of its surroundings.

The 14-story structure is deceptively compact and is divided by its two principal applications: a venue for the appreciation and sale of art, and a lifestyle center. The lower pixelated volume is comprised of the Guardian’s auction house, offices, and exhibition spaces, and its facade draws from its proximity – the low-lying hutongs – mirroring the gray hue, height-for-height scale, and earthy finish of Beijing’s antiquated but rapidly changing dwellings.

However, the center’s most distinct feature is its commanding upper volume, a suspended monolithic square ring of interlocking brick-like reflective glass panes that encircles the hotel’s inner courtyard. The innermost single loaded corridor connects the 120 boutique hotel rooms, and a number of restaurants and bars, affording views of the nearby Forbidden City and outer-lying mountains. As indicative of Guardian China’s clout, guests will also soon enjoy direct subway access to the complex via the yet-to-be-opened NAMOC stop.

With recent news of a collaboration between London’s Serpentine Gallery and Jiakun Architects to construct a pavilion in Beijing’s downtown Wangfujing, 2018 is proving an exciting time for art and architecture in the city. As an innovative example of a cultural institution yet to grace Beijing’s controlled structural landscape, the Guardian Art Center serves as a worthy monument to China’s growing influence in the art world. What’s more, the center also serves a reminder of what modern architecture can achieve when it successfully navigates the mercurial design of Chinese politics.

Guardian Art Center
Daily 10am-6pm. 1 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District
嘉德艺术中心:东城区王府井大街1号

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Photos courtesy of Büro Ole Scheeren

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From Lou Reed to Daft Punk: Beijing Synth Rocker Hao Talks Eclectic Influences Ahead of Apr 22 Yue Space EP Release

A young Beijing boy makes his way to a small town in upstate New York, where he doesn’t know a soul and can barely speak the language. In this foreign and isolated environment, Fu Hao struggled to communicate, pined for home, and eventually set to work on the music that would change his life forever. Now Hao is ready to show Beijing his songs inspired by the throwback hits that helped him survive his stint as a rural foreign exchange student. Below, Hao tells us about all that and more ahead of his Apr 22 EP release party at Yue Space (you can string the trio of songs off that EP here, here and here).

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
I say it's very vintage and a little bit psychedelic. Both me and my producer, Jason Cui, are big fans of the 80's, even though I was born in there early 90's! [Laughs]. I love Daft Punk, U2, and Pet Shop Boys, so there is some influence from them.

How did you get your start as a musician?
I went to the States for high school when I was 14. It was a very remote and small village in upstate New York. I was the only Chinese kid there for many years, and I didn't know too much English. So I was lonely and couldn't fit in, in the beginning. Somehow I started to write songs and recorded some demos. One day I played a track to some kids in school and they were surprised. I became famous in my high school and became the choir leader. It was music that made me confident and cool. Since then, I’ve never stopped making music and I have always been learning new stuff.

What challenges have you faced as an artist over the years, and how did you overcome them?
After 10 years of living in the U.S, I found my favorite music styles and decided to bring them back to my culture. However, it took some time for the audience to accept a new style. Chinese people usually pay much more attention to the lyrics compared to the music itself. It's part of our culture. All those poems from the Song dynasty had melodies, but we were only left with the lyrics. So this is the most difficult situation for me. Some western music doesn’t work so well in my culture, especially songs with strong rhythms.

But sad love songs with simple rhythms and touching lyrics are always easier to be accepted here in China. And yet, the younger generation is more and more open these days, so I'm very positive about that. So I will just focus on my music and persist. This is why I'm starting to perform in live-houses.

Tell us more about those onstage ambitions.
I'm planning to perform local live-houses every month this year. Beijing is an amazing city where all kinds of music can find an audience here. The younger generation in this city is eager to hear new stuff everyday.

It's a city with many opportunities, for sure. After all, it's my hometown. And that means sometimes I get to perform in front of my family. My mom is a very cool woman. She loves ABBA and The Carpenters, and one day she told me: “Hey Hao, I heard a band called Maroon 5 and I love the singer’s voice. It's amazing!” There’s nothing better than singing on a stage to your cool mom, is there?

You'll be releasing a new EP at Yue Space. Tell us about its songs and what inspired some of them.
Yep this is the first time I will perform some of the songs from this EP. It's called The Good Night Trilogy. The first song is called "Good Night." I wrote it five years ago. One day I was listening to The Velvet Underground and I wondered: “How could Lou Reed write such beautiful songs with those simple chords?” Then I wrote "Good Night" in a very simple, somewhat Bripop style.

The second song is called "Star,” and I wrote it with the swing genre in mind. The third song is my favorite. It's called "The Dawn.” We tried to make it very vintage and we used a lot synthesizers.

Other than that, I’d just ask you to listen to the tracks. I don't know how to describe them! [Laughs]

What's next for you?
I will just focus on writing more songs and performing more. Since I was small, I have always wanted to become someone unique. So I really wish one day my music can be accepted by more people in this country, and every listener can distinguish my songs and my voice from others artists right away. To me there is no point to make something that everyone else is working on. This country needs some music that is different from the others. There has been enough similar stuff existing around us.

Hao debut his EP, The Good Night Trilogy, at Yue Space on Apr 22. The show starts at 8pm. Tickets are RMB 60 presale, RMB 80 at the door. For more information, click here.

More stories by this author here.
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MulKyle
Instagram: mullin.kyle

Photos: Courtesy of Fu Hao

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Two of Beijing’s Top Comics Crack Wise Ahead of Side-Splitting Apr 21 Set at Salud

Jennifer Hsiung, a Canadian, and Lincoln van der Westhuizen, who hails from South Africa, are set to split plenty of sides on Apr 21 during Comedy Club China’s latest HotPot showcase. Both comics have vastly different styles, yet they each kill with crowds as part of an increasingly hot standup scene. Ahead of the Saturday showcase, they both tell us about what’s making them chuckle as of late, what it’s like to be a comic in the Chinese capital, and what bits they’re working on next.

TBJ: When did you guys realize you wanted to get into comedy?
Jennifer:
 I got into it after my second son turned one. A girlfriend had stumbled into Comedy Club China’s Wednesday open mic at Hot Cat Club and said to me later “Jen, you’re smart, vulgar and funny – you should give it a try.” So I got drunk one night at dinner with friends – and by drunk I mean half a glass of red wine drunk, because with me, that’s all it takes. And that was enough liquid courage to get me onstage at Hot Cat. I was basically ranting about my vagina, giving birth the natural way, why I should have taken Kegel exercises more seriously, and my problem with the poor selection of tampons in China. Let’s just say there were references to camels, manta rays and Steve Erwin.

After doing what I thought was pretty good for a first timer — which I now think was just a fluke, and people were probably laughing out of shock more than anything else — I gave it a second go and bombed completely. That made me want to redeem myself, and the third time I got on, I did some serious preparation and it worked! The adrenaline of performing, the feeling of making people laugh, the challenge of writing material — like a super intense Sudoku puzzle — all got me hooked and that’s how it all started. Two months after the birth of my third son I competed in the 2017 Hong Kong International Comedy Competition and made it into the finals. I will be competing again In May as well – this time in Shanghai.

TBJ: Lincoln, I interviewed former Comedy Club China head David Fertitta before he left recently, and he told me a story about you doing an all ages show. What was that experience like?
Lincoln: I got asked to do the show, and it’s just one of those things in comedy where you don’t turn down stage time. David didn’t have a problem with declining, and he might’ve been right. It was the middle of the day, and I quickly realized how blue my material was. I started talking to the kids about Star Wars, and they just didn’t care.

I asked one kid a question, and he wasn’t interested, he just started speaking to his sister. Totally lost interest. It’s honestly the most soul destroying thing that can happen to you, when the audience can’t focus on your jokes.

TBJ: Jennifer, you have a great bit about a panda at a Chinese zoo reminding you of rapper Biggie Smalls. What made you realize pandas could be so gangsta?
Jennifer: Out of all the species of bear out there, the panda is the only one that seems capable of chillin’, which makes him look boss. We visited this panda base in Chengdu where you pay extra to sit on a bench beside a panda bear for a photo. And the staff have to constantly fuel the bear with a fresh supply of bamboo. From a distance, pandas are all cute and fluffy, but when you’re inches away from one that’s when you realize that it’s still a bear. Sharp claws, sharp teeth. That thing can kill you. He might seem like a vegetarian but I think that’s just conditioning, because if those teeth can gnaw through thick ass bamboo, they can easily take out a chunk of human flesh. So it was this dangerous element that threw me onto the notion that the panda is gangsta. And like Biggie Smalls – the Notorious B.I.G. – the panda is fat, and truly represents the east side. He’s just sittin’ there in the tall grass of Chengdu, with his bitches, getting fat on bamboo. A Xiong Mao, counting his Mao’s

TBJ: Your background is in broadcast journalism. We’ve all seen plenty of newsroom bloopers on YouTube. Did you and your colleagues make similar flubs?
Jennifer:
The biggest newsroom bloopers we have had are all teleprompter related. Nothing too bad and exciting, it’s not like that scene from Anchorman where someone types gibberish into the teleprompter as a joke, and we actually end up reading on live TV, “Hello and welcome to this edition of who really cares.  I am the biggest douchebag ever, and I want some head. I mean, here are the headlines…” Nothing like that. Just the teleprompter getting jammed forcing us to look down at our script to read. Sometimes when I am tired, I might stumble on a word. If you made a Vine video of all the words I’ve messed up, it would either sound like I’m gargling with Listerine, or in need of an exorcism.

TBJ: Do you guys think being a foreigner in China is an asset for a comedian? After all, a lot of bizarre stuff can happen to us laowai here.
Lincoln: I don’t know if it’s an asset or a hindrance. But as a South African, you have a special perspective. Because, unlike most expats, you’re not from the UK or the US, so you have insight that a lot of people haven’t heard.

I find if you perform in front of Chinese people, they appreciate if you make it clear you enjoy it here, and then you can point out things that are so self-evident they may not have even considered it. It obviously depends on your perspective. But when I make fun of China, more often than not I’m really making fun of other expats, or my own inabilities and shortcomings.

TBJ: What aspect of the show are you guys looking forward to the most?
Jennifer:
All the comedians on the bill are so talented. I’m looking forward to Lincoln’s set— he is a very likable guy. He calls himself a poor man’s Trevor Noah, but I think of him more as a cultured Will Smith. He is super funny and quick on his feet, which makes him a great host because he’s not afraid to engage with the audience and do crowd work. The other guys I will be performing with, Riley Hageman, Eric Selley, and Josh Tyas, all very distinctive and humor-inducing as well. I don’t know why I used that phrase. I guess I just didn’t want to repeat the word funny. Anyway, it should be a great show. I’ll be the only woman performing amongst an army of male comedians, so you might as well call me Mulan.

TBJ: Are you working on a new bit recently, or did something funny happen that might inspire great material later?
Jennifer: I have a lot of new bits lately. But they’re more like scattered crumbs. So I’ll have to Hansel and Gretel some ways to tie them together. See, I’m always working!

Something funny did happen recently. My mother convinced me to go to this blind massage place that her friends were raving about. She said it’s better than a regular massage because the blind masseuses use more of their senses, they have heightened senses. I’m like “Okay fine, I’ve never had a massage by X-Men – let’s give it try!” We get there, the place is so dark – walking through the hallway it was literally the blind leading the blind. They put me and mom in the same room. Well 15 minutes in, I look over to my mom, and her masseuse has his elbow in her back, and in his other hand he’s looking at his cellphone. I will be working that into my set this Saturday I think.

Jennifer Hsiung and Lincoln van der Westhuizen will perform with a fully stacked lineup of comics on Apr 21 at Salud. For more information, click here.

Photos: Courtesy of Comedy Club China

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