Adept, aka. Simon Toppin, has been doing the rounds on Shanghai’s DJ circuit for over two years now. A regular at the recently deceased Logo and an associate of the Ice Cream Truck party crew, he knows his way around the city’s venues. We caught up with him on a Monday night in Blue Frog to talk about the changing face of Shanghai’s electronic music scene.
Where are we and why have you taken us here?
We are at Blue Frog and we’re here because of the 40 kwai burgers (on a Monday night). I used to come every week without fail but now so much now. Still when I can.
What’s your burger of choice?
Definitely the Mexican because it has sour cream on the side, I love it.
Tell us about life as a DJ in Shanghai
Well it’s pretty up and down and you don’t make as much money. But I guess it’s glamorous and it’s fun. It takes you all kind of interesting places. Often you find yourself without the same kind of money your friends with full time jobs have but it’s still very rewarding, if a little tiring at times.
How did you get into DJing?
I was living in England at the time and my friend, who is also half Australian (half English), bought some turntables and just at the same time some guy in Neighbours had bought them so I had sworn that I was never going to do it. But when I went over to my friends house and had a bit of a play around with them I realised how fun it was and knew this was something I had to do. Plus I loved electronic music so I thought it was a logical step.
How have you seen the electronic music scene change here?
Basically about five or six years ago there was like five DJs in Shanghai and they used to do well for themselves, very well for themselves. But around the time I arrived (three years ago) there seemed to be the start of a new generation that’s kind of exploded. Now there’s a lot of DJs, some of them do well, some of them do it for fun. It’s brought a lot of diversity to the music that’s available here which is, of course, a good thing.
Having learned the trade on vinyl, do you think laptop-DJs are destroying the scene?
No I don’t think so at all, the more people that play music the better. A lot of purist sneer at it, I certainly used to, but I’ve seen too many awesome Ableton sets and too many rubbish people trying to mix up boring traditional music (on vinyl) to be able to argue. Although I prefer to actually match beats together but it’s not for everyone and I don’t think you have to be able to do it to be a good DJ.
What’s been a highpoint of your career here?
Probably when I played a really good set at Modern Sky Festival in the afternoon. Then my friends and I ended up at some insane and enormous Chinese club afterwards. Well, It was lots of fun and only slightly embarrassing the next day. Some pole dancing may or may not have happened.
And a low moment?
Trying to play a set to people during the World Cup is very difficult. They want to be watching the game, you want to be watching the game. They’ll stand there for two minutes then bugger off as soon as the game starts.
207-6 Maoming Nan Lu
Metro: South Shaanxi Road