The music scene in Kunming is still a work in progress, but many big steps have been taken in the last years to lay the foundation for what should eventually be one of the more vibrant music scenes in China.
The 'hardware' for a music scene is coming into place as there are a growing number of venues around the city serving as platforms for performers. At the same time, the 'software' is improving as well, with a growing number of Kunming-based bands - and DJs - performing around town.
One of those DJs, Jezz aka Jeremy Elrick, is focusing on further developing his own DJ skills - as well as the Kunming club scene – through a regular series of parties he throws with fellow UK DJ Menace. Jezz recently won a YouTube Ten Minute Mix competition for DJs around the world, earning him a spot for one of his mixes on Ministry of Sound Radio.
GoKunming sat down with Jezz to find out more about the direction he sees the Kunming club scene heading:
GoKunming: Why are you based in China, and more specifically Kunming?
Jezz: "I'm based in China in general as it's a chance to get access to nightclubs and experience that I feel I wouldn't have elsewhere. That's not to say I'm out there blagging, just that the system in the West makes it very difficult for a DJ in limbo between the bedroom and nightclub... China is an ideal training ground. Kunming is, at least in my humble opinion, one of the most exciting cities in China. It is relatively small and the scene is still in its infancy but already there are some great people, the vibe is really positive and I see a lot of potential."
GK: With regard to the club scene in Kunming, what do you see as the main advantages and challenges?
Jezz: "I love the fact that the scene is small, everyone knows each other and there's a very Bohemian feeling about it all. I can go to a party and at the same table there'll be DJs, VJs, Bar managers, MCs, Party Organisers.... all putting their heads together.... and I love being in a certain place in time where I feel like something positive will emerge."
"At the same time I feel like despite all the creativity floating around there are often not enough people out and about to enjoy it all. I would say in Kunming at the moment there are only enough partygoers at any given time for one party, which is a shame as the development of a scene requires more options and more people to appreciate those options."
GK: What are your current goals with regard to Kunming and China?
Jezz: "When I was growing up listening to electronica, Ibiza was always the dream. A Utopian ideal of great music, sunsets, beaches and clubs full of like-minded people who simply wanted to party. It's unrealistic to presume that Kunming could emulate that but there is, without doubt, potential for development of the scene. The weather here is great, the vibe is good, we are on several major backpacking routes. I've heard about small places in Thailand becoming mini meccas for clubbers and I don't see why, with a little work, Kunming couldn't offer something."
"Uprock, for me at least, was a step in the right direction: a club with music as its most important aspect - as opposed to revenue - has always got to be the basis of a scene and that in itself was a development for Kunming. My own personal goals are simply to develop my skills... I have my own sound which has been well received outside of China but unless you are a Top 10 DJ the majority of the time you are playing music to keep the floor moving... and that takes experience."
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Jezz and Menace will bring another of their 'Innocence' series of parties to Uprock tomorrow, May 10. Joining them will be DJ Jeffery the Wind. Music starts at ten, admission is free.