The Eastern Margins Teahouse
Shenzhen Unlocked: Creators

Words & Images of XHANKONKON, WARMCHAINSS, SULK |  Published May 2020

We sit down with XHANKONKON, Warmchainss & SULK, three of our favourite producers and DJs on the ground in China’s Pearl River Delta.

XHANKONKON: 
Since things have started opening again after the lockdown, I’ve noticed an urgency fuelling support for one another in the music scene here. It feels like everyone understands we need to be more determined to show a sense of solidarity and try support one another’s events, because the lockdown has been so dangerous for our scene.

In a way, the pandemic has also brought hope for a true local scene - we just need to keep figuring out creative ways of presenting local artists every week, instead of the more international names people have already heard of.

XHANKONKON // FUNTION LAB RESIDENT // SHENZHEN

WARMCHAINSS:
“One part of the pandemic that can’t be ignored is the financial struggle we as musicians, producers, artists are going through. It’s been particularly traumatic because of that financial stress. We’ve had to be resourceful, e.g. release more music or do more livestreams, anything to supplement income from live shows.

I’ve felt that our music scene has regressed to where it was two years ago, with no international artists coming… but at the same time, perhaps that’s opened up the opportunity for local scenes to fill the space.

One positive is that more local collaborations, or ‘scene exchanges’, are being organised with labels and promoters from other cities in China.

WARMCHAINSS // AGEUSIA - RESIDENT DJ // SHENZHEN

SULK:
I personally see OIL's Far Radio, Shenzhen's new community radio station, as a mutually beneficial partnership - I’ve discovered a lot of new talent on Far radio that I hadn’t heard of before. It helps showcase lesser known artists in China by giving them exposure, but promoters will always want to then book them for shows in real life. Online platforms help grow the parties that then happen offline.

WARMCHAINSS:
Far Radio is injecting a lot of young internet energy into the scene and opening the gate for DIY artists, so there’s a lot of cool creativity being platformed. I do feel it could be a double edged sword though, as I worry that online shows might sometimes put people off going to events - if it’s so easy and entertaining to see artists from the comfort of their home, will they stop going out?

XHANKONKON:
One thing I’ve learned from this period is that people are extremely adaptive. Things that were unacceptable to you can become normalised very easily - take the example of face masks now being a must-have.

Just trust yourself to adapt to the changes that come. This is a period of extreme change for the whole world… just let yourself accept this.

SULK:
The reality is though, it’s a difficult time for everyone and there’s not always that much you can do. Just make sure you protect yourself and those you care about, whether that be physically, mentally, in any way you need. It also really helps to find something that fulfils you, so you can focus on doing that through this period - and once you have that, then stick with it and don’t forget what you initially set out to do.

SULK / HOODOOTECHNO + C.A.G.E. RESIDENT DJ // GUANGZHOU

WARMCHAINSS:
"Don’t be scared to step into unknown fields and try something new. I know musicians who have had to venture beyond music to look for other streams of income during this period. We all have to be open minded, not just to lifestyle changes but to personal choices - why don’t you try something that you’ve never done before, like a language or a recipe?

The best thing I’ve learnt from this experience is to always support those around you. When I’ve been feeling OK myself, I’ve tried to reach out and check on friends, to see how they’re doing. A simple message can make a big difference in brightening someone’s day during these times."