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January 14, 2012

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Shanghai album launch tonight

LET'S say you want to hear Shanghai rock music. You don't need to hear everything, but you definitely want to get a feel for what the city has collectively cooked up over the past year or two.

Well you're out of luck. Sorry, come back again.

Just kidding.

The guys at local art collectives Twin Horizon and Zang Nan have come up with a solution: "We Are Shanghai," a compilation album featuring 18 songs from 18 different Shanghai bands (with the digital version featuring two bonus bands). The styles range from punk to folk, with musicians from places as exotic as Tasmania and as local as Puxi.

"It's a scene statement," says Dennis Ming Nichols of Zang Nan, "that highlights Shanghai as a place where people from every province, every country, every continent are intermingling, collaborating and building something unique. There is no other place in the world right now like Shanghai and we like to think we are providing its sound track."

The idea began for the project with Ivan Belcic of Twin Horizon. "I got this idea way back in January or February (of 2010)," says Belcic, "and started sending out e-mails to people but quickly I knew it was going to be too much for one person to handle."

One of Belcic's main motivations for organizing the project is helping bring together the Shanghai music scene, especially as an expat.

"We're the outsiders here." says Belcic. "It's our job to integrate, you know? There's that angle: the cultural responsibility. It's cliquey to not do so."

Now with the idea, Belcic had to get the songs together. Belcic, now working with his Twin Horizon team, brought in Zang Nan to help recruit bands.

"Nichols actually did a lot of the work, contacting Sonnet and Top Floor Circus," says Belcic, referring to two top Chinese rock bands.

The audio aspect still wasn't complete yet, however. They brought in local music producer Adam Gaensler to master the album, making sure the audio levels were consistent throughout the album.

To complete the package, Belcic worked together with Zang Nan member Bran Geringer to design the album artwork, with a contribution from Shanghai blogger Andy Best, who wrote brief linear notes.

About a year in the making, "We Are Shanghai" is being released this weekend, with a show last night at Yuyintang and one tonight, starring bands involved in the project. The album will be available at the show as well as online, both for free (the shows have a small door fee).

"But I hope to become very wealthy in terms of accolades and praise," quips Belcic.

It's all part of making the album accessible.

"We really want this to be as easy to acquire as possible," says Belcic.

With the accessibility of the album, so follows the Shanghai music scene.


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