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A breed apart: humble Bund DJ

STAY humble. That's the last piece of advice one would expect to hear from someone spinning in one of the trendiest establishments on the Bund.

However, Paul Cayrol, resident DJ of Lounge 18, uses these very words to describe his outlook on his work and life.

Cayrol, from the south of France, came to Shanghai in November 2007 to help launch Lounge 18. Prior to that, he was the resident DJ in La Dune Club near Montpellier, France. There, he played for four years among some of the biggest stars in electronic music, such as Laurent Garnier, Eric Morillo, Masters at Work, and David Guetta. It was after playing the opening set for David Guetta's performance that he was asked by an agent for Lounge 18 to come to Shanghai.

"The idea of living abroad appealed to me. Coming to a new place offered the opportunity for a new life," says Cayrol. "There are lots of opportunities in China that you do not have in Europe anymore where things are moving more slowly."

However, success isn't easy in Shanghai. There's fierce competition among DJs, bars, and clubs, and it seems new venues open and close every week.

"It's crazy, completely crazy," says Cayrol of the competition in Shanghai. "Many young DJs think they can come to Shanghai and find everything, but like everywhere, you need to work hard."

And work hard is exactly what Cayrol does.

"When people tell me, 'Oh, all you need to do is play music a couple nights a week,' I tell them, 'You have no idea,'" states Cayrol.

While he is not behind the decks on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, he is in charge of Lounge 18's music during the day. Moreover, he constantly researches and looks for new music. Every day he checks online music stores to see what new music is coming out. He listens to online radio shows and DJs who have been recording in European cities.

On top of DJing, Cayrol also produces his own music. Last year he released his first record "Perception" on Twist My DJ Records.

Cayrol describes the music he plays at Lounge 18 as mainly electronic house and progressive house. He often intersperses bits of "clubbing music" that are not too commercial to give listeners a sense of familiarity with his music.

For future tracks, Cayrol is considering some aspects of Chinese music. "Since I'm in China, I want to discover the music here and play what I hear around me," he says. Perhaps he will integrate some sections of Chinese lyrics or traditional Chinese instrumental sounds into his new mixes.

Cayrol calls his style "happy music," because he learned how to DJ based on making a crowd happy.

"I like when there is a melody and real music in house, not just hard electro," says Cayrol. "Even when people who claim they don't like electronic music come to Lounge 18, they enjoy themselves because the music I play still has a melody in it."

According to Cayrol, the key to being a good DJ is being in touch with the crowd. "So many young DJs play with their heads down, they don't even look at the crowd they're playing for," says Cayrol. "These DJs only play the music they like, but they need to see what's going on around them and adapt to the crowd." They also need to "put feeling into their music. If the DJ's not into his work, people on the dance floor can sense it."

Cayrol hates the terms "best" or "worst" DJs. "There are good DJs everywhere. I can even learn things from the 'worst' DJ. It's just a matter of different styles and what people prefer."

Recognizing the competitive nature of the music industry, Cayrol is still a realist.

"Nowadays, so many DJs think they're the best or different. But they have to realize that especially in a field like music, anyone can be replaced," he asserts.

Three months ago, Cayrol joined the Shanghai Music Society. This is an open group of DJs and producers who strive to create a local music synergy and promote Shanghai's music scene within the city and abroad on an international level. The group holds live acts, DJ battles, and compiles a CD of the artists' works periodically. Currently, the group has 11 DJs and producers.

Unfortunately, SMS calls its members "The 11 Best DJs and Producers in Shanghai," precisely a term that Cayrol dislikes. As of now, SMS is only comprised of DJs and producers from the Bund, but Cayrol hopes that artists from other sectors of the city's music scene will join.

He laments the division in Shanghai's music scene. "On one side is the Bund, which can be very commercial, and the other side is the underground. We need to create a middle ground," he says. "After all, it's just about music."

Although Cayrol's original contract with Lounge 18 was only for one year, he has remained in Shanghai. As for the future, Cayrol is uncertain. All he knows is that as long as he's in the music business, he will keep coming back to Shanghai.

"Plus," he jokes, "after being through all this construction on the Bund for the World Expo, I want to see what it will finally look like."


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