Reggie Laxatives talks about infecting China with music.
Tonight S.T.D. will celebrate their four years of life. Shanghai, China is a hostile habitat for music lovers, so when people stands up and do something about it, it is a bit heroic, just because not everybody does it. And when they do well, and they stay balanced, and clear about their motivation, is even more cool. From my point of view, Reggie is a friend of music, Nikki is smart, and S.T.D. is heroic.
Sisi Li (Nikki) and Reggie Laxatives have accomplished a lot since they started S.T.D. We could count many epic gigs produced by S.T.D. One story I could comment with no rest is about the night of the concert of Ratatat in Shanghai produced by them. I remember clearly being there holding my breath, impressed by the amount of people they got to go then. To go out of the Dream Factory, straight to Logo, took me more than an hour. Maybe two even, because of the many people that was out there to stop to talk and comment the impressions of the concert. Then when I made it to Logo finally, I met Reggie, who was with one of the guys of Ratatat (who knows which one), in my mind was only S.T.D. Ratatat was awesome, yes, but S.T.D. had a victory that was like fresh air for Chinese music scene.
Usually people that works in music keeps a lot to themselves, also many of them come out to party only for their own shows. Reggie likes music, a lot, he likes to party, and he loves fussball. He likes to chat, he produces fun concerts, he likes to play, he DJs in all kinds of parties, he also warms up for bands, and plays after them too — he’s R3 –, and when the gigs are over, he’ll come and ask or tell you about the next stop to go on with the party. During S.T.D.’s concerts you can find him around the audience, and he’ll always be glad to chat with people, and enjoy the music. He barely complains, and he will never take himself seriously to the point to scare anybody.
I don’t mind, if it seems I’m exaggerating, I think he is simply nice, and I know S.T.D. loves music, so we love … well, yes… we love S.T.D.
LAYABOZI: so, S.T.D., tell me, I’ve never asked you this, why did you named it S.T.D.?
Reggie: We were being a little cheeky. When we came up with it, for some strange reason it just had a nice sound. Of course none of the publications supported this and decided not to publish our parties…so we had to list it as “Sonically Transmitted Disease”.
LYBZ: What publications?
Reggie: I won’t say! (laughs)
LYBZ: Ok. Who’s behind S.T.D.? Who are the people that started it and have… spread it?
Reggie: Well at the beginning there were three of us. Albert, Nikki and myself. Albert Yu joined up for some initiative called Dharma. Haven’t seen him since. So it’s just Nikki and I now at the helm.
LYBZ: What were you thinking to do when you started S.T.D.? What was the original plan?
Reggie: If you really want to go to the origins…it’s a pretty funny story. There was a group of twenty friends or so that wanted to start an online magazine dedicated to literature, arts, music film etc. We had several meetings and everyone had a job based on their skill or strengths. Mine was music, as was Albert’s, being both music producers. So we decided to start a night to develop the indie scene. We met with Nikki one night and told her our idea, before long we started S.T.D., and the rest as they say is history. Turns out I was the only one out of the twenty that actually went through with it. The whole online magazine idea disbanded.
LYBZ: What was S.T.D.’s first gig ?
Reggie: At Logo with Muscle Snog supported by Albert, Nikki and myself DJing. We had to DJ because no one else played the music we liked. It was a completely mental night…one of the best nights I can remember. We packed Logo, Muscle Snog trashing the drum kit and three hundred people were boozing up just having a good time listening to good music. A lot of friends made that night.
LYBZ: Since then what’s been THE or some of the best gigs you count for STD?
Reggie: This question is the hardest. We’ve done SO many shows with so many great memories and artists that it’s hard even to say like five. I think the best nights of S.T.D. were all our first shows in Logo. It was fucking gold, man. Guerilla style, lo fi, sweaty messes of brilliance.
LYBZ: I remember Ratatat’s gig as a major event for music here.
Reggie: Yes for sure. I think that’s when our parties really reached a boiling point. It was a result from the accumulation of shows building up at LOgO we had done beforehand. We sold that place out (The Zhenjian Dream Factory) for the first time in history, I believe. When people said it couldn’t be done. We did it on a Thursday night too. We were a very proud bunch.
LYBZ: yeah, I think even the police didn’t expected it..
Reggie: the police are our most loyal attendees. (laughs)
LYBZ: On the recount of gigs… what’s been the weirdest one?
Reggie: wow… weirdest! ummm probably Juiceboxxx, that kid is nuts. During his set in Shenzhen…he jumped on some massive Chinese guy’s back whilst he was rapping. Some guy in the crowd didn’t really understand the act and got really pissed off and threw Juice on the ground and tried to shove a bottle in his mouth. Juice just kept rapping the best he could….finished the song and smiled at the guy and carried on with the set. It was weird. Juiceboxxx just has that energy though. People just went crazy. Another guy tore apart a shopping trolley in the mosh pit (laughs). Okay, I’ll stop now.
LYBZ: On this four years you’ve must lived and seen a lot of memorable things, so, what are some of those you keep for you to remember? (besides those you’ve told me, in case I miss to ask about them in a better way)
Reggie: There’s really just so many. All the shows are memorable and there’s some kind of highlight from each show that I remember. Be it Boys Noize, Ratatat, Sham 69, Regurgitator, YACHT, Queen Sea Big Shark, Av Okubo….there’s something in all those shows which I take away with me. But it’s the shows when we first started that will probably stay closest to me. S.T.D. year one.
LYBZ: What’s been the toughest challenges for STD?
Reggie: Getting sleep! (laughs)…To be honest it’s all a challenge. Venues open and shut, places don’t have equipment that’s good enough, audiences in Shanghai spoiled for paying to watch a live gig, the abundance of promoters in China right now… I mean there are heaps of challenges but I kind of thrive on it all. We have confidence in what we are doing, we’ve done the hardest job out of pretty much any local promotions team and have survived this far…and it’s been a massive, massive ball of fun and something we are very proud of at the end of the day.
LYBZ: You told me once you make money producing music for commercial uses, and then you use it on S.T.D…. can we talk about this a bit? How do you handle the winnings and lost with shows?
Reggie: When you decide you want to become an indie music promoter in China, you know that you aren’t doing it to make a fortune. We were all aware of this from the start. We knew what we were in for. It hasn’t always been pleasant but it’s always been worth it.
LYBZ: STD has grown a lot, what do you say is the origin of your success?
Reggie: We have good taste in the music we bring… I think that’s important. We are selective about the artists we do shows for. That breeds loyalty from our crowds, which in turn brings crowds of great people. I mean if you want to go to a good party…what do you want to see? good music, a variety of music, interesting people and something to laugh about. Simple.
LYBZ: I think you have also developed a good marketing strategy
Reggie: Yes, we’ve hired armies of pigeons to drop our flyers around cities and shit on people we don’t like. Tyson’s pigeons.
LYBZ: (laughs) Yes. Also I think you’ve started channels of promotion that have been succesful, also alliances with brands, and good management of your image
Reggie: Yes, Nikki is brilliant at marketing and branding S.T.D. In particular to the local audiences…which is a priority for us. It’s been great to see the number of Chinese attendances grow steadily over the years. They’ve really warmed up to our antics.
LYBZ: What’s the plan for the next year of life of S.T.D.?
Reggie: Next year….hmmm
LYBZ: How will you conquer the universe with STD?
Reggie: (Laughs) Slowly but surely! … We have more gigs coming up. We’re helping out with festivals, bringing some bands and djs. opening a bar. We have a lot of stuff in the works….you’ll see it all unravel soon enough.
LYBZ: Any specific deteails?
Reggie: We are going to do some shows outside of Shanghai for a while, there seems to be a lot going on here and we want to check out some new cities. So I’ll take some of our DJ’s to other cities for an outing and change of scenery. I’ll also give me time to work on a bar I’m opening up in the French concession, that’s all I’ll say about it for now! In September I’m going to do two “classic” style S.T.D. parties at YYT. Hoping to bring some fresh faces for the stage and the Dj booth for people to check out. Also our S.T.D. blog is aaaaalmost ready to launch. It’ll be kick ass.
LYBZ: Tell me now about the celebration of the four years of S.T.D?
Reggie: We are just celebrating our four years birthday with a block style kind of party on Xinfu lu. Taking over Dada and Anar and injecting it with a clusterfuckload of music…all for free I think it’s going to be pretty wild
LYBZ: I know Steiner – a jazz cat, organ player, also deep into synths and any machine that makes music — will play with LLND there. What’s the line up tomorrow?
Reggie: LLND are bringing a few guests into Anar that will play with them until 2 am. They have Thomas Chere, friends from JZ, Downstate and Cavia. In Dada there are like one-hundred-seventy-eight DJs playing all night
LYBZ: Wow! One-hundred-seventy-eight! So the party will end around … 6? 7?
Reggie: (laughs) Something like that. It’ll be late. Anar probably not as late….but Dada will go late
LYBZ: By the way, what’s your favorite S.T.D.?
Reggie: Syphilis… just rolls off the tongue so well!