Layabozi

Jane Siesta's beats for MESH

MESH is not a brand new-cool-xoxo-hipster abbreviation like OMG, BTW, IRL…
It’s more about an event that no one in Shanghai should miss. Music Exchange Social Hub (MESH) will happen on June 4th and 5th in different spots of the city. Shows, workshops, knowledge exchange, the big guest of the weekend Diplo playing at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, and good vibes are on the line up.

Jane Siesta founder of the drum ‘n bass scene in Shanghai and Hong Kong, followed and loved by drum ‘n bass lovers, she’s also the founder of Phreaktion, the founder of Phreaktion, and recently got the The Ice Cream Truck team on board to run some of the MESH events.

MESH is a very ambitious project that fits with the flow of music events developing in Shanghai, and China. The launch of MESH happens on what has been a strong wave of promising festivals, shows, and music during the last months.

MESH includes a series of workshops that aim to get together people working in the indie music scene of Shanghai, to talk publically and more seriously about their own experiences. Although the populated side of MESH will be the shows that DJs will be playing on different venues of Shanghai, the special seasoning of this event are the workshops set up with a tone more serious than for a party. Since Free the Wax and JZ’s own practices, workshops have been mostly set up to share the experience on the use of instruments or practices of styles of music, then last year as part of the Expo events, Finland set up a series of workshop to discuss about the music industry of China and Asia. The result was the a net of new connections for people participating on this industry. We’ll know what results of MESH’s own mix of people, knowledge, and music next week once is over. To get ready for this weekend Siesta talked with us about MESH, her vision, and the process to create its concept and set it up.

Layabozi: Siesta, you are a drum ‘n’ bass DJ, you manage your own structure, Phreaktion, and now you are producing the first edition of MESH during June 4th and 5th. Why have you decided to expand your activities and not simply be a DJ?

Jane Siesta: I’m actually promoter. I started promoting first, about ten years ago, back in Hong Kong we had to pay every DJ, no matter how new they were, we had to pay them, and drum ‘n’ bass parties were really hard, like a very small scene. So I thought I could play too, and I won’t have to pay anyone else, that’s how I started Djing actually.

As much as I’m doing one niche, a kind of specific music, which is not very commercial and popular, I’m still playing as a party DJ, so it’s not like “I’m loving it and I don’t care if you love it or not” kind a thing. It’s always about having the vision of “what kind of stuff do I play that people will like” because much of this people will not going to care. It’s more like how to create a party up with the kind of music I love. So to DJ and promoting have always been kind of hand in hand for me. There is no crossover from “artist” to business, they have always been together.

LYBZ: Why do you focus on the promotion of events? Have you been attracted to move to other fields of the music industry such as record stuff (label) or artistic management?

JS: I have but it’s really difficult in Shanghai. I think, it’s such a unique market and environment especially in the artist management side. There is so little you can do. You know in the West you have the Twitter, you have Facebook, all this kind of platforms for you to actually be able to bring your brand or artists forward. Here, especially for DJ’s, it’s hard, there are not many structures or ways to get some visibility. Douban it’s trying to do that now but also we don’t have enough people interested in this, we don’t have enough people who are curious to build this kind of platform. But yeah, there is so many things I want to move into but it’s also very limiting and I don’t want to be “money cautious”.

LYBZ: So maybe there is a too small market here in Shanghai?

JS: I won’t even go and say “market”. It seems that people here in Shanghai feel that the music industry is not just about records, artists, producing, djing or concerts or festival. Right now, music can be applied on smartphone apps, like really amazing concepts and global integration. There is so many things you can do with music and Shanghai out of everywhere in China have that kind of foresight because they are more commercial, they are more business. The players will maybe go this way, the new kids will use music to promote what they are doing, could be design, events. That’s the whole concept of MESH. We’re really gonna start to understand how people have done it, understand the most basics stuff, how people set up their label, how do they start putting on parties, how do they start writing blogs. It’s all about footprints now. And then slowly with the others, we are gonna bring some concepts forward, applications, ways to generate more ideas. Hopefully for instance, if we put some ad agency with some music group and they never thought that they could work together but through a specific topic or event they could realize ‘ hey, we could perhaps do something”.

LYBZ: When did you first think about this festival?

JS: It’s not a festival! Don’t use that word! (laughs) It’s more a gathering than a festival. I went to the Red Bull Academy in 2008 and since then I always wanted to work for Red Bull Music Academy or for the real Red Bull, not the Chinese one. I’ve waited for three years and that’s not gonna happened in the next near future so I just felt this is time, the rest of the world is moving so far, so quickly ahead, with the technologies and all that stuff. This is time for us, this is time for Shanghai to start moving in that direction. Then I thought of what industry I’m friendly with, and I realize there is no industry, no record label, and the basic curiosity is not there too. So, I wanted to bring the networking thing to the few music people.

LYBZ: What are your expectations with this first edition, what do you hope?

JS: It’s actually touching different aspects, it depends on what are you asking? From the net platform or from the MESH event or the overall business behind MESH I’m hoping to do? There are so many different levels. But there is one, very simple; it’s all about DOING IT, showing to people that it can be done. You can have a really cool concept, it can be something that no one did before, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money in it. Of course this one, the biggest amount money is spend on the Diplo party. But if you don’t have to do the Diplo party you don’t have to spend so much money to do this and is still a good concept and there is still commercial value behind it. You can just market it… And that can become even you career. It’s introducing the concept to people and after I wish have a kind of data or contacts to maybe go with a sponsorship and say “ok these is completely your target market, your demographic area and give me the money!”

I wasn’t really sure about the budget and the finance side of things. But it worked out and I really believe it’s because of the platform itself, it was really well thought out. We’re developping a website, and it’s gonna be like an “archive content generating agency” kind of thing. We are documenting all the sessions, all the parties. We will have someone following the progression of all the participants, the artists, what they have been doing after this, maybe someone is gonna share a half finish production with a guy he met and we will follow up on that. We’re not putting out some gigs, sell some tickets and bye! It’s a continuous ongoing thing.

LYBZ: So you really want to keep going with this project?

JS: Oh yeah, we already plan a November one, with partnerships with other people, partnerships in Beijing, with different media like a video production company and a lot of stuff. It’s like a whole concept with integration and concept development. We don’t see ourselves just as party promoters anymore.

LYBZ: What was the hardest part for you during the conception of the event?

JS: EVERYTHING! It’s a great experience because, like a lot of DJ’s, UK bass DJ’s, we don’t really have connections with house/techno guys or hip hop guys or whatever. And you have a bigger distance with the rock people, the jazz people for instance. So one of the challenge was finding who is actually relevant, who is actually doing stuff! It was trying to figure out who should I invite? What kind of topic should they talk about?

LYBZ: About inviting relevant people, just wondering if it was hard to invite Diplo, and why did you choose him?

JS: No, it happened during his Asian tour, and happened during the same week. And we thought it will probably help the capacity if we have Diplo. He is a superstar, we are coping that he will want to make some appearance at the MESH hub. Not just play and go. Cause it’s what he represents, like mashing different cultures… I don’t think he knows a lot about MESH yet. So hopefully, when he’s here, will see if he’s up to do something, we’ll see

LYBZ: Last point, you talked about the MESH in November, maybe you can talk a little bit more on that?

JS: Euh, not that much to say really (laughs)! We are hoping that the November one will be done with money. That’s the goal. This one is all about just doing it, making it happen, everything was almost self funded, and threw this interview I would like to say to everyone who’s supporting us, it’s really a good feeling to know that there is so many people in Shanghai to support you. We are already talking with a “superstar” guy… who, we hope, will lead some workshops plus some gigs.

I’m a fresh rookie in Shanghai and on Layabozi and my first mission was to interview Jane. The only thing I knew about her were the beats I heard from heron MIDI festival. As a meticulous student, I checked the MESH press release, then spied Siesta on the web. But it’s now, after I’ve spent a couple of hours on this interview that I realize what she has undertaken being the pioneer here in Shanghai of a new movement. And now to gather people in to discuss, generate, and create, all around the same passion that’s music. Now is just up to you to take the chance and be part of this.

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