The eighth month is Antidote’s. This year they got an 8×2, maybe an extra lucky celebration. Things to celebrate: tons of great parties and music in Shanghai, and around Asia.
The Antidote is Michael Ohlsson and B6, explained by themselves, “The Antidote is a group of electronic musicians and DJs based in Shanghai, China. We have monthly events (parties!) in Shanghai and other cities in China and Asia. We do tours around China and Asia, with artists we like. We also function as a record label, talent managers, booking agents, and culture jammers. We work with ALL kinds of music, with a focus on the future. Indie rock to disco-dubstep to lazer bass to psych-hop to techno folk. Antidote also represents DADA Bar Shanghai and PAUSE:music record label. We like it dirty.”
Five years ago (when this pink zine was still a baby) I interviewed Michael for Antidote’s third anniversary. It’s been a while since then, but there I wrote my thoughts about the value of Antidote, and why it became a relevant element of Shanghai’s music scene. Since then Antidote has grown to the size of continental tours and big festivals. And Michael Ohlsson, mind and heart of the initiative, began other projects, the now finished record label Pause:music, Antidote’s record label, and Dada Bar that this month celebrates four years in Shanghai, and one in Beijing. So that’s more work to do in equal daily time and energy. Still, The Antidote is alive and kicking, and to prove it are the Antidote parties seen this year around China.
To grow is cool and, you know, what doesn’t grow, dies, and for sure I, and nobody really want the death of Antidote. Hell no. It’s been much greatness to forget about it, too many fun moments, so much work well done. It had to grow and get out of C’s, but like with childhood, there is magic remembering those times in the smelly undergrounds of Shanghai. Those times are the roots of Antidote, you know, the connection with its source. Its power. That power that helped deiced a city contractured by the stress of economic growth, deaf to the fun of chaos, and ignorant of the greatness of creative freedom.
The Antidote confirmed that to party with smart people is much more fun than partying with idiots that are not listening. And that mobilizing people for the sake of creative fun is worth the work and energy, specially when you see creativity infecting exponentially, like waves of water around you. If you have been in Shanghai more than eight years, and if you like good music and party, then you know in Shanghai there’s a before and after Antidote.
This year instead of trying to squeeze time out of Michael to talk about Antidote, I thought the better thing to do was to talk with people that has worked with Antidote closely, and get from them some “backstage” stories connected to that last sentence of Antidote’s description, you know, the party.
Here it goes. To eight more years of good fun!
“Antidote, fondest memory. I would say “Antidote Coup d’Etat” in July 2007 when we hijacked the decks at Volar, a former posh club just outside Fuxing Park. It was good fun! We went there and took control of the night under the nose of bedazzled fortune kids. I can’t remember exactly who was spinning there. Jane Siesta of course. Fish when he was still DJing. Arnaud under his “nom de scène” T2M. Maybe Cammy (SH Ultra) too. I remember we all had to wear masks. Mine was a crappy plastic Halloween monster mask, the kind that makes your skin itchy and has a funny smell. I couldn’t see anything while wearing it and consequently train wrecked most of my mix (an old habit I guess). I remember spinning mainly Booty Bass, Ghetto Tech, early Juke stuff with a touch of bad Electro. The mixing was bad but the energy was good. Yeah, definitely! A good vibe!
“A track from the night? Bonde Do Role – Office Boy (Shir Khan Remix). It was a favorite amongst Chinese clubbers for quite a long time. Not the stuff I would have spun at The Shelter in my later years, though I still probably did it at some point… during another Antidote party!”
“I once asked by contract that Antidote DJs wouldn’t get drunk. That was at YYT. Didn’t work.”
“Back in 2009, I played an Antidote show with Zigzag in Wuhan, it was one of my firsts shows in China, and an absolute banger. They took me out to Vox (hands-down one of the dopest venues in the countries), but while we were getting shit set up, we couldn’t help but noticed a clear and present rat infestation. But whatever, it’s a fucking night club, fair enough. It didn’t really become an issue until the bass from the subs started fucking with their balance as they were running across the cross beams in the ceilings. So about halfway through my set it actually started raining rats. So it was kind of ‘get the mix in’ while dodging frightened disoriented rats.’ But all in all a wicked night, and certainly one to remember.”
“There’s a time Antidote was invited to Niuyuzui music festival in Qingyuan city. The place is in the middle of the Niuyuzui mountain. I was set to play at the last day. “I was at the hotel that day til around 5pm, and after I went out, I saw a huge cloud coming from the south. I texted Michael (who was already at the stage) like ” hey I think it’s gonna rain.” He said no, it’s ok blah blah blah, cause the big cloud hadn’t made it there.
“So I took a cab. And within few secs it started to rain. I mean more like a storm. And it never ended. I saw the biggest lightnings in my life during the ride and they sounded like cracking mountain into pieces. It should have taken around twenty minutes to be there but we took like double the time because it was hard to see the road. Later the road became narrow and all the cars moved slowly like in heaven.
“When I finally got there. The water was flowing over my feet from the top of the mountain. The whole festival’s electric power had been shut down and it looked like a totally black hole. It wasn’t even night. A few festival volunteers at the front door said they didn’t know what happened. Michael called and asked me to find him in a big room full of candles, where all the fans and musicians were all there too. He told me they’re still trying to fix the electric supply. We met some DJ girls from Taiwan, and producers from Beijing, and talked about the future plans and stuff. After a while the crowd bored started to sing 打到美帝国主义, some kind of revolution era anti-USA-empire song, which Michael didn’t get it.
“We waited for almost two hours til we realized it was not gonna happen. So Michael and me planned to leave. But there was no bus outside or whatever. Finally we found a kind middle age citizen who drove his own car to pick us up, he was a local music lover and he just came to see rock bands which he didn’t really know. Neebing texted me during the ride saying he’s there too with friends and asked if we wanted to have dinner with them somewhere outside of the mountain, but I had no idea where that was.
“The pic is from the first day we arrived, we go there and check the electronic stage”.
“One time I poured a bowl of cold 2 min noodles I found on the street on another DJ’s head. Then he sat on me and I almost got crushed.”
“Unfortunately as I have been out of the party scene for many years now, I don’t have so much recent stories to share….. however, if you mention “Antidote” to me… the first thing that comes to mind is being at C’s bar, the original location for Antidote. B6 was showing off his new Kaos pad, and Ryan Trix was just hangin out, walking around in a pink dress and a blonde wig. Some people got it, some people didn’t, but it didn’t matter. This situation to me embodies the soul that is Antidote. “The Antidote” was the well needed alternative to the (relatively) commercial club scene that I was a part of, and I am stoked to hear that they have been around for 8 years now. Mad props to Michael for making history.”
Alicia Fierce Zhao aka Peacock
“Basically, I wouldn’t have met my husband without Antidote. I became friends with Michael and he, as he always did, invited me to come to Hangzhou with them for a party he was throwing. I showed up to the train at 10am wasted with Reggie and a bag of beer. Fish was on that train and took a picture of me literally as I walked on the train, the first time he saw me. Long story short, five an a half years later, I am still thankful for Michael and Antidote. I don’t know what my life would be without it!”
“Having done an Antidote tour, I got to spend a decent amount of time with Michael… I can’t really go into too much detail but one night after a heavy show, I was lucky enough to witness “The Ohlsson” in all his naked glory… it was a magnificent thing, but one I won’t be looking to experience again..ahhh memories!.. haha. Here is one of the tracks we released as part of the Antidote E.P .. Happy birthday Antidote!”
“I went to the first eleven Antidotes back when it started. The first time I saw Michael it was the Antidote ‘goth’ night but only he was dressed up with make up on and he looked weird, so I didn’t speak to him. The following Antidote he looked a little less weird so I spoke to him then, and that’s how we got to know each other. I can’t really remember much from those early parties, but I do remember Amnjk playing a breakcore set, with his head covered by a scarf and shouting into a megaphone. Antidote’s 2nd anniversary at C’s was just after I returned to Shanghai, and it was the first time Chacha and me performed together.”
“As I know Michael wanted to make a party eight years ago, then he found B6 to be this party’s DJ. B6 later invited me and Amnjk and Yangxu, that was the beginning of Antidote DJs.
“There were many technical mistakes in C’s bar haha, because it was such small DJ booth. Yangxu many times mistakenly plugged cables to the mixer. Amnjk is cool, he played noise stuff, just he did care about the people in the dance floor. I had played “classical minimal music” like Steve Reich, Le MonteYoung, not minimal techno shit… I didn’t care about the people in the dance floor.
“I remember also in C’s when I played once, two guys beat each other for any reason.
“My favorite is the first Antidote, it was good, many people came to see us, it looked like a rock music show, not a DJ party, and every years’ Halloween parties were good.
“A track? a lot, old electro, electro rock, breakcore, IDM, industrial music all match Antidote’s party, hard to say which track. Actually we did some production for Antidote at the beginning, I did a breakcore remix of The Beatles “Hey Jude” I lost it now, I hope Michael still has it”.
“We were on a tour to Hangzhou. I played at the end of the night, all the sudden Michael jumped to me and told me to shut the music and he explained to me that the manager wanted to change the music while me packing it up. You can probably find a video of that moment on Facebook.
“Michael made a pretty quote on it: “one of my prouder managerial moments. The chubby guy on the end clip was a “vip” customer who asked the manager to play his favorite song. Manager told me to play it or cut off the DJ. After trying to negotiate (and getting most the money due), I agreed to cut our party short, but first let’s make sure it’s on tape, heheh. Thanks Ekki !! and sorry Fish for unknowingly playing the part — but dammit your set was dope and the (99.9% of the) crowd was into it.”
“When I got outta of the bar, I was sitting in front of a hotel. And Ekki jumped to me to cheer me up but unfortunately, I felt off the stair I was sitting on, and my face smashed into the stair then everyone took me to our room and cleaned my face up. At least Reggie and Ekki I think, details are pretty blurry now.”
Photos were brazenly stolen from many Antidote’s followers in Facebook. To claim credits come to complain to me this Friday at The Shelter.