This Friday, October 15th, Nuts Club plays host to Shanghai's Uprooted Sunshine Soundsystem's 5th anniversary tour. A multinational crew of DJs, MCs, Singers and producers, with a reputation for turning out reggae infused rhythms, from roots to drum & bass. In the run up to this weekend's Chongqing party we had a few word with one of Uprooted's founders, and an integral presence in the Shanghai music scene Garreth "Gaz" Williams aka DJ Drunk Monk.
ChaCha & Drunk Monk @ Nuts Club
Us: We'll start off with names and nationalities/home towns?
Them: Ok, the two remaining founding members are Gaz AKA Drunk Monk from Manchester, UK and Israel AKA dji from Montrael, Canada. Then we have DJ Blaise Deville from Geneva, Switzerland, ChaCha from GuiZhou, China, Esia from France, Didje from Tahiti and Arminda from Portugal. Plus on this tour we have special guests Clive Chin from Jamaica and Selector Twice from New York.
Us: How did UPROOTED come about in the beginning?
Them: Uprooted Sunshine was formed in November 2005 by Drunk Monk, dji and DJ Yo. Yo was doing a small reggae party in a bar called The Eager Beaver called 'Sunshine Is...', and after responding to a post on a forum asking for people to start a reggae night, Drunk Monk and dji met up for the first time at C's bar and decided to start a reggae night. The first party at C's was called Uprooted Sounds. The first party was a great success and after that Yo, dji and Drunk Monk joined forces to make Uprooted Sunshine. A few months later, Blaise Deville arrived in Shanghai and came to C's for an Uprooted night and soon after joined the crew. Uprooted continued there monthly parties at C's, but at the same time started a new night in a, then new, bar called Logo. Whilst on holiday in Shanghai, Didje came to one of the Logo parties and jumped on the mic, tearing up the party. He returned home, but soon after returned to Shanghai to join Uprooted. A year or so later, an unknown singer called ChaCha came to One Love (the weekly uprooted party at Logo which lasted for over 2 years) and got on the mic. After joining the parties a few times, it wasnt long until she was a proper member of the crew. Not long after, Esia and Arminda were introduced to the crew by a mutual friend and, after a short time in Korea, they returned to Shanghai to join Uprooted. This is just the short version of the story, there were many other members along the way, most notably Yas and Yufah from Japan, Don Dada and Saru from France and Boombadil from Italy.
Us: How has where you're from as well as you are now, influenced the music you make/play today?
Them: We all share a love for reggae and jamaican music, but as we are all from different countries and backgrounds we all bring our own individual taste and experiences to the music. Some of us have a hiphop background, some drum and bass background, some a rock background, some of us even used to make pop music. We have all also had our own experiences in the music industry, from events management to performing and producing, so this is also a good aspect of the crew as we can all concentrate on the areas that we specialise in. Its quite a unique thing to have a group of 7 people who are all from different countries, and so with our individual styles and backgrounds we can appeal to a much wider audience. At the end of the day though, we are all the same really, we just like reggae music and want to spread it around china.
Us: Gaz and Cha Cha, were in Chongqing last March with The Antidote, and if I remember correctly, Gaz was (understandingly) a bit upset by the early exit of most of the audience. For those who haven't experienced an Uprooted party, can you tell the audience what they might expect, so as to assure they are properly prepared?
Them: The night is going to be a show from start to finish, so dont think about leaving early this time! The night will start off with dji's signature opening of dub grooves and heavy bass, followed by a special guest artist from ChongQing. After that we (Uprooted Sunshine) will perform our new live set which we have been putting together over the last few months. There are some brand new tracks in there (one written especially for the tour), plus some of our old favourites. After that is the main event - Mr Clive Chin and Selector Twice! Clive has been digging out some serious tracks for his set, including a Rocksteady tune from the early 60's sang in Mandarin, and also a track he made in the 70's entitled 'Shanghai'. Im sure the Uprooted MCs wont be able to stay off the mic for too long too....
Us: Any last words?
Them: We are all incredibly excited to be going on tour, and me myself (Gaz) am very happy to be playing back at Nutz. I had a great time last time (although it ended too early :) ) and this time I am with the full crew so its going to be a big one! We are putting every last bit of energy into the show, so we hope that you (the crowd) can give us that energy back!