Shanghai’s ZEAN is one of the new touchstones of the Chinese underground, a producer whose mastery of everything from grime to future beats has seen him recently receiving plays on Rinse FM. Having released on labels like Beijing’s superlative Dohits and DJ Shadow’s Liquid Amber (alongside his mentor Conrank), it’s clear that ZEAN is on the up and up. We got in touch to find out a little more…
Tell us about your artist name…
Zean is my surname in Korean, my grandparents moved to China from South Korea before I was born and luckily I can speak it fluently.
What sort of music were you exposed to when you were growing up?
I think old school hip-hop is the one.
When did you start making your own music and what was it like?
I didn’t study anything about music or an instrument, I wish I did study it before so I could be better now. I was a beatboxer for 7 years and I moved on to producing. I started to write beats in 2012, but from the summer of 2013 I started take it seriously.
What equipment do you use now?
I used to produce on Logic Pro and I moved to Ableton Live recently, but I’m still using Logic Pro for mixing and mastering.
What fuels your creativity?
Interesting sounds, impressive rhythms, special visuals, etc.
What do you think the future of music is going to be like?
I’m not very sure, I guess it will be more mixed, like multiple producers working together and mixing different genres together to make it better each time. Everyone knows unity is better 🙂 I hope it will be more open and people will continually exchange ideas, then it would be truly global I think!
Does your local area influence the music you make?
Yes, it does. The things that I hear or I see, and those emotions I can feel influenced by my local area, they affect my mind when producing.
Who’s your biggest local musical influence, past and/or present?
What are the top things you’d suggest visitors to your city should go and see/do?
Hahaha… Hardest question for me, I spend most of my time in my room. Clubs are the main reason for me to go out. But maybe you can go and try the foot massages with your own whisky like me and my friends do!
What’s the biggest challenge facing musicians in China?
Hmm… There are a few issues, for example China has blocked a lot websites including SoundCloud/Facebook/Twitter… It makes it harder for Chinese people to know what’s going on with music, and it’s difficult to promo your own music to bigger places. Less people understand electronic music because of the closed circumstance, and it makes it difficult for musicians to improve their income. Ahh a lot to say but yeah… right now we need more people to open their mind.
What are the best music venues and record shops in your city?
My favourite music venue is The Shelter. My favourite record shop is Uptown Records. It’s the best place to pick up new records with inexpensive drinks, it’s the place that we hold our live stream event ‘Meat & Bone’ also.
Where in the world would you most like to perform?