The Fringe Festival concluded on Sunday in Shenzhen, the third time the 10-day festival has been held in the the city.
To wrap the event, The Nanfang sat down with Mr. Magnus, who performed at Fringe events organized by RealDeal, a local events company. Mr. Magnus talked about why he’s in Shenzhen, what he thinks of the Fringe Festival, and how he’d characterize Shenzhen’s music scene.
Firstly, do you like to be referred to by your DJ title or real name?
I usually do not refer myself as a DJ as I am mostly do live remixes using computers and controllers mostly instead of spinning vinyls and CD’s, so I go under Mr. Magnus, my stage name.
How long have you been in China?
I arrived to Hong Kong in early 2009, and a bit more than a year later I relocated to Mainland China.
What brought you to Shenzhen, and do you like it?
I wanted to start performing and organizing in China to push electronic dance music forward. As I am deeply in love with Hong Kong, Shenzhen was the closest and best option for me. Anything is possible in Shenzhen, it’s a city that is just constantly growing and changing.
How would you characterize Shenzhen’s music scene?
Shenzhen’s music scene is very young, and mainly controlled by the bar/club owners and the “show” factor. It’s not about the music, it’s about “face”. But the locals and expats are starting to see more and more events with professional musicians and various unique electronic dance music. I have big hopes for the future, even though it might take some time.
What do you think of Shenzhen’s Fringe Festival?
I was happy to see something like this happening in Shenzhen, to showcase different performances and art to the public. It is needed.
What is special about the audience at Real Deal shows?
The passion and spirit of the crowd we usually have is the best part of the Real Deal parties. It gets us going to see all those people dancing and enjoying the music.
What do you hope the audience at the Fringe Festival got out of your set?
To see what a real dance music event is all about — not about sitting all night drinking and playing games. It’s about dancing, the music and meeting people that share the same passion.
Can you summarize your background in music?
I got into music as a young child. I learned music theory, singing, some instruments and (live) performing. At age 14 or 15 I started collecting Hi-Fi equipment and time synthesizers, which I shortly hooked up with a mixer. At age 18 I was out getting myself a set of turntables so I could DJ my own tunes. After getting my new DJ gear I had a break, but have been focusing on DJing only now for the last 10 years. Just recently I have started to work with music production again.
Luckily I got the hang of DJing very fast and started to work with other music enthusiasts to create outdoor events such as raves in the forest, where we mostly dropped Psychedelic Trance until sunrise. Shortly afterwards we moved into the clubs and started to have international visitors from England, Germany, Spain, Holland and more.
Before leaving Sweden for Asia I managed to dig myself into the music scene in Germany and Holland, mainly the big stage events such as Trance Energy, Defqon and more. I was asked to perform at after-parties and pre-parties. Sometimes the main events had between 10,000-35,000 people attending, so the after-parties were from time to time pretty big.
In 2009 I left Sweden for Hong Kong, where I took one step back in performing and focused more on supporting the local Hong Kong scene, like the clubs and the events. There are many skilled musicians and event organizers there and I was lucky to learn from some of the best such as DJ Frankie Lam, PUSH, Yumla and many more.
Going over to the China mainland scene was very different from the HK scene. With many big clubs there was a lot of potential but almost no focus on the music and no dance floor! I have been working hard these last few years in the mainland to push this scene into Shenzhen by creating events and by only playing proper electronic dance music.
I started with events under the name “PLAY” at Plush Bar in Coco Park. I managed several successful events where I started building a crowd of dedicated music lovers.
Since then there has been a huge amount of events, organized by me or other skilled organizers already located in Shenzhen. “Beats of Mass Destruction”, “Techno Techno Techno!”, “Techy Techy” were some of the events created, mainly to push out the electronic dance music, especially Techno, Minimal, Tech-Deep House and more, and I invited local DJ’s to perform for a wider range of style and music genres.
Early in 2012 “it’s The Real Deal Inc” came to life, created together with a couple of friends who were also tired with the club scene, which was still not providing proper electronic dance music and dance floors. Even with the effort from before, the local Electronic Dance Music scene was not big enough to make any real impact; it really took off once we dropped our first “Real Deal” party. It was amazing to see so many people attending our parties, even though it’s sometimes tricky to get to the various outdoor locations.
Which venues do you usually go to?
At this moment I am performing strictly at our own “Real Deal” events, as I am kind of picky with what venues I like to perform at. A good venue has a good dance floor and a great ambiance. But now it’s the end of the year so I am looking forward to taking some time to perform in some of the hottest clubs in Shenzhen and greater China.
What kind of music do you like to play, and what’s your inspiration?
I like music that makes my body move, music that makes the crowd get into the spirit of good music and loving vibes. My music comes from European Techno, House and Trance and my remixes/live performances are about creating something new by remixing music that contains something special like a good baseline, melody or just a good flow that I wish to remix with something else.
What do you want to accomplish in future Real Deal shows?
In one way I think we already accomplished a lot, but what I would love to see in the future is for us to keep going on with our events and let more people in China know what the Real Deal is all about, what real dance music events are all about and hopefully influence the clubs to see what’s missing in China at this moment.