New club EP from Shanghai pays tribute to legendary club The Shelter
This isn't Zean's debut EP release, but in many ways it feels like it is. Zean has been a vital figure on the underground scene in Shanghai for over 3 years, but it wasn't until the last 12 months that Zean really hit full throttle. After appearing on only the second Boiler Room session in Shanghai in October last year, he hit the studio with a renewed focus. The last 6 months have seen him produce a dizzying array of tracks that have received plays on Rinse FM, NTS and Radar Radio .
The difference between Zean 2017 and what came before is simple: "I've found what I truly like and I care less about other people's opinions," he says.
And it shows. The four tracks on the Yongfu Rd EP draw from grime, club trax and gqom and are full of ZEAN hallmarks: staccato rhythms, infectious drums and basslines with an eye on the dancefloor.
The title track and No.5 pay tribute to the legendary Shanghai nightclub The Shelter, which over the course of 8 years before it closed in December 2016, incubated some of China's most exciting club talent at its home at No. 5 Yongfu Rd. The Yongfu Rd EP is a reminder of the tremendous power that physical spaces can present when focused at the centre of a local scene, even/especially as so much club music in 2017 is shaped by the liminal spaces of the virtual world.
Reflecting the sounds that have reverberated off The Shelter's dark walls in the past few years, Yongfu Rd sees Zean expand his sound palette further into UK sounds while maintaining his own idiosyncrasies and personality. The EP is laced with playful nods to grime and the new wave of club music, interpreted with the confidence of someone who knows they're settling into their own sound.
"In Shanghai all the producers, DJs and clubbers went to The Shelter, and for me it was a place to enjoy music and play whatever I wanted without having to worry about the crowd not getting it," says Zean. "But also it was a place where I learned a lot, and I saw a lot of artists I was into perform there. It was a place that I used to force myself to work harder on music.
"After hearing the news that The Shelter would close, everyone started expressing their feelings about the place. I also wanted to say something and I thought music was my best way to express my feelings."
Support from Akito, Jonny Dub, Fallow and Swimful.