Experimentation and creativity are what DJ/Music Producer Patrick Segarel, aka DJ Slim Buddah, defines as “underground.” From his seaside base of Zhuhai on the Pearl Bay, DJ Slim Buddah has been igniting a local underground since 2009—and its catching fire with Pyros. Followers of PyroMusic that is.
As a dance music APP made in China, PyroMusic is quickly making wildfire, with hits jumping from phones to actual dances floors across the PRC and globally. DJ Slim Buddah's Zhuhai Underground is charging the Pyro charts at number one.
We spoke with him from his South China Sea haunt in Zhuhai.
South China Sea Magazine (SCSM): How did you learn of Pyro and what is it?
DJ Slim Buddah: I can't quite remember when I first learned of Pyro but I wouldn't be surprised if it was from my friend Sophistakid. He is a very active dj/music producer in Shenzhen and was probably using Pyro on his Wechat Homegrown group.
PyroMusic is a website and application that aims to promote the Electronic Dance Music scene.
Most djs in China have subscribed to Pyro while more international record labels & producers are joining in. Pyro is not the only music oriented app in China, there's already quite a few but as far as I know, it's the only one that focuses on djs & music producers in Dance music. It also have the advantage of being bilingual.
SCSM: You came to develop a Hainan and Sanya sound in 2009. Then came to Zhuhai. What do you think of this area and in terms of the sea and sound and how it influences the people?
DJ Slim Buddah: I arrived in Sanya in 2009. At the time , there wasn't a need to develop a Sanya/Hainan sound. Coming from Berlin, I just played what I used to play there. In Hainan, that sound, namely Deep House, was unheard of at the time. There was one bar in Sanya City where most Russians would go after hours but the music there was much harsher.
My experience in Sanya wasn't really relevant. I used to dj by the beach in Yalong Bay, the decor was fabulous, kinda reminiscent of a Greek island settings, but the place was absolutely empty. It was then too early for such a concept. Hainan wasn't Thailand! The tourists stayed in their hotel rooms most of the time and we would only see them around 7pm when they went for a stroll on the beach after dinner. Daytime was way too hot for anyone to venture outside in the sun.
This is the reason why I left for Zhuhai.
I didn't know anything about it then, only that there were four major cities nearby, less than a couple of hours away. A major bridge was being built. It sounded like an interesting place where to settle for awhile. I knew that most of the underground culture in China was happening in Beijing & Shanghai, but I took a chance. A kind of North vs South thing. Guangdong had a strong culture, it's own language shared between HK, Macau & the mainland. I took a bet that an alternative scene would rapidly develop here.
When Jean Jacques Verdun invited me to join the Beishan Jazz Music Festival team when it started in 2010, I was really thrilled, for me it was a step in the direction I had envisage.
Back to the North vs South divide, the East Coast vs West Coast sound in the States could be an interesting analogy. Check the difference in sound between industrial Detroit & Chicago vs sunny California. Somehow I imagine that Guangdong would develop an underground culture that would similarly reflect the difference in climate.
SCSM: You have a climbing hit on Pyro. What is it about?
DJ Slim Buddah: A hit, that's a bit exaggerated. Promoting the local scene is an important part of the Dance music philosophy, at least the underground or avant garde Dance Music scene. So, recently, I have started a new series of dj mixes or mixtapes called Zhuhai Underground. This series is published on Pyro and my latest mixtape reached number one on the Minimal House chart.
SCSM: I keep hearing innocence in a refrain. What does this mean?
DJ Slim Buddah: Ha ha! You would have to ask the track's producer directly. But I have no doubt it's opened to your own personal interpretation.
SCSM: What are your hopes if it stays at #1?
DJ Slim Buddah: Well, it already reached number one on the Pyro charts, I doubt it'll stay there for long, there's a lot of competition and it's not only from China!
I can only hope to bring more awareness to this type of sound. Too many people in China, also abroad actually , still believe that dance music is only about drug fueled loud, noisy, senseless beats. I wish to prove them wrong. Their perception of underground music is an image of dark basements filled with brain dead, zombie like creatures stomping to some head banger. Nowadays, underground music has absolutely nothing to do with basements. Dance music somehow has gone mainstream all over the world and the underground part is about the more experimental and creative music that is being produced today.
I'd rather associate underground dance music with other creative activities such as photography, design or fashion. It's part of the pop culture and the general idea is to offer as much diversity as possible.
As far as I'm concerned, mainstream pop music is where you find the zombies.