TimeOut: Connect the dots
Is Elvis T's new label anything more than a remix of Acupuncture?
Dot. Everything starts with a dot. So says local DJ and producer Elvis T. And as far as pointillism, this article and his new record label of the same name are concerned, he’s right. It’s not abnormal to start small; Elvis just takes that view to the extreme. Plots that one by one pixel point and then moves out from there. It’s a bold new beginning, but it had to be. Because Elvis just got done killing off his old record label.
Outwardly, Acupuncture Records’ death wasn’t a messy, blood-soaked affair. It was quick. When Lantern, the club associated with the now-defunct label, sent over their events for May, we almost missed the announcement: ‘DOT Record Label Launch & ELVIS T Birthday Party @ Lantern Club’. The description of the party kept us hanging for 47 words before getting to the three-fourths-of-a-sentence eulogy: ‘As we see Acupuncture Records, the label Elvis co-founded and contributed many releases to, has come to the ending page, it’s time for the new era.’ No exclamation mark. No looking back.
We were floored. You’d expect more fanfare or keening or something (preferably keening) for a label that was responsible for parties we were dancing at four years ago. Four years! That predates some of our dearest friends, our hottest romantic entanglements and a certain Justin Bieber diddy called ‘Baby’. But our fond Acupuncture memories aren’t limited to Lantern. There’s also the yearly installments of INTRO Electronic Music Festival, the spooky-sexy Halloween parties and plenty of great Acupuncture tracks. With that kind of history, we’d like to grip Elvis by his lapels, shake him about and shout, ‘For God’s sake, man, just tell us how we’re supposed feel!’
Luckily, he did. And whatever the outward appearance may have been, Acupuncture was a label in disarray. When we ask him about its high point, he gives us a telling answer: ‘The very start, when it was a tight group of friends doing what they love.’ The start he’s talking about is 2007. In the years that followed, Elvis opened a club that was his own musical playground, spun at festivals attended by massive crowds and shared swills of alcohol with internationally-renowned DJs. High points all, we’d argue. So what was so good about the start? And what the hell went wrong?
The answer is the same for both questions: that group of founding friends. It’s a solid formula for a television sitcom, but not so much for a record label. And thus, Acupuncture’s greatest strength soon became it’s greatest weakness. ‘When Acupuncture first launched, there were eight DJs plus one manager,’ Elvis tells us. ‘The ratio was all wrong. Of course, music is the core of any record label, but to run a music business professionally, you need professionals, not just musicians.’
Also damaging was their middle-school-clique approach to organising parties. ‘Acupuncture was considered to be something of a DJ gang. Only Acupuncture DJs would get a chance to play at an Acupuncture party.’ The techno-or-bust policy for Acupuncture releases further confined the label.
Cue the defectors. ‘The original team members left, one after another, and at the end, only three were left. Of course, we tried everything to solve the existing problems, problems that had been troubling us for a long, long time, the kind of problems that trouble most of the underground music scene, but it just didn’t get any better.
‘We had settled into a habitual way of doing things, that way being the unprofessional way, and it’s extremely difficult to change that, on an individual basis or across the organisation. But as you know, the low end is sometimes the turning point. The decision was made. It was a tough decision, but it was about time we just let the old burden go.’
Even as they shed old burdens, new challenges emerged. Chief among them – in our mind, at least – was picking a name as awesome, or seemingly as awesome, as Acupuncture. ‘It took us a long time to decide on the new label name,’ Elvis explains. ‘Acupuncture was a cool English label name, but the Chinese name, “针刺”, wasn’t very good, as it has the same pronunciation as “真次”, which means “really bad”. So this time, we considered the name in both English and Chinese. We chose DOT because it’s a restart and everything starts with a dot. Also, the Chinese name for DOT, “ 逗音乐”, means “fun music”, but it also has the same pronunciation as “ 斗音乐”, which means “fight for music”.’
In Beijing’s increasingly crowded nightlife scene, those final three words are essential for getting a Snoop Lion’s share of the city’s precious party-goers. From Gulou to Sanlitun to the CBD, clubs are having to diversify to draw a crowd. Elvis promises us that the shortcomings that held Lantern and Acupuncture back – the rigid line-ups, the predictable music selection – are a thing of the past. ‘Our arms are open,’ Elvis says. ‘DOT isn’t a techno label; it’s an electronic dance music label. It’s a big challenge to keep the balance between staying relevant and doing something special, but that’s our mission.’原文链接