The Legend Returns! DJ Sacco Plays Dada This Saturday

By That's Shanghai, April 24, 2023

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What to say about the Shanghai legend that is Sacco?

A DJ extraordinaire, he opened Uptown Records, providing the best selection of second hand vinyl records in the city, along with new LPs and CDs from Chinese independent artists. 

A man of letters, he wrote barely coherent yet brilliantly funny columns for SmartShanghai.

A visionary, he left Shanghai in 2020, before it got... well, you know what it got... and opened Uptown Records Tokyo, promoting Chinese independent music in Japan.

But now he is back, and playing Dada Shanghai this weekend. So we sat down with him for a little introduction for those not in the know. We think you'll like him...

DJ Sacco – will he wear his dog t-shirt this weekend?

You're a Shanghai legend, although some of the younger kids might not know you.  What's your Shanghai story?  Motown & Night Markets at Dada... 390... Uptown?
My first DJ party in Shanghai was a punk rock night called 'Shanghai '79.' After that, I participated in a few music scenes around town. Most notably running a night at Shanghai Studio, which was a underground venue on Huaihai lu.

Also, I was one of the first wave of Dada DJs, with a weekly 60's soul party and a semi-regular 80s Synth-Pop / New Wave party called 'Moonwalker.'

Around the same time starting to DJ at Dada Shanghai, I opened a record store around the corner on Pingwu Lu and Xingfu Lu called Uptown Records.

Following the record store opening, I co-founded an alternative venue called 390 on Panyu Lu, which I helped run for a few years before leaving to focus on the record store (390 subsequently changed name to Lucca).

Most recently, in June of 2020, I opened a Tokyo branch of Uptown Records, with a focus on post-punk, synth-pop, new wave and also various styles of Chinese independent music (electronic, rock, experimental, etc.).

Wow, all this makes me sound 120 years old.

Where did you propose to your wife?
I proposed to my wife Sophia at Dada Shanghai; it was the most romantic thing that ever happened.

DJ Sacco – he oozes romance

Around that time is when we decided to stop running 390 Bar and focus only on Uptown Records to try to help build more of a vinyl community.

When and why did you move to Tokyo? How is the scene different there for vinyl shops and small bars?
I moved to Tokyo in December 2020. It wasn't my intention to live there full time, however, because of border closures I was stuck in Tokyo for nearly three years (not the worst place to be stuck).

I would say the main difference in the Tokyo scene is instead of large clubs with 100+ people there are lots and lots of small music bars with capacity of anywhere from five to 50 people.

Since there are over 500 record shops in the Tokyo area, you must really distinguish yourself by carrying unique albums.

DJ Sacco – can you tell he moved to Tokyo?

Your shop in Tokyo has a section of Chinese indie music. Which ones are most popular there?
Hard to save which are most popular; Dirty Fingers is popular, Knopha is really popular, The Bootlegs from Qingdao are popular.

Since the current underground Chinese music scene is not well known in Japan it's mostly music nerds curious about what's going on in the Chinese scene.

Do you often eat Chinese food in Japan?
Standard Chinese food in Japan is not so good; they don't use spices, and everything is bland.

However, there are few places in Tokyo where you can get real Chinese food. I eat Chinese food in Tokyo around two to three times a week.

DJ Sacco  looking down at a Chinese menu in Tokyo... maybe

Tell us a crazy story from your years in Shanghai?
I'm sure there are one or two...

I remember one time I was playing soul music with Morgan Short at Dada Bar when it was on Xingfu Lu, and a rather large gentleman requested Green Day, despite it being a soul party.

We did not have any Green Day... he became increasingly angered by this lack of Dookie. So much so, that we were scared to leave the DJ booth for over an hour before he finally left the bar.

What do you miss most about Shanghai?
I've never gotten decent Xiaolongbao in Japan, so that's a big one. I miss my dogs, records, and friends (in that order) the most.

Shanghai has a different energy that is more honest and direct; I miss that energy very much.

How many dogs do you have in Shanghai?  What are their names and personalities? Are they going to move with you to Tokyo? Is it difficult to move them?
I have two dogs in Shanghai, both street dogs.

The first dog is named Lily, and she was born in the park next to Yuyintang on Yan'an Lu. Lily is scared of life.

Our second dog is named Banana and comes from the mean streets of Pudong. He is a little jerk.

Sadly, it is hard to move dogs to Japan (or any island country like England or Australia). We are still going through the paperwork process but hopefully later this year they can come to Tokyo.

You will DJ at Dada Shanghai on 4/29.  What kind of music will you play? Can you share three favorites?
The 4/29 party will focus on 1980s synth-pop, new wave, post-punk, and rock from both Western and Asian countries. In Japan, the term Showa Music usually refers to 1960s to 1980s music.

Three favorites, you say?

Ryuichi Sakamoto - A Wongga Dance Song

Tatsuro Yamashita - Funky Flushin'    

New Order - Blue Monday


Sat Apr 29, 9pm; RMB60.

Dada, 1303 Yanan Xi Lu, by Anxi Lu 地址  延安西路1303号近安西路.

[All images courtesy of the legend that is DJ Sacco]

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