Arriving in Chengdu from Nanjing in the aftermath of the closure of a number of bars and venues at the infamous Poly Centre, Cloak radio founder Bl1nk was witness to seismic change in the Chengdu underground. His radio grew out of a promotional night and has become recognized around China for its focus on young local DJs and producers, as well as its offline events, which have spread far and wide and can be seen every month at ALL in Shanghai. We spoke to Bl1nk about radio culture, Chengdu’s evolving party scene and more.
When and why did you start Cloak?
Cloak grew out of Pulse, a party group in Chengdu that I did with Luciachex. Pulse had some guest mixes, but very few, and it didn’t have a regular plan, so I started to think that the radio aspect could be independent. I started the radio in early March of 2018, with mixes from local DJs and also some international guest mixes.
In the first few months of Cloak, there were several DJs playing their monthly mixes, like Jaya, TrillaPlus, Sayer, Shushu, 3ASiC, Shutforever, ZOOY, Wonkey and guest mixes named with numbers in the style of Cloak011 – GUNDAM.
You don’t have a space to livestream, so how does it work?
DJs and producers send over their mixes and I edit video clips into a long VJ thing for Bilibili streaming. We also use covers that are usually provided by the DJs themselves. If I had fantastic DJ equipment, maybe Cloak would have a live aspect for streaming, but I don’t have those things.
And you do a lot of offline events?
Our offline event is monthly at ALL in Shanghai, usually on Thursdays because for that event we regularly invite local DJs. In other cities we generally play weekends. At the moment, we’ve held Cloak events in Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Nanjing, Wuhan and Changsha.
We’ve spoken to people who are very complimentary of what Cloak does, staying local and bringing together events and mixes from young independent musicians. How important is it to give a platform to and cultivate this young community of producers?
For me, the music scene has gotten more and more boring since 2017, so it needs fresh blood. Cloak has been promoting new artists for a long time, but in another way. Since May 2019, the number of mixes that Cloak accepts has reduced a lot. Cloak now only plays local mixes from DJs who haven’t played before.
Sometimes, when the time for an old boring scene has passed, a new bunch of people should start building another scene. Our hope is that Cloak stays fresh. Cloak also released a compilation album, Clubless. It’s very international, and the tracks are mostly made by super fresh producers, so Cloak is always changing our way of promoting new things.
From an outside perspective, Chengdu seems like it’s blowing up right now. How does it feel to you, as someone entrenched in the Chengdu scene?
Clubs are finally blowing up now, but the music and visual environment still needs to be rebuilt. It is hard to promote new things when the scene has lain dormant for so long, so it’s a bit early to say where the scene will move. As for myself, I think people should come out dancing more. If there are more people coming to the dance floor, the shows will last longer.
How is streaming on Bilibili for you? Do you have any problems with the website? Do you stream or upload through other platforms?
I think it’s easy to stream with Bilibili. As Cloak is different from other radio stations, having no offline studio, it’s easier both for cost and for the technical side. As far as I can recall, there are no big problems with the website. I tried Douyu before, but not as Cloak, just while playing some PC games by myself. In the future, I’d like to try my hand with some re-streaming software that can broadcast to all kinds of platforms.
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[Cover image courtesy of Cloak]