Unchained's Daniel Power on the Future of Electronic Music in Shenzhen

By Bailey Hu, August 17, 2018

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London native Daniel Power has spent the last two years promoting drum and bass – the high-tempo fusion of bone-rattling beats and melodic samples – with his Shenzhen-based events brand, Unchained. Besides DJing at clubs around China, he’s brought tens of international acts to play parties in the PRD. 

According to Power, D&B is starting to make inroads with Shenzhen and Guangzhou club-goers. So with the help of three other DJs in his “core team,” he’s taking the next big step: kicking off China’s “first really serious drum ‘n’ bass and halftime label” this month.

We caught up with Power on his plans and the future of drum ‘n’ bass in the PRD.

Can you tell me about Unchained?  
Sure. So Unchained is an events brand focusing on bass music – underground bass music – mostly drum and bass. But we do other stuff like half-time, a bit of footwork, other UK bass music. But predominantly it’s drum and bass.

I started two years ago. I’d been DJing in Shenzhen for about two years and I just felt the next step was to start my own events, how I wanted to do it.

What are your plans for the music label?  
We’ve been working on that for about a year now. And that’s going to launch [this] month… we’re aiming at two releases each month and we’ve got quite a few internationals already lined up…

There’s not too many great drum ‘n’ bass producers from China yet, but the plan is that in the future hopefully we can [get more] – with more people coming to our events here and the music. We’re also looking at an education side of things to teach production, DJing… So hopefully all this will come together and then there’ll be more local producers [who] can come through.

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Image via Daniel Power

How do you explain drum ‘n’ bass to people who’ve never heard of it?  
I talk about the BPM, right, so drum ‘n’ bass is quite fast… I can say there’s history, a little bit. It comes from the UK – originally from London, Bristol – it’s been a big part of the music scene in England for over two decades now, you know?

…And I’ve seen, especially recently [at Shenzhen’s Oil Club], some of the local people starting to get the music. Their faces, their enjoyment – [you can tell] when they’re really into it.

Any crazy stories from over the past couple years?  
The first ever Unchained event we did… we booked a DJ called Arkaik who’s quite a big deal, he’s released on some labels… he’s based in Shanghai [and] he was our main headliner. The event was in… Guangzhou’s Hangover. 

But by accident [we] booked the wrong flight for him. We booked his flight to Shenzhen instead of Guangzhou, and only found out [on] the day. So there was, like, this mad panic: how are we going to get him to the Guangzhou venue in time?

In the end, I managed to arrange a mini-bus and we managed to get to the gig just in time. But that was a big panic and a bit of stress for me, especially since it was my first proper event there…

Why stay in Shenzhen?  
I kind of like the idea of creating something… and being a part of it from the start. I’m sure it’s easy to go to a city where it’s already established and do some work. But to actually create [something] from the ground up, basically it just feels more satisfying, more important in a way. 

And also, [my life’s kind of] in Shenzhen now. I’m married now, had a baby last year, so I’m very happy and settled in Shenzhen.

So that’s why I’ll be pushing here for a while.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

[Cover image via Daniel Power]

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