Over time Shanghai’s thriving underground club scene has spawned a large number of party organizations and artists. If you’re a club culture enthusiast, there’s probably a moment of truth every weekend – choosing to go to a party means putting aside other noteworthy possibilities, though of course, if you’re adept at time-management, you can also spend the night running from venue to venue. In this context, party organizations that attract enough audience and industry eyes must have done something right – such as EVO, which, less than a year after its establishment, has become a “mutant” force of nature in Shanghai’s underground party scene through its impeccable visual design, its volatile performance concepts, and the excavation of Generation Z artists.

I’ve been going to several EVO events recently, each time with a “I have no idea what will happen tonight” mentality into the venue, and when the show begins, I’m immediately immersed in the illusion EVO creates.

Scenario A: In a cloud of red-hued ominous light, a girl’s hands are tied up and hung under the beams of a house. A red-haired, thin teenager wakes up in a chair, twisting and crawling like a new-born cub. He unties the girl’s rope, and when he tries to whip the girl, the girl turns against him, taking off her coat in the process, revealing a red plastic coat underneath, and begins to whip the boy. The boy runs away and recoils, like a dying slave.

Scenario B: A feathered bird(man) comes to the center of the dancefloor with a human companion, covered with the Communist Party flag. The bird finishes a poem full of enigmatic cryptic intention and thrusts himself into a violent waltz, trampling the human model and flag to the point of exhaustion.

Both dramatic scenes come from the performance portion of EVO event, and the main character of the show – the whipped boy, the dancing bird is the owner of the EVO, Wu Youyi (1ove1etter.exe). Chatting with him I was immediately surprised of his acute understanding of his practice, his peers and his thoroughness in what he does. On the other hand, every time I watch his stoic and emotionally cathartic performance a prevailing sense of nihilism washes over me. I interviewed Youyi, and as expected, “Nothingness” is a concept of EVO’s making, and the creation itself sublimates this so-called “nihilism”. In addition, EVO has its own unique views on the current status and development of Chinese youth culture.

Subtropical Asia: Please describe what EVO is. When did it begin, who’s involved, and what how do you divide up the work?

EVO: Interdimensional exploration and experimentation with enriched amber. EVO was born in the pink crystal of the lightwave channel above the atmosphere at 14:37:59 on August 29, 2019. It is currently in a state of incubation at the initial stage of unknown embryonic evolution. Members include: 1ove1etter.exe (love letter program)-master/planner/copywriter/performance. odd.vi7t-Vision and Installation Extreme John-Music/Visual/Planning. Sierra Lima-Music God Law Da-Music. Aqua Market-music.

Last summer, I (Youyi) took the initiative to find everyone. After an interview, we were established like this. Usually we are all busy, we don’t gather when we have nothing to do. Generally, everyone will participate in important things. This kind of operation is very good for me. Everyone just treats it as a hobby – and keep it that way. Too trivial, I think it is a pure intersection.



Sierra Lima

God Law Da

Extreme John

There are a lot of events organizers and labels in Shanghai, how does EVO stand out from the crowd, and what do you believe is the biggest difference between you and other organizers?

Unknown. EVO exists to be different, otherwise there’s no meaning to EVO’s existence. The EVO changes at every stage, but the whole is implemented under a conceptual system. Those who have followed our social media should be able to pinpoint the differences in the details, with the theme of each event largely based on a rare Chinese character, a fictional image, or poetic aesthetic, to promote this tiny but sweeping worldview. This stems from my childhood and the influence of Chinese classical literature and aesthetics. Although at this stage what we are doing is exploring new things – which is actually a bit contradictory, but on reflection, it’s not an issue. China’s ancient myths and mythical literature have shows us the ancients’ tremendous and brilliant imagination, and what we are doing now is to perpetuate and innovate this divergent way of thinking and this fictional world. If you look closely at the works of diverse worlds created by many new media artists, you will find that many are connected to our traditional ghost culture, and the only difference is in shape and technology. We want to present our theme activities in a way that is more oriental and cutting edge.

Where did your style come from? Personally, I think it’s an interesting mix, and in addition to the futuristic texture and cyberpunk aesthetics we often see in Shanghai’s underground electronic circles, but also a elements of Japanese visual kei, and even Killing Matt – is this visual conflict intentional?

It comes from some game and animation elements combined with my own fantasy. I have been a fan of fantasy since I was a child, and imagination is very important to me. It is indeed a mixture, but this kind of conflict is not intentional. I’ve observed how this culture in China has flourished over the past two years – I’ve seen a lot of young and bright people here, all forming a unique Chinese vision kei, sending out an anarchic inner exclamation. It does combine many elements, but it must have contemporary Chinese elements. Not only can traditional Chinese labels can represent Chinese culture, but seem to be creating new visual systems in a state of mixed information fragments, yet to be defined. Even the birth of the so-called “yabi”(which directly translates into subcultural cunts) last year, led to many misunderstood media influencers to follow and consume this trend, but there was no rational discussion behind this phenomenon, only boring accusations and a narrow view of new things. “smart”(杀马特)  is a sub-dimensional derivative of the Japanese visual kei which created by the domestic characteristic environment and cultural atmosphere became a unique phenomenon in its time. “The term vision kei was originally derived from X JAPAN’s guitarist Hide, based on band’s name X-Psychedelic Violence: Crime of Visual Shock”. Used to describe Japan’s underground music scene in the 1980s, heavily influenced by hair rock and metal (which of course originated from the West). The aesthetics of the visual kei were overly and overtly dramatic, a new system imported from Western genres and internalized within Japan. And “smart”(杀马特) is another branch of culture that has imported and evolved over two foreign countries. What we need to do is present the current activity well. The aim is to bring together and discover the domestic musicians and artists with their own characteristics, and shape this new form of Chinese youth culture.

Your performances have a strong sense of structure as well as a strong emotional catharsis. I’ve seen a few shows where I can truly touched by the emotions on display. How do you design your performances, and what kind of experience do you look to give audiences?

I have no academic background. For me, the meaning of life is nothing. My creative logic is based on all surrealism, supplemented by my dreams, meditation, hazy poetry, and self-reflection to create an illusion. So usually my performances are very personal, with no social resonance, no satire, no cultural appropriation. But there will be a spontaneous slant toward philosophy and poetry, that is, through an abstract, image-like theme drama combined with non-academic, has unlimited interpretations. The content of the whole performance will be combined with modern dance and Urban Dance, experimental drama, poetic imagery, free singing and other forms, to express the nihilism and true feelings within my hear.. To be clear, this nihilism does not mean that I am a nihilist, but rather it’s how I draw strength from the nihilism. In the philosophy and artistic aesthetics of the East, “nothingness”, “pause” or “blank white” is highly respected, and is even regarded as an ideal aesthetic form. Nothing may be left behind after the nihilism, like a fantasy I have created – a true illusion. Because the real world is boring and scarce enough for me, I want to stay in my illusion for a while to escape the sense of meaninglessness that reality brings to me. Whether the audience can understand it or not feel it, I can accept it. This is just a dream.

Your official member avatar is neutral, will also invite drag queen to perform, the performance will also have some more kinky elements, about gender, sex, do you have special expressions and appeals?

Taking sexual minorities as a sign of group division reflects the particularity of minorities. Is this particularity necessary? For example, the characteristics of sexual minorities are equivalent to left-handers. They may be born with or acquired. Are we going to categorize left-handers as a special group? When society no longer widens the discussion of sexual minorities, it shows that society has only begun to learn tolerance, and everything will be solved by itself. Biological gender, whether it is masculinity or femininity, changes with the evolution of history. It is a product of discourse and a product of heterosexual hegemony. It is formed in sexual practice and gender practice. Everyone’s growth is the result of the interaction of genes and the environment. Many human differences are not due to one gene, but the interaction of many genes. Gender is a social construction based on physical gender. Individuals are born as males and females and do not have a natural gender identity. They acquire gender identity in the process of growing up, and then grow into men and women through social construction.  Although physical gender is acquire at birth, social gender is neither internal nor fixed, but a product of one’s interaction with society. It will change with time and culture. The so-called cross-dressing refer to reconstruction based on social construction, not a castle in the air.Women, sexual minorities, people of color, and the working class-threaten the normative subject all the time. They are ghosts of the perfect world. They remind us of the necessity and urgency of restructuring of meaning and subject reconstruction. EVO advocates breaking all gender stereotypes and respecting all gender differences. Compared to gender, the frequency of consciousness is more important to us. In the previous EVO experimental performances, we seldom express sex and gender (sexual characteristics are not important to EVO), and more about the struggle between the two and the evolution of abstract concepts.