Wei-Shen: A househead defined

House music; remember that? I’m talking straight-up, four-to-the-floor, deep, spine-tingling goodness. For some, it’s been dead for years. For others, it’s recently been surpassed by the latest hybrid – that nasty electro stuff – but for a few, the classic, organic form of house is still something to get down to and to support at all costs.

Enter Wei-Shen, a tireless ambassador for the Australian house movement and a DJ-producer that is currently making big waves on both the Australian and international scenes. Already a resident DJ at a number of Australia’s finest club nights – including Famous and Kink – a producer-at-large as one third of Those Usual Suspects, specialist radio show host and an unashamed ‘househead’, Wei-Shen’s star continues to rise. It’s set to continue its ascent, with Wei-Shen recently ranking #36 in the 2007 inthemix50 poll and mixing CD2 of the latest Ministry Of Sound ‘Housexy’ compilation.

Teaming up with ‘Housexy’ regular Alan Thompson, Wei-Shen’s first compilation is – as expected – a sample of tracks that are rocking clubs worldwide at present. His effort is a mix of bumpy, percussive, piano-laden cuts, disco hooks and slightly more deep and driving tracks; think Roger Sanchez, Purple Music’s Jamie Lewis, Sole Channel’s Mr V, Defected label darling Dennis Ferrer and Strictly Rhythm’s Todd Terry Allstars. Interesting, it is Wei-Shen’s own productions, completed with partners and best mates Atridge and Maarcos under their Those Usual Suspects, that really impresses, contributing to him being able to tread the fine line between “accessibility and playing underground,” something Wei-Shen believes is extremely important if the house genre is to continue its evolution.

“I didn’t want to make it too underground,” he explains. “This mix captures my preferred sound, particularly in Australia. Alan’s is probably the main room and my mix is probably setting the mood and a bit more of that side room kind of vibe. There are 2 or 3 tracks [on the mix] that I’ll probably cop a bit of heat from the ‘House Music Gestapo’, but in terms of trying to reach the next generation of kids and expose them to house – as opposed to the current electro or indie sound – you need these tracks to at least entice them to give the CD a listen.”

Tight mixing, a good ear for transition and, perhaps more importantly, a genuine love and passion for house shine through on this energetic mix, the offer of which came as a ‘very pleasant surprise’. “I guess [because] house music [is] not the most popular genre of music going around in Australia at the moment, sometimes you don’t receive the accolades or get noticed as much as the DJs who play more mainstream music,” he says. “Sometimes you can get disillusioned and wonder whether people are going to still love this style of music; it happens to the best of us! But after seeing the strength of it in the UK, Asia and on [things like] YouTube of the Defected In The House parties, I still get the shivers and it motivates me to continue pushing the cause – ‘for the love of house’ – alongside other like-minds. It puts a smile back on my face as I know I can play underground – stuff which would be classified as underground in Australia – and still rock a club.”

Having toured extensively throughout Asia and Europe – most recently embarking on a six date tour in July through Colombo, Dubai, Dublin, Mykanos, Barcelona and London – where he played Kinki Malinki at Turnmills alongside international mainstays Soul Central, Lenny Fontana and K-Klass – Wei-Shen is now gearing up to take the ‘Housexy’ tour around his Australian backyard. Particularly excited to be visiting several regional cities, including Townsville, Cairns and Darwin, Wei-Shen hopes the house bug will catch and further build the genre down under. Back in Melbourne for now, though, Wei-Shen looms as a DJ-producer on the up. As resident of Famous at Queensbridge, Wei-Shen regularly plays to a crowd of over 2000 punters, largely without having to play a constant supply of anthems that many DJs feel they have to work into their sets to hold a crowd.

“Famous is huge at the moment, it’s probably the biggest club night in Australia,” he says forthrightly. ”[But] when they put me in the main room there, obviously you have to adapt to the surroundings so my sound is a bit more of that Sanchez-Morillo big-room sound. Thanks to my production partners Maarcos and Atridge I’ve become pretty liberal in terms of the house music I play and appreciate, and often there is nothing more satisfying than disproving the misnomer that house music DJs can’t rock a main room. However, there are a couple of tracks for me that are definitely off limits; I think you need to draw the line so at least you can define your sound.”

Production-wise, Those Usual Suspects are defining a sound all their own and one which is being supported by some of the world’s leading DJ-producers. With their well-received cut ‘Dakka’ featuring on several compilations for Ministry Of Sound and Hed Kandi since its signing to Bob Sinclar’s Africanism imprint, remixes of Mark James, TV Rock and Andy J about to drop locally, and a new production signed to French house veteran Claude Monnet’s SSOH label, there is no doubt that Wei-Shen and Those Usual Suspects are, as their website says, ‘Keeping House Music Alive From Down Under’.

With the Housexy tour looming, a whistle-stop South-East Asian visit confirmed for late November and early December, plus a beautiful Australian summer season about to commence – not to mention his own Those Usual Suspects radio show broadcasting fortnightly worldwide on prominent house stations including SS Radio UK and Pulse – Wei-Shen is, as anyone who does what they love for a living, quite chuffed. “In terms of satisfaction, I could sleep with a smile on my face just listening to house tunes all night.”

‘Housexy’, mixed by Alan Thompson and Wei-Shen, is out now on Ministry Of Sound/EMI. Wei-Shen and Alan Thompson will be taking the Housexy sound on the road throughout October and November:

Fri 5th Oct – One Nightclub, Albury – Alan Thompson

Sat 6th Oct – The Roxy, Parramatta -Alan Thompson

Fri 12th Oct – Bustin, Wollongong -Alan Thompson

Sat 13th Oct – Club4Play, Geelong – Alan Thompson & Wei Shen

Fri 19th Oct – Platinum, Gold Coast – Alan Thompson & Wei Shen

Sat 20th Oct – Bombay Rock, Townsville – Alan Thompson & Wei Shen

Thu 25th Oct – Mean Fiddler, Rouse Hill – Alan Thompson & Wei Shen

Fri 26th Oct – Level 1, Shepparton – Alan Thompson

Sat 27th Oct – Melbourne or Sydney (TBC) – Alan Thompson & Wei Shen

Fri 2nd Nov – Velvet Underground, Cairns – Alan Thompson & Wei Shen

Sat 3rd Nov – Syrup, Hobart – Wei Shen

Fri 9th Nov – Rolling Rock, Noosa – Alan Thompson

Sat 10th Nov – Melbourne or Sydney (TBC) – Alan Thompson & Wei Shen

Fri 16th Nov – Friction at Academy, Canberra – Alan Thompson

Sat 17th Nov – HQ, Adelaide – Alan Thompson

Sat 17th Nov – Discovery, Darwin – Wei Shen

Sat 24th Nov – Family, Brisbane – Alan Thompson & Wei Shen