November 18, 2022
October 21, 2022
DJ BO, ironic and self-proclaimed “Shanghai’s No. 2 DJ”, wears many hats, both literally and metaphorically; he’s a full-time DJ, college culture lecturer, editor/co-founder of Mongolian culture brand ARTGER, writer and host-curator of The Critical Music Club.
We caught up with the Florida native to find out more about all this and more.
First off, what’s the story behind your silver top hat and child’s costume?
It’s the best I’ve ever watched; three years and it’s been downhill ever since. I grew up in a dance studio, my mother being a dance teacher. I did 10 years of tap, jazz and ballet.
Recently, I took out my tap shoes again and integrated this discipline into performances at LOFAS and Shake. I’m not quite Fred Astaire, but then again, Astaire didn’t know how or where to scratch a James Brown record to get the best breakbeat, so fuck it Fred.
What is The Critical Music Club for those who don’t know?
The Critical Music Club is “The All-Rockin’ Roundtable” where musicians, DJs, music writers and various miscreants meet to talk about music. It started at La Mezcaleria, but has since moved to weekly online meetings on Sundays at 8 p.m.
Basically, it’s a music discussion group, reviewing everything from 1950s folk to local post-punk. People of all levels of knowledge/experience are welcome; as long as you do the “homework” by listening, you will be fine.
Check it out live or the videos I post after on my WeChat channel (BorderBreaks) and YouTube.
What can people expect?
There are two main parts to every meeting. There is a review list, which is a top 5 ranked list on a fun theme, like “Animal Songs” and “Travel Songs”. Our critics send them to me before each meeting, and then we discuss them at the meeting.
Then there are the discussions about the album. Our critics listen to the assigned albums, then we review them at the meeting. For at least one of the albums per meeting, we have someone associated with it who comes to talk about it.
This includes blues guitarist Seth Pandu Blumberg for the Grammy-winning album Ike Turner. Rising with the Blues; Billboard #1 hit songwriter Phillip Jarrell talks about his debut album I sing my songs for you; and local post-punk band Solid Liqui – 固体李逵 – to talk about their album Countless mirages – 无浪击石.
Tell us about some of the guests you have coming…
We have a wide variety…
Legendary Hong Kong DJ Andrew Bull to talk about a very rare mix LP of his being digitized for the first time.
Beijing superstar Helen Feng will talk about her band Nova Heart’s influential self-titled album.
And American experimental/electronic rock band Zen Mother to talk about their new album Millennium Trash Preach.
Are you involved in any other projects at the moment?
Besides writing poetry about soggy cabbage? [See below] I do DJ livestreams on my WeChat (BrianOffenther) both for my regular home at La Mezcaleria and for kids parties; still works daily on ARTGER, the Mongolian documentary brand that I co-founded; and I’m thrilled to relaunch the “GOING THROUGH PAGES Rock N’ Roll Book Club”.
Interesting. Tell us a bit more about ARTGER?
I am co-founder and editor-in-chief of ARTGER, which mainly produces documentaries based in Mongolia. Word ger is the Mongolian word for yurt, and is also the basis of the word family gerbuth. It is therefore an “artistic family”.
I had lived in Mongolia for three years, the first two in the countryside with the American Peace Corps volunteer program. When I have the chance, I still go there every year, whether it’s to bring the first international reggae tour there, to host some of the ARTGER videos myself, but always above all to see a very special place to me.
ARTGER has Facebook, Instagram, Bili Bili, and more, but it’s mostly on YouTube, where he has over 448,000 subscribers. Javkha Ara is the director and the most involved, doing an amazing job.
The breakout star is undeniably Nargie, aka the “homeboy of the bad luck (campaign).” When I met him, he was a part-time Mongolian language teacher for the Peace Corps Volunteers. I knew he was a star right away.
The first time he found himself in front of a TV camera was when I asked him to be the first Mongolian Elvis tribute artist for a little educational show.
Now, because he’s such a celebrity for ARTGER, he’s the face of Little Sheep Hot Pot in Mongolia!
ARTGER also has a weird little brother, called FunkyGer. For this channel, I produced Shanghai-based content, some of which features “Nargie’s Cousin”, City-Boy Baagi.
Scan the QR to discover ARTGER’s YouTube channel:
And what about your GOING THROUGH PAGES Rock N’ Roll Book Club?
I started the GOING THROUGH PAGES Rock ‘N’ Roll Book Club in March 2020, when Shanghai had its first, softer lockdown.
I knew I wanted the events to continue at a time when most venues were closed. I’ve always enjoyed reading and I take my job as a DJ very seriously, which involves knowing everything about music.
I had never been to a book club before, but I also really liked the contradictory spirit of rock ‘n’ roll mixed with something people associate with old ladies in red hats. Shit, I wear a red hat too. Why are these old ladies having fun?
Photo by Zachary C. Bako
All of the books have rock ‘n’ roll as their general theme, from biographies to cultural studies to books on recording studios. We read them at home and then meet to discuss them twice per book.
We were fortunate to have authors and other special guests joining us in person or online, like MC5’s Wayne Kramer and Curtis Mayfield biographer Travis Atria.
We just finished a massive tome on Paul Robeson, who influenced singers like Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan and others. Hit me to join the next book.
The success of this club led me to create the Guilt Free Cin(ema) Club, which organizes film screenings exclusively for public domain films. The highlight of these were silent films starring jazz pianist Tony Bott. Can’t wait to go back to Guilt Free Cin. Club at the end of confinement.
Scan this QR for a YouTube post of a Guilt Free Cin. Introducing the Japanese Silent Film Club A page of madness featuring all of Shanghai’s heavy metal.
Scan the QR to add DJ BO and enter his weird and wonderful world…
It’s for dinner
It’s for a snack
It runs through my veins
When I’m lying on my back
Do I want to talk?
No, there’s soggy cabbage to chop
It’s time to exercise, maybe do some push-ups
But how can I do this, with hands made of turnips
What’s in this kuaidi box, in a neat cardboard packaging?
Maybe something fancy, to make my room more lavish?
Damn, no. This is Traditional Chinese Medicine
And fucking soggy cabbage
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- Andante Music Club starts the 2021-22 season