Wei-Shen: Not your usual suspect

This hard-working Melbourne-based DJ-producer has been making quite a name for himself in the last few years, routinely rocking Australia’s finest clubs in between getting busy in the studio with production partners Maarcos and Atridge as Those Usual Suspects. Australia’s Hussle imprint, Bob Sinclar’s Africanism label, Claude Monnet’s SSOH and UK heavyweight Defected have all cottoned on to this Australian’s talent, with Defected most recently releasing Those Usual Suspects’ remixes of Bob Sinclar and Steve Edwards’ ‘Together’ and Kings Of Tomorrow’s ‘Finally’.

Wei-Shen recently returned home from an extended international tour, taking in dates in Dubai, Bahrain, Paris, Ibiza and London, where he represented Australasia alongside a collective of DJs from the four corners of our earth for ‘Defected Clubland Adventures’ at Ministry Of Sound. Now back home and sitting tight with Maarcos and Atridge in the studio putting together more deep house gems, Wei-Shen takes time out to chat with ITM.

How did Those Usual Suspects come together?

The group started off with Maarcos and I. We subsequently caught wind that a gifted guitarist, Atridge (disciple of Herbie Hancock and a very distant relative of the late James Brown), who’d been tearing up the local jazz scene was keen to join us in the studio. To cut a long story short, we got on like a house on fire, have been working together ever since and called ourselves Those Usual Suspects.

After a several well-received releases, what is next on the horizon?

We recently finished a remix of Axwell, Bob Sinclar & Ron Carroll ‘What A Wonderful World’, and we’re also close to completing two originals, one with a deep Afro flavour and another reminiscent of Dimitri inspired disco-house with our Those Usual Suspects finish. Apart from the production, it’s business as usual behind the decks for Maarcos and I, while Atridge cruises around town and delivers Pizza’s in his Bugati Veyron.

How did your relationship with Defected start? What releases have you on the label?

Probably a few years back after I started busting Defected’s chops to be added to their promo list. Haha! More recently, it was after I mixed Ministry of Sound Australia’s 2007 Housexy Compilation and licenced a couple of Defected tracks for it. After meeting Simon Dunmore [Defected label boss] when he toured down under earlier this year, we kept in touch and he signed our remixes of Bob Sinclar ‘Together’ and Kings of Tomorrow ‘Finally’.

What do you think of Defected as a brand and its mission to stay true to ‘proper’ house?

Defected is an evergreen house music label which is willing to evolve and push quality house music in whatever form it takes. You only need to look at the number of sub-labels and the broad range of artists who currently release on or remix for Defected. Whilst several other labels have fallen by the wayside, Defected is at the forefront and continues to stamp its presence in the dance music market. The definition of “proper house” is subjective… the fact is Defected are pushing quality house, whether accessible or underground. Enough said.

How was your recent tour? Sounds like you were on the go the whole time.

I toured and played in Dubai, Bahrain, Essex, Ibiza, Paris and London. Some of these shows were arranged by Kinki Malinki and Defected – both of whom are big dogs in the European clubbing scene. The shows at Zinc (Dubai), Ministry of Sound (London) with Defected and Djoon (Paris) were off the hook! The amount of flying seriously drained me, though I managed to return with a decent tan, a suitcase full of duty free, a massive hole in my credit card and a huge hankering for paella. You understand why they call Europe the home of house music once you’ve witnessed the scene up there. It’s nothing short of healthy and diverse. While the scene is kicking down under, it does dawn on you how far away we are from the real action.

Any other big tours on the horizon?

I’m spending most of my time at the moment with my boys – Maarcos and Atridge – in the studio, but I should be touring Dubai, Bahrain, India, China and South East Asia before the year end. Also look out for Defected’s next Alumbra in House compilation. It’ll be tres hot!

Those Usual Suspects are gaining quite a name for themselves; how do you work together in the studio? What process do you go through in putting tracks together?

We’ve still got a long way to go. Nonetheless, it’s a good feeling when you hear another artist supporting one of your tracks. It keeps us motivated. Each of us bring something different to the group – Atridge’s musical bloodline, Maarcos’ composition and technical abilities – and he has the best Afro chant of anyone from Asian descent – and my cut and polish. All of us sit in, bounce ideas against one another and contribute throughout the entire process. It helps us keep things fresh, and only once all three of us are happy will we sign-off on a track.

What are your thoughts on the state of the scene at present? Where do you think we’re heading sound-wise?

Hmmm… I think house music is plugging along nicely on the international front. There’s a bucket-load of accessible house music coming out which deservedly has captured the attention of the commercial market and the next generation of impressionable clubbers. This is where I think artists like Bob Sinclar have played a pivotal role in exposing house music in its most digestible form. Whilst the purists bark at and criticise artists for producing commercially friendly music – or for “selling-out” so to speak – they fail to realise artists like Bob have done the scene a massive favour by exposing house to a broader audience, most of whom would not typically listen to house, so it breeds the next generation of clubbers… in doing so, it’s ironically kept the purists in work by continuing to create a demand for our sound.

Who are some of the big names championing your sound? What advice have you taken from them?

Bob Sinclar, Roger Sanchez, Louie Vega, Swedish House Mafia, Erick Morillo, Laidback Luke, Martin Solveig, DJ Gregory, David Guetta, Simon Dunmore, Mousse T, Osunlade, Raul Rincon and one of my favourite Poms… Kinki Malinki’s very own Grant “Tim Tams” Richards, amongst many others. Sorry to name drop! We haven’t received any advice from these artists but we often seek inspiration from their production works.

Thoughts on the state of the Australian scene? From a DJ perspective or producer’s perspective?

Dance music-wise, the scene is flourishing and this is evident from the number of international acts coming to Australia. There was a noticable shift towards indie and electronica last year, however there seems to be a shift back towards house, progressive and minimal. It would be great to see more house artists returning to our shores and parties such as Respect Is Burning being resurrected once again. From a producer perspective, the local scene as a whole has made decent inroads on the international scene. Especially with the likes of Dirty South, TV Rock, The Presets, Hook N Sling… hopefully us… and many others getting a truckload of support overseas and representing the Aussie flag. We’re in a good state moving forward.