For a good part of the 19th century, opium dens were places in heavily populated port cities that weary travelers could relax in while smoking narcotics. Two centuries later, in Taipei’s newly opened Opium Den, which has taken up Primo’s old digs, the only thing that’s smoking are the beats. Next Wednesday the cloudes will be thick as Cliche Records welcomes Breakbot (real name Thibaut Berland) to Taiwan.
Cliche Records was started when Ouissam Hoover, a producer-turned-DJ, noticed a hole in Hong Kong’s music scene: international DJs skipping the special administrative region on their Asian tours. So he pitched an idea to his boss at Vibes, where he was resident DJ.
“I proposed The Magician (Stephen Fassano) and things went well. I knew there was an opportunity to build a real scene in Hong Kong, so I contacted people that I knew and who love music to be part of the project.”
One of these friends is Taiwan resident, Jean-Francois Amadei, who got bitten by the DJ bug at Species, a record store in Ximending, three years ago.
“When A-Dao from Species invited me to play some of his vinyl records, it was the first time I had touched a turntable,” Amadei said. “It was a revelation as well as a demystification for me, because deejaying was something I always wanted to do. I’ve compensated my lack of experience by overtraining and spending hours meticulously watching my friends playing.”
Hoover and Amadei joined up with Romain Faipoux, Lisa Harding, and Henri Wu to form Cliche Records — a kind of electronic bridge between Taiwan and Hong Kong. But the two cities are very different when it comes to musical tastes.
“The public in Hong Kong is so versatile that when you bring an even moderately known artist, you are sure to reach at least a minimum of people to fill the venue,” said Amadei.
“Basically, you can count on the artist’s notoriety for your promotional plan, which is not necessarily the case in Taipei where I’ve seen huge artists like Josh Wink, Robert Hood and even Elton John barely fill the venues they were playing at.”
“However, we still have a lot things to do and want to prove that Cliche parties are feasible in Taipei. I know we can build a scene there.”
Even though Cliche Records has had some notable artists come through Hong Kong and Taipei like Jupiter, Classixx, and Don Rimini, next Wednesday’s Breakbot show promises to be their biggest to date.
“Now that we’ve done it, I really look at it as a milestone for Cliche,” said Amadei.
Hoover agrees and says he is excited about the upcoming shows. “In Hong Kong, all our presale tickets are sold out, but what really surprised me was Taipei. It’s going to be an epic party,” he said.
■ Cliche Records presents Breakbot with Irfane on Wednesday from 9pm to 4am at Opium Den, 2F, 297, Zhongxiao E Rd Sec 5, Taipei City (台北市忠孝東路五段297號2樓). Tickets are sold out, but there may be a few more released on Opium Den’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/OD.taipei.