Shanghai-based music school opens door for underground musicians

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Located in a basement in one of Shanghai’s most vibrant areas, Gate Music brings the art of underground music production (literally) to the public, making access to the creative form possible for anyone keen to to learn. It is known in local circles that if someone wants to study DJing and electronic music production, Gate Music is the perfect choice.

We meet the director couple, Hank Yang and Amber Wang, on a Thursday afternoon while they are not tied up in the office. Most students have jobs or school obligations during the day, so they usually come to learn and practice at night or on weekends.

Yang and Wang founded Gate Music in 2018, a facility comprised of a music training center, studio, and event brand, among other business fashions. Back then, they wanted to start a business that they both loved that could really help people as well.

“I have students of all ages, many of whom are disgruntled teenagers,” Yang told RADII.

Of course, he doesn’t see himself as someone who can single-handedly change the situation for every person who walks through Gate’s gates (or doors, if you will), but he thinks his efforts are rewarding.

“I want everyone to learn something they can hold onto long after they leave Gate Music. I would be especially happy if teenagers could find their faith, and it could be music, ”he says.

The company’s music education arm teaches DJ skills and trains students using Ableton Live, a digital audio workstation software used in music production. Training institutions must have Ableton certified instructors to teach the software professionally, and Gate offers two.

A classroom at Gate Music, where students learn how to use Ableton Live to produce music. Image via Gate Music

They offer classes both in person and online, so musicians don’t have to travel to Changning District – or live in Shanghai for that matter – to enroll in a program. Creatives can even request free trial lessons through the Company Website before investing any money in the courses.

“If you are just starting out, then there is no need to buy anything; simply bring your notebook and your passion for learning ”, says Zero, 14 years old, who is by far the youngest student to attend Gate Music.

Gate’s teachers are professional musicians, DJs and producers (many famous in the local underground music scene) who work part-time at the school. Their academic list includes Zean, ydd (Hank Yang), Di Bingyu, Giulio Perinello, Gao Jiafeng, and much more.

For some Gate Music students, it was the talented instructors that sparked their interest in the program. According to a WeChat publication from Gate Music, a student identified as “NSM” linked to the school because he was a fan of Gao Jiafeng.

“The first time I went to the Gate Music event was to learn from them and meet the musician I love,” NSM said in the post.

zean door music

One of Gate Music’s many teachers, Zean is a Shanghai-based producer and DJ. Image via Weibo

For years, Gate Music has served as an educational facility and a hub for music lovers. They maintain a online forum for teachers and students to discuss music and organize events periodically to foster a sense of community among those involved.

Yang believes that DJing requires more social skills than music production, which can be done in isolation and doesn’t necessarily require a performative component. Based on individual preferences and styles, Gate teachers advise students on the approach to take in their learning and help them find jobs in the field where possible.

In addition to the classic production courses, they also teach specialized sound production, which is used in a more practical way, such as in games or movies.

The Gate Music studio already has several accomplishments to its credit, including music featured in Jaguar, Acura and Nike commercials.

door music

Image via Gate Music

And, of course, Gate’s catalog of live artists is constantly expanding. Liao Xiaonong and Guo Tingxu non-ope are two of the many musicians who consider themselves proud students of Gate Music.

In Shanghai’s diverse club scene, you can always find teachers and students associated with this magical basement – if you come across a DJ with a crystal-shaped USB stick that has a “門 (Gate)” on it, chances are he is one of Gate Music’s many alumni.

Cover image via Gate Music

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