Elevate your frequency with Shai FM
the Bay Area to Philly Producer and Artist with a wide blend of styles
Producing under his Shai FM moniker, Jia Liu creates music that’s infused with organic rhythms and soul, exploring the boundaries between genres and eras. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area’s electronic music scene, his influences span house, breaks, club, bass, ambient, and more. His debut album, Breathe, was a meditation on love, hope and loss amidst the global pandemic. Relocating to Philadelphia, his latest projects draw inspiration from the energy of a world reawakening from lockdowns, lending a clubbier, dancefloor-driven direction to his sound.
What is the inspiration behind your music?
“I’m heavily influenced by 90s / 2000s electronic music from the SF Bay Area. I have a huge soft spot for anything that blends percussive rhythms with soulful, emotive music, whether it’s house, techno, breaks, jungle, ambient, or classical music. I don’t think I’ve walked away from any music without being influenced in some way, but among the music I’ve released, there’s definitely a deep, groovy, introspective orientation to it.”
Do you have any favorite instruments in your collection?
“Piano, hands down. I learned a few instruments (poorly), but wish I’d really stuck with formally learning piano more. It’s so expressive and powerful for music composition. If I couldn’t make electronic music anymore, I’d probably just jam on a piano on top of a drum track.”
What projects are you working on now?
“Working on another album reflecting the music I’m feeling these days. I listened to DJ Python’s Mas Amable on repeat during COVID and would love to release my stuff as a continuous mix, along with the individual tracks. As for DJ gigs, I just moved and I’m still getting my bearings. Stay tuned.”
Have there been any challenges you have faced in the music industry?
“Imposter’s syndrome and defining my sound. If you’re a discerning listener, you’ll inevitably feel like your music objectively sucks for a long time. I finally feel like I’m getting past the point where I cringe when I listen to my music, but I still don’t feel like I’ve reached where I can say without qualification that I’m proud of my music. Part of that is wanting to try making different things instead of buckling down and truly mastering a genre or sound. That said, I mostly don’t anguish over it and feel lucky to exist in a time and place where I can make and enjoy what I do.”
Is dance music important and why? What do you think about the future of dance music?
“I can’t pretend to know what the future of electronic music will be, but dance has existed as long as we’ve existed as human beings, in a way that transcends language and concepts. It’s a way of finding ourselves and each other when we otherwise live such atomized, divided lives. Even as the technology of production and distribution reshapes how we experience music, the underlying why remains the same across time and generations—and I think there’s something unifying and hopeful about that.”
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