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Shanghai Doom pushes boundaries with collab-ridden short player, ‘Collision’ [EP Review + Q&A]

Conscious Electronic caught up with the dynamic dubstep duo for the inside scoop into their creative process, inspirations, and the making of their recent Collision EP.

Hailing from Central Jersey, dubstep and space bass connoisseurs Shanghai Doom have caught the eyes and ears of enthusiasts all over with their heavy, experimental style and killer collaborations within the bass stratosphere. The power-duo have already scored releases on Wakaan, Bassrush, Wormhole Music Group, and the latest to pick up the rising stars, Underdog Records.

The four-track project is a wild ride from start to finish, tapping into some of the underground scene’s most innovative talent to test the limits and expand previously conceived notions of bass music. Here’s what Mike and Andrew, the pair behind Shanghai Doom, had to say about their Collision EP:

“Shanghai Doom is already one big collaborative project between the two of us, so it’s always fun to add more producers into the mix to see what we come up with. The Collision EP tells the story of the Shanghai mothership crash-landing on a distant planet, and being thrust into a time warp.”

Shanghai Doom
Photo courtesy of Shanghai Doom/Facebook.

Kicking off with a heavy collaboration with the Underdog boss himself, the EP doesn’t keep listeners waiting for heavy drops full of their signature wonky samples and vibrating synths. Infused with Protohype’s atmospheric flair, the leading track is also the most comprehensive, tied together with an airy interlude and epic, cinematic bridge before bringing it back down to earth for another headbang-worthy drop.

Keeping up the momentum is “Blasters” ft. Toadface, a groovy ode to old-school video games, trap hats and reese synths, while “Shockwave” taps XTALS for a deliciously growly yet sparse descent into a meticulously crafted world of sub-bass and clever sound design.

Collision’s closing track is arguably the EP’s most unconventional offering, serving as a glimpse into Shanghai Doom’s and their collaborator Smoakland’s abilities to push the confines of their musical toolset to new dimensions. The appropriately titled “Time Warp” operates on a different plane, built on a triple meter time backbone and riddled with syncopations and instances of borrowed time, all driven by a heady ascending bassline that makes the mere two and a half minute track fly by before you know it.

Shanghai Doom – Collision EP

CE: What have been some of your biggest inspirations and influences throughout your music careers, for both Collision EP and in general?

Mike: I first got into electronic music around 2007/2008 and started listening to house music and hardstyle.  In the early 2010’s I started to get more into dubstep styles brought on by artists like Kill the Noise, Porter Robinson’s ‘Spitfire EP’, Knife Party, Skrillex, Getter – I also really took a liking to wonky trap shit around that time like Bro Safari, UZ, Brillz, Valentino Khan.  I’ll always really enjoy that stuff but I would say my tastes have gotten more and more experimental over the years.  Hearing sets and tracks from artists like Yheti, G Jones, Liquid stranger really changed my perspective on the genre and helped me really get into the world of sound design.  My taste for music is eclectic, I really like it all and have an influence of it all in my work.

Andrew: My inspirations in music have changed over the years ranging from artists like Deadmau5 and Skrillex to the most random producers on SoundCloud.  Some of my current favs rn are Yates, Adiidas, Runnit. As for the Collision EP, I’d say the influences/inspiration would be the 4 collaborators. Shoutout to them all for being super dope and working with us.

CE: Shanghai Doom is the bass child of your solo projects, Aylen and Zhomek, fusing together your signature styles and skills. How would you describe each of your unique contributions to the collective sound?

Andrew: For my previous solo project ‘Aylen’ I experimented with many genres from house to trap/dub to moombahton and so on. After teaming up with Mike for Shanghai Doom I ended up sticking to breaks and house on that front. As for who contributes what, the main reason we combined forces was because we were both able to tackle all areas of a song on our own. It’s nice because if one of us wants to take a break the other can take over. We usually balance each other out just in different areas for different songs.

Mike: I draw influence from lots of different world styles and artists – sometimes it’s really hard to pinpoint – it’s really based on mood or what I’ve been feeling/listening to at the moment.  Or sometimes it’s just a dump of emotions and frantic ideas into Ableton.  Either way, I always try to bring a certain level of energy to the way I write songs and usually like to keep things wacky but hard.

Photo courtesy of Shanghai Doom/Facebook.

CE: Expanding on your dubstep roots, you continue to push the envelope in terms of both sound design and composition- “Time Warp” with Smoakland is a great example of utilizing unorthodox time signatures and syncopation. What is the vision for your music in terms of experimentation? What direction do you see the genre going in as a whole?

The best part about writing experimental music is that there aren’t any rules.

– Shanghai Doom

We can just make what we think sounds dope.  If it happens to follow a structure then so be it, if it doesn’t, whatever.  We don’t follow a formula we really just write what we think sounds dope and we think would sound cool live.

CE: What are some favorite venues and/or festivals, either in your own digs of New Jersey or beyond? Any crazy stories from pre-pandemic times you’d like to reminisce with us?

We’ve been to a bunch of different festivals in life either as artists or as fans- Electric forest stands out as a favorite because we really experienced it as both – from playing the Jaenga Bus renegade late night to running around in the Forest, it was seriously one of the craziest experiences.  The festival itself is beautiful and you can really get lost for hours in those woods.  A dream set for us would be to play on the Observatory stage there.

One venue that’s super special to us is Webster Hall NYC.  It’s been through a lot but that venue holds a serious special place in our hearts – all the artists We’ve seen there that have inspired us and all the friends we’ve made along the way – most of them tie back to webster hall in some way.  It was going through renovations recently and was just starting to get poppin’ again too right before the pandemic.

CE: What are you guys most likely up to when you’re not making music?

Mike: Writing music or working on Shanghai Doom in some way is really most of my life right now, but I also love playing video games, working out, snowboarding, and getting stoned and watching tv or scary shit on YouTube that gives me anxiety.

Andrew: Most of my time is devoted to Shanghai Doom and music, but I’m trying to learn to detach from my computer and the internet more nowadays. I’ve been listening to more podcasts and trying to be healthier. I’ll still go down the rabbit hole on YouTube occasionally though and spend way too much time on Netflix lol.

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Featured Image: Prolo Photo.