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TRADE WARS
Leading electronic fest Ultra expands to China, India
By Shaun TANDON
New York (AFP) April 10, 2017


British DJ to perform world's highest gig on Everest
Kathmandu (AFP) April 10, 2017 - Influential British DJ Paul Oakenfold has reached Mount Everest's base camp where he plans to host the "highest party on earth", performing a set at 5,380 metres (17,600 feet).

As climbing season in Nepal kicks into gear, few of the mountaineers heading to the world's highest peak were likely expecting to be joined by the three-time Grammy nominated artist and his dance beats.

Oakenfold -- whose three-decade long career has included collaborations with Madonna and U2 -- is due to perform a set at base camp on Tuesday morning.

"We are here now doing sound checks. We are really looking forward to the show tomorrow. Everyone is really excited here," Oakenfold told AFP by phone from base camp on Monday.

The 53-year-old artist said he had no trekking experience before he set out on the 10-day walk to Everest with a team of yaks and porters hauling the audio equipment needed for the event.

Oakenfold trained for four months before arriving in Nepal in between a hectic schedule of late night gigs, he said.

"I'm not going to pretend it was easy to get here... but it has been a wonderful trek. If you could see the view I'm looking at, it is very inspiring," he said.

The world's highest peak will provide a very different kind of high to Oakenfold's usual shows, which often draw thousands of revellers.

"The audience will probably be sitting mostly. The air is so thin here, you will run out of breath quite quickly," said Ranzen Jha, a Nepali DJ accompanying Oakenfold.

The gig is the first in the record producer's SoundTrek series, aimed at drawing attention to the effects of global warming and raising money for charities.

Oakenfold is also raising funds to help survivors of Nepal's devastating 2015 earthquake, which killed nearly 9,000 people and left thousands homeless, many of whom are still living in temporary shelters.

"I want to support in the rebuilding and to shed light on the environment... I would like to do my bit," he said.

But not everyone is keen on the idea, with some complaining that the renowned DJ is disturbing the peace and tranquility of the Himalayas.

Leading electronic music festival Ultra announced an expansion Monday to China and India, sensing a bright future for the booming genre in the world's two most populous countries.

Ultra Music Festival, launched in 1999 in Miami when electronic dance music was beginning to find mass audiences in the West, also plans to head to Australia which will bring the party to six continents.

The September 9-10 edition in Shanghai marks the first entry of an international music festival into mainland China, which has a number of homegrown events that have drawn global talent.

Russell Faibisch, Ultra's president, CEO and executive producer, said he has been spending time in China since 2012 and sensed a strong appetite for electronic dance music.

"There is no other genre like electronic music now, or ever, in the history of music," Faibisch told AFP.

"It's the one genre that brings everyone together no matter what country you're in, what language you speak," he said.

Ultra will come to India in September in New Delhi with a second edition set for February 2018 in Mumbai. The Indian events for now will be "Road to Ultra" shows which have single rather than multiple stages.

Another major electronic festival, Las Vegas-based Electric Daisy Carnival, came to New Delhi in November, while the western beach state of Goa is already home to the popular Sunburn festival.

Electronic music revelers, often decked out in extravagant outfits for hours of sweaty dancing, have increasingly crossed borders. Ultra's flagship event in Miami last month drew 165,000 people from more than 60 countries, according to organizers.

Faibisch, who said Ultra tailored each event to local musical preferences, explained that he witnessed the potential for growth in Asia by seeing so many fans travel within the region.

Elsewhere in Asia, Ultra has editions in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

"I think the artists really love going and playing there because the fans are so enthusiastic about it," Faibisch said of Asia.

"Their energy is very high, maybe because it's something that's newer in that region."

- Ibiza residency planned -

Just a couple of decades ago, China and India were relative backwaters for many Western concert promoters despite their billion-plus populations.

Along with rising incomes, China and especially India have seen musical tastes shaped by the streaming revolution with fans instantly enjoying access to DJs who once seemed remote.

Electronic dance music has also kept rising in the West, outpacing other genres in streaming and performance revenue expansion.

"I just see this continuing to grow and become even more popular in all corners of the world," Faibisch said of dance music.

Ultra also announced that Resistance, its stage for more underground electronic music, will have a six-week residency from July 25 on the Spanish island of Ibiza at Privilege, billed as the world's largest club.

Faibisch, calling the island crucial for the Ultra brand, promised "a production that has never been seen in Ibiza before" led by British DJ pair Sasha and John Digweed.

The Road to Ultra will come to Melbourne in February 2018 with a full-fledged festival planned in both Melbourne and Sydney in 2019.

TRADE WARS
US agrees to ChemChina's $43 bn takeover of Syngenta
Beijing (AFP) April 5, 2017
US authorities have agreed to the $43 billion takeover of Swiss pesticide giant Syngenta by state-owned ChemChina, marking the biggest overseas acquisition by a Chinese firm. The move lays the path for what would be the latest in a string of foreign investments by Chinese firms fuelled by Beijing's call for its companies to "go out" and expand. It also comes days before a meeting between ... read more

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