A curry. That's all it takes to get Dido to sing with you. Well, of course, it helps if you happen to be in a group like UK dance giants Faithless. It would also help if the Thank You and White Flag singer happens to be your sister.
And as it turns out, Rollo, one of the principle members of Faithless, is Dido's brother and the only payment required to get her to sing with the group was a hot bowl of Indian chicken.
Faithless frontman Maxi Jazz whips the crowd into a frenzy.
"It is true, but I can't remember what curry - probably a biryani," says the Faithless multi-instrumentalist Sister Bliss.
Kind of makes you wonder what Dido requests on her backstage rider doesn't it? But one thing that Beijing and Shanghai dance fans won't have to wonder about any longer is what it's like to see arguably the world's biggest electronic act live.
Headliners for the Yue Festival, which will be held this weekend in Beijing and the following weekend in Shanghai, Faithless will play in venues a little smaller than some of the ones they are used to. They've peered out into oceans of people at events like the Glastonbury Music Festival, and footage of their shows reveals thousands of fans working themselves up into a right old lather. In the capital, however, they will storm the mid-sized Star Live stage. So, is size important in this instance?
Sister Bliss says they both have their benefits.
"I love huge festival shows, because there is such an opportunity to make a transcendent experience visually, and also, at a festival, you are playing to an audience who hasn't necessarily heard you before, so it is a challenge to win them over," she says.
"But the intimacy and rawness of small shows are also exciting and visceral, and they are an opportunity for the audience to be very close to the band."
Faithless multi-instrumentalist Sister Bliss is no stranger to China.
As more local festivals start to emerge, more big name international groups, such as recent Beijing Pop Festival headliners Nine Inch Nails, are being lured to China where they hope to find an untapped audience. And for many of those stars, it is the first time they have visited the Middle Kingdom, let alone played here. Not so for Sister Bliss, though.
"I have deejayed in China a couple of times, so I know there is now more of a connection with the electronic scene than ever before," she says. "We are also hoping people will not be inhibited and will have a good dance!"
Since their formation in 1995, Faithless has enjoyed huge chart success in the United Kingdom and several of their tracks, such as God is a DJ, Insomnia and We Become 1, have risen to anthemic status. Surprisingly, the band's popularity has not been limited to fans of hip-hop and dance, which is an appeal that Sister Bliss attributes to the kinds of acts they regularly appear with at festivals.
"I think it's because we have been exposed to an audience beyond the clubs by playing many rock festivals, and we out-rock the rockers," she says.
"I also think we make an effort to be inclusive, and Maxi's performance as a front man is really powerful in bringing people from all walks of life together. We are also an eight-piece live band, so there is always something interesting going on onstage."
While you couldn't classify Faithless as strictly a hip-hop or rap act, they have embraced that genre's proclivity for politically minded lyrics. For example, Bombs, the first single from the 2006 album, To All New Arrivals, was banned from MTV for its criticism of the war in Iraq. And while such social critique may seem uncommon in dance music, Sister Bliss says that several stars of the genre are already speaking out on issues that concern them.
"I think activism isn't very present in dance music lyrics, because dance music is often seen as escapist," she says.
"But as a movement, dance music has many activists within it - for example, DJ Paul Van Dyk encouraging young people to vote in the 'Rock the Vote' campaign, World DJ Day, where dance music stars donate their fees to the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre. There are also countless charity DJ events and club nights for the homeless, for AIDS and Amnesty International, to name a few."
The Yue music festival, hosted by Split Works, will also feature other world-renowned performers, including the Grammy-winning Latin-dance outfit, Ozomatli and acclaimed rapper Talib Kweli. These two acts will perform at the Star Live in Beijing on Monday, October 1, followed by Faithless and DJ Youdai the next night. On Friday October 5, Faithless, Talib Kweli and Ozomatli will play at Shanghai's Zhongshan Park.
Star Live, Beijing
Oct 2: Talib Kweli + Ozomatli + DJ V-Nutz
Tickets: 100/140/180 yuan student/advance/door
Oct 3: Faithless + DJ Youdai
Tickets: 160/280/360 yuan student/advance/door, available from www.piao.com.cn or 010 6425 5677
Zhongshan Park, Shanghai
Oct 5: Faithless, Talib Kweli, Ozomatli
Tickets: 140/280/360 yuan student/advance/door, available from www.228.com.cn or 135 2455 1955
(China Daily September 29, 2007)