These Asian DJs are revolutionizing the EDM scene

How diverse can electronic dance music (EDM) really be? Four genre-blending Asian DJs are shaking up the world of EDM and carving out a place for themselves.

“The rhythm of the music was precisely 120 beats per minute, the frequency of the fetal heartbeat, and the same rhythm thought to be used by South American shamans to bring their tribes into a trance state,” said said the American writer – and the sixth most influential thinker in the world – Douglas Rushkoff, in his lecture entitled “Consciousness”.

With EDM and dance music in general establishing itself as a crucial part of popular culture, DJs and music producers are taking on the role of artists who define our collective leisure and, with them, dictate how new spiral of art and culture will turn. .

Meet 4 Asian DJs who are shaking up the world of EDM

Henry Fong

Who would have thought that reggae and dubstep went hand in hand with EDM? The coexistence of the two genders inside the same piece may look like the hypothetical union between Aries and Pisces (which astrologers and fortune tellers believe is doomed), but s there is an artist capable of succeeding, it is Florida. -born Henry Fong, who rose to prominence after remixing Dillon Francis’ “Without You” in 2014.

Fong’s DJ career started in college after saving enough money to buy a mixer and two turntables, then endured countless sleepless nights browsing tutorials and asking friends for help. to learn the popular Ableton music production software. Unlike many of his peers, Fong was not trained to be a music producer by Hollywood mentors. Instead, he started in Orlando doing weekly four-day residencies at local clubs. “I started DJing first, then moved on to producing,” he says.

His ultimate, dare we say, piece de resistance as a solo artist is “Pica” – a short but tangy mix of Caribbean and Latin sounds, layered over a colorful electronic confection with characteristically prominent sub-bass characteristics. Think of the success of classical music festivals – summery, fresh and contagious. A month ago, Fong released “Morena,” a new track that plays with Latin music tropes even more than “Pica” and essentially Fong’s love letter to South Florida.

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Peggy Gou

asian djs edm peggy gou

In 2019, “Starry Night” made the soundtrack of underground nightclubs, ballrooms in the techno capital Berghain and all the hottest beach raves in Europe. The visual and musical masterpiece – 90s house mixed with 70s disco combo in a lush, saturated cinematic video – marked the transformation of its author, Korean Peggy Gou, from EDM debutante to international phenomenon of the club scene.

Before becoming Berghain’s resident DJ and a regular at Coachella, Gou was a graduate of the London College of Fashion, whose passions encompassed design, photography and styling. “What stuck with me through it all was the music,” she later said. The Berlin-based Gou learned music production and cultivated her signature style which, despite the universal acclaim that now surrounds her, has been slow to resonate in DJ circles, given the predominant propensity of players in space – white men – to tap on an old T-shirt before the set and call it a day.

Gou inhabits the Club Music Wellness Corner. “It Makes You Forget,” for example, is a tropical heat wave that feels as seamless and luscious in its production as it is invigorating to the mind. The record is soft but not mellow, with Gou’s vocals vibrating and grooving with the beat, as if the calypso is breaking out of Homer’s poems and starting to make music.

Two years before “Starry Night,” Gou met the late Virgil Abloh at the closing party of Stockholm Fashion Week, where the two were performing. He introduced her to New Guards Group, the Italian luxury conglomerate that owns Off-White, AMBUSH and Opening Ceremony. “We see part of Virgil in you,” the executives told Gou during their first meeting. Bingo! In 2019, Gou’s streetwear brand Kirin, backed by New Guards Group, was selling at Farfetch, HBX, YOOX and Lane Crawford. Beyond starry days and nights, Gou lives – and tastes – the galaxy.

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ZHU

ZHU Asian edm DJs

The concept of darkness pervades electronics, from the works of Skrillex to the Swedish House Mafia. However, no DJ’s meticulously curated sadness could compete with ZHU’s in its sexiness.

Chinese-American DJ Steven Zhu rose to prominence in 2014 with the release of “Faded,” a dance track featuring an acidic synth bassline, seductively distorted vocals, and simple keyboard composition that gives an elevated feel. ; it could be described as what one would feel if thick smoke somewhere in the Parisian Castel became a record. In 2014, “Faded” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording.

What many perceived as an overnight success was, in fact, the culmination of years of hard work. Zhu started out as a recording engineer at Dim Mak Records (the Steve Aoki-founded label that represents Borgore, Zedd and The Chainsmokers), where he reportedly wrote ghost tracks for several artists – while occasionally working gigs after hours. opening around Hollywood. . Unfortunately, his efforts went unrecognized and Dim Mak never admitted him to the ranks of star performers.

ZHU persevered. In the summer of 2011, he released the “52 to ZHU” project, in which he created a new track from scratch every week for a year. Soon after, he caught the eye of music producer David Dann, who helped him release “Faded.” Ironically, ZHU chose anonymity as their trademark, inspired by a desire to be judged solely by music. His most recent tracks, while preserving the macabre undertones of earlier compositions, like “Moves Like Ms Jackson”, have developed a luxurious veneer, which has propelled them straight into glamorous nightclubs and the headphones of select glittering wannabes. . Think dark, gold eddies.

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Yuka Mizuhara

edm asian djs

As a basis for their tracks, jazz is far from being a DJ’s first choice – this is especially true now, with genres such as techno at the forefront of the rave scene. Korean-American DJ, model and photographer Yuka Mizuhara, however, is anything but conventional. For starters, there’s this little affair of her older sister, Japanese model Kiko Mizuhara. Yuka Mizuhara, or Ashley Yuka, or simply Yuka, according to her nickname, started mixing music in 2018; later that year – and aged just 23 – she was already performing at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

In her performances, Mizuhara often uses groovy soul hits from the 60s and 70s, with occasional splashes of the 80s, ensuring everyone is upbeat, happy and lighthearted. While it’s hard to imagine Berghain ravers partying to Mizuhara’s tracks, jamming poolside with a margarita to the 46-minute mixtape she debuted at Agnes.b Japan might be a great way to relax on a hot summer afternoon.

The west coast is where Mizuhara is currently making waves. In April, she did a set at the underground bar The Knockout in San Francisco and, a month later, she performed at the Visions festival at Clifton’s Republic, one of the oldest nightclubs in Los Angeles, alongside DJs Acyde and Rodaidh. . Much like his tracks, Mizuhara’s philosophy defies conventional perception of the DJ scene. “DJing should be a matter of mood,” she notes. “You can’t just rely on the same tempo – it’s too easy.”

In 2019, Yuka appeared alongside her sister Kiko and her parents in a special celebrity episode of weird eye, when the Fab Five traveled to Japan. There, the siblings shared how the pandemic forced them to stay in Japan, which provided an opportunity for them to reconnect with family members and each other. “Yukan” be a unicorn, a rainbow, the best version of your inclusive self, when you crave Yuka.

This story first appeared on PrestigeOnline Hong Kong

Colleen D. Ervin