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Interview with the Creative Minds Behind the Shi Fu Miz

Interview with the Creative Minds Behind the Shi Fu Miz

The little festival with a big, bassy, electronic heart, Shi Fu Miz kicks off October 26th. Five seasons deep, the biannual, two-day festival is ready to wow the socks off festival-goers. With a never-been-done-before party hosted by Boiler Room on the 27th, Shi Fu Miz is gearing up to become one of the most acclaimed festivals in Hong Kong.

We caught up with its creators (creative agency FuFu and DJ collective La Mamie’s) and asked them to spill the beans on how Shi Fu Miz began and what we can expect in this season.

We’re also exclusively offering the Electric Soul community a sneaky 10% off the ticket price when you enter SFMELECTRICSOUL the checkout. Go forth and take full advantage!

Tickets are on sale now! Here is a discount code for our readers: Enter SFMELECTRICSOUL to receive 10% off. Get yours now!

Electric Soul: First, tell us about how the Shi Fu Miz collaboration came to be.


Shi Fu Miz: It all started with an Instagram conversation. A few weeks later, French DJ collective La Mamie’s came to Hong Kong for a gig. From there, Florian (from FuFu) and Victor (from La Mamie’s) decided to collaborate, putting their strengths, knowledge, and experiences together to build a music and art festival in Hong Kong.

Cheung Chau Island a.k.a. Shi Fu Miz’s festival grounds


ES: Why did you choose to host in HK over France?


SFM: Florian is based in Hong Kong and was already wanting to develop something for the region as it is pretty lacking in underground music events and festivals. Also, La Mamie’s already has their own festival in Paris: Macki Music Festival, which launched three years before Shi Fu Miz. We felt we could harness the spirit of Macki, combine it will the vibes of Hong Kong, and stack it full of local and regional talent—and thus, Shi Fu Miz was born. 


ES: What was your festival experience like this past summer? Do you prefer the festival circuit to shows?


SFM: Most of our team spent the summer in Europe, checking out the music scene there and bringing some inspiration back to Hong Kong. We went to some great festivals with really unique venues, curated settings, and forward-thinking sounds. We experimented with different kinds of festivals this summer too, including Dekmantel, Horst, and of course the Macki Music Festival. The festival circuit is always a good thing: summertime, open-air, and good vibes.


ES: Is SFM a reflection of festivals you’ve attended or step in a totally different direction?


SFM: We definitely get some great ideas from all the different festivals that we have been to as festivalgoers and artists, but Shi Fu Miz is a totally different and novel experience, very much tailored to Hong Kong. You won’t get this experience elsewhere and you won’t know what makes it standout amongst the rest unless you immerse yourself in it. When you do, you’ll quickly see why we’ve grown so quick. It’s also really refreshing to get out of the concrete jungle and the small clubs that makeup Hong Kong. 

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Shi Fu Miz Festival – Spring 2019 / AFTERMOVIE

Shi Fu Miz Festival – Spring 2019 / AFTERMOVIE.

Posted by Shi Fu Miz on 4 months ago


ES: Tell us more about your artist curation process? Where and how do you source artists? 


SFM: The team has a very similar taste in music so it’s pretty easy. We always look to book a healthy mix of famous international electronic artists alongside regional and local acts. For international performers, we don’t want the most famous but want artists with great skills and a serious knowledge of music. Don’t miss Peach, Lean Willikens, and Marcellus Pittman.


ES: Can you touch on your collaboration with Boiler Room, how it came to be, and what significance it holds?


SFM: Boiler Room is the biggest streaming platform in the world for electronic music and it is pushing the music scene by broadcasting big names and lesser-known DJs with huge potential. It helps to grow an emerging market like Hong Kong. Since we’ve been getting a lot more attention from the international community, we wanted to give the amazing artists from around Asia a chance to be in the spotlight. So, for the Boiler Room showcase, we chose artists like Ocean Lam, K-Melo, and Utopia instead of heavyweight headliners.


ES: Having only started a few years ago, SFM looks to have a bright future. How do you envision its evolution?


While maintaining stability in Hong Kong is paramount, we’re looking to expand to different countries in Asia. But for now, those details are on the down-low.

Want to know Shi Fu Miz on a deeper level? Check out our latest article about their collab with Boiler Room.

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Our interview with Milanese duo HIVER

Our interview with Milanese duo HIVER

The musical duo Hiver is the story of a friendship, a true “match made in heaven”. Fonds of echoing hypnotic melodies and haunting rhythms, Milanese Giuseppe Albrizio and Sergio Caio have given form to Hiver in 2012. They’ve been described in some features as complementary: a sound designer partnering with a sound engineer, writing and producing together. Surprisingly enough, both men grew up miles from each other, not knowing their future partner was so close all this time.

Juno Plus called their production work “the middle ground between US and European electronic music”. As you’ll discover in this in-depth interview, Giuseppe and Sergio still carry their Italian roots with pride, whether they’re playing their hometown or touring the world. The two musicians just seem to adore Milan, and also gave us some awesome recommendations about their city and its daily life.

Here’s to this fantastic collaboration, in which everything seems to be in its right (and banging) place!

ES: Your story as Hiver only started years later in Milan, with your debut release in 2012. How did you meet, and realized you could create this unique synergy as a musical duo?

HIVER: We met about 8 years ago thanks to a mutual friend. He had a vision that somehow our two personalities could be compatible. And they actually were. We started working together, firstly listening to some music, before starting to jam at home, making beats just following the flow. We never realized we could have such a synergy at that time. But after producing some music, we realized we had more things in common than we expected. And so began our journey towards what we are today.

Check Hiver‘s tracks below:

 

ES: What would you say your biggest influences are (genres, artists)? Do you consider Italy and its musical references and club life as an important part of your musical identity and construction?

HIVER: Italy and especially the club scene in Milan played a fairly pivotal role at the beginning of our career as DJs and producers. Thanks to the establishment of “Dude Club”, we immediately started to get in touch with DJs and producers from all over the world. This movement allowed us to get to grips with the major artists of the scene, and consequently improve ourselves over time. In the past years, things have changed a lot. We believe the Italian scene still plays an important role in defining who we are.

 

ES: Every month, you are the curators and performers of the Dreamachine night at the Tempio del Futuro Perduto in Milan. Could you tell us what this monthly rendez-vous is all about?

HIVER: After many years spent playing around and being resident DJs, we decided to look further and started to build something of our own. We felt the need to build our identity within the electronic scene. From this need was born “Dreamachine“, which aims at bringing those who have been – and still are – the artists we respect and appreciate to Milan. We started this project with other guys who share our vision, and the beginning was really impressive. We decided to move to a new location called “Temple of the Lost Future” that embodies the values we have always sought in the scene.

Dreamachine Artwork

 

ES: You guys spent some time in Taipei and Hong Kong in March. Can you tell us more about your time there? How would you describe your performances at SOMA and Social Room (with Ocean Lam and Taku Hirayama) compared to when you play at home?

HIVER: Every time we play far from home remains a unique experience. We always deal with the kind of audience or culture we are facing. Over the years, we’ve learned to respect and appreciate every type of audience. Obviously, however, we cannot hide the fact that audiences in Taipei and Hong Kong are among our favorites.

The experience in Taipei with the guys of “Soma” was really impressive. We met so many people and each of them made us feel good. About Hong Kong, we can say that Ocean and Taku are two of the most esteemed and appreciated local DJs. They managed to create something unique in Hong Kong. We’ve been to HK on our first Asian Tour in 2017, and since then we feel that a great connection has been established with the guys. We are happy about this friendship that goes beyond the party.

 

ES: You’re based in Milan, Italy. Besides being beautiful, this city must be filled with hidden treasures. We would love for you to give us a tour through a short series of questions, some of our readers might want to make the most of their time there! What place would you recommend…

→ To go see some art when it’s raining outside?
HIVER: Fondazione Prada and Hangar Bicocca. Both are incredible places with beautiful art and amazing exhibitions.

Fondazione Prada
Hangar Bicocca

 

→ To spend some time walking on your own with some music?
HIVER: For sure one of the best parks in Milan is Parco Sempione. It is a relaxing place, and at the same time full of greenery where you can rediscover yourself.

Parco Sempione

 

→ To spend a night partying to great music and sharing deep vibes?
HIVER: We could be biased but at the moment “Tempio Del Futuro Perduto” is the one. We had the last party on the 4th with Claro Intelecto & Alan Bacdrop and it was amazing.

Tempio Del Futuro Perduto

 

ES: As always, we really enjoy receiving some recommendations from artists such as you with another series of questions about what you love!

→ Who were your latest musical highlights? What songs or albums are currently on rotation in your speakers?
HIVER: For sure the latest album from Efdemin on Ostgut Ton [featured in our second New Music Round Up]. It’s a piece of art, and is redefining the electronic music in some way. Then there’s also the latest album (“Song For Alpha”) from Daniel Avery. We love his way to intend electronic and techno music nowadays.

 

→ Any TV show or movie you’ve seen lately and you think everyone should have seen?
HIVER: One of the best things that ever happened to Netflix is “The O.A.”. We love the way Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij speak about certain concepts and philosophies.

 

→ If you could see any artist or band – dead or alive – live, who would you pick?
HIVER: That’s easy. The first would be Tangerine Dream!

 

→ Apart from Milan, what are the favorite venues you’ve played and attended as guests?
HIVER: We have a lot of favorites venues. For sure the one that deserves a mention is “Polifonic” that is gonna happen again this summer in our homeland. Then for sure the ones in which we played in Asia like Social Room, Soma, T.A.G. in Chengdu. Another place that we really love is “Gare” in Porto.

 

ES: What should we expect from Hiver in the months to come? Are you currently working on new material? Or other shows apart from your performances in Italy?

HIVER: We have some plans for the future. While we’re speaking here, a new track (“Pert”) from us is out on the iconic !K7 Label. It’s a track included in the new DJ-Kicks curated by Peggy Gou, a good friend of ours. We have also a featured EP with an artist and friend that we appreciate and respect a lot that is Z.I.P.P.O.. The EP will be out this summer and it will be a different thing from the music we released so far. Then we’re working hard on new stuff and planning some tours in places we’ve never been.

 

ES: Once again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. See you in Milan!

You can follow Hiver on Facebook, Instagram and Soundcloud.

If you’re looking for the best electronic music events and festivals around you, Electric Soul got you covered!

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Our interview with YG Entertainment producer & songwriter CHOICE37

Our interview with YG Entertainment producer & songwriter CHOICE37

You might have heard of Robin Cho AKA CHOICE37 as the legend and mastermind from YG Entertainment, one of the most influential and spectacular South Korean labels and companies. More than a DJ, CHOICE37 also is a record producer, a songwriter, and a key member of the YG Family, which is currently redefining the contours and concepts behind what people might think is South Korean music.

Originally from Los Angeles, California, he’s the man behind dozens of hits by Bigbang2NE1G-Dragon, and many others. True to his hip-hop roots, he never ceases to focus on the future of South Korean music, going way beyond the usual labels and spectrums of the so-called “K-Pop” wave. CHOICE37 will be playing the iconic Club Cubic in Macau on Saturday, July 13th. Let us put it this way: it is a show not to be missed for all music lovers around the city at that time of the year. 

We had the chance to exchange a few words with Robin ahead of his upcoming show. Discover his musical and personal background below!

ES: As an American-Korean record producer and DJ, how did your dual roots influence the way you approach music as a songwriter, from the Longevity Crew hip-hop era until now?

CHOICE37: I definitely approach music from a hip-hop perspective. I grew up really inspired by the hip-hop culture, and it really shaped my sounds. Also, the way hip-hop continues to be a voice for the youth, never ceases to inspire me.

 

ES: Who would you say are your biggest influences as a musician, from both sides of the Pacific Ocean (and more)?

CHOICE37: When I was young, my biggest influences were Michael Jackson and Prince. Through my teen years, I was into Dr. Dre, A Tribe Called Quest, and anything broadcasted on Rap City (BET). In my 20’s, I was really inspired by the J. Dilla sound.

ES: With bands such as BIGBANG, EPIK HIGH or the duet LEE HI and their alternative tone, you’ve created something different and fresh for K-POP, with the integration of R&B, hip-hop and new musical colours through the use of the English language. All things considered, do you see yourself as a “K-POP artist”?

CHOICE37: I used to hate the word “K-POP”, but I’ve ultimately come to terms with it. I just hope people see us more as hard-working musicians, who happen to speak Korean. We strive to bring the best quality music to the world, and hope people will recognize it! 🙂

 

ES: You’ve been friends with YG’s legendary Teddy Park for years. How would you describe your long lasting partnership and passion in YG Entertainment?

CHOICE37: He’s definitely someone I look up too. I’ve been blessed to work with him, and continue to learn from him. He pushes for greatness here at YG, and inspires everyone.

 

ES: Besides being a producer, you’ve also been a partner in the clothing company Human Potential. Can you tell us more about this apparel project and your involvement in it?

CHOICE37: Human Potential is my wife’s and brother-in-law’s brand. All bias aside, I love their clothes and wear them all the time. It’s also great to see other artists (G-Dragon, CL, Mino, A$AP Rocky, Jaden Smith, etc.) wear them too!

“HUPOT” Apparel

 

ES: You’ll be playing Club Cubic in Macau on July 13. When DJing, what goals do you try to achieve, what emotions do you want to bring for your crowd? How would you describe the show to come to someone who doesn’t know your music live?

CHOICE37: I love playing at Club Cubic. My main goal is to bring something new while having people dancing all the time. My set consists of hip-hop & trap, k-pop, pop, and more. I love to drop songs that currently inspire me, and mix them all up. Looking forward to seeing everyone on Saturday (7/13) at Club Cubic!

Choice37Club Cubic

Check the event on Electric Soul without further ado for more info and book your tickets for this incredible show to come! ⚡

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Our interview with TYPHOON 8 RECORDS founder FRESH FUNKY S

Our interview with TYPHOON 8 RECORDS founder FRESH FUNKY S

House and techno lovers worldwide may have heard of the Hong Kong-based music label Typhoon 8 Records, established in 2013. Next Friday, the eminent collective will celebrate its 6th anniversary at Social Room; a stellar rendez-vous not to be missed, with Ocean Lam, Fresh Funky SAnthony2Jeremy Chung and Yiannis.HK, performing on Funktion-One Sound System.

Get to know Typhoon 8 Records ahead of the show by exploring our interview with its founder Fresh Funky S below! Learn more about the event and don’t forget to get the last limited advance tickets here! 

 

ES: Hi Fresh Funky S, we truly hope you’re doing well!

 

ES: It is no secret that you’re French and that you founded Typhoon 8 Records back in 2013 in Hong Kong. What brought you to Hong Kong in the first place? Do you also consider that you brought something different here, in the way you manage your artists and touring compared to other local labels?

T8R: I moved to Hong Kong in 2010. Indeed, I was given a great job opportunity there and also met my wife at the same time. A few years later, I decided to create Typhoon 8 Records. To me, Typhoon 8 Records incarnates the HK underground scene with a clear techno trend. I just can’t think about any similar record label at the moment. We are all doing it by passion and because we love music. Besides, all the artists on Typhoon 8 Records perform both in Asia and Europe.

 

ES: 
On May 31, you will be celebrating Typhoon 8 Records’ 6th anniversary at Social Room in Hong Kong. Congratulations! How do you feel regarding this unique all-star (Ocean Lam, Anthony2, Jeremy Cheung, Yiannis and yourself) night?

T8R: These guys have been my partners in crime for so long, and today they really embody the very best of T8R. All of them have their own style, and this unique reunion is going to be a great techno party for sure!

 

ES: You already had quite a few parties at Social Room in the previous years with some of your artists performing there (MIIIA, Namito, …). What is your relationship with this place and Ocean’s work?

T8R: The owner of this place, Ocean and myself are old friends. There aren’t so many places in town with this kind of vibe!

 

ES: What are your best memories with Typhoon 8 Records? Maybe a show or release you’re the proudest of? How was the release of T8R0057 during the party Pressure Control on April 26?

T8R: We had an amazing night at Savage with Casey Anderson. It’s a great venue, we had so much fun! We released it later as Yellow Birds – our collaborative project name – as an interesting melting pot.

The party release of T8R0057 was techno, intense and lasted all night long, with really good vibes. I’m so happy to have finally released this project with Anthony2!

 

ES: It seems like you had an amazing time at Sónar Hong Kong this year, with notably Yiannis from your catalogue playing. What was so special about the festival this year for you as a producer, and as an attendee?

T8R: Sónar is simply the best festival for electronic music in Hong Kong! Every year, T8R artists play there. It only lasts one day, with the whole HK scene playing the same stages. It’s always fun, I’m grateful to them for making it happen.

 

ES: You produced artists from all over the world and you probably receive exclusive mixtapes and tracks on a weekly basis. You yourself, as Fresh Funky S, must seek inspiration from a lot of different environments. Do you have some musical recommendations for our readers? Some discoveries or classics currently on rotation on your sounds system / in your headphones?

T8R: Personally, I’m an old techno man so Detroit remains my inspiration for DJing & producing. Artists like Carl Craig, Jeff Mills, Kevin Sanderson, Robert Hood, Rolando, Juan Atkins, … That’s my kind of sound, the groove that I love.

 

ES: Do you have any other favorite place to go to in Hong Kong besides from Social Room and OMA?

T8R: I love to have a drink or play some Disco at Potato Head.

 

ES: What are your plans for 2019, as Fresh Funky S? Any exciting events you will play at? New mixes and projects on the way?

T8R: Of course, we have new tracks in the pipe but at the moment we are thoroughly looking for some new way to produce music with a different setup. We are quite excited to achieve this transformation, the first test sounds really good.

 

ES: Can we expect some new releases and dates from Typhoon 8 Records this year?

T8R: Before the summer, for sure!

ES: Thank you so much for answering this interview. We can’t wait for this huge event at Social Room on Friday. See you there!

 

Check the event on Electric Soul for more info and book your limited advance tickets!⚡

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Our interview with SERIALISM RECORDS founder CESARE VS DISORDER

Our interview with SERIALISM RECORDS founder CESARE VS DISORDER

Cesare Marchese – aka Cesare vs Disorder – is an Italian now Brazilian based artist, composer, music producer and audio engineer. He is also the co-founder of the worldwide music label Serialism with his Azimute colleague and friend Philippe QuenumCesare has traveled a lot, and seen and played many places, on all continents. He also lived some years in London and Berlin, where he never stopped fueling his deep passion for jazz, electronica and hip hop and where his discography stretched over for years.

Cesare vs Disorder will be playing Social Room in Hong Kong on May 24 as a part of the club’s 4th Anniversary. If you feel like experiencing an incredible night filled with techno and house music in one of the Top 10 Underground Clubs in Asia, book your tickets without further ado! Ahead of his performance, we spent some time to ask him about his current projects, and others to come. You can explore this refreshing exchange below!

 

Hi Cesare, we hope you’re doing great! First and foremost, do you have any musical recommendations (from Serialism or else) for our readers to listen to while exploring this interview?

 

ES: Your musical career and personal life have been marked by numerous moves: you’re from Italy, still you’ve lived many years in Milano, London, Berlin, and now Sāo Paulo in Brazil, while touring the world relentlessly.

What would you say each of these cities brought you from an artistic point of view? According to you, what are the main differences between the local clubs, crowds and scenes from those places?

CvD: Travelling is definitely one of my major inspirations. I’ve been touring the planet for a while with my music and I honestly get inspired by each country I’ve visited, by all these cultures and all these lovely people (and sometimes not) I meet on my path. Of course, each location is fascinating in its distinct way. Milano, London, Berlin and São Paulo are totally opposite cities, each one with its own vibe, beauty, paradoxes and exciting features which influenced my artistic path at different times of my life.

I wouldn’t feel there are substantial differences in the primordial need to release energies by partying as we now live in a totally globalized society and therefore this subculture is pretty known to everyone at the click of a mouse. People like to enjoy life everywhere. In some places the feedback is warmer, with more excitement, in others it’s a more layback vibe. Clubs can instead have a different approach in the way they treat the clubbers with the result of different response from the crowd.

 

ES: For more than a decade, you’ve been managing Serialism from these cities, the cutting edge record label you founded. With over forty vinyl releases to date, ranging from elegant techno to minimal house and jazzy grooves, it has now gained global recognition. How do you currently manage Serialism aside from your personal career as Cesare vs Disorder?

CvD: We actually have a team spread worldwide in different cities (between São Paulo, Berlin, London and Beijing mainly but also other major cities all over) with collaborators and partners working on different parts of the process. There’s work behind the vinyl production process, the image, artwork and videos of the label, the social media accounts and internet marketing, the A&R and of course our events worldwide.

I supervise it all together with a few key components of the family, my main partner and co-owner since a few years Quenum. We are assisted by our man Joe Le Groove in London, our A&R and resident in Berlin Weg, our Art Director Fernanda Mattos in São Paolo and our visual artist Federica Marchese in Beijing, the production manager in Frankfurt, our distribution Yoyaku in Paris, our press agents in Berlin, booking agents in different territories, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, friends and partners who help us produce parties and carry the brand.

 

ES: You’ve released tracks on labels such as Cocoon, Bpitch Control, Transmat, Get Physical, Crosstown Rebels, Vakant, Nervmusic and many more… What did you learn from working with all these top labels?

CvD: I’ve learnt a lot. First of all to produce music for such great labels has been a never-ending challenge that lifted my skills to the next level, each time. It has also taught me all steps of the production process in details, from the very first moment in the studio to finalisation of a record on vinyl and the distribution to the public with the marketing involved. All in the most professional way. It has ultimately helped the work behind my own label. It is basically a privilege to work with these teams.

 

ES: Also, what’s up with Azimute [your musical duo with Philippe Quenum]?

CvD: We have quite a lot going on at the moment. We are preparing our second EP for Derrick May’s label Transmat, and a new EP on our label Serialism. We have also composed together the soundtrack for a couple of films and TV series between Europe and Asia, and are expecting to do more of that. Most exciting of all is our new band project TRIPLE BED. The first album “Impractical” produced with a bunch of amazing musicians and singers will be finally released this year.

 

ES: You’ve held residencies in the most acclaimed clubs in the world. We know our readers are based all around the world and love to travel to live new musical experiences. Could you give us a selection of your favourite places to play, or to attend as a techno and house music lover, anywhere on the globe?

CvD: It’s difficult to mention just a few as many clubs and festivals should be listed. I would definitely advise experiencing some of the ones I love playing at… Check our interactive map to see those places all around the world:

CvD: I could go on for a while…

 

ES: You’ll be playing Social Room on May 24 as a part of the club’s 4th anniversary curated by Ocean Lam. How do you feel coming to such a different part of the world to share your love for music and eclectic vibes here in Hong Kong?

CvD: It’s not my first time in Hong Kong and especially at Social Room. I’ve played at the club a few years back as Azimute with my partner in crime Quenum. Our good friend and collaborator Ocean Lam, whom I consider being one of the best Asian DJs, has invited me again for the 4th anniversary of the club and I’m very excited and humbled. First time it was a blast, an intimate place with a great underground vibe, where I can be eclectic and showcase my finest selection in front of a crowd ready to take it all.

 

ES: Given any choice, what city would be your favourite pick as your next hometown?

CvD: I’m thinking of Tokyo or New York City.

 

ES: Thank you very much for your answers. Can’t wait to see you play live next week!

You can find more information about the event and book your limited advance tickets right here.

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Our interview with the astounding BASIC SOUL UNIT

Our interview with the astounding BASIC SOUL UNIT

Since his first release sixteen years ago, Stuart Li aka Basic Soul Unit has carved out a rocksteady place in the ever-shifting world of underground dance music. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada, Stuart Li attributes his musical upbringing to the multicultural landscape of his hometown of Toronto. Through the years, Basic Soul Unit traveled the world, scrutinised all kinds of music genres and played an immeasurable amount of shows. He always kept digging more and more into his exploratory approach, getting the most versatile sound you could imagine from his deep love for records, and for music as an actual universe.

The masterful producer and label manager will be playing Social Room on March 9, 2019 alongside Ocean Lam and Saisa Fraction for a welcome comeback to his birth land. You can already get the last remaining limited advance tickets for this one-of-a-kind House and Techno night as well as everything you need to know about the event here at Electric Soul. Explore our in-depth and soulful interview with him below!

 

ES: Hi Stuart. Hope you’re doing great!  You were born in Hong Kong, but weren’t raised there. Still, you’ll be back very soon with a much anticipated show with our friend Ocean Lam at Social Room, alongside with Saisa Fraction.

What’s the story behind your relationship with Hong Kong?

BSU: I was born and lived in HK till I was 8 years old. Our family moved to Canada in 1982 (first Vancouver for 2 years, then Toronto). I have been back to HK periodically both for work (as a graphic designer) and leisure since then. In Toronto, we have a large community of HK immigrants so in some ways the culture never left me. Every time I visit HK, I always feel a sense of nostalgia and familiarity.

 

ES: How do you feel regarding this place, its audience and its evolution when playing here live in 2019?

BSU: I might not be an authority on the scene but I feel like there’s been a lot of progress in the underground areas of the scene. There’s been more interest in deeper and more experimental sounds and a younger generation interested (at least from what I can see). I’m also noticing more locals getting interested in the scene too.

 

ES: You grew up in Canada, notably with Chinese Jamaican relatives on your father’s side. This must have been an incredible set to discover and explore genres such as Soul, Reggae, Soca, RnB, … How did your family roots influence the way you apprehended music?

BSU: My family roots and also the multicultural city of Toronto were a huge influence on me musically. I wouldn’t have been exposed to that music in the same way if I didn’t come to Canada because here you are not only listening to the music on radio but are able to experience first hand how the people and culture relate to their music (for example at concerts and parties). You gain a deeper appreciation for it and you can feel it.

 

ES: Would you say this backdrop is still tangible in the versatility of your soulful releases?

BSU: For sure, even if it is in a subconscious way, we’re all shaped by our upbringing and experiences. I think the sense of melody and groove has always stuck with me.

A taste of Basic Soul Unit sound:

 

ES: You spent some time working at the vintage vinyl record store Cosmos Records in downtown Toronto. In what ways did digging great releases from various genres (Soul, Jazz, Latin, Brazilian, Disco, House, Hip Hop, …) extended your musical culture and background?

BSU: It just broadened my musical horizons further. Instead of just looking for party tunes, I really got into listening to the music on and off the dance floor. A lot of the samples House and Hip Hop tracks used came from these classic songs and that’s how I started getting into them. Just being open to different rhythms, melodies, cultures.

 

ES: You were musically raised in Toronto, where you must have felt the influence from huge points of reference for House music and Hip Hop such as New York, Detroit and Chicago. How would you describe the vibe of the city, its dance music centers and its uprising as a scene in the 90’s?

BSU: It was just very vibrant and there were so many new and exciting sounds reaching our ears from different places (including Europe). In a way we didn’t really develop a totally unique Toronto sound but on the other hand we got the best of all worlds. I think having so many different people from different backgrounds we were very open to all these sounds as well. You might go to a house night but hear soulful NY house, Chitown acid house, Detroit house and techno, and European sounds all in the same night. Beyond 4/4, there was a huge Drum n Bass scene, Acid Jazz nights and of course Hip Hop and Caribbean sounds were always big and growing in parallel.

 

ES: Can you tell us more about your experience at Toronto’s college radio stations and after hour house and techno parties?

BSU: I was a bit young to be DJing at these parties but I went to them as a clubber. Most of what I mentioned was taking place in warehouses and lofts as legal clubs had to close by 1 am back then (even now we can only serve alcohol till 2 am). Most of the parties I went to were intimate to mid-sized loft parties, but as the scene grew, raves became huge, really really huge (I mean like tens of thousands of people in an airplane hangar for example). Personally at that point I was not really into the rave side of things. I was into the deeper more soulful grooves. Back then there was a surplus of unused industrial spaces even downtown so it wasn’t hard to find spaces. And the cops mostly left you alone as long as things were pretty peaceful.

The College stations (CKLN, CIUT & CHRY) were instrumental in spreading the music as commercial stations did not support underground dance music at all. We would all listen intently to the shows then hit the record shops to find the hottest tracks we heard that week.

Record shops were also an important part of the scene as a meeting place for the DJs. I met a lot of people I still call friends to this day. Also you could find out info on where the party was that weekend too. I feel this lack of person to person interaction outside of the club is missing these days in the scene.

 

ES: You founded the Toronto-based label Lab.our Music with long time friend Jason Ulrich (J-UL) in 2013, launched with an original EP release of your own. You described the sound of Lab.our as “music for dark and dank basements with bass bins” to VICE. What is the vision and mission behind this label?

BSU: We see our label as mainly a platform to expose local artists from Toronto. We recently released a 2 vinyl compilation “Lab.our Intensive: Toronto Works” of artists all hailing from this city (available digitally via our Bandcamp site as well). A lot of our releases are house and techno but we never set a limit dependent on style or genre. Some are more experimental and darker while others deeper and soulful but I think in general that sense of groove is an integral characteristic. Besides myself and label partner J-UL, artists on the label include Maxwell Church, Pursuit Grooves, R, Adam Marshall, Chicago Skyway (the one exception not from T.O.), Hermans as well as newcomers Smoke, Walter, Xavier Gonzales.

 

ES: We saw quite an amusing post on your Instagram, which related your usual prepping for gigs. It appears you usually start by choosing over 200 records you love, before ending up with about 20 of them at the actual performance. Which elements make you choose the ones you’ll be playing depending on the show?

BSU: I guess it’s a good thing I also use CDJs these day haha. As I consider myself a versatile DJ, what I bring depends on the kind of night it is. But in any case, I always like to bring a variety of sounds. For example, if it is a techno night, I will bring Detroit oriented releases, industrial sounds, harder techno, Electro, Dub, and maybe even a couple of surprise disco or house records. I like to take the crowd up and down and to different places if I can. As far as what I actually end up playing, I always just go with the flow and feel out the audience.

 

ES: Since every show seems to be crafted as unique, do you already have any idea what mood and vibes you will bring to Social Room on March 9?

BSU: It will be a surprise, a good surprise. Seriously though I think with intimate spaces like Social Room, you can have the opportunity to go to different places in a set.

 

ES: What achievements can we wish to Basic Soul Unit and Lab.our in the upcoming months and years, apart from the best?

BSU: I’m the kind of guy to just go with the flow. As long as I’m spending time with my family and able to continue doing what I love making and spreading music, I’m happy.

 

ES: Thank you so much for your time and all these sweet vibes Stuart!

You can find more information about the event and book your tickets on Electric Soul right here. See you at the show!

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