Too cool to limit his vibe to just one place, Mr. Ho hops between Hong Kong and Europe spinning hedonistic tracks. He’s both a record collector and record label owner that likes to keep things authentic and DIY when it comes to his shows and the biz. We caught up with him to chat about music scenes in different cities, how his label, Klasse Wrecks, came to be, and what we can expect from him in 2020.
Electric Soul is giving away 2 tickets for 3 winners to his upcoming show on March 21st! Keep checking back into our Instagram to win!
Electric Soul: You’ve been around the block in terms of DJing. With 15+ years under your belt, tell us about your musical career up until this point.
Mr. Ho: I’ve travelled around quite a bit for djing. I’ve released some records. I’ve met many like-minded and inspiring individuals, some of whom I can call my friends. There have been times I’ve gotten bored with what I do, but then something happens that brings back the excitement.
ES: You’re currently based in Hong Kong. What other cities would you call home and how do their music scenes differ from Hong Kong’s?
MH: Right now, I would only call Hong Kong my home. I used to live in Berlin, and electronic music brings about 50,000 people to the city to party every weekend, and around 1.5 billion EUR to the city a year. There is an electronic music industry in Berlin, and it is a significant part of the city’s economy. That’s just not the case in Hong Kong.
ES: You’re a bit of a record collector. Tell us what got you started and how many records you’ve collected to date. What is your most prized record?
MH: I started buying records because a significant portion of the music I liked was only available in that format and I also liked how the artwork was presented on the record sleeve. Currently, there are probably 2000+ records in my collection and I’m attached to about 1500 of them.
ES: Who is Mr. Ho as a DJ? How would you describe your sound?
MH: I’ve been called a “physical DJ” by my Japanese DJ friends. I like that. I would describe my sound as physical, sleazy, fun, and hedonistic.
ES: What is your favourite kind of crowd to play to?
MH: A good openminded crowd that likes what I play.
ES: What is your favourite show you’ve played? Where and why?
MH: Too many to mention! I’ve been lucky enough to have had more good gigs than bad. I do enjoy my residencies at Mihn in Hong Kong and Ohm in Berlin. I feel familiar there and it allows me to try new things out and develop my sound.
ES: You also are co-founder of Klasse Wrecks. Tell us about your record label and how it all began?
MH: Klasse Wrecks is an electronic music label that predominantly releases music aimed for the dancefloor. Our approach and aesthetic are somewhat DIY because we both have a background in the pre-big industry skateboarding and hip hop culture. The label started with my friend and partner Lucas Hunter a.k.a. Luca Lozano. We were both doing different music projects in a different scene which we no longer enjoyed. Luca had the idea to do a label (we used to be called Klasse Recordings) which could be home to our current projects. He asked me to come on board in the beginning and here we are- almost ten years later.
ES: What do you look for in a Klasse Wrecks artist?
MH: It’s difficult to answer specifically, we just have to like the tracks, the person who made it, and feel that we can be the best home to their music.
ES: What has owning a record label taught you about the music industry?
MH: It taught me that basic good business practices apply to the music business too. It’s important to do your accounting, chase up on your invoices, pay your people – just like any other business.
ES: What does Mr. Ho have planned for 2020?
MH: More time in the studio, so more original music released. Also developing more products for Klasse Wrecks. A bit less travelling for DJ gigs.
Dutch duo, Zonderling, is in its own category of electronic music. Comprised of producer Martijn van Sonderen and DJ Jaap de Vries, the two have produced countless tracks full of eccentric beats and otherworldly sounds. With a radio show and impressive collaborations under their belts, Zonderling shows no signs of slowing down now. We caught up with them to talk shop and see what the future hold for them.
Electric Soul: Tell us about your musical beginnings? How did you come together as a duo?
Zonderling: We met in our hometown Groningen, the Netherlands. Jaap was already DJing for some years and worked in the music industry. Martijn was active as a producer for many years.
ES: Your music is described as being its own kind of dance music. If you were to describe the music you make, without referring to other genres, what would you say?
Z: Electronic music with a lot of (unnecessary) detail.
ES: Are there artists or musicians you look to for inspiration?
Z: Not really. We do like a lot of artists of course, but for us, anything can spark an idea.
ES: Zone Radio is a new endeavour you guys embarked upon last year and you just released the first episode of season 2. What are your reasons behind creating this show and what is it you want to achieve with it?
Z: It’s a nice way for us to play music we normally don’t get to present during shows. Plus, it feels good to give artists we like, big or small, a platform.
ES: When it comes to music selection, what are you looking for? Is the show in tune with your particular likes?
Z: Absolutely, we do the selection ourselves without any restrictions and put in there whatever we feel like, just as long as it fits the Zonderling spectrum.
ES: 2019 was full of new releases and festival appearances. What are your highlights from last year?
Z: Probably our releases “I Do” and “Spotlight”. But, our song “Imaginary” is perhaps our personal favourite. We’re very happy with how that song turned out and the vibe it has.
ES: Already in 2020, you’ve released a collaboration with NØ SIGNE. Tell us what it was like working with him and how this creative partnership came to be.
Z: We got in touch online via social media. We liked a song he did and his productions stood out. He sent us an idea and we liked it. The song came together pretty quick and “Clouds” is what you hear today. Make sure to follow his career, talented guy.
ES: What can we expect from Zonderling this year? What are you most excited about?
Z: Lot’s of touring as always but we’re most excited about all the new music we have lined up, there’s more than ever. Keep an eye out.
Playlists in need of a little pick-me-up? Check out our latest interview with Dazzle Drums and add a little upbeat groove to your life.
High school best friends, Cameron and Andrew, alternatively known as Bad Decisions are taking over Australia and the world with their unique blend of trap, future, and pop. The DJ/producer duo just dropped their brand new single “Looking For You”. We caught up with them to find out how the Australian scene has shaped them and what it was like to drop a single on an international radio show.
Electric Soul: You both have different musical backgrounds. Can you tell us a little about them and how you came together as a duo?
Bad Decisions: We met in high school near Sydney and were the only “DJs” in the school at the time, so we decided to suss each other out. It resulted in many sleepless nights producing music together. Trying to figure out what we were doing led to us becoming best mates!
ES: How has the Australian scene shaped your sound or your careers?
BD: Hugely! Flume, What So Not, and Alison Wonderland all played huge parts in inspiring us to push our sound to make more interesting things. All legends.
ES: Is there a big underground scene? Do you guys have favourite spots to find killer music?
BD: There’s a great underground scene in Australia. Clubs like Chinese Laundry and events like The Wall in Sydney have been crucial in pushing new sounds and bringing new producers up in the scene. Finding music is a whole other thing. 90% of the time we use Soundcloud.
ES: You’ve found yourself on both national and international stages. What was your favourite performance to date and why?
BD: Going on our own national tour was amazing: seeing people react to the music we made and them knowing the lyrics. There’s no better feeling than that. We loved playing Groovin’ The Moo festival. We had so many people came out to see us and just go so hard the entire time.
ES: Does your DJ sound and music selection differ from the music you produce? Describe your sound for us.
BD: Depending on the vibe of the festival, we play a little bit harder than we produce. But then again, we have songs like “I Feel It” which is pretty hard. It depends on how we feel on the day!
Our sound is a mix of future, trap and pop. We try to be as experimental as we can while still having as much listenability as possible.
ES: Can you tell us a little bit about the live setup you guys have in the works?
BD: We’re working on a hybrid live show. Think of San Holo-esque and how The Chainsmokers do it. All we can say for now is when it does come to light, it will be a unique experience for people coming to our shows.
ES: Your new single “Looking for You” just premiered on Annie Nightingale’s BBC Radio I show. What was it like dropping a new release on an international level like that?
BD: It’s an incredible feeling being recognized on such a scale. It’s sometimes hard to grasp something like that, something that’s intangible. You can’t see it in the way you see a crowd when you play a show.
But hearing it live will be a moment we won’t forget any time soon.
ES: You have a few other guest appearances on various radio shows, including Tiger Radio, coming up. How do you work collaboratively selecting songs and finding your sound for different shows and audiences?
BD: We can definitely get a vibe of what the show is through knowing the artist and understanding who they are. For example, with the BBC mix, that is wholeheartedly us, from start to finish, it was stuff that resonates with us completely. With other mixes, we may go a little harder or a little softer depending on the audience. It’s all us, all the stuff we love, but it may swing a different way depending on the audience. We do work collaboratively on everything we do.
ES: What has it been like working with various labels? What have you discovered about yourselves and your music while navigating the music industry?
BD: Working with different labels, for the most part, has been an awesome experience. We’ve grown a lot since we started in the music industry. Being so young, you can get taken advantage of in different ways. Something we’ve learned is that you have to be aware of everything around the music to fully understand everything and not be taken advantage of. Originally, we weren’t very aware, so we had to change that.
ES: What can we look forward to from Bad Decisions in 2020?
BD: LOTS of music. Way more than ever before. So we hope everyone’s ready to get blasted this year with new music.
Duos are the new boy band. Get to know Tokyo-based duo Dazzle Drums.
Nagi and Kei Sugano, more effectively known as Dazzle Drums, are a Tokyo-based DJ and producer duo with proficiency for making catchy beats with danceable tempos and groovy melodies. The couple has made their rounds in the Tokyo electronic scene and is now making their way around the world, playing at festivals and in cities across Europe. We caught up with Dazzle Drums to talk about how they work collaboratively, if they’ve noticed changes in their music since they began, and how they feel about the electronic industry.
Electric Soul: You both come from different musical backgrounds. Kei, yours seeming to be more rooted in hip-hop and Nagi, yours in dance. How do you work collaboratively? Is it an easy process to work together or does someone focus on one aspect while the other focuses on something else?
Dazzle Drums: Of course we have different personalities, interpretations and perspectives. To turn that difference into a positive, we’re always talking about music, even small things. Luckily, it’s not really difficult to understand each other because we are DJing together almost every week. It’s harder working in the studio together than it is DJing. We create balance by changing roles and tasks depending on projects.
ES: How does the music you DJ differ from the music that you produce in terms of sound?
DD: For DJing, it totally depends on the improvisation, the atmosphere and location of the day. But we do get some edits/production ideas from performing. So, there is a synergy between both playing and making music.
ES: Your tracks have been played by a number of illustrious DJs, including Tim Sweeney, Louie Vega, and DJ Nori, during their sets. Which DJ were you most excited about playing one of your tracks?
DD: We were glad they all played our music. It’s a really difficult question. However, if we pick a few… Danny Krivit, Gilles Peterson and Louie Vega. We always get huge motivation from them.
ES: It’s been 15 years since the start of Dazzle Drums, in what ways has your sound evolved?
DD: In the beginning, we were making music with analog equipment like AKAI sampler and Juno106 (we used to have Cubase for DAW). Right now, we are making music with both Ableton Live and Logic. As for our musical expression, our tastes haven’t really changed. But we have definitely upgraded in terms of knowledge and experience, including technological evolution.
ES: Where do you two draw inspiration from? Is there a particular artist, genre, or city that you are influenced by?
DD: We often get inspiration from DJs and parties. We can’t pick really one person, but we are always influenced by DJ Danny Krivit.
We are most familiar with Tokyo’s various club scenes, but there are many cities we still want to visit.
ES: Tell us about the Tokyo electronic scene. How has it changed since you’ve been a part of it? Where do you see it heading?
DD: International guest artists come to Japan almost every day. This is nothing new. However, Tokyo’s local DJ scene has evolved. We don’t believe that Tokyo DJs are inferior to foreign DJs, however, there is limited opportunity for their music to be heard by non-friends and peers. Changing this is one of our biggest goals. In the last few years, we’ve been making our own parties by paying special attention to showcasing local talent.
ES: You’ve released music through a number of different labels, but also your own, Green Parrot Recording. Which is your preferred method of releasing music? How does one way differ from the other?
DD: Having one’s own label is a nice part of being able to do whatever you want, including artwork and other things. It’s great that music can be released immediately if it’s digital, but we are also happy to release an entire record. We’re looking to deliver music in both ways and finding a good balance.
ES: You’ve now toured Europe twice. Which is your favourite city to play in?
DD: Our music taste is really diverse. So we prefer a crowd that likes many types of different music. We agree that Worldwide Festival at Sete and Brighter Days, hosted by Kamma and Masalo, were wonderful. We have great memories from Malta, as well.
ES: How does the European scene compare to the Asian scene?
DD: Historically, Japanese people don’t have a habit of going to clubs and bars compared to some major world cities. It proves difficult for people to understand music for more than just drugs and some cheesy performances. It’s not really easy to carry on our music / DJing because of this. It’s sad that in recent years, like the electronic scenes around the world, it has become more about the number of followers you have than the music. We’re more about good DJs and music rather than what’s just popular now.
ES: What can we expect from Dazzle Drums in 2020?
DD: Our 3rd album will be coming out! We also just want to work to keep the Tokyo scene evolving.
Gorana Romcevic is a music industry vet who has been making serious waves in the PR, music, and events industries across Europe and Asia. This year, she’s launched her own agency, Bleach. A music-centric communications agency that will offer public relations, communications, creative, events, digital, and artist tours, Bleach, headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City, is set to put Asia’s electronic scene on the map by ensuring emerging local and international talent are seen and heard in all the right ways. We caught up with her to find out how she sees Vietnam and Asia’s scene evolving and what Bleach has up its sleeve.
Electric Soul: How did the concept of Bleach come to be? Has having your own agency always been a goal of yours?
Gorana Romcevic: Having my own platform has been a goal of mine for a long time. I have been in the communications business for the last 15 years, working across different industries. I was responsible for numerous corporate and lifestyle clients in the biggest PR agency in southeast Europe, while simultaneously managing music and entertainment projects. When I moved to Bangkok six years ago and took over the best underground dance club in town, my life changed for the better. I was always passionate about bringing new music and good energy to people. When that blended in with my love for Asia and the possibility to connect different cultures – that’s when the concept of Bleach was conceived. I’m happy that the rest of the Bleach team shares my vision. We aim to bring music and art trends to Asia while at the same time, present local art and music internationally. We hope to do this while nurturing the spirit of togetherness and providing excellent service to our clients.
ES: Bleach is a full-spectrum agency. Are there particular services you think you will cater more to? Will it be more so about executing events or managing artist tours?
GR: Our main operations include a wide range of communications services, from strategy to implementation in the fields of Public Relations, Creative, Digital and Events. We have extensive experience with local Asian projects as well as large regional and global ones. We have a strong track record and proven results with regional press, promoters, artists, agencies, influencers, and electronic music enthusiasts. The development of the tour section is in the pipeline right now. Asia’s scene is growing, and we’re happy to support it through all our activities, including gaining exposure of fresh international and local artists.
ES: Tell us about the team behind Bleach.
GR: The whole idea and concept came from me and I’m running and overseeing all activities. The Bleach art director, Varda Sundown, who is in charge of our branding as well as of creative solutions for future clients, is based in our hometown of Belgrade. He’s also a killer music producer -check him out! The rest of Bleach team is currently based in Vietnam and Singapore.
ES: Why Ho Chi Minh? Has this city been unofficially dubbed the electronic music capital of Vietnam? What other Asian cities are seeing a surge in popularity in terms of the electronic scene?
GR: Ho Chi Minh City has one of Asia’s most interesting scenes that connects international and local artists, clubs, and promoters. At the same time, it’s a great, buzzing city that offers a good mix of the traditional and contemporary. Asia’s scene is generally emerging, with Japan and Korea at its forefront. Last year, China was recognized as the fast-growing market by NetEase’s Cloud Music research which showed that the number of festivals has grown from 32 in 2016 to 150 in 2018. The other SEA countries are in constant motion as well and it’s super exciting and rewarding to be part of this process.
ES: It seems that the future of electronic music is in Asia. Why do you think there has been a shift? Do you think that the music scene in Europe is fizzling out?
GR: For the last few years, Asia has certainly been the focus of international brands, industry people, and ravers. It’s sometimes considered to be an untapped market where unique homegrown artists are rising. Also, Asia can bring new influences and fresh energy to both artists and party-goers. Famous duo Red Axes recorded an EP in Vietnam, inspired by the local culture and in collaboration with local bands and students. Furthermore, lots of festivals are happening during the high tourist season, which brings even more attention to the scene. This exciting growth is one of the biggest drives of the whole Bleach team. We will be sealing Asia’s position as one of the destinations where electronic music thrives and has more to offer.
ES: Is the Asian shift a trend or is the electronic scene in Vietnam sustainable?
GR: Vietnam is becoming one of the hotspots of the SEA region. Epicentres are Ho Chi Minh City, with clubs such as The Observatory and The Lighthouse, as well as Hanoi’s club Savage. Knowledgeable people behind the scenes are bringing forward-thinking artists that you can listen to at top Europe’s clubs. Young talents are emerging and some of the local artists are making big international waves. Ouissam (the owner) of Hanoi’s Savage regularly plays at Berlin’s Berghain, one of the most famous techno clubs of all time. And when you consider challenging regulatory circumstances at most of Asia’s scenes, then these efforts seem even more significant and look like the growth trend will continue.
ES: Vietnam’s local culture is so vibrant and paramount to its people. How do you hope to celebrate and incorporate it in the work you do with Bleach?
GR: We would be delighted to be able to incorporate local cultural heritage in our events and events of our clients. We are hoping to be able to showcase Vietnam’s amazing dance, theatre, cuisine, street parades, and much more to the world.
ES: How has your previous role at Epizode prepared you for this new endeavour?
GR: I’m happy and grateful to have been a part of such a great and ever-growing project as Epizode is. My role was highly challenging, as part of my responsibility was growing the festival from scratch to a top global event in only three years. It was an important step forward on my journey which sped up my ambitions to launch my own platform. I’m glad to see the guys are doing a great job in Phu Quoc, continuing to put Vietnam and Asia in the global spotlight. I’m sure they will be even more successful in the future.
ES: Can you speak a little to the upcoming world tour?
GR: We had a Bleach launch party, symbolically, on January 1st at the hottest Belgrade’s club – DOT. The music and vibe were awesome and I’m super happy we kicked off in the manner of the new beginning! The tour will include a series of events at the world’s hotspots. I’m coming back to Asia in February, where the tour continues; Europe shows will follow later in the year. Besides all the things we’re doing, we simply love throwing club events and dancing with friends. Please, keep an eye on our socials and join us in your city!
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After a whirlwind 2019 of pumping countless new tracks, collaborating with epic names in the industry, and travelling to perform a life-changing show, we caught up with Germany-based, Dutch producer and DJ, Teknoclash to talk about his hard dance style, the Dutch scene, and his fondest memories of the past year.
Electric Soul: Where does your musical story begin? Did you start off as a DJ and make your way to producing?
Technoclash: Actually, I started producing first and then DJing came in as sort of a side effect of producing. I produced a lot of records for other people in various genres like dancehall, big room and harder stuff. At a certain point, I was sick of doing stuff for others and never creating my own identity. That’s the point where I changed my perspective as an artist. Don‘t get me wrong here, but unless you’re a real sick turntable-ist, like Laidback Luke for example – who plays constantly with all four decks, mixing two tracks is, in my opinion, not a “hard-to-learn skill“, while producing is.
ES: Has hard dance always been your genre of choice? Have you dabbled in producing or spinning other genres of music?
T: I always had a heart for harder stuff. Growing up with hard rock music, I expanded my horizon towards electronic music and discovered hardstyle, hard trap, hard bass and bass music in general. My vision for my project was to blend various elements of different genres together. Having trap influences into 4/4 to the floor hard dance tracks, or having a big hardstyle melody in a bass-heavy tune which is not pure hardstyle, and then spice it up with some psy influences. I like to experiment a lot. And as I said, during my ghost producing times I worked in a variety of genres from EDM to Dancehall.
ES: Tell us about the Dutch electronic scene. Are there any Dutch clubs, parties, or producers that have had a huge impact on you?
T: I am actually based in Germany, but I figured out very early that Holland is the only option for me. I have to build all my infrastructure for my project there, due to the fact that I am not a big producer in my scene.
There are a few artists in this space (German electronic scene), for example like Broken Element, Virtual Riot or Cuebrick. But the real stuff can be found 45 Minutes going west of my hometown of Gelsenkirchen. That’s why I decided to look for management, a booking agency, and so on there.
I think the Dutch scene is something super special and it’s where you earn your international respect. Releasing on a label like my home base Wolfclan/Dirtyworkz (which is Belgium, but still counts in the BENELUX territory), or Spinnin’, lifts you up to a new stage of your career. In America, they say, “if you make it in New York, you can make it anywhere”, but for the electronic music scene it‘s, “if you can make it in Holland, you can make it anywhere”. The standards for electronic music are so high here and the community is so strong, but extraordinary producing skills will open the gates to that community. If you do not possess them, keep learning and pushing until those gates open.
ES: How would you describe your sound? Are there artists you look to for inspiration?
T: My sound is unpredictable and that’s why I like it. It can range from a very hammering hard tune to a melodic, emotional production. It can contain elements from hardstyle, trap, bass, dubstep, and then blended with other elements to make it special, though still maintaining a signature style that you can identify as my sound.
ES: 2019 was a big year for you. What were some of your major highlights?
T: The absolute highlight of 2019 was the trip my team and I did to Afghanistan. We played a secret show there for the soldiers on duty in Mazar-I-Sharif, which is one of the most dangerous places in the world to go. It was a bizarre experience for all of us, but totally worth it. Dozens of soldiers came to us after the show to personally thank us for coming and playing for them which was really heart-melting.
Another highlight was finding the musical home base for my tracks- Dirty Workz. They welcomed us with open arms and we are working on great things with the guys there. Dirty Workz really feels like home and that’s what you want as an artist: a label that understands and supports your vision!
ES: You were consistently pumping out music. Is there a track or a collaboration that you are particularly fond of or had the best time making?
T: The stuff I put out with Lost Identity is always pure fun to produce. Marius became a good friend of mine when we were producing in my studio and we always have a hilariously fun time, sharing a lot of ideas and quality music. The same goes for Rachel, aka Boogshe/GLDY LX – she’s a hell of an artist, so incredibly passionate about what she does. She has such a great voice and understanding of music, and it‘s also super fun to spend time with her. I click great with both of them and there will be some amazing music coming out soon. Recently I worked with Audiofreq – he is such a heavyweight in the production game and a super nice human being. And last but not least: RayRay – if you have studio time with this purple alien, it’s guaranteed to be crazy!
ES: Between producing and playing shows and festivals, how do you find balance in this crazy industry?
T: I actually try to structure my studio time like normal workdays. Starting early, doing 8, 9, 10 hours and then having some time for me. If inspiration hits me after studio time, then I try to catch the idea for sure, but finish it up the next day. I also go like 3 times a week to the gym. Funnily, I also study political science to a higher degree which also sharpens up my brain cells a bit.
ES: In addition to putting out tracks, you are also constantly pumping out videos, recaps, and even music production tutorials. How important do you think it is for artists to create not only music but other kinds of content for social media?
T: Unfortunately, it’s not enough anymore to just be a good producer. You need all this content to compete with others. This is especially true for acts that just DJ and cannot produce. They have an advantage when it comes to social media because they do not spend 40-50 hours a week in the studio to create bangers, rather they have more time to focus on the social media aspect.
I love to do tutorials for sure. This comes naturally to me since I also taught music production for a while at the University of Utrecht for Sound Education and recaps are really nice to look at. However, we, unfortunately, live in a totally overexaggerated social content world, where the original productions of an artist play a smaller role than it should.
ES: What can we expect from Teknoclash in 2020?
T: Releasing a lot of good music, playing good shows, always giving my best and growing my profile and my knowledge. Hopefully ;).
Get to know the heavy-hitters in the electronic music industry. From producers to DJs, creative agencies and festival CEOs, Electric Soul brings you behind the scenes and up close and personal.