With our new Etui Podcast we set the focus on Hong Kong, one of the most colorful and impulsive metropolises in Asia. Since her debut in 2008, Ocean Lam has positioned herself as one of the leaders in Hong Kong’s electronic music scene. As one of the main resident DJs at Yumla, the city’s only club devoted to forward-thinking techno, she’s the go-to choice to open for international names like Namito, Technasia and Marko Furstenberg.
Amidst that club’s closure in 2011, she started a group called Humdrum Hong Kong with partners Casey Anderson and Miko Van Chong, with an aim to introduce deeper house sounds to the scene, as well as introducing more Hongkongers to electronic music in general. Their free monthly party, Loco at Bassment Bar, quickly became one of the most popular ongoing house and techno nights thanks to its more underground vibes in the face of Hong Kong’s commercialism, and especially thanks to Ocean’s top-notch DJing. Her performances abroad in places like Berlin, Sweden, Malaysia and Thailand, and her recent releases on Yumla Records have given the world a reason to keep an ear towards Hong Kong’s blossoming electronic underground.
Ocean twists her listeners through deep techno tantrums to warm house tracks, as dub techno chords, pumping basslines and delicate vocals drift together with equal parts of melody and dissonance. Ocean’s music is simple but moody, favoring human feelings over machine-like clicks and pops.
Since 2010 she’s released two singles on Yumla Records, “Weirdos” and “Is All She Wants”, collaborations with Basil Tam and label head Dan F. Despite her quickly rising profile, her goals for the future remain straight forward: “Make more music. Make more people move!”
Many people in China love karaoke. Have you ever tried it?
Not for a long time. Cantonese karaoke is the opposite to music I like – too many predictable melodies and stupid lyrics.
How did you come in contact with electronic music?
I used to listen mainly to trip hop. My friend Wendy Wenn, who’s also a DJ, brought me to my first rave, but it was cheesy trance. Afterwards I found a website from Hamburg called betalounge.com. Through their radio show I heard lots more deep, dubby, dark sounds. After finding some artists like Efdemin, Pantha du Prince, Wighnomy Brothers, I immediately knew this was my music and that I needed to share it with my friends. Most of them didn’t get it though, so I was lucky to find Yumla, where there was already a crowd waiting for it every weekend.
Hong Kong is one of the biggest metropolises in Asia. What about the electronic music scene in Hong Kong?
The number of supporters is low compared to Europe, but since most are really dedicated and all of the clubs here are small we can have good parties with a full house every weekend. More fans have become DJs and promoters in the last couple years, so there’s more variety now. Recently the crowds at our Loco parties have been mostly new faces, and everyone’s just excited to prove it can be done in Hong Kong. This is a stressful city, so we love to see people relaxing and having fun to our favorite music.
It seems to be only a small scene but a lot of international artists such as M.A.N.D.Y., Damian Lazarus or Marko Furstenberg played during the last years.
I think all of the promoters are still friends and don’t really see each other as competition, so when one brings an international DJ everyone else gets behind them. Nobody is trying to get rich, the promoters just want to see the DJs they like and share the experience. And you can tell these huge names love to play in our tiny clubs like Bassment!
And can you compare it to the scene structures of Shanghai or Beijing?
I haven’t played in Shanghai or Beijing… yet!
In 2010 you played in Berlin for the first time. How did you feel and how did you experience the German music scene?
Berlin totally changed my direction. At the time I was playing lots of tech house, just beats and minimal sounds. Afterwards I was into deeper music again like the beginning, tracks with more personality.
With Dan F. and Basil Tam you released two singles in Yumla records. Are there some new releases or remixes planned for the future?
They helped me a lot with the production. Casey is trying to teach me Ableton Live so I can make tracks by myself.
Where do you buy your music? Are there any recordstores in Hong Kong and how do you think about the whole digital vs. vinyl discussion?
Online. I play on CD-Js. I like the sound of vinyl but it’s almost impossible to do here. There are no record stores and apartments are too tiny to keep it. Digital DJ controllers look like a toy but I don’t really care.
What is you all time favourite track or record and why?
My long time favorite track is “Crystal Rain” from Matthias Meyer. It´s good for warm up and cool down the crowd during a peak set. It is also very touching my heart.
What is the idea of your podcast? Is there a certain message behind it and how does it correspond to your deejay sets at a party?
The idea of my mix is to make something to be listened to at home more than the club, more soothing and deep. Also a bit trippy and happy!
Thank you for the mix and the interview.
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