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Welcome to the new Spotlight series by TMS, where we highlight businesses and people around Hong Kong making waves. This week, we’re speaking with Angelika, a Hong Kong DJ involved in the underground electronic music scene.
Meet Angelika. She’s a Hong Kong DJ involved in the underground electronic music scene. She began her career in 2020, self-taught and marching to the beat of her own sets. Her passion quickly escalated. From DJing in small clubs in Hong Kong, she worked her way up and is now the music director of Kiosky, a local label and event company creating musical experiences around the city. Since the start of her career, she has also co-founded her own techno event collective called ABYSS.
She describes her music as versatile, and she loves exploring different genres. But, she maintains a special love for techno, electro and house music. This week, we caught up with her to learn more about her insights into the industry as a female DJ, her biggest influences, why she loves music and events and any projects she has coming down the pipeline.
Q: What draws you to DJing? What do you love most about it?
I love sharing music with strangers and making people dance. I feel that enjoying music and dancing together is such a beautiful collective experience. To me, it is almost like therapy. As a DJ, I can help to curate that collective experience with music that I like. It is also cool to “transform” people in a sense and make them experience the genre of music that I play.
Q: What’s the most challenging part of DJing?
I find that the most challenging part of my DJing job is the need to work long and often irregular hours, which can be physically and mentally exhausting. Also, I sometimes face limitations on the types of music I can play when playing at certain venues due to specific music guidelines they have – that makes me sometimes feel restrained in my creative expression.
Q: How did you come to develop your style or land in a particular genre?
I’ve always been drawn to the energy and excitement of electronic music. While I am really into techno and bouncy electro, my style doesn't necessarily limit to just those genres. I like to keep things fresh and exciting by adding a wide variety of sounds and styles into my sets, depending on my mood and the crowd I'm playing for. I do tend to gravitate towards techno as the main theme of my sets, as I find it really speaks to the intensity and energy of the dance floor. And, of course, I love to throw in those bouncy electro sounds to really get the energy going. As a DJ, my goal is to create a unique and unforgettable experience for my audience, and I'm always looking for new ways to keep things interesting.
Q: Who are some of your biggest influences?
DJ Menzy in Hong Kong has inspired me a lot. She was my tutor at uni before I started DJing and gave me some advice on entering the scene before. She’s one of the main figures in the scene for UK bass-style music and also has an event label called “Feed The Dragon” – everyone should check it out!
Also, I have to credit the man that gave me my first gig and trusted me to organize my first event – the owner of the event label Kiosky. His name is Tommy, and this man is over 65 [and] still dedicated to making great parties and events. He inspires me to work hard and understand that nothing is impossible.
Q: What’s getting the heaviest rotation in your personal playlist right now?
I’m really into this Turkish band Altın Gün! Their track “Goca Dünya” is constantly on repeat on my playlist.
Q: What artist or album would you say is a guilty pleasure of yours?
The album “Ladywood” by Tove Lo.
Q: What do you like and dislike most about nightlife?
I haven’t been to major nightlife hubs in Hong Kong, so my experience isn’t the freshest experience. But what I like is that nightlife can be a good place to meet friends. And I also love going out with a big group of friends. However, what I dislike are people that don’t respect boundaries, as well as those who get aggressive after a few beverages.
Q: How would you describe the music scene in Hong Kong? Is there anything you’d say would make it better?
The music scene is quite diverse and full of talents! In Hong Kong, since music has not been the main focus of education, it was quite hard for me to learn about music apart from classical music. I am sure many people feel this way, yet there are so many talented music people in the scene.
For the electronic music scene, I would say it is quite tight-knit; collectives can get to know each other relatively easily, and although there is sometimes competition, it is healthy competition. And I find most collectives are usually willing to help each other out, for example, for renting equipment and DJs, etc., which is heart-warming.
Since most electronic music labels are independent, it would be good for us to receive some support to be able to grow and scale our events. Currently, the big electronic music festivals are mostly commercial/EDM, as they are profitable. It would be nice to see more boutique festivals from overseas that showcase other electronic music genres in Hong Kong.
Q: How do you deal with people’s feedback (both negative and positive)?
When someone gives me positive feedback, it's always a great feeling to know that I've connected with my audience and provided them with a good experience. However, when it comes to negative feedback, it's important to accept it with grace and not get defensive. I believe that feedback, even if it's not always positive, can be a valuable tool for growth and improvement.
Q: In your opinion, how is it different for a woman in this industry as opposed to a male?
There is still a perception in some circles that female DJs are only successful because of their looks rather than their talent or hard work. This can be frustrating because it can feel like our effort and dedication are being disregarded.
However, I believe that there is a growing recognition and appreciation for the contributions that women are making in the industry in Hong Kong, as we are seeing more women DJs in the scene that support each other. The most important thing is to stay true to ourselves as artists and to keep pushing the boundaries of what's possible, both for ourselves and for other women in the industry.
Q: What projects do you have coming your way that you'd like to share?
I'm excited to share that ABYSS, my event label, has some incredible projects in the works. First up, we're celebrating our one-year anniversary with a mini festival called TECHNO ABYSS 1 YEAR SPECIAL on June 24. We've invited three other local event collectives/labels – Slimefest, Distrikt and Point – to join us for 10 hours of non-stop techno tunes featuring 14 amazing DJs. This is a significant milestone for our event label, and we're definitely pumped for this event!
But that's not all – we're also planning to bring some international artists to Hong Kong for our ABYSS Invites series. We're currently in talks with agencies to bring in some eclectic global acts to play for us. This is going to be an incredible opportunity for techno fans in Hong Kong to experience some of the best electronic music from around the world.
Last, I'll be representing ABYSS to play at the upcoming Shi Fu Miz festival in October. This local festival is all about electronic music, and it's one of the coolest events in Hong Kong. This year, they're featuring even more local acts, and I'm thrilled to be invited to play on the lineup.
Q: How do you think all this emerging AI is going to affect the music industry and artistry as a whole?
AI in the music industry is likely to have an impact on how music is made and enjoyed. On one hand, it's exciting that we can use AI to create new sounds and help us understand music in new ways. This could inspire new ideas and help artists create new and interesting music. But, there is also a risk that we might use AI too much, which could lead to music that sounds the same and lacks creativity.
However, don't think that artists or DJs will be replaced by AI. People love going to see live music performances, and the connection that an artist can create with their audience is special and unique. While AI might be able to help us create new sounds and understand music better, it can't replace the creativity and intuition that comes from a human artist.
Q: Tell us about the coolest gig you’ve played.
Hard to decide! I loved playing at my own ABYSS gigs. They always have a great crowd and cool vibes. Actually, we founded this brand after coming back from a Berlin trip and intended to bring the Berlin vibe to Hong Kong, and I would say we have succeeded!
Also, playing at Clockenflap was pretty cool! Clockenflap was actually the first festival that I ever went to, and it was the first festival I ever played at. I’m grateful for the opportunity to play there. It was Friday 6 p.m., and more people showed up than I thought, including many of my friends. I always appreciate my friends’ support throughout my journey.
Q: What message do you have for aspiring DJs?
Just get started! You don't need to make a huge investment to begin your journey in this world. When I started out, I used second-hand decks and relied on YouTube videos to teach myself the basics. With time and practice, I got better and developed my own unique style. So don't be afraid to take that first step and start practicing.
Also, try to meet more people in the scene. Networking and making connections with other DJs, producers and promoters can be incredibly valuable in helping you build your career.
Finally, don't be afraid of making mistakes. As with any new skill, there will be some missteps along the way. But the key is to learn from those mistakes and keep pushing yourself to improve.
Q: How do you see your career developing in the future?
I’ll try to play outside of Hong Kong more. I was lucky enough to play at Arcan Club Ho Chi Minh City in April 2023, and I will aim to play more international gigs in the future.
I also want to organize cool events in Hong Kong and make it a cool and vibrant place. Prior to COVID, there were so many international DJs and events happening, but it changed after COVID. Although COVID is gone for a while, the event scene is still recovering. I would love to be a part of the events scene in Hong Kong and curate cool electronic music events for people. That is why I will put more of my time and effort into the event brand ABYSS. We’re aiming to organize bigger events for more people here in our home city.