Music

Tribes of Hong Kong: The DJs

Community and camaraderie with three of Hong Kong's coolest disc jockeys. Photos by MIKE PICKLES

At a party, it’s always a point of pride to say: I know the DJ. That’s because they’re always the coolest person in the room. Not only does it seem glamorous to flit from big events to bars to clubs each night, but they also have the musical talent to make the entertainment come together just so. At other times of the day, there’s the work of producing music in recording studios and entering competitions to raise their profile.

It’s not an easy field to get into, but technology has changed some of that. ‘I remember the difficulty of starting out,’ says DJ Mistrezz, who went from publicist for DJs to trying her own hand at the turntables nine years ago. ‘Not only did I have to hone my skills, but there was also a lot of networking with other DJs to seek out music I liked – you had to ask what a specific track was. Today’s youth have it much easier as they can just go online to find everything. It seems like that sense of community has changed.’

Hong Kong’s club culture has changed, too. Clubs used to be separated by the style of music they played, whether it’s hip-hop or electronic. They’re much more homogeneous nowadays, which, along with internet resources, has lowered the barrier of entry for DJs. ‘Of course, there’s plenty of talent in the newcomers, and music is all very subjective anyway,’ says DJ TinHo, who has been in the business for 20 years. ‘Even though there’s some sense of competition among us, we hang out all the time to talk about new music and spinning, like one big family.’

Broadback, who has been in Hong Kong for eight years, started DJing 17 years ago and is also co-founder of a local design company. He sees the city’s diversity having a positive effect on their creativity. ‘Because Hong Kong is such a transient city, you get a lot of different people coming and going and influencing each other, bringing different styles to the table,’ he says. ‘And even though there seem to be a lot of DJs, there’s always a sense of camaraderie.’

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