The man who has established himself as a prolific figure at the top of the drum & bass and dubstep scene, not just in China but within whole South East Asia, is named DJ Wash. He is the co-founder of the Hong Kong based crew Kongkretebass, which has been promoting events with international headliners since 2006, as well as Kongkast, the biggest drum & bass and dubstep podcast in Asia with tens of thousands of listeners every week.
You grew up in Sydney. How do you get in contact with drum & bass for the first time and what inspired you to get involved, start DJing and make your first parties there?
Sydney is a diverse and urban dance music scene. Back in university days, I met a few friends who were into the same kind of music (house, hip hop, breaks, etc). And together from then on, we started going out to all sorts of parties. As I recall, sometime in 2000, one of my good friends showed me this fast breakbreat track which was fairly new to me. At that point, I had invested in some cheap DJ gear and played breakbeat and hip hop records. We tried mixing this fast breakbreat tune into things like Krafty Kutz, Stanton Warriors, Plump DJs etc... and for ages it wouldn't work because of the tempo was totally different. Soon, we found out that this fast breakbeat track is what they called drum & bass.
As time went on, we went to more and more drum & bass parties and made some really good connections from just going out and having fun. From there, I started playing for one of the local promoters crew. That was a great opportunity for me, as they were one of the bigger promoters in Sydney for drum & bass, and back then I learned so much from playing for them. Soon after that, I started working with two other friends – where we started a night, which started as a bar night with DJs and a live band, we quickly stepped it up a gear though and promoted our first international DJ (Friction and SP:MC).
Your returned to Hong Kong in 2005 and founded Kongkretebass one year later. Who is involved in this project and what is the allocation of tasks?
Kongkretebass was founded in 2006 by Elemiz (also known as Electronic Mistress) and I. The project came to life when we decided we needed a fresh approach in promoting music we loved, and doing parties. Back then I was already hosting an internet radio show for PlanetDnB.com and we had decided to take my show into something fresh and Hong Kong local based, so then Kongkretebass came about, which was going to be the host for all of our initial ideas on parties and podcasts. There's no real allocation of tasks between either of us; we just feed off each others drive / passion for music.
Elemiz is a natural designer, events organizer / PR and she had always been the driving force in Kongkretebass, so naturally, we just knew what our roles are in the projects.
She was always the one with the fresh ideas and visions; like our annual yearly charity event, Jungle Bells, our regional DJ Invitation series, Radar, and her last venture before moving to Germany, Sonic Step Sisters. Whereas I would take care of the mostly background things like initial set-up of website, getting Kongkast in place, set up our studio, organizing audio gear for events etc.
You and Elemiz have also run the biggest drum & bass and dubstep podcast in the region since 2006. Why do you decided to start such a frequent show?
As mentioned before, I used to host an internet radio show for Planetdnb.com. The show was on at night time in Hong Kong, which means day time in Europe. It wasn't easy for my own schedule, as I had to come home from work and get organized for the show, because it was a live feed. So when we came up with Kongkretebass we decided to look into podcasting our own show, instead of a live show for another website. This gave us the creative freedom to do what we wanted and when we wanted. It was also the first dance music podcast hosted by a promoter in Asia as well - and so the Kongkast podcast was born.
Having a podcast as a medium not only gave us the flexibility in time, but it gave our listeners the ability to listen to the show when and where they want. Being an internet medium, we were also able to expand out very quickly with our connections in Asia. With the Kongkast series being invitational only, we decide which artist or producer we want to listen to by inviting them to join the mixes series. The series has turned out really well, stats shows that with our top ten mixes we had over 250,000 listeners in 2009 and even more in 2010.
Drum & bass is mostly an unpolitical music and Hong Kong as a former British colony seems to be the most liberal part of China. Do you ever had problems with Chinese censoring, police arbitrariness something like that?
No, Hong Kong doesn't really face the same media limitations as those who are in China. The only thing we face some times are noise complaints (at the wrong venues), which is rare for us, as we tend to stick with venues we know and trust. But others have not been so lucky, but in saying this, there are some excellent venues in Hong Kong with a great underground vibe.
In most parts of the world, except the industrialized and western countries, it's very hard to buy vinyl besides ordering them or buying the tracks online as MP3s. Where do you get the freshest tunes from? Are there any record stores around?
I've become a digital DJ in the last couple of years as well, so I shop at the regular online places for tunes, but now and then, I'll still buy vinyl when there is a release which I feel is worth collecting. I still buying vinyl from online stores based in the UK, as there are really no such stores in Hong Kong for drum & bass, dubstep, etc. HMV used to stock some records, but now they've pretty much stopped all vinyl records, which is a real shame, but that's the way music is heading at the moment.
The geographic distances in your country are vast, the Chinese capital is more than 2000 km away from your hometown, are there any collaborations or exchanges between you and promoters from other big cities?
Yeah, we have been working closely with the Sub Culture crew in Shanghai. They are based in a club called The Shelter. The promoter there tends to get a lot of big names coming through, so we try to work together to get tours going within Asia. Just recently we had DJ Pinch, and he just finished his tour across Asia thanks to the efforts of our Shanghai peers. Some of us producers like Didjelirium, ChaCha, Blood Dunza and myself have also collaborated in tracks with some of the Shanghai peers, mostly dubstep and dub orientated, as we also make 140bpm-ish styles of music.
What are your future plans for 2011?
Kongkretebass will be concentrating on its Kongkast as always. We will keep the mixes coming and fresh through out the year. With new and exciting mixes already in the pipeline, both drum & bass and dubstep. This year alone we've already started with a few really good mixes from Australia (DJ Patch, Dauntless), as well as an up-and-coming producer called TMSV from Holland. There are so many mixes already confirmed, so keep updating Kongkast on iTunes to find out more. We will also keep on hosting quality events with carefully selected styles of music which we like and, as always, the quality of our artist is the up most important thing, so always expect something fresh from us.
My partner Elemiz, who is currently based in Dresden, has started 2011 with her own night called ZOOM, which is a fusion night of future bass, UK funky, future garage, 2-step, grime, kuduro, moombahton, etc. Dresdeners can expect to see her behind the DJ booth out and about more and more I'm sure. For myself, I'll be spending most this year in the studio, crafting my skills so to speak, trying to take things up another level and see where it'll lead from there.
Words Thamash Kestawitz
Photos David Pinzer
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