We’re happy to pass along this awesome interview courtesy of Defected Records!
Happy Singapore is a hot new clubbing destination, no longer thought of as merely a place you stop over on your way to somewhere more exotic. It’s an international hub full of thrill seekers and music lovers and leading the way for pioneering music in the region is Zouk, Asia’s foremost Super Club and a place where almost every DJ of notoriety has played from Sasha to Steve Bug. Here we interview djB, the 8 year resident about the club, its vibe and his new mix dedicated to the venue…
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a resident DJ in Zouk for 8 years anchoring WeLoveHouse nights. Besides fronting my own nights, I am also a producer / remixer who has already released six singles and three remixes on coveted labels such as Soulfuric & Reversoulmusic, Map Dance and SSOH. I have also been the opening DJ for many of the international DJs playing here at Zouk from PVD to Louie Vega and from Ricardo Villalobos to John Digweed, just to name a few.
Zouk is a pioneering club in Singapore. Tell us a little about its history?
Zouk officially opened its doors in March 1991, with a motto of “one world, one music, one tribe, one dance.” From the start Zouk’s bold and pioneering music policy won Singapore’s village party respect at home and aboard. Alfredo was the first resident here in 91, he helped set the music direction. More and more people track Zouk down to see what its like. There’s the regular Wednesday night Mambo Jambo, with a crazy selection of music from the past to the present. A wine bar that plays electric sounds and not forgetting the MTV fare in the video bar. Many of the leading international djs have come to grace the decks and open up the mind of Singapore’s clubbers, from Nicky Holloway, Graeme Park, Paul Oakenfold, Jeremy Healy and Mc Amos, Danny Rampling, CJ Mackintosh, Phil Perry, Sasha etc. In 1994, a new sister club velvet underground was born, featuring a cosy, softer, intimate, relaxed and a little quieter, artistic, highly visual and colourful vibe. Many original works of art can be found there, includes a centrepiece by Keith Haring “healing hand”. Since then the club just kept evolving.
What is Zouk Famous for?
Zouk is famous for an eclectic selection of dance music from all angles, top notch analogue sound system custom build by Gary Stewart from New York, and for hosting hundreds and hundreds of top notch DJs and musicians from around the globe. Oh and its hospitality, we are prioritise making sure every artist is looked after and shown around.
Who has played there in the past and whose set have you enjoyed the most?
Steve Bug who played an amazing 4 ½ hrs set early this year. Locodice, Tiefschwarz and not forgetting Osunlade for his signature Yoruba set!
Would you agree that Zouk has led/leads the way in Singapore’s club and dance culture?
No doubt about it, the owner of Zouk Lincoln was the first guy to open a house club in Singapore. Prior to Zouk, the party scene in Singapore was really just about nightclubs that played pop music and live bands, and he was the first guy who really had the guts to open a house club. It didn’t really take off at the beginning and it was really only after 3 or 4 years that Lincoln’s bet started to pay off, in a big way.
Did Lincoln look to Europe for that house sound? What was his inspiration?
Lincoln was a regular at legendary festivals like Summer of Love and Woodstock, as well as travelled around the world to party in uber-cool clubs like Studio 54, Paradise Garage and Hacienda in his younger days. It was during one of his yearly jaunts to party island, Ibiza, where he caught DJ Alfredo, the godfather of Balearic house, a new blend of dance music that was very different from the usual pop tunes played commercially back then. This new sound intrigued Lincoln’s savvy ears and he was hooked to this form of underground dance music and desired to bring it to the masses here in Singapore.
Let’s talk about Singapore. Tell us about some of the things in the city that you, as a DJ, particularly enjoy.
I think, for me, it has to be the food! We are known as the ‘Food Paradise’, so the food is number one for me. Singapore isn’t the biggest of cities and there isn’t a lot to do, but if you come over here you can go out for really good food. It’s what we’re most proud of! Eating is a national pastime in Singapore. Furthermore, with the variety of places from hawker stalls to restaurants and with tastes from all different culture, Singapore. Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Peranakan, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Korean cuisine, you will get your taste bug seduce without a doubt.
Let’s talk about the ‘Zouk Out’ Festival. What can you tell us about it?
I think it’s the biggest in Asia and it’s a single day-12 hour dance festival where we feature top notch international DJ’s every year. We get record attendances every year- the crowds just keep on coming! – Last year we had a record of 27,000 people at the festival!
There’s a bit of everything for everyone at the festival. We have international trance DJ’s, techno DJ’s, House DJ’s and we even have an RnB and Retro tent. So everyone can find a little bit of something for them down at Zoukout.
Tell us about this year’s mix. Are there any of your own productions or any exclusives on it?
Oh yes definitely, there’s my own production on the record called ‘Incheon’, which I’ve included. One track I particularly like is the remix of ‘Who keeps changing your mind’. The original is a huge classic but I really think Daniel Bovie & Roy Rox have done a really good job with it. It sounds really updated and I really like the mix, so I’m really happy to include it on this year’s mix. I’ve also mixed in Charles Webster remix of “La Mezcla” and not forgetting one of the biggest tech house track at the moment by Super Flu – “Shine”, which has been a huge cross over DJs playing the House and Techno Genres. I’m pretty proud to say that this compilation is the first to have been licensed to use “Shine.” So clubbers will hear it first here in my mix!
What’s the flavour of the mix?
It’s quite vocal and infuses quite a bit of “soul” at the beginning, and then it gets a lot funkier with some classic tracks mixed in for good measure as well. I included X-Press 2’s ‘London Xpress’, which was a huge record in the nineties, and it still sounds amazing even till now. It’s just one of the many exciting tracks that I’ve included in the mix.
Is this mix representative of what you play live in Zouk?
Not necessarily, it’s a little hard to really classify my style as I’m pretty much versatile. My main inspiration for my sets really depends on the audience and the setting I’m playing to/in. I can play really soulful stuff or deep tech house or I can also play big room or very percussive based sounds. What is important to me is that a variety of sounds are included in my sets to ensure that it never ever sounds boring for the crowd I’m playing to.
Tell us about your club-night that you play each month.
“We love House” is a monthly affair in which I work my magic for 7 hours, providing a little bit of everything, from deep house to techno to the clubbers. I love my crowd, which includes quite a fair bit of regulars who know and appreciate the music that I dish out and I will always try my best to return the favor by ensuring that they reach musical nirvana through my sets!
Do you have a message to all the European clubbers about Zouk and why they should come one time?
If you ever have the chance to come to Asia, pop by over to Zouk to check out our sound systems, which probably can rank amongst the very best globally. It was custom-built by Gary Stewart Audio from New York. What is amazing about it is the effort and attention to ensuring that what clubbers hear is that “Old School” analogue sound.