Just Bee, Hong Kong DJ and Unchained radio host

In 10 Tracks, we hyperlink up with the movers and shakers of Hong Kong’s nightlife scene to study a bit about their background, their inspirations and their ten excellent tracks to kick off the weekend. This week, we discuss to Just Bee about her hilarious begin to DJing, being a celebration troll and the significance of catching vibes.

Just Bee isn’t just, nicely, something.

You would possibly know her as a vibey DJ; as a part of Unchained Recordings’ radio present crew. You would possibly know her as a bleary-eyed senior at City University of Hong Kong, trudging via New Media and Media Law lessons. You would possibly know her as your part-time colleague at an inside design agency, creating and managing digital content material. Or, you would possibly simply know her as Abby, like I do.

“I’m just a professional trouble maker whose been making noise all over Hong Kong since 2016,” says Abby, with a straightforward snigger.

Abby had an uncommon begin to DJing. What started as a humorous social gathering joke (extra on that beneath) ended up jumpstarting one thing essential, one thing that’s led Abby to Just Bee. Something that’s then led Just Bee to spinning decks on resort rooftops in Hong Kong, on junk boats out at sea, in darkish, smoky, full-capacity golf equipment all throughout China — and FM.BELOWGROUND, Outlook Festival, Clockenflap, Social Room, Popinjays, Mihn and Quality Goods Club. Just to call a number of.

It ought to come as no shock, then, that Abby had a tough time answering questions in a typical interview like this. “The people I want to collaborate with are scientists, engineers. Coders,” says Abby. “Not really DJ-related.”

Much like all of the proverbial hats Abby wears, from cross-country DJ to full-time pupil, her sound doesn’t match neatly into any field both.

“Deep, bassy, sometimes heavy and chaotic, sometimes dreamy and happy,” lists Abby. “It’s always evolving depending on my mood or situation. I can’t stick to one sound — I love them all!”

And as all the time — she made a mixtape to take us into the weekend.

10 Tracks: Just Bee

What sparked your curiosity in music? Did you play any devices or sing rising up?

I’ve all the time cherished music rising up. I used to be within the faculty choirs, took guitar classes and tried my hand at piano (although it was not for me as a child). Every day after faculty at 4pm I might watch MTV or Rage on TV! I additionally keep in mind spending time with my uncle as a toddler who was and nonetheless is massive on 70’s to 90’s pop music from Japan, European and Western international locations, and my mom who would blast Madonna and Mariah Carey CDs.

Do you keep in mind the primary social gathering you performed? How did it go?

I’ll all the time keep in mind it fondly. It was my birthday celebration at Oma in 2015 the place I invited a few of my favorite bass music DJs to play all through the night time. One of them, a Japanese DJ/producer known as DJ108, urged I play a set too, as a shock. So within the few weeks main as much as the social gathering he taught me how one can DJ. No one, not even the DJs, knew this was taking place. I even put a random and faux DJ identify on the occasion poster so nobody might guess that it was me.

On the night time of when it was my flip to DJ, I keep in mind entering into the DJ sales space and even at midnight and smokiness of the membership I might see folks’s confused faces like “What’s going on? What is she doing back there?” I used to be such a troll, too, I began the set with Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” and blended it right into a heavy Drum & Bass observe known as “Gene Labs Optiv BTK Remix” by Mindscape. It was chaotic. I’m laughing masses simply desirous about that.

The set wasn’t excellent, after all, however I had a lot enjoyable that night time. It felt unbelievable being behind the DJ sales space and watch the gang go wild. I haven’t stopped DJing since!

If you’ll be able to collaborate with anybody on the planet, who would it not be?

I might like to work with scientists and engineers to create mind-blowing tasks. Who is aware of?!

How did you get entangled with Unchained?

I used to be contacted by Daniel Power, the co-founder of Unchained, in 2016 when he first began Drum & Bass nights in Shenzhen. That was the start of me travelling there forwards and backwards each weekend, flying or taking the prepare to numerous locations in China with the remainder of the Unchained crew Lyndon Jarr and Immuno. Up till COVID-19 struck us and the border was closed-off.

What was your greatest DJ gig? What was the worst?

One of the most effective gigs I’ve had was taking part in the warm-up set for Drum & Bass legend Makoto at OIL Club in Shenzhen. The place was packed full of individuals (like 300) and the vibe was excellent. I managed to maintain the folks dancing and however not tire them out earlier than the primary act. Warm-up units actually check your expertise as a DJ and I’m pleased with that set.

The worst was in a mega-club in the midst of nowhere in Foshan round 4 years in the past. The membership itself was insane, it was like a 5000sqft warehouse with LED partitions and ceiling. The occasion was marketed as a Drum & Bass night time, however not even half-hour into my set I used to be requested to cease and was changed by a bro-step DJ. I used to be fairly irritated as a result of I felt like I had wasted my time and power flying there. But I nonetheless acquired paid in full and continued to get free alcohol so I didn’t keep mad for lengthy [laughs].

What’s a set (or a efficiency) that had an vital, lasting affect on you as an artist?

I truthfully can’t keep in mind when, however the first time I performed a set ‘freestyle’ with out planning each track from begin to end. It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulder and I might simply drift as an alternative of worrying about it being excellent. It confirmed me the significance of studying the gang, catching a vibe and operating with it. 

Is there anybody who’s work you’re presently enthusiastic about?

The first two that come to thoughts are digital music artists Gyrofield (from Hong Kong however now in UK) and LCY (from the UK) who’ve made large dents with their distinctive music manufacturing and music/label/occasions.

What’s your artistic course of?

It will depend on what challenge I’m engaged on. If I’m making music for my very own private enjoyment or for venting functions, I do no matter involves thoughts. If I can hear a piano melody in my head, I’ll file that. If I hear jingles after, I’ll sprinkle that on prime.

For collaborations like designing sounds for movies or animations, I’ll first watch the visible piece all over, jot down first impressions or any fast sounds I hear in my head with timestamps. Then I’ll re-watch it once more extra carefully to plan out the sounds layer by layer. I often make a primary draft rapidly to get the ball rolling and revisit it after slightly break to construct on it.

I attempt to be as artistic as I’m organised, particularly if I’m working towards a deadline.

What makes or breaks a DJ set?

Vibes, feeling, emotion… figuring out how one can learn a crowd. Volume management when there isn’t a sound engineer to try this for you. If you might be DJing nice tunes however my ears are being destroyed with the amount even whereas carrying protecting earplugs, that kills it for me.

Any music responsible pleasures?

Vengaboys [laughs). But I bet you love them, too!

Karaoke — what’s your go-to?

Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi”.

What’s subsequent? What are you engaged on?

I’ve a number of issues developing subsequent! I’m within the means of including ending touches to a challenge I’m designing the sound for, and it is going to be introduced very quickly. I can’t reveal a lot about it proper now however all I can say is that it’s an enormous collaboration between myself and one other gifted Hong Kong artist.

Another upcoming challenge I’m concerned in is ‘. Stillness. .Intersecting. . . 2022’, which is a particular challenge concerning the quiet Hong Kong cityscape, curated by Contemporary Musiking Hong Kong.

Follow Just Bee right here and her Unchained Radio set at FM.BELOWGROUND right here

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