• INTERVIEWS

Heartpumping music and endless dancing: what DJs miss about clubs and how they've been dealing with COVID-19

Heartpumping music and endless dancing: what DJs miss about clubs and how they've been dealing with COVID-19

Our Friday and Saturday nights have been a tad bit dull since clubs closed down mid-March. We’ve missed the thumping music, flashing lights, and that quick moment of excitement when your favourite song comes on. Local DJs also share the sentiment, missing the contagious energy of the crowd and the irreplaceable club atmosphere.

Live music and events, as we know it, has halted due to the ongoing coronavirus situation, which consequently affected a lot of artists' incomes.  According to I Lost My Gig (SG), a website that crowd-sources responses and tallies up a rough estimate of the financial impact of the pandemic on the country's creative industry, at the time of publication, an estimated total of S$30.3 million has been lost, with 2828 people affected and 8764 jobs lost. 

And, even as most of Singapore reopens, including cinemas, bars and amusement centres, nightclubs still have a long way to go before they can open their doors again. This means that clubs' resident DJs still have to wait to see the return of their regular gigs and income and that we can only dream of the next time we'll be able to get to the dancefloor and jam out to our favourite party songs. 

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Hear65 also reached out to some resident club DJs to find out how else they’ve been dealing with the coronavirus situation and what they’ve been up to in lieu of live gigs. Also, scroll down to the bottom to find out how you can continue supporting them while at home!


Zouk Singapore

Nash D

Since the COVID-19 outbreak and until now, clubs are still closed until further notice. Could you share with us how the situation has impacted you personally?

I saw this an opportunity to get healthy. For most of us who work in nightlife, our sleeping patterns and eating habits tend to be irregular due to the hours. With more consistent working hours, I began to lead a healthier lifestyle. I took this chance to start exercising more, eat healthily, drink more water and get more sleep. I feel rejuvenated, and I can’t wait to get back into action!

In lieu of live gigs, have you been exploring new ways to continue making music and performing? If so, what are they?

Yes! I have actively been part of the Zouk team to innovate and create new avenues for DJs to perform virtually. Some examples include our regular Zouk Digital platform that hosts content from live DJ sets, music and lifestyle content, cocktail masterclasses and so forth.

What are some unique projects you’ve been working on with the club so far?
At Zouk, we have moved most of our content onto the digital space now. I have been curating the programming for our weekly Zouk Digital live streams. Another recent project that I was heavily involved in was Phuturescapes, the global virtual rave we held together with the Singapore Tourism Board, headlined by International DJs such as Diplo and San Holo. It was a really eye-opening project – we managed to pull off a 3-day International virtual festival with local heroes and DJs from around the world, and we even got a chance to work with Diplo!

What do you miss most about performing live?
The biggest thing I miss about performing is the energy you get when people are physically in the same room and enjoying the same music. We have been trying to create this vibe online, but, of course, it’s hard to replicate that feeling. 

 

 

LeNERD

Since the COVID-19 outbreak and until now, clubs are still closed until further notice. Could you share with us how the situation has impacted you personally?

I have had to reinvent myself in many ways. Firstly, my sleep schedule has to be re-adjusted since our hours are so different. Secondly, I had to move my live DJing skills onto the digital space. On top of having to manage the logistics of live streaming during a performance, we also have to interact with the audience in new and innovative ways. In a live setting, it is easy as the interaction is instantaneous and you can feel the vibe of the room, but with livestreaming, it takes a lot of adaptation and one of the important elements of the DJing is reading of the crowd, which is challenging over the web.

Since I’m mainly working from home [now], I am able to quickly transition from getting out of bed right to work. In this aspect, I am able to put out more musical content, record podcasts and day in a life vlog content. This allows me to connect with my club regulars and social media audience even during the circuit breaker period.

In lieu of live gigs, have you been exploring new ways to continue making music and performing? If so, what are they?

I’m an avid advocate of face-to-face collaborations. But since COVID, I’ve been forced to use more digital means to facilitate my musical endeavours, such as learning new production skills, getting to know more musicians, getting collaborations, completing collaborations via FaceTime etc.  

We also recently hosted the DJCity Team Singapore collaboration where we pieced together multiple DJs’ mini routines to form a whole performance. This was done all via Telegram, where we communicated our ideas. 

What are some unique projects you’ve been working on with the club so far?

I DJ-ed for Phturescapes, a 3-day global virtual rave hosted by Zouk and the Singapore Tourism Board. We had a line up consisting of Diplo, Yung Raja, Inquisitive, myself and more. This was quite a fresh concept to me – Zoom’s functions allowed us to spotlight individuals inside the chat room, get them to bust-a-move and interact with one another like it was in real life.

What do you miss most about performing live?

That instantaneous energy that you get when you are performing in front of a live crowd is simply irreplaceable. The lights and various club effects that we have at Zouk is also, till this day, a spectacle to behold.


MARQUEE Singapore

FVDER

Since the COVID-19 outbreak and until now, clubs are still closed until further notice. Could you share with us how the situation has impacted you personally?

It has given me time to work on self-improvement, which I didn’t have the luxury of time to do, [and] mostly self-reflection and exercise. I believe a healthier mind and body produces happier results.

In lieu of live gigs, have you been exploring new ways to continue making music and performing? If so, what are they?

Exploring new ideas have always been a part of my musical journey. I was lucky to have a housemate who does music professionally and during the circuit breaker, we were basically jamming whenever we had the time. And, that helped us maintain our creative flow. 

I’ve also had the time to learn and prepare for livestreams during the lockdown with regards to the technical and visual aspects. [I] had a lot of fun with the lights! 

What are some unique projects you’ve been working on with the club so far?  

Marquee's and Avenue's livestreams! A lot of work and effort was put in behind the scenes to get these projects together for [the audience]. Shoutout to the good people in the marketing and visuals team for this.

What do you miss most about performing live?

Human Interaction.


NINETEEN80

DJ YA5TH

Since the COVID-19 outbreak and until now, clubs are still closed until further notice. Could you share with us how the situation has impacted you personally?

The Circuit Breaker had us looking for new ways to create content, engage our NINETEEN80 and Pinball Wizard community and keep everyone’s spirits up. One of our first initiatives were our live streams which we had to figure out from scratch; working around copyrights, set-ups and fixing sound and technical issues.

Before the outbreak got serious, we were actually working towards the debut of NINETEEN80’s expanded space. Just the week after relaunching our new space, the situation worsened and clubs were the first to be closed. We were also in the midst of setting up a new nightlife concept next door, called Rails. We’ve had to pause our operations and upcoming plans with no confirmed date of when we are able to open again. But we’re determined to improvise and find ways to get some different revenue sources and bounce back.

In lieu of live gigs, have you been exploring new ways to continue making music and performing? If so, what are they?

The weekly live streams on NINETEEN80 and Pinball Wizard has been a way for us to bring the music to our community. Over the months, I’ve gained so much knowledge on how to stream, what works and what doesn’t, even interesting designs that you can pimp for your stream, all through many YouTube videos and Google searches.

We’ve done a few interesting events with the streams. For NINETEEN80, we did a stream with 90s local celebrity, Mark Richmond, who willingly did this with us for the fun of it and made it into a special stream taking in requests. Over at Pinball Wizard, we have also managed to run a special event with guest DJ Shortkut who was nice enough to wake up at 7 am to spin from San Francisco for us. The streams have been a fun learning experience and we’ve even made new friends from the States from the DJ Shortkut virtual gig, who tuned in for some breakfast music at 7 am due to the time difference!

I’ve also done two personal live streams so far, with one being a Brazilian music showcase dedicated to my wife, who is Brazilian, on her birthday, and a Hari Raya stream with Malay funk, disco and pop from the 60s - 80s, which was really interesting for me.

What are some unique projects you’ve been working on with the club so far?

Throughout the months of Circuit Breaker and the phases, the team’s been working really hard to explore interesting content and new avenues for activities. Other virtual events beside our live streams include our first 80s trivia night which went really well and am already looking forward to the next one, and our upcoming Zoom workout sessions (party hard at home, workout harder!).

We’ve also launched our fun, 80s  I-MISS-YOU alcohol delivery and even a collection of retro-inspired face masks - operated, produced, delivered and even modelled by the team!

What do you miss most about performing live?

The atmosphere of being in a club from the loud banging music, seeing happy faces and close-up interactions with friends and guests. I just miss the freedom of having fun and being around a great vibe and energy. 


Till we can get back to our favourite clubs and dance our heart out to Nash D's, LeNERD's, FVDER's and DJ YA5TH's sets, here are some ways you can still show support even while at home.

1. Listen to their mixes on streaming platforms

Whether you're listening on Spotify, Apple Music or wherever else, streaming DJs' mixes help a lot. Streaming can help your favourite DJs reach out to a wider audience, increase their stream revenue and can even help them get featured on Spotify's curated playlists. Try listening to these tracks below:

 

2. Tune into their online livestreams

DJs all across the country are now taking their sets virtual. Whether it's through their resident clubs' online event, like Zouk's Phuturescapes or their own livestream sessions, there are digital events happening every week so tune in and show your support! Some even allow you to tip the DJs playing, so if you can, make sure to do so! .

 

Check out Hear65's livestream guide for regular updates

3. Share and promote their content

Local DJs are always finding new ways to collaborate and create new music, even when everyone's confined to their homes. It might be a fun collab with their fellow artists or just an impromptu spin on the table, show your support and share it around, and maybe even comment a thing or two, it'll definitely make their day. To start you off, check out these collabs and mixes: