More than just a dj, Aldrin is an ambassador for his scene. The 33-year-old Singaporean native might be resident at Zouk, constantly name-checked by industry figures as an excellent club business model, but he represents more than that.
[center] Aldrin & Felicia @ DC10, 15.09.03
[/center]Aldrin operates at the highest level in Europe – on this year’s Continental excursion he got We Loved-up on Sunday at Space, made a super-sub arvo appearance at DC10’s loco circus, co-headlined Pacha’s classic big room Friday nighter, and smashed it to little tiny pieces at the Space World Tour gig in Zurich’s Club Q. But his skills were honed in the energetic South East Asian macro-archipelago, a vast area comprised of ancient and gifted cultures which in modern times is a paradoxical mixture of strict moral codes and vice of the tightest nature. Performing in volatile climates is what Aldrin and the dance music industry does best. We tracked pictorially the progress of this Ibiza pilgrim earlier this month, and got the following comments upon his return home. Where are you typing the answers to these questions? What's the view from your window like? Aldrin
: I'm at my desk in the Zouk office. Unfortunately, there's no window view. But it's close to midnight and I can hear and feel the pounding beats from the main room. Did you enjoy your time here this year?
Yes, I had a great time in Ibiza. Much has been questioned about the popularity of Ibiza but it's still pretty much the summer haven for clubbers. I guess you just have to be there at the right time, and the right parties to be having it! How did your time this season compare to previous ones?
This is my fourth time on the island and the gigs that I played have been getting better and better. I remember my first time in Ibiza, I played Space on a Sunday with Alfredo, and also at Pacha on a Tuesday night. They weren't the best gigs and were not greatly attended. Last year, I had Tenaglia dancing to both my sets at DC10 and the Global Room in Pacha. This year, I had great reactions at We Love Sundays, PurePacha and DC10, so I'm really happy. Aldrin-@-Pacha-12.09.03 Did you stick around at Dc10 to the close? What did you do on Monday night? Did you get to any of the closing parties?
I played DC10 twice this year, once in the discotec and then on the terrace. I stayed till the end on the latter, as I wanted to catch Cirillo, as I've been told he does a fine job closing the party. As for the closing parties, I never made it to any, as I had to leave Ibiza on Tuesday morning, right after DC10. What's your favourite time of the year here?
I've only been to Ibiza in September, and I love it around this time. It's not massively crowded, with a very nice mix of Europeans and locals, and the weather is not too hot. But I hear the beginning of summer is also nice, so maybe next year I'd like to check out Ibiza in June. Why do you think house music is so big here?
In Europe, especially in the UK, house music culture = youth culture. You see it everywhere, not only within the dance music industry itself, but also in affiliated industries, like fashion, film, food etc. You hear dance music in clubs, bars, radio, TV, restaurants, cafés, boutiques, hair saloons, schools, etc. It's in your face! It really does reflect the current youth culture. This is definitely not the case here in Asia. As for Ibiza, I think there's been a long history of international travellers partying on this island, and the open-mindedness of these people help create the unique atmosphere.[center] Some chick was giving out these playing cards at DC10 like they were flyers
[/center] How would you describe the style of the music you play?
I play a wide spectrum of styles - I love playing a deeper, more organic house with Latin influences for those smaller, more intimate atmosphere; and a tougher big room set that fuses dubby elements, tribal & percussive rhythms, which includes tech house, progressive house, and even techno. Anything I feel that flows well, really. Do you have a theory about why dance music is coming in for so much attention the authorities? Why don't they go pick on jazz or rock like they used to?
There's been too much sensationalism by the media [that’s us kids!]
on all the wild abandonment and hedonistic lifestyle, so how long can authorities look the other way? Do you travel to the US much? What's it like over there?
I've been attending the WMC for the pass 2 years now and have played a few clubs in Miami, New York and San Francisco. It seems like house music in the US is still more “underground” as compared to Europe. There isn't a strong network to push the dance culture to their masses, unlike their scenes in Hip Hop, Rock and Country. Just look at how the UK has made dance music and DJ culture such a big part of their youth culture! When was the last time you paid for a plane ticket?
Whenever I travelled on a trip where I did not have to DJ. Do you get nervous travelling so much in a time of global instability?
Not at all. I used to work in the airline industry and travelled around the world quite a bit, so I kind of take the travel for granted. I guess I leave it up to fate. Does your mum tell you to be careful?
Always! mums will be mums. Do members of your family come to your gigs?
The first time my parents ever saw me up on the decks was just last month, when I played on the top of a mountain called Genting Highlands in Malaysia. It's a popular tourist destination with a huge casino up there - kind of like Las Vegas in the sky! So my parents decided to kill 2 birds - see their kid DJ to 7000 clubbers and have a go at the jackpot machines! When did you become a full time dj?
When I joined the Zouk residency back in 1996. Was it a gradual process or did it happen overnight?
My parents bought me my first pair of decks back in 1984, so I was already DJing since then. Back in the day, I was part of a small mobile disco business, and I was DJing on all the gigs, so over the years, I gained a whole lot from those experiences. What are wages like now compared with five years ago?
Probably about 25-35% lesser than now. In fact, back then in Singapore, there wasn't any opportunity for bedroom DJs to have a chance to play in the clubs. You had to be a resident. These days, bedroom DJs have loads of avenues to play to a crowd in a proper club. If djs got paid half as much money, would you still do it?
Yes as it's more of a passion than anything else. I had to take a pay cut from my previous job when I took on the Zouk residency, so money was definitely not the driving factor. Do art and commerce mix?
Yes of course they mix, and very well I must say! What's the scene like in Zurich? How was the Space party there on the 13th? What's club Q like? What sort of people go? How does it compare with other clubs around the world, like Zouk?
It was my first time playing in Zurich. I've heard about Club Q but didn't really want to have any expectations. It was interesting to see the club go off only after 2am, as that's close to the 3am closing time here in Singapore. The after hour vibe was obvious, and the clubbers were moved by the deeper, dubbier, and techier end of the house spectrum. Zouk is much bigger in size, with 3 rooms playing different genres of music, catering to a wide variety of people. You don’t get the afterhour vibe at Zouk – dancefloor action only happens between 11pm-3am.. and it’s pretty much a drug free dancefloor – so that’s the big difference![center] Holz @ a Club Q pool party in Ibiza, 12.09.03 Sam & Steff
[/center] How did Zouk get such a good name for itself? Is it the most famous club in South East Asia?
I believe its through word of mouth from all the DJs that have played here. The crowds here sure know how to give DJs a warm welcome and a very good impression. Also, the management prides itself on a very strong team in all areas of the business – from the DJ bookings to non-DJ events; flyers to décor; architecture to interior design; bar staff to security and even valet; there’s attention to detail. Zouk is the most famous club in South East Asia? I guess that’s because we’ve been doing this for the past 12 years, and the club is still a leader in its field, and is constantly reinventing itself. What's the attitude of the authorities to the dance scene in Singapore? What effect does the laws against homosexuality in Singapore have on the night life?
As it’s still a pretty much drug free society here, the government has been very supportive of the local dance scene. The Singapore Tourism Board even played a big part in our recent ZoukOut festival which attracted more than 15,000 clubbers. The authorities here these days have been pretty relaxed on the local Gay population. In the last few years, watering holes specifically targeted at Gays and Lesbians have been popping up all over the city. Gay & lesbian groups have even organized parties and outdoor events without much trouble from the government. What are you doing tonight?
Tonight we're having Danny Howells play a 4 hour set in the main room. He's here to promote his latest 24:7 mixed CD for Global Underground. It's going to be a massive night as he's not been here for a while and the clubbers are really looking forward to it. What are you doing on NYE?
NYE is a one of the biggest event on our calendar. We've yet to finalize our line up for that night but I'll definitely be at Zouk, as it's sure going to be a big bang. Peace aldrin[center]
Paul @ Pacha 12.09.03
Cheers to Dave Brophy from yougotspotted.com for all the Pacha pics. Mike Stuart collected the rest[/center]