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Dance Apocalyptic: Meet The Time-Defying Local Female DJs

From Singapore’s all-girl punk band pioneer to a Chopin-inspired ambient Pop producer, these time-defying female DJs speak to L’Officiel Singapore.
Reading time 7 minutes
ON GINETTE CHITTICK - Chaîne d’ancre Punk necklace and ring in silver, dress and bandeaux, HERMÈS

The OG multi-hyphenate Ginette Chittick, the queen of drum and bass Aresha Krishnan, genre-chameleon Farah Azizan, and electronic pop maven Wern Luk – these are the names on our lips for a shimmy like no one is watching.

On how it all started

Ginette Chittick (GC): At 15 I started playing in indie bands and formed an all-girl punk band with my friends. This was the ’90s and so there weren’t any other all-girl bands in the scene. It was quite an amazing time for local music and we were making zines, trading demo tapes and EPs.

Through the music and clubbing scene I met many like-minded people. I met George Chua and Kelvin Tan – co-owners of the legendary Home Club – who asked me if I wanted to start an indie club night with George and Joe Ng. We ended up naming the night BEAT! and it ran for seven years. I never imagined I would be a resident DJ for so long – it was some of the best times of my life.


Farah Azizan (FA): I started DJ-ing around the age of 20. It was all for fun. I started at house parties first, and then open deck sessions at Home Club and suddenly I was getting booked to play at proper gigs.


Wern Luk (WL): I didn’t start making music until I was at Central Saint Martins, London. I was surrounded by so much talent and creativity, it gave me the push to start experimenting on my own. I produced demos and posted them on SoundCloud. I got involved with the club scene in London and played at underground raves. An artiste management team and record label based in NYC found my work and reached out to me shortly after. For the next few years, I went on tour and played gigs internationally. Since returning to Singapore, I’ve become more involved with communities here and around Asia.


Aresha Krishnan (AK): In 1995, I chanced upon a rave single by The Prodigy. I remember that day clearly because it was almost as if everything clicked in my little head. Eventually I amassed a tidy collection of dance music. This led to a chance meeting with someone from an events company who asked if I wanted to DJ at their events. They gave me a crash course on how to operate a Denon rack console and it just all progressed from there. Before I knew it, I was playing for promoter nights before landing a residency at Rumours, a club in Clarke Quay back in 2001.

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ON FARAH AZIZAN - Ouroboros ring in yellow gold, Le Marche des Merveilles ring in yellow gold with topazes, spinels and pearl, Three band Ouroboros ring in yellow gold and GG running X ring in yellow gold, GUCCI Top and jeans GUCCI

On the genre of choice
 

GC: It was natural to play indie and rock music as those were the genres I aligned myself with in the various bands I was in over the years. Now I do nu disco, indie dance and house music. It’s just a natural progression as these genres are still steeped in vocal melodies.

FA: I started with drum and bass, but I’m a hip-hop, funk and soul girl at heart. I try not to limit myself to genres nowadays and play whatever the hell I want, when I can.

WL: My foundations are rooted in UK dance music (jungle, drum and bass, garage, grime, dubstep), and the internet has always had a significant influence on the music I play. I’m constantly researching new sub-genres and their mutations. The best place for this kind of discovery has always been platforms like SoundCloud and Reddit where artists are free to upload experimental cuts and bootlegs.

AK: I first found drum and bass in 1999 and knew that was what I loved listening to the most. It didn’t fit with the type of club nights I was playing at so I never got to play it. I went in search of other events that did and ended up finding drum and bass nights by Guerrilla Collective at the now-defunct Insomnia club in Bugis Village. I kept going for nights when I could and played my first proper set in 2004 at the now-defunct Mad Monks.

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ON ARESHA KRISHNAN - Gucci Flora rings in white gold with diamonds, GG Running X ring in white gold with diamonds, GUCCI Jacket, SALVATORE FERRAGAMO

On the catharsis of music

GC: All the songs I’ve ever written have got love as the dominant theme, so my emotions get figured out and purged in the process of writing and performing. Lyrics especially hold a central role in conjuring imagery and hence I am still drawn to dance music with vocal melodies.


FA: I think listening to live music and being in a sea of other people in a trance and dance, is very freeing. It emanates a very vibrant and infectious energy. Some may say it’s hedonistic but it’s simply cathartic.


WL: I’ve performed to diverse audiences in different parts of the world. It is an incredible feeling to see that the music that I play resonates with other people regardless of who they are or where they are from.

AK: I love bringing people together and creating happy vibes. DJ-ing for me is just one of the ways I can do that for people. To be able to make everyone dance until their feet hurt and create a moment that leaves them talking about it for days afterwards is really what does it for me.

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ON WERN LUK - Jack de Boucheron triple wrap in yellow gold, Jack de Boucheron long necklace in yellow gold with paved diamonds, Quatre White Edition ring in yellow, white and pink gold, with white ceramic and diamonds, Quatre Radiant Edition ring in yellow and white gold with diamonds, Boucheron Quatre Radiant Edition openwork ring in yellow gold, Jack de Boucheron triple wrap in white gold, BOUCHERON Top and jacket, MIU MIU

On a gig to remember

GC: In recent years, my gig at AlexBlakeCharlie music festival was pretty spectacular. The set design was fantastic and the crowd was so awesome. It really is something when people are so in-tune with my energy and I, with theirs.


FA: I think the last outdoor gig that I had before the Covid lockdown at No Sleep Club was rad. My last international gig at Wonderfruit Festival was also pretty sick.

WL: I played classical music at a club situated in a former bomb shelter in Shanghai. It was an amazing space and no one danced (laughs).

AK: Being asked to open for Nero and BBC 1XTRA’s Mistajam in the main room of Fabric in London. I was a bag of nerves and almost cried when the very supportive sound engineering guys came over to tell me that I had filled the floor by 11pm, which apparently rarely ever happens.
 

On what makes them dance
 

GC: A good baseline and drum beat!

FA: Friends, good music, tequila. 

WL: Anything with bass!

AK: Jagermeister.

Photography Joel Low
Styling Gregory Woo

Hair Junz Loke Using Kevin Murphy
Makeup Wee Ming Using Laura Mercier
Photography Assistant Alfie Pan

This editorial first appeared in the April 2021 issue of L'Officiel Singapore. 

 

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