A couple of years ago in 2010, my first experience clubbing in Seoul. Underground music was king and the most popular super club was EDEN. This was before the EDM boom hit, and many other super clubs started to open in Gangnam. I was amazed to see the pureness of it all back then, and there at EDEN club I thought to myself, man I’d love to play here one day.
At that moment it was only a dream to perform in the motherland of my racial background, South Korea. Fast forward a couple of years later, and this dream becomes a reality. And in style as well, alongside some of the leaders in the music industry. It’s funny how the same place, I had that dream at EDEN, life turn’s full circle and brings me one of the more defining moments in my career.
That very night at EDEN, when I dreamt the dream. Here at EDEN hanging beside me was someone who I grew up with a childhood friend Harry K, who later started a booking agency in South Korea – Seoulcialite Agency. Whom I can credit to helping me book many high profile gigs. What was happening back then, to the landscape of today’s clubbing scene is a whole different story.
Just after 2 years, in 2012 I re-enter Seoul, but with a whole lot more credibility as an artist. So now I was ready to gig, but to my surprise and disappointment. Many many changes to the scene, Eden was no longer the underground music haven it use to be. No longer was it a relevant club anymore. Seoul’s scene has changed into something I was not totally fond of.
What happened to the scene I experienced in 2010? My dream changed from let’s perform at a super club in Seoul to.. Let’s try to share to my people what I have experienced around the world in places like NYC, Miami & Ibiza.
Korean club culture… At one end, theres this superficial scene, super clubs in Gangnam rarely about a deeper experience with music. Nothing wrong with that, but for me it’s a little mindless. Sensory overload, it’s like they try to recreate Ultra Main Stage every single night their open. Although Seoul’s venues are more technologically advanced than say New York’s in a sense. There’s this vibe missing.
But I can’t discredit Seoul that* much. There is this neighborhood called Itaewon which is the international expat community of Seoul, most of the venues here have a good music policy and its respectable. Which we can credit to the various club owners, mgmt & directors. There is also a growing rooftop scene happening right now. It reminds me of Brooklyn. One of my more memorable gigs was in Itaewon @ B-1 in 2013 warming things up for Eats Everything.
The scene in Seoul is interesting in that it changes so fast, the Korean people live in a very fast paced society. New venues are constantly opening and trends changing. Clubbing is a fixture in the lifestyle of the young adults of Seoul, so most of the venues are quite busy.
As a performer it is an amazing feeling to educate audiences as well and see their reaction from what kind of music is this? to wow i’m feeling this now! To new fans coming up to me after my set saying it changed their perception. Which means a lot, since this is what I try to achieve as an artist.
“[필자는 jay oza를 작년에 처음알게 되었는데 테크노에 잘 알지도 못하고 그렇게 큰 흥미를 갖지는 못해서 그의 무대 또한 큰 기대가 없었는데 그의 믹싱이 굉장히 신났던 것으로 기억에 남습니다.(테크노가 타장르 대비 잔잔함이 많아서 관객들이 별로 없어서 거의 나홀로 놀았던 기억이 새록새록)]” – writer, below.co.kr
“Translated: Last year I got acquainted with Jayoza for the first time before this I didn’t know much about techno, but through him I got more interested in techno. His mixing was exciting , even techno is not that popular in Korea I had a blast dancing to his music.” writer, below.co.kr
It was amazing to say the least, and a huge honor to play alongside such an inspiration & iconic figure in our scene. More than the performance itself, finally hanging in a quiet place and having dinner with Rich was the highlight for me. Talking about the global scene, our (Rich & I’s) musical history and Korea’s culture. Enjoying Korean BBQ, and having some laughs. I had to leave early though for my set, so off I went to the Eden club.
Musically I took risks, as the DJ before me was already playing higher energy tech-house. My first track was an intro soundscape by OM – Enjoy the Meditation and obviously everyone stopped dancing. But that was my goal to restart the vibe and start deeper, 2nd track was DJ Tennis – Floating Boy (Self Portrait).
As Rich entered the booth, everyone stormed in closer, creating tension and high energy of the room and it became a frenzy the crowd roaring with excitement. All in all it was a huge success, and kind of a surprise to see the strength and draw Rich had in Seoul even after almost a decade of not performing there. We did make this change. Change.
Besides Sven Vath, Korean clubs/promoters are not booking the leaders of our scene. I guess the they don’t see value in it. For sure we made a huge statement, hopefully it opens that path for more to follow to further develop, Seoul’s musical scene, tastes & education within their audience. To bring more Koreans out, and to experience the greater international scene as well. Basically to push our culture into the motherland of my racial background.
If Richie Hawtin is the global ambassador, is it safe to say I am now an ambassador of South Korean techno?