20 in 2020: Livestreams that didn't suck
Here is a list of 20 livestreams from Asia that we would watch again. And again.
There’s enough negative banter out there turning down the idea of livestreaming DJ sets and how it’s detached from the primal nature of a dance floor. Well, no shit. And guess what, the artists and platforms making a noble effort are obviously in despair too. And this thing called livestreaming really has become the next best connector between DJs and the people who take a genuine interest in the omakase philosophy that the art subliminally preaches — trust the DJ.
We rounded up twenty of the most compelling sets, some scoring music points, or visual points, with most scoring for both. From a blue-sea panorama of the southern peninsula of Indonesia to the nocturnal utopia of Asia’s favourite underground clubs, reciprocate the love and drop in a comment or like while listening to this selection that covers the sublime, the innovative and the blatantly badass DJs from across Asia.
1. High in Japan — Yumi Kobayashi, The Great buddha, Ushiku
Undoubtedly, there is no shortage of iconic shrines and statues around Japan, and for this epic DJ set in the Ibaraki prefecture, Yumi Kobayashi plays a slamming house and techno set a at the feet of the hundred and twenty-meter tall Amitabha Great Buddha in Ushiku. Her name to fame came about from her residency at House Nation which turned into one of the region’s biggest house music nights, regularly hosting parties at the globally renowned Ageha and WOMB, and for taking her sound around the world from Ibiza to South America. Produced by the imaginative team behind High in Japan, click play below to reel in the high spirits of house and techno from Japan’s Yumi Kobayashi afoot The Great Buddha in Ushiku.
2. Rinse FM x Seoul Community Radio — Mall Grab, London to Seoul
His last Asia tour left South Korea reeling for more — Mall Grab’s blatant theft of Korean hearts after epic nights at Faust in Seoul and Output down south in Busan had to be compensated for, and the recently launched Seoul Community Radio x Rinse FM collaboration made for a perfect stage. For his ‘come back’ mix for Seoul eardrums, Mall Grab’s exclusive mix from the new Rinse FM studios in London is fully loaded with rave, hardcore breaks, a dash of jungle and a sprinkle of holiday cheer.
3. United We Stream Asia #21 — ISO Room (ZÜ Club), Ulaanbaatar
The fundraising streaming project that swept Asia by storm made sure they truly covered the region meticulously. Their twenty-first show was streamed from ISO Room, the underground side room of the city’s prime electronic club space, ZÜ Club. The session features 4.5 hours of fresh house and techno straight from the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, programmed by a strong mix of local talent including NIIKA of the Mongol Mix Project, TMK who is a resident of ISO, Anu Dol (Majesty Mongolia), RUSH (DMF) and Cybersnack (UGC). Think you know techno? It’s time to learn a thing or two about riding a hard set from these Mongolian jockeys.
4. Mixmag — Drunken Kong, Hill of the Buddha, Japan
Japanese techno-duo Drunken Kong made quite the impression on Mixmag fans and beyond with their pulsating set from the iconic 44-foot shrine entitled Hill of The Buddha, in Hokkaido, Japan, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando. The pair manage to balance an almost wabi-sabi-esque nuance between the zenned-out atmosphere and Buddha statue surrounded by a hundred and fifty thousand lavender plants, while rolling out a quivering set of refined and hypnotic techno. Breathe in, and...bang out!
5. Wonders Indonesia — Apsara, Sunset Session at Taka Makassar, East Nusa Tenggara
A stunning backdrop of Indonesia’s natural beauty needs to be complimented by a radiant and colourful set, and that’s exactly what Tokyo-raised and Jakarta-based producer and DJ Apsara delivered at Taka Makassar in East Nusa Tenggara of Indonesia, the southernmost province of the wild archipelago. Apsara has been on Mixmag Asia’s radar since late last year, touted as one to watch over 2020 and was also chosen for her production ‘Biocat’ for the second release of Mixmag Asia SELECTS. Her perfectly played out sunset session was the first episode hosted by Wonders Indonesia, a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Tourism & Creative Economy (Kemenparkrekraf) and HYPE Festival — subsequent episodes include sunrise and daytime sets by Nadin Amizah and Teddy Adhitya. Hit play below to bask in crystal clear blue waters, soft sand and celestial techno by Apsara.
6. United We Stream Asia #10 — Upstairs X Ice Cream Sundays, Singapore
Get ready for a leftfield-ish affair by Singapore party collective Ice Cream Sundays as they take over Upstairs by The Council for the tenth episode of United We Stream Asia. A stellar line up of Singapore’s finest eclectic selectors including The Weatherman, Toppings, Bongomann, Muto Masashi and Ulysses, take you through a sweet array of oddball disco treats and groovy house gems — it’s a 5-hour delight of a richly churned and smooth Ice Cream Sunday(s).
7. Horizon — Johnny Hiller, Hong Kong
It’s no surprise that the man behind the impeccable Music Room at Potato Head Hong Kong is also one of the city’s most respected and admired selectors, namely for his unparalleled DJ sets, but also for his rich, second-to-nature and hands-on knowledge of everything dance, disco and house. Recorded live for Hong Kong-based series Horizon, Johnny drops a pleasurable selection of low to mid tempo gems including Ray Mang’s remix of Phenomenal Handclap Band ‘Judge Not’, Groove Armada ‘The Girls Say’ and ‘Pikes’ by Citizens of Vice — set to the backdrop of one of the world’s most iconic skylines.
8. Mixmag Lab BudX — Todh Teri, Mumbai Edition
The Mixmag Lab BudX Mumbai Edition saw some very impressive talent from the subcontinent step into the limelight including Kohra, BLOT!, Likwid amongst a handful of others. Mixmag Asia’s favourite set comes from the eccentric and musically avant-garde Todh Teri — starting off slow and finishing off strong with stunning captures of the sounds of Indian cinema, laced with layers of acid, disco and funk painted over raw house grooves. Todh Teri is a multilateral hybrid experience of sonic wonder, as he makes use of influences both old and new and delivers them with absolute eminence.
9. P14 — Subb-An, Underwood Art Factory, Phuket
The P14 podcast series was born in Belarus but is now operated by most of their team who are based in Thailand — they’re all about bringing the ambience of a good party to the screen through top notch production. While their channel hosts an uncompromising programming of DJs from across Thailand including Spencer from Soi Dogs, Rui and Kago Do, P14 managed to hunt down One Records label boss Subb-An. While halfway through his Asia tour earlier this March, one show after the other was getting cancelled due to travel restrictions and safety concerns. That unfortunate story took a good turn when he found out he was being hosted by every DJs’ favourite hotel in Asia, Sri Panwa Phuket, and then recording this sweet set at Underwood Art Factory. Tune in below.
10. High in Japan — Ken Ishii, Daikoku Island, Hokkaido
Legendary Japanese techno producer and DJ Ken Ishii’s set for HIgh in Japan is nothing but an example of fine art — on point techno coupled with flawless mixing. There’s also the magnificent views of the uninhabited Daikoku Island off the eastern peninsula of Hokkaido. Actually we lie — fun fact, the island is healthily populated with seabirds and seals. Biodiversity aside, Ken Ishii delivers a tough, uncompromising set that’s naturally reminiscent of his early Detroit techno influences.
11. SPACECRAFT — RayRay, Taipei
Fortunately for RayRay, dance floors hardly saw any closure this year as Taiwan effectively evaded being affected by 2020’s pandemic. But like one does in true professional form, the young bass and hardstyle club DJ remained connected to her fan base around the world through her ongoing livestream series SPACECRAFT, which she started out in March this year. Set to a motion backdrop of a galactic voyage, it’s needless to say that with an average of over a hundred thousand views and forty thousand followers on her Twitch platform, that her fans have truly enjoyed joining her bass-fuelled SPACECRAFT almost every week this year.
12. Alam Sessions #11 — Lzzy, Alam Shah & JonnyVicious
Twenty years of DJing was a celebration Alam was ready to take on the road and tour across the region to play at his favourite venues and with the musical friends he’s made along the way of his distinguished career as a DJ. Homebound by a nation-wide lockdown, Alam decided to turn the planned tour into a series of livestream sessions from his lush set up at home featuring some of Kuala Lumpur’s finest DJs, most of whom he’d play back to back. Our favourite was Session #11 which kicked off with a smooth warm-up by Lzzy, and followed by a back2back between Alam and Pisco Bar’s Music Director JonnyVicious. We rang up Alam to tell him why we enjoyed this particular set so much, and his reply was pretty much ditto of our sentiment, “This night was more serious and the entire flow was solid from start to finish. Musically i would say this Session was the best, even the way we ended the night was pretty epic.” Best or not, we’d happily take the energy between these two to the dance floor and off the screen the moment we can.
13. Kolour On The Net Festival Day 2, Bangkok
Right after hosting a successful and sold out weekend at Kolour in the Park, Thailand laid down hard restrictions on just about everything related to nightlife. So about a month after their weekender, Kolour organisers took to the web and curated a three-sixty-degree content programme that ranged from yoga to arts and crafts, with plenty of great sets by some of Bangkok’s finest DJs. Our favourite was on Day 2 which included MYLE, Spencer and a special set by Romanian producer ATMA. This was one of the first all-encompassing online events we saw taken to the screen by an event promoter that more or less knew that the winds of change were coming.
14. United We Stream Asia #16 — Savage, Hanoi
Filmed from the brand-spanking new, and recently relocated new site for Hanoi’s underground temple, Savage, United We Stream Asia hosted their sixteenth show with a stellar line up of Vietnamese talent. Kicking off top-notch and hypnotic house grooves from Di Linh, followed by the meticulous selections of Viet Anh and TrinhNu, and before off in style with the delicate sounds of Zwi.
15. Alam Sessions #06 — Axel Groove & Victor G
This particular episode from Alam Sessions that celebrates the Malaysian native's 20 years of DJing, sees a back to back to back with 2 of his KL compadres, Axel Groove and Victor G. It just so happens that his guests for Session #06 also happen to be Kuala Lumpur's venue titans joining him for an all-out house music affair — Sanjeev Raj, aka Axel Groove is the Music Director of one of Asia’s most prolific nightclubs, Kyo, and Victor G is W Kuala Lumpur's Music Curator. Three house heads and a brand new Pioneer DJM V10 6-channel mixer (just for this session) is plenty of arsenal for a ridin' good time.
16. Cercle — Lee Burridge, Bali
The sultry and visionary bliss of All Day I Dream label honcho Lee Burridge coupled with the unparalleled backdrop of what was formerly known as Omnia Bali, is well, simply a perfect match. And when you add the high end production of livestream platform Cercle, you’re left with a perfectly soundtracked motion picture of the breathtaking ocean-facing cliffs along the surfer’s paradise of Uluwatu, Bali. Need we say more? Get dreaming by hitting play below.
17. Seoul Community Radio x Rinse FM — Shade Seoul, Seoul
Shade Seoul’s wild ride of a set for Seoul Community Radio should definitely include a safety warning that reads This way down the rabbit hole. The eminent LGBTQ party promoter has been a driving force behind Seoul’s underground music scene, hosting alternative and edgy nights that sonically stretch through a broad spectrum of genres. Their early-day parties were a huge success under the name V.O.G.U.E ― a no-discrimination-policy series of parties that themed around voguing and ballroom culture. Featured in this particular set is Net Gala, one of the resident drag performers and musical minds behind Shade Seoul’s whimsical parties. If you’re in serious need of an energy boost (starting at 140BPM), we recommend tuning into Shade Seoul’s recent set on Seoul Community Radio below.
18. Hong Kong Sights and Sounds — Helen Ting, The Peak, Hong Kong
One of the things we’ve enjoyed most about livestreams this year is the way local scenes and their collectives of artists across Asia have been able to showcase their talents to wider audiences, and in captivating ways, like HKClubbing.com’s Hong Kong Sights and Sounds series filmed 428 metres above the city’s Victoria Harbour. Helming the decks for the series’ second episode is Hong Kong’s queen of afro, deep and soulful house, Helen Ting of Kazukata Records. Vibrant sounds reign over the city with Helen Ting taking you on a drum-fuelled magic carpet ride across the city of Hong Kong.
19. UWS Global #32 — The Lighthouse, Ho Chi Minh City & Safe Room, Bangkok
With United We Stream Asia stirring plenty of attention in the region, the UWS Global Platform together with ARTE Concert hosted two of Asia’s favourite underground venues, The Lighthouse in Ho Chi Minh City and Safe Room in Bangkok. The cross-boarder episode featured Te Ruu, Steffen Sonnenschein and a back to back from Tristyan and Jonathan BE representing Vietnam from The Lighthouse, followed by DOTT, Elaheh and Marmosets shaking things up at Bangkok’s Safe Room. Te Ruu superbly warms things up on the eclectic funk and disco tip, and it just gets deeper and darker from there. Tune in below to UWS Global #32 with some of our favourite selectors in the region.
20. KAKU — Digital Mirage Friendsgiving, Taipei
It goes without saying that KAKU is one of Asia’s pioneering mainstage DJs who’s made a global impact like no other. On top of slaying the regional scene my his track record of top tier performances that include STORM, EDC, Ultra Japan, Korea and China, as well as as every super club from Singapore to Japan, KAKU has graced stages across Europe and the US including Tomorrowland and Miami Music Week. For his livestreamed set for Digital Mirage Friendsgiving, KAKU presents a no holds barred showcase of his signature trap and bass frenzy.