Downtime is a new series that showcases a different side of our favourite DJs. Up next, a mix of warm r'n'b, hazy beats and deep house from Louise Chen
Louise Chen has been cutting her teeth as a DJ and promoter since the start of the 10s and has steadily been building her reputation as a keen record digger and club DJ with impeccable timing.
The Taiwanese-French artist uses her radio shows on NTS, The Lot and Rinse France to showcase the breadth of her taste, deploying a 'soul tearjerkers' special here and a 100 per cent gospel set there, as well as inviting guests like Mafalda and The Patchouli Brothers.
As she showed us last year, she brings only the finest-quality heat to the club with sets that invigorate dancefloors and radiate pure energy. The same goes for her tracks, as her burgeoning production career testifies.
Given that she's one of the most ingenious young DJs in the game, we called her up to contribute to Downtime and she's fulfilled the brief perfectly by...
Whereabouts are you right now and how are you?
I’m currently in Paris in my flat. I’m doing pretty well considering, thank you!
Can you describe what it's like where you are right now?
Right now, I’m in my lounge and it’s really sunny. The streets outside are exceptionally quiet and completely deserted. It’s a pretty big room that’s shaped weirdly like a pointy boat, it has windows all around and a small open kitchen in the corner where I get to see two of my neighbours sunbathing everyday.
This is the room where I spend most of my time, I have my music studio set up here, my DJ booth, my records, two very comfy sofas, TV, books, DVDs, magazines… Entertainment galore!
What sort of things have you been keeping yourself busy with?
To be perfectly honest, my routine hasn’t changed that much. I wake up, exercise a bit thanks to Youtube videos and @fit__as Instagram live HIIT sessions. Have coffee, sit at my computer to either make music, buy new music, dig online for old music, take care of the few emails I still get, have a snack, record a mix, cook something for dinner, look for something to watch on Netflix, or stream a set, or documentary, read for a bit, have another snack, pick up my guitar, scroll Instagram and Twitter until my eyes hurt. Boom, it’s 3am!
Are there any TV shows or movies you’ve been bingeing?
Yes! Binged Ozark season 3 all weekend. Somehow I’m struggling to really sit and watch movies on Netflix. I put one on and switch it off within 15 minutes. I’ve been enjoying music documentaries a lot more since confinement: the Miles Davis one is great, the Frank Sinatra series is great. I watch a lot of my own DVDs, I went back to watching The Smashing Pumpkins’ Vieuphoria, unearthed the DVD of the festival All Tomorrow’s Parties (RIP), watched Edward Yang’s Taipei Story and I’ve just started this Polish crime investigation show on Netflix The Mire. Haven’t gotten round to watching Tiger King yet and it’s been really hard to avoid all the spoilers online!
Any books you can recommend?
I’ve just finished How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell – it’s crazy how relevant it is to the situation we are living in now and simultaneously already obsolete. She’s essentially advocating we reclaim our time from “productivity” and “attention apps” etc. It’s brilliant. Triggered me to rethink the importance of “physicality”, which has been highlighted more than ever in the last couple of weeks. Otherwise, I loved the Prince biography The Beautiful Ones, the Marvin Gaye biography by David Ritz is so good and called Divided Soul, Naomi Shimada and Sarah Raphael’s Mixed Feelings offers tips to avoid being consumed by social media and our digital habits, which comes in handy lately. Kim Gordon’s Girl In The Band was a great read and I just started Fearless – The Making of Post-Rock by Jeanette Leech.
Any tips on staying physically fit and mentally strong?
I’m not sure I’m an expert in the physically fit department but exercising a bit every day, even just for 10 minutes has really helped my general mood. I have to thank the gods for the invention of tea. I have never consumed this much tea in my life. I’m a sucker for a hot bevvy. As for mental health, I’d say whatever feels good, double up on that! I know that if I spend too much time passively watching screens (films or Instagram), I get depressed. The only thing that gets me out of my funk is music. I have to either make it, play it, learn it but that really lifts my spirits up. When I stress out I write out whatever crosses my mind. I guess it’s journaling?
I have days where I don’t want to do anything and granting myself that is also bloody great. I do miss connection with humans and most importantly conversation. I’ve noticed that even though there’s plenty shared online, plenty of livestreams and podcasts, shows, posts, articles to be consumed, everything is always one way. I honestly don’t know where to go to emulate conversations about music.
I just want to discuss music with other music fans and I don’t know where to find that anymore now that I can’t go to record shops or see other DJs and musicians.
I’ve been posting my music merch on Instagram inviting people to share their stories in the comments section and that’s been fun but still some people get shy and DM me or just get lazy to type long stories on their phone, which I totally get, Instagram is not conversation friendly, nor is Spotify, it's a one way passive app that doesn’t even let you link back to anything. So I’ve been thinking about maybe building a super simple forum site just to chat to people about releases and post all the cool music related links I find. So 2006!
What’s your ultimate stay-at-home recipe?
Oh boy, I love cooking. My Dad cooks really well and I got to learn a lot from him. Nowadays you can teach yourself to make pretty much anything thanks to chefs sharing recipes on Instagram and Youtube tutorials but my ultimate comfort food has still got to be egg fried rice with spicy pickled turnips. My Dad used to make that and have a double-boiled ginger chicken broth for me whenever my parents were going out and leaving me home alone. I tried to make my own udon noodles the other day following Taksekin’s recipe, that was hard work! Frederik Billebrahe also posts delicious easy recipes every other day, it’s fun to try!
What music have you been listening to? Any new discoveries?
I’ve been listening to so much music. Hardly any of it is club music! I livestreamed a gospel set and then recorded another gospel set for NTS last week so I’ve been pretty immersed. Otherwise, it seems this isolation has really seen me regress to my teen years. I’ve been going back into my CD collection, listening back to Slint, RODAN, The Smashing Pumpkins, Vashti Bunyan, a lot of guitar stuff. But I also went out of my way to go buy as much music as I could on Bandcamp and have quite a few new favourites: Nathan Bajar, Liv.e, Ratgrave’s latest album on Black Focus, everything by MoMa Ready and AceMo! Been hooked since last Summer and they are by far my favourite producers! And I’ve been enjoying Jay Electronica’s album 'A Written Testimony', some jazz thanks to High Jazz Record’s release 'Deep Stream; by Dawan Muhammad, voilà that’s it I think.
Describe your Downtime mix!
It’s a super mellow mix with a lot of songs and not so many “tracks”. I didn’t want the mixing to be the focus at all, but rather I was aiming to set a mood that’s a bit melancholic but also warm and comforting. I wanted it to have instrumental tracks that create mental space and allow an inward journey but also some songs with voices to allow that human connection. I constructed it more like I do my NTS shows: picked a bit of r'n'b, some electro, some house and tried to make it all mesh together and flow smoothly. It’s a sincere reflection of how I hear connections between all those different genres and feel like I could almost play it in a loop. The beginning is the end is the beginning type thing. At first I had enough music to make this a 5-hour long mix because I’ve been listening to so much of these stripped down tunes that I find soothing. It’s only after listening back to the mix that I realised that a lot of the songs that I put in are actually about loneliness. It wasn’t even done on purpose! But I suppose it reflects where I am emotionally... I re-recorded it twice and, in the end, decided to leave in the mistakes, because that too is human and that’s all I’m searching for, after all, human connection.
Do you have any words of wisdom to accompany the mix?
Support your community, support your local small businesses, support your underground scene, save your bucks for what you love, don’t give it to big corporations that don’t need saving. And I wish everyone to stay healthy and safe inside their homes. I hope that the people that take the time to listen to the mix will enjoy it (and forgive the mistakes, hah!)
1. Simian Mobile Disco - Casiopeia
2. Shamos - 13213132
3.Twin Sister - I Want A House
4. Steve Lacy - Only If
5. (Liv).e - LazeEaterBetsOnHerLikeness
6. Toro y Moi - Before I’m Done
7. Ratgrave - Alright
8. (Liv).e - Praise and Worship
9. Nick Hakim - Needy Bees
10. Tirzah - Malfunction
11. Denaji - Dharma Drama
12. Galcher Lustwerk - Life
13. Dj Qu - Swayzee (Original Mix)
14. DX2OV - БИч
15. Vascular feat. Valesuchi - Black Jesus
16. Soulphiction - The Ingredients (Original Mix)
17. Flying Lotus - Caravan Of Delight
18. Janet Jackson - I Get Lonely
19. Bergsonist - Mutation
20. The Abstract Eye - Nobody Else
21. Bad_Mix - Crazy and Wet
22. Goodnight - Shibuya Showers
23. Jay Electronica feat. Jay - A.P.I.D.T.A.
24. King Krule - Underclass
25. Frank Ocean - Provider
26. Serpentwithfeet feat. TY Dolla$ - Receipts