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Phuong-Dan in a nutshell: "I am enthusiastic about every musical expression"

The enigmatic artist gives a glimpse into the evolution of Gatto Musculoso & his eclectic approach to music ahead of Strange Weather gig in Hong Kong

  • Words: Amira Waworuntu | Images: Juan Qi An
  • 15 May 2024

When it comes to electronic music, few have carved out a niche as distinct and adventurous as Phuong-Dan.

Based in Hamburg, Germany, he has spent almost two decades enthralling audiences at the Golden Pudel Club, an underground venue renowned for its eclectic and avant-garde line-ups. His long-running club night, Gatto Musculoso, has become a cornerstone of the European electronic scene, featuring a distinguished roster of guest artists that mirror his expansive musical palette.

To name a few: Lovefingers, Veronica Vasicka, Tolouse Low Trax, Lena Willikens, Ron Morelli, Marie Davidson, Marcel Dettmann, Xosar, Hunee, Beppe Loda, Ece Özel, Alexis Le-Tan, Daniel Wang, Jonny Nash, Vladimir Ivkovic, Pavel Plastikk, Intergalactic Gary, Sacha Mambo, Sneaker, Parrish Smith, Amourette, Batu, Rvds…the list goes on.

Music-wise, Phuong-Dan’s sets are celebrated for their audacious exploration, seamlessly blending contemporary underground techno, minimal synth, post-punk, new wave, EBM, krautrock, and rare disco, crafting soundscapes that defy genre conventions.

Phuong-Dan’s prowess in crafting intricate, hallucinogenic atmospheres has earned him a reputation as a masterful selector. Think gamelan drums intertwining with shadowy drones and unconventional techno rhythms…and beyond. This is music that transcends mere entertainment, enveloping audiences in a unique auditory journey that lingers long after the night fades.

As he prepares to grace Hong Kong on May 25 via invitation of Singapore’s Strange Weather crew, attendees can expect a dynamic blend of his extensive musical repertoire, crafted to resonate with the unique atmosphere of the venue.

We caught up with Phuong-Dan as he embarks on his Asia tour, where he delves into his longstanding career and offers insight into his dedication to creating inclusive and open-ended musical experiences.

Can you tell us more about how you started the club night Gatto Musculoso and its evolution over the years?

Quite simply and fortunately, two things came together back then. The desire for a low-threshold club series that can be as musically open and undefined as possible, where functionality plays a less important role than the unpredictable potential of such a night.

The Golden Pudel Club has always been a place with such a philosophy and attitude – so I am very grateful that we came together and are ‘til now. Since then, not much has changed in the spirit. Always one guest together with me, navigating through the night without any specific timeline.

Can you share some of your favourite moments from hosting the nights?

Gatto Musculoso just turned 18 this year–the whole of its childhood and youth has been exciting so far.

What led you to start dispari, and how do you go about selecting the artists?

Besides releasing sounds and music that I think could be interesting for others, it was about creating a platform to initiate collaborations between different artists and to propose new works in different formats.

For example, there will be a first performative liaison between visual artist Angela Anzi and sound artist Tintin Patrone which oscillates between improvisation and installation at this year's Meakusma Festival.

What kind of approach do you take when crafting your sets?

Listen to music.

Can you talk about your experience with Berlin Community Radio and how it has influenced Gatto Musculoso with its live streaming? Nowadays, streaming is such a common practice in the electronic music scene – what has (or hasn’t) changed since almost a decade ago?

Basically, the idea was to capture and stream the first two intimate hours when my guests and I played each other new finds or favourite tracks when almost no one was in the club—from 10 pm to midnight.

Gradually, people started coming by earlier. That is the only thing that has changed back then until the radio unfortunately had to close.

What other genres of music outside electronic do you indulge in?

I am enthusiastic about every musical expression.

Do you have any thoughts you can share with us on the electronic music scene in Asia?

It is very amazing to see the extreme openness and how the local scenes constantly create such important spaces for themselves through music. For instance, the Vietnamese collective Nhạc Gãy and Strange Weather from Singapore.

For your upcoming gig in Hong Kong; any specific preparations? What can the crowd expect?

Let´s see how the atmosphere is.

Catch Phuong-Dan at Strange Weather’s first-ever event in Hong Kong at 宀 Club on May 25 with support by Yadin Moha; tickets here.

Images: Juan Qi An

Amira Waworuntu is Mixmag Asia’s Managing Editor, follow her on Instagram.

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