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"I want to be a part of electronic music history": Red Pig Flower looks forward to another 20 years in the scene

The artist reflects on her sonic evolution & shares her ambitions for the future before returning to Asia with "a lot to celebrate"

  • Amira Waworuntu
  • 19 June 2024

As promised, we’ve got a Mixmag Asia exclusive interview with Red Pig Flower before she lands in Asia, marking a significant milestone in her career—the 10-year anniversary of her groundbreaking label, Sound of Vast, plus heralding the release of her much-anticipated new album.

Red Pig Flower's global journey has shaped her unique sound. From London's deep house to Berlin's techno, and now Italy's vibrant energy, each city has left its mark. Her sets are a blend of immersive cultural influences, making her a true musical nomad.

Celebrating a decade with Sound of Vast, Red reflects on the fun and challenges of running a label. Despite obstacles, her passion and resilience have driven the label's success. Now, she's ready to embrace the future with renewed optimism.

Her upcoming album captures her evolution from ambient and minimal to dancefloor-oriented house music. Collaborations and fresh elements promise a captivating listen. Red aspires to create timeless tracks and continue contributing to the electronic music scene, driven by her enduring passion for music and community.

We’ll let the artist herself tell you more below.

Your journey through different countries like South Korea, Japan, Germany, the UK, and now Italy must have exposed you to diverse music scenes. How has this multicultural experience influenced your sound and style as an artist?

People know me as a nomad and a natural gigging anthropologist. Everywhere I spend time and live, I immerse myself in the culture as much as possible. In South Korea and Japan, almost 20 years ago, I was in a period of learning and skill development.

The UK deeply influenced me with its deep house, Hackney warehouse scene, and Shoreditch queer/transgender scene. In Berlin, the long party and techno scenes inspired me, and the city gave me the time and space to grow as an artist. Berlin was affordable then, which alleviated financial pressure and allowed me to spend up to 10 hours a day in the studio making music. In contrast, London required constant hustling.

Now in Italy, the warmth and fun of the Italian people positively affect my performance, making me more cheerful and performative on stage. I used to be this dark London/Berlin girl, but as I age, I need to be surrounded by positivity and sunshine. Each place I've lived has shaped a different version of myself, making me a unique artist.

Sound of Vast, the label you co-founded, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Reflecting on this milestone, what have been some of the biggest challenges and triumphs over the past decade?

When we first decided to start the label, I told Knock, "Hey, let's do this for at least ten years and see what happens," and he agreed, saying, "Yes, ganbarou!" This memory feels as fresh as yesterday, and I can't believe we're hitting our tenth year. Time flies, and now we're looking forward to the next ten years.

Running a label has always been challenging, with rising vinyl production costs, factory schedule jams causing release delays, and the unpredictable success of tracks. Adapting to these challenges has been crucial. Initially focusing on a vast range of house music, including micro and minimal house, we've shifted more towards classic disco and house.

Despite the daily challenges, running the label has been fun and has opened many doors, allowing us to meet various artists and earn respect in the scene. The pandemic was particularly challenging for me, as I lost motivation due to the lack of social interaction, but we persevered. Passion and patience are key to everything.

Can you share a bit about the very first release under Sound of Vast?

Our first release was by Egal 3, a Romanian minimal artist. At the time, we were open to minimal house, and the Romanian scene was significant. We were big fans of his work, and I was involved in the first release as a remixer. Later, he changed his artist name to Vid and released several more EPs with us.

Even though we no longer release minimal, we appreciate his participation and belief in our label. It must have been a difficult decision for him to release on a label with no history back then.

We hear you’ve got an album dropping soon. Can you share the inspiration and vision behind this project? What themes or messages are you hoping to convey through it?

As an artist, my music style and production have evolved significantly over the years. I used to be known for minimal and trippy music, and even my recent releases, like ‘We Need Space’ from Adam’s Bite, reflect this style. However, my DJing style changed drastically after the pandemic.

Through my label, I gradually developed a love for house over minimal, but post-pandemic, I wanted to play music that touched people and made them thrive and hug on the dance floor. As I delved deeper into the origins of house music, my primary genre now is "Chicago-inspired house music with a bit of Detroit techno."

I imagined myself in a 90s Chicago house party, dancing all night long, and wanted to create that vibe. While curating the album with my partner Knock, the concept evolved.

In the process of selecting tracks for your new album, what criteria did you use to decide which tracks made the final cut?

To be honest, my partner Knock was heavily involved in selecting tracks for the album, even more than I was at times. Initially, I envisioned a 90s-inspired Chicago house album and made about 20 tracks. However, Knock, with his curational perspective, suggested adding intro tracks, bridge tracks, and some downtempo pieces to ensure the album flowed as a cohesive project rather than just a collection of house tracks.

Recently, he even suggested removing two tracks and adding an ambient piece. Although it sometimes felt like a never-ending process, I trust Knock's vision and his push to make the album beautiful. We aim to include a mix of dancey tracks along with deep house and ambient ones.

Even though I’m the producer, I feel like he and I are curating this album together. The end product is still evolving, but as Knock says, "I want this album to be beautiful", and I trust him.

How does your upcoming release differ from your previous EPs and singles? Are there any new elements or experimentation that listeners can look forward to hearing?

While working on my album and over the past few months, I started collaborating with many musicians and producers. Sometimes we do co-productions, or I use their vocals and feature them. This means there will be more material with other artists.

Recently, a Korean label, Skyscraper, contacted me to make an EP with some Asian singers. This is a new experience for me, but I’m excited about the challenge. I aim to release this Asian single project this summer.

Additionally, one more vinyl-only minimal release, which was supposed to be out three years ago, will be pressed this year. All the tracks not selected for my album will eventually find their home. Many things are on the horizon.

Read this next: The Asia Diaries: Red Pig Flower rediscovers the Asian scene she cherishes while on tour

On a more personal note, how important do you think a sense of community is in electronic music, and how do you foster it through your performances?

I am very enthusiastic about the "scene" itself as much as the music. Over the past 20 years, working and playing in various music scenes worldwide, I've been impressed by young talent, new clubs, event organisers, record label owners, and record shop owners who strive to build and create.

For example, ten years ago, Thailand didn’t have a record shop, but last year I visited the More Rice Records shop and was impressed by their enthusiasm and efforts to promote Asian vinyl labels and build a community. Similarly, in Turkey, despite economic challenges, the scene has developed professionally with enthusiastic crowds. Witnessing the development of each scene motivates me before performances.

What’s one thing the world doesn’t know about Asia’s music scene, based on your visits to the region?

Many European artists have misconceptions about the Asian scene, either fantasizing that it's heavily funded or treating it as a holiday destination. The truth is, the Asian scene is smaller and driven by passionate locals and foreigners who bring party culture. In general, Asian people are hardworking and disciplined, so the idea of clubbing for eight hours and dancing with strangers is not the most popular weekend activity.

Many people still associate clubs with drugs, making it challenging for Asian DJs and promoters to attract new crowds and showcase the beauty of dancing. Promoters and organisers often struggle to find decent crowds and face government authority issues (like the famous "dancing was illegal in Japan" issue). However, those who make things happen in this environment are incredibly special and passionate.

This is an exciting period for Asia, and Europeans should pay more attention to Asian talents who bloom like flowers in the desert.

Read this next: Pump up the rainbow: Events in Asia that'll make you dance with pride

If you could invite anyone in the world to do a back-to-back set with, who would it be?

Without a doubt, it would be the queen, Honey Dijon. She has been a queen of house music, and her personal journey and creativity have always inspired me. She has also been a significant advocate for female and queer artists over the years. It would be my dream and an honour to go back-to-back with her one day.

What is the single proudest moment you’ve ever had?

I think there's always so much to learn and develop as an artist. However, I’m proud to have been in the scene for almost 20 years, survived, and still show my youthful energy on the dance floor (most kids have no idea how old I am!).

I can be an inspiration for younger DJs, especially female DJs who feel pressured to get married and quit what they love at a certain age, particularly in their late 20s and early 30s. That was never the case for me. The more I work with passion and have adventures, the more I am grateful for my life and opportunities. I’m very thankful for my journey and the music in my life.

You mentioned informally that your upcoming album “will be a beautiful one”. Can you elaborate on what makes this album special to you personally and artistically?

This album tells my personal journey as an artist, starting from ambient and minimal to more dancefloor-oriented house music. It is a carefully curated album with a lot of thought put into it. We are almost finished with the curation process, and I hope people will appreciate our thought process.

Read this next: Excursions: DISTRIKT redefines Hong Kong's scene with boundary-pushing events

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals for the future, both personally and professionally, as an artist and label owner?

I'm a very ambitious person with thousands of projects in mind. As a DJ, there are many places on earth I haven't visited yet, and I wish to explore more of the world with my music and art. As a label owner, my label is starting to collaborate on bigger projects, so I hope we can have more label nights in countries other than Japan.

As an artist, I want to create timeless tracks one day. Above all, I want to work in the music and art industry for my entire life. What I will achieve as an artist is something only time will tell. However, the most important thing is that I want to be here, in the scene, as an artist. I want to be a part of electronic music history.

I have spent 20 years here, and maybe in the next 20 years, if I continue to contribute to the scene, I will be able to be a part of electronic music history. Hopefully, I won’t lose my passion in the next 20-30 years and will continue producing music and going on tour.

What are you most excited about for your album release and upcoming tour? How do you hope fans will connect with your new music?

Of course, Tokyo on the 22nd for WOMB is going to be an emotional one because it is my label night’s tenth anniversary and my first time headlining on the WOMB main floor.

Following that, the 28th in Hong Kong also excites me. The y2k crew has always been supportive, and it is a collaboration with Mixmag Asia—there’s a lot to celebrate!

But more than anything, just going back to Asia for a tour is incredibly exciting for me. Every time I go on tour, I meet people who become really good friends, and I miss them. Yes, babies, I’m coming!

Red Pig Flower will perform at The Music Room on Friday, June 28, via invitation of y2k and Mixmag Asia; get your tickets here.

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

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