Amidst the chaos of the pandemic, a silver lining emerged — the spotlight on streaming and online mixes. No longer relying solely on local clubs, dance music enthusiasts now satisfy their cravings online, abandoning the traditional Friday or Saturday night outings. Even after clubs reopened their doors, the influence and popularity of streaming continued to soar and it seems as though the age of the internet DJ is here to stay and is stronger than ever.
As the internet relentlessly breaks barriers and connects people across continents, a wave of exceptionally talented Asian DJs has emerged and entered the spotlight, each bringing their unique style and cultural influences. It’s where seasoned and rising artists alike can unleash their sounds, allowing them to be heard by anyone who’s tapped in, no matter their size, style or taste.
We at Mixmag Asia have been excited by the abundance of fantastic mixes being put out there daily, and we want to highlight Asian artists who are breaking boundaries in the global digital scene.
This is Selective Sounds: the start of a series where we find some of the year's best mixes in different styles and bring them to you into neat and tidy lists for your aural perusal.
For our first offering, we’re highlighting leading eclectic mixes, showcasing unique efforts from artists that are completely left-of-centre that have come out in 2023. We aim to highlight artists who stand firmly in their own sonic lane, trying something innovative and showcasing their artistic expression. This is by no means a definitive list; more like a selection of incredibly talented beat purveyors.
July 30, 2023 D.A.N.D.I. (People's Republic of China)
Baihui is a treasure trove of gems across all genres, and it was a toss-up of which to include in this list. Shanghai’s D.A.N.D.I smashed their recent set, making it one of the strangest listens on this list, but we can’t stop returning to its madness.
July 6, 2023 Takuya Nakamura (Japan)
This live set from Takuya Nakamura with ACW and Converse is something special, with Takuya masterfully playing a wide variety of instruments such as trumpets, synths, drums and everything in between, often simultaneously. Although it takes place in what looks like an abandoned warehouse, the stripped-back feeling evoked from this only adds to the masterclass from Takuya.
April 4, 2023 Tzusing (Taiwan)
Tzusing is one of the leading names in the left-of-centre scene, and although he’s had massive placements with the likes of Beyonce, his sound has always stayed true to all things unique and eclectic. This mix for Crack Magazine is a testament to that, with a mindboggling number of sonic suprises coming at you in a barrage of organised chaos.
May 30, 2023 Sunju Hargun (Thailand)
Sunju Hargun pulled out all the stops when he was invited to play at Japan’s iconic longest-running venue Precious Hall. Since opening in 1993, it’s held host to some of the best artists you can find in Asia, and Sunju added to this extensive history. Invited by OCCA (who happens to be a resident of Precious Hall), the Thailand-based producer plays what he calls ‘Eastern Space’ for a marathon set of three and a half hours, and it never wavers from its energy and ingenuity.
July 27, 2023 Katsuya Sano (Germany)
This hugely ambitious set from Katsuya Sano has a mind-boggling number of genres and styles throughout its 3,5-hour run time. Electro, funk, organic, whatever you can think of. When it's this good, we could easily listen to another 3,5 hours from him
May 18, 2023 Polygonia (Germany)
Few artists around Asia are as ambitious and unique in their techno as Polygonia. The bizarre world of Polygonia is on full display in this set for Truancy, and it’s unapologetically unique.
January 11, 2023 rEmPiT g0dDe$$ (Malaysia)
rEmPiT g0dDe$$ is taking Malaysia by storm and has unwavered from the distinguishing sound she’s become known for. This effort at Maho Rasop earlier this year is her best, with every minute having sounds and mix styles we rarely come across. She’s truly in her own lane and is smashing it.
May 30, 2023 Kasimyn (Indonesia)
Speed 速度 (the sister of HER 他) shows off Kasimyn, who’s known for his blend of gabber and Indonesian percussion. It’s fast, strange and always exciting.
March 27, 2023 B E N N (Taiwan)
Choosing just one set to feature from Hong Kong Community Radio was a challenge, with every set being something unique. B E N N has an incredibly eclectic ear for selection, with rare sounds and grooves even to the most seasoned listener. He’s behind the avant-garde label Over My Body, and this style is at the forefront of his music.
May 3, 2023 Yoshi Nori (Taiwan/Japan)
JIN Records are one of our favourite underground Asian labels, with every abstract release better than the last. This mix from label boss Yoshi Nori is the embodiment of that. He recombines his sets from Taiwan’s Organik and Bangkok’s Karma Krachao into a masterfully executed 78 minutes of fun.
August 8, 2023 Cola Ren (People's Republic of China)
Cola Ren effortlessly journeys through genres and feelings throughout this effort for Kiosk, making you think of jungles, space, underwater and much more. Truly one-of-a-kind.
July 6, 2023 Nina Yamada (United Kingdom)
If you’re after eclectic yet still jazzy, downtempo and fun, look no further than Nina Yamanda for My Analogue Journal. This set has serious “sit back and light one up” vibes throughout, and even while sober, you feel a bit looser than usual.
June 21, 2023 Compuma (Japan)
Compuma's mix for RA stands out as the most unique on this list, featuring only classic Ryuichi Sakamoto tracks. These tracks were used during a demonstration to save a scenic Tokyo district close to Sakamoto’s heart which faced demolition. Right before his tragic death in March of this year, Sakamoto campaigned against the demolition, and his fans are carrying on his legacy by keeping this park alive. Not all of the tracks off this are typically eclectic, but the story and overall atmosphere make it deserve a place on this list.
July 31, 2023 Moopie (Australia)
Moopie’s known for his unique approach to music, and this mix for Truants is no different. He mixes in elements of breaks, minimal and techno, all finding a place here.
February 25, 2023 Lin Gia (Taiwan)
You can always count on HER他 to excite us by hand-picking leading artists for their events and podcast series. This effort from Lin Gia is exciting from start to finish and is just a taste of what he (and HER 他) is capable of.
February 6, 2023 Di Linh (Vietnam)
Di Linh is definitely one to look out for coming out of Vietnam, and she seems only to be picking up speed. This set has a bit of something for everyone and even includes a Vengabus edit, unlike any we’ve heard before. Mad.
May 25, 2023 Mr Ho (Hong Kong)
Mr Ho, one of the main figures behind Klasse Wrecks, delivers a remarkable tribute mix for Richard Brown, an obscure UK producer. It was tough to pin down just one of his mixes, as they’re all fantastic, but this is one of his most exciting current mixes, with soothing melodies and grooves throughout. Although some of the tracks aren’t as out there as some of the others on this list, the premise behind it makes it deserving of a feature.
December 27, 2022 BongBongQuayQuay (Vietnam)
There's hardly a mix on this list that visually looks as effortlessly cool as this. BongBongQuayQuay is showing how Vietnam is quickly becoming a formidable competitor in the Asian dance music scene.
Henry Cooper is a Writer at Mixmag Asia. Follow him on Instagram.