Back in late May to early June, Ar and Lumi of London-based collective and label Eastern Margins stormed their way across Southeast Asia. Armed with an arsenal of left-of-centre cuts ranging from Vinahouse and funkot to the heavy resonances of gabber and even death metal, the duo summoned an equally-eclectic line-up of local stalwarts to accompany their stop in each city.
Their 12-day ‘Road to Redline’ tour came in conjunction with Jakarta-based initiative Archipelago Fest and aimed at spotlighting previously featured in the label’s ‘Redline Legends’ compilation — a celebration of East and Southeast Asian club culture and its fiercely diverse styles of dance music.
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Stopping by Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bandung, Singapore, Manila, Bangkok and Saigon, the two and their posse of party purveyors blazed through venues filled with enthusiastic punters who danced (borderline moshed) well into the wee hours. Not only that, the duo managed to devour their fair share of local dishes, all documented in their thorough narrative.
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The duo’s entries elaborate on the many facets Asia has to offer; from immersing in “moshpit-inducing, cry-in-the-club anthems of the future” to a chill Sunday morning at a park (which was probably much needed after their intense night prior; “ We don’t remember much of what happened afterwards.”).
Read all about it below, straight from the duo themselves.
We landed at Kuala Lumpur at 10am and were picked up at the airport by our friend and label artist Shelhiel and his wife Shuzhen. They drove us to an amazing hawker centre to link up with our promoter friend Jin from Tongtong — Jin’s OG in the KL scene, coming up in the hip hop scene at the turn of the millennium.
We were plugged straight into the Redline, and within ten mins our table was a banquet of the finest Malaysian dishes: char kway teow, wonton noodles, nasi lemak, kaya toast, clam bee hoon soup, iced coffee, poh piah cakes and so, so much more.
We then went to our hotel to get some rest. At around sunset, we went to the rooftop for photoshoots before walking to the venue nearby. A little drama ensued: the venue was looking to cancel our show for some reason. We got a bit worried but all of the artists and local crew we were with started calling everyone for alternatives.
Within about 30 minutes we had heard of a couple folks willing to open their spaces for the event and several more willing to lend out equipment. We were really touched and inspired; truly a community with such strong solidarity in a challenging environment.
Thankfully, the venue decided to go ahead with the event in the end. After speedrunning soundcheck, doors were open at 10pm. The first show of the tour officially started.
Core Values and Jaake kickstarted the night with a solid set pulling everything from UK bass to hyperpop edits. Malaysian drain unit Astral Angels came on afterwards. We have been fans of them for a couple of years, so it was super exciting to finally see them in the flesh. Moshpit-inducing, cry-in-the-club anthems of the future — they should be on your radar.
Shelhiel performed next. A dreamy live set with special renditions for the occasion. Really got us in the feels and also honoured to see how far he has come as an artist and performer.
We got on the decks next. Before the tour we had rehearsed some intro segments catered to each city; we opened Kuala Lumpur with ‘No 1 Sweetheart (Car Crash Mix)’ by QQBBG and Kelvin T from our Redline Legends compilation album, blended into a Eurobeat remix of Xue Hua Piao Piao and into a funkot edit of Chobits opening theme. Those songs encapsulate what Redline energy is to us.
rEmPiT g0dDe$$ concluded the evening with a powerful techno set. This was a Thursday night and at 2am the room was still full of energetic people, many from different scenes or genres, but felt so united. We really got emotional and almost shed some tears. It was only the first show of the tour but to us, this already perfectly embodied the Redline ethos at the heart of Eastern Margins.
Ended the night with hearty plates of Nasi Goreng USA.
With only an hour of sleep we headed to Kuala Lumpur International Airport to catch a 10am flight to Jakarta. KLIA is an interesting airport in that there are way more cafes and restaurants than check-in counters. It’s like they want us to stay and eat and not catch our flights, LMAO.
We got on the plane, though, and an hour flight and one camera bag left on the plane later, we were in Jakarta. Long taxi ride to the hotel through the notorious traffic, we contemplated between resting or going to a British pub next door — it’s only been two days but we missed a good pint.
At around 7pm we linked up with Madrim and Teguh from Archipelago Festival, who were instrumental in organising this tour, at Pagi Sore for some Padang food. One of Eastern Margins’ crew members Khalisha (wardrobefanatic) pulled through as well. Fuelled by rendang, papaya leaves and brain curry, we felt ready to take on Jakarta.
We got to the venue Ding Dong Disko and the event had already started, with Swanky Express promoter head honcho Xandega holding it down on the decks. The venue was already bumping, with a VR exhibition, fully specc’d out soundsystem and a sweaty crowd.
This was a homecoming gig for Ar and wardrobefanatic who are both from Jakarta, and it was a royal Eastern Margins b2b2b rumble with Lumi. We kind of went everywhere: from blending the Succession theme with ‘Ditto’ by NewJeans, to reaching some heights with ‘Artemis’ by Cheetah. Of course, being in Jakarta, plenty of funkot tunes were played, and it’s so meaningful to hear this sound at its home.
Kaizen followed, playing the grittiest drum’n’bass and jungle. It was quite revealing to us how the lot from London wasn’t playing UK club music, but rather the locals. At the end of the night, we opened up the decks. There was a dangdut remix of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ — the only track you need to know.
Afterwards we went to a Chinese restaurant under another club nearby — a typical Jakarta after-hours spot — for some food with our friends then went back to the hotel.
Linked up with Madrim and Teguh at Gambir Station in Central Jakarta to catch a train to Bandung. The 3-hour journey through tranquil, green landscape is a nice contrast to our redline fuckeries. Stunning rice fields, majestic hills, serene rivers - a moment of soothing respite. We got to Bandung and went to the hotel. The venue is in the basement parking lot of the hotel, so we checked out the crew setting up. We met up with main man Ody aka Xin Lie who is running things and would also be performing that night.
Bandung is definitely a Redline city. Buses are neon-lit and trucks modified with dragons. Cosplayers doing up Chainsawman and Sadako are just a stone's throw away from crowds lining up for a squat punk gig. A fucking massive queue stretching blocks for some guy selling bacang or zongzi.
The maddest thing we saw was a Persib (the football club of Bandung) bus, selling insane merchandise. They have this top that says ‘FUCK REF’ in Indonesian at the front atop a skull and ‘FUCK YOU WE’RE FROM BANDUNG’ at the back. Definitely the hardest garms we own right now.
We got recommended by Ody to a Sundanese restaurant called Warung Bu Imah so we made our way there. Sundanese are the people of West Java province and Bandung is the capital. The cuisine consisted mostly of sambal, assorted fresh greens and fried or grilled protein like tofu and tempe. We had pepes too; a dish where where things like anchovies and tofu are steamed inside banana leaves.
After dinner we went to the venue. Ody was on with a dark, powerful live set alongside Wily who’s playing a type of flute. Up next, a stellar b2b between D-Black and Vimmal, followed by Fyahman who came from Jakarta to deliver an energetic set.
Before we got on, we noticed how Bandung’s vibe is much darker than our previous shows. Everyone was wearing black. No one was taking photos, or wanted their photo taken. So we thought it’s time to activate the demon folders on our USBs. A few cheeky Vinahouse and funkot cuts were dropped, but here it’s very welcome to blend devilish gabber into death metal.
Last but not least for the night is Mairakilla, one of the best DJs coming out of Bali. She flew into Bandung at short notice for this show. Her performance in Bandung lived up to the hype. A wildly eclectic set that explored what fast club music can be. Highlights include a trance song with Kingdom Hearts sound snippets, multiple reload-worthy breaks, and a closer with the theme song of an Indonesian cooking show.
While the crew was packing down, we stuck around the parking lot, chatting and drinking with everyone. This was the first time we got properly waved. So much so that we impulsively ordered six nasi goreng, two boxes of satay, loads of karedok (Sundanese salad), and a fried chicken head.
Ar had a serendipitous encounter. D-Black, whose real name is Arya as well, turns out to have the same Black Flag outline-only tattoo in the exact same spot on his left arm as Ar. Brothers in punk.
And then we don’t remember much of what happened afterwards...
Our first day off. We woke up around 1pm after the best, longest sleep of the tour so far. Surprisingly we weren’t feeling too hungover after last night. We met up with Maira at the lobby to head to Saparua park together and link up with Ody.
The park is the site of GOR Saparua (or Saparua Sports Hall), which is like the mecca of the Indonesian punk and metal scene. Much of the earliest and most iconic shows were held there in the 90s, and some of the bands that are legendary and influential now had their start there. Unfortunately, the space isn’t used for independent gigs anymore but the heritage remains.
We had some Acehnese seafood noodles, cireng, and coffee while chilling with the Bandung lot. Actually, we went for a jog around the park so it wasn’t all chill. But it’s super nice to see how people spend their Sunday in a Bandung park, hanging out, doing sports, eating and chilling, with the backdrop of an iconic musical site. There was no one drinking alcohol, and we thought if this was in the UK we’d seen a few wasted faces already.
DAY 5 & 6
We got a morning train back to Jakarta, as we had a flight to Singapore from there that night. A day spent in airport booths, waiting rooms & the liminal spaces of our sleepless deliriums.
After that, we each went our separate ways for the day — space is important on tour!
Ar went to Marina Bay Sands and then Orchard Road for some touristy action. The highlight was visiting some cool, interesting shops at Far East Plaza and having the squid on skewers from Old Chang Kee. True they have branches in London, but they don’t sell the good stuff.
In the evening, we all met up with Cayenne from the band Sobs and Maria for dinner at Geylang, Singapore’s red light district. They took us to a spot called J.B. Ah Meng, famous for its crispy bee hoon and crab. Holy shit, was this meal mind blowing.
Lumi and Lorenzo stayed for an extra day of Singapore social, linking up with Gen from the Strange Weather crew at Kult Yard, a converted school. Conversations meandered from the local rave scene to our favourite types of congee, so naturally Gen took us to the local spot, darting between frog legs and Lap Cheong. We also linked up with Nerdie from Australian-Korean rap group 1300, on a reconnaissance mission to Singapore.
Meanwhile, Ar got on the plane to Manila. It took nearly 90 minutes to get a Grab car to get out of Ninoy Aquino International Airport. But once we were through the traffic, we got to the hotel in the Poblacion area of Makati. Linked up with the lovely Manila Community Radio crew — Javier, Rex, Sai, Sean — who took us around.
Poblacion is filled with so many clubs and venues. It’s a varied selection as well, from hi-fi vinyl bars to karaokes to student night out clubs. Apotheka, the venue we’re playing the next day, is also here. We dropped by quickly to catch a set by Butta B before heading back to the hotel.
Took it easy and started the day around 12pm. Went to Milky Way Cafe for lunch, which is run by the family of Javier from Manila Community Radio. Ordered boneless milkfish with laing (taro leaves in coconut milk sauce) and garlic rice. Got some halo halo to take away for dessert, as we’ve been told this is Milky Way Cafe’s signature item. It’s refreshing and much needed for a day walking in the Manila heat!
We went to Makati Central Square for some thrift shopping. Though when we got there we were taken aback by how many firearm supplies there were. There seems to be more of them than clothing shops. Found a nice little record store in the basement, though, and digging through crates of Original Pinoy Music (OPM) was a delight.
Afterwards we walked to Fortune W.W.D.’s shop, a legendary local brand. We were told this was their last weekend in this space and would have a closing party in a couple of days — gutted to miss it. But copped a sick vest, so all good.
At 7pm Lumi and Lorenzo landed in Manila. With no time to check in at the hotel, we walked to Apotheka dragging suitcases.
Apotheka is a well-designed venue with two floors. The mezzanine area upstairs gives you a whole view of the dancefloor below. Behind the decks are these adornments that evoke the feeling of a concert hall.
Dot.jaime started the night blasting through a selection of fine club bangers, plenty of which are UK-inclined. Loner was on next performing live doing up garage MC alongside drum machine alchemy. T33g33 and then Dignos followed with some rolling techno. Teya Logos blew heads off afterwards with their hardcore, gabber and experimental set.
For our set, we kicked things off with a Mobile Legends trance edit. We felt like it’s only right to do so in the home and best country for the game. We also wore Mobile Legends tops that we got in Manila UwU. Finally, Obese.dogma777 unleashed the climax with a set traversing Slipknot club edits, budots, and the most pummelling hardcore.
After the show, Aren from Fortune W.W.D. drove us to a 24-hour joint for some amazing sisig. It was a mind-altering concoction of sauces and pork that was too advanced to comprehend at 4:20am.
A quick change and refresh at the hotel and we’re off for a 7am flight to Bangkok. Basically, Lumi and Lorenzo only spent a total of 12 hours in the Philippines. 3 countries in 24 hours, the ultimate Redline experience.
Landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 11am and was picked up by Nick and Takky from Blaq Lyte, our Bangkok promoter. Rolled through Bangkok in Nick’s pickup truck to our hotel for a quick bag drop off. The venue we’d play, Blaq Lyte Air, is on the rooftop of the hotel, so we had a look. It’s a cool space with indoor & outdoor areas and 360 view of the Bangkok skyline.
For lunch we went to a food court nearby in Sukhumvit Road. We ordered pad kra pao (holy basil & meat stir fry, with egg on top) and found a bar selling beer in pints. A life-affirming lunch. Made us forget we haven’t really slept since our Manila show several hours ago.
From there we dropped by More Rice Records to chill and browse the collections. Had some fresh juice as well for a little bit of boost. On our way back to the hotel, the traffic got really bad. So we got out of Nick’s truck and ordered Grab bikes. Speeding through the traffic, dodging cars and other bikes and seeing glimpses of Bangkok was pretty fun.
When we got to the hotel, we went up to the venue for an interview with Mike from Blaq Lyte Mag. Went through an hour talking music, the tour and our experiences. It was sunset as well, with orange rays radiating on the Chao Phraya River. Bangkok looked really beautiful.
Afterwards we had a couple hours of rest before the show began. Sarayu started the proceedings with some house music, as the crowd started filling up the room. Next, we had the honour of witnessing a legend - DJ Dragon, who’s one of the OGs in the Thai drum’n’bass scene. He played a full vinyl set, bouncing between liquid d’n’b and jungle. We were in awe, observing and absorbing the technicality on display.
We got on the decks afterwards, doing our usual Redline routine. A little more UK bass music was injected, as we were inspired by DJ Dragon’s set. Though towards the end we thought of switching things up. It was a Friday night in a rooftop bar and cocktails were flowing. So we ended the set with some reggaeton and K-pop edits. Shout out DJ Corpmane, Architect and DJ Rish for plenty of the supplies.
After, we chilled with the crew on the rooftop. Che from Blaq Lyte ordered some food from Grab. What arrived was possibly the best meal of the whole tour. Pad kra pao, tofu curry, oyster omelette, and some fine Thai jasmine rice. Simple, unassuming but extremely satisfying.
Throughout this tour we’ve been warned of how mad Saigon is going to be. How high the energy is, how hard the music is, and how free the spirit is. It’s giving Final Boss vibes.
So after catching a 12pm flight out of Bangkok, we made it to Saigon.
Surprisingly, Saigon’s traffic is the least packed and chaotic out of all the cities. There seems to be more bikes than cars, so the traffic still flows well. We checked in at our hotel, and met up with Obese.dogma777 who flew in from Manila earlier.
We got out of the hotel to meet Zac from Rắn Cạp Đuôi at a bun cha spot. Delicious, fresh noodles with pork toppings and fish sauce.
Afterwards, we went to Objoff, a community arts space, to catch a pop-up event. We met up with local friends — mess, Larria, Puppy Ri0t — and were surprised by lots of familiar faces from the UK. Something’s in the water and air in Saigon; people are increasingly gravitating here…
Larria and Mess went off to go watch a wrestling match. We were so tempted to come along, but we’re a few balloons deep and hungry, so we made our way to dinner with the Saigon massive.
Goss, the owner of Arcan, organised this dinner. It was in an outdoor area with low seats, high spirits and the whole Saigon community rolling in gradually (Saigon time for real). All the knots of the tour ironed out familiar conversation. In Saigon, family comes first, and that’s the family you choose.
Puppy Ri0t started the party with hard-hitting club bangers. Larria was next, and this guy should definitely move to London the way he mixed grime, UK funky and garage. Next up was Obese.dogma777, who we had convinced (via a few bootleg hardisks and boosting on Mobile Legends) to come to Saigon from Manila with us.
Honestly obese.dogma777 is an Oracle in the Southeast Asian music scene — always three steps ahead and his set embodied that, swerving in and out of budots and gabber, delivered with pure sincerity.
Then we stepped up. At this point we felt like we had amassed enough XP points from the Road 2 Redline that we had unlocked a few additional levels, and we definitely supercharged through them for the wildest crowd of the tour. There’s a sense of wonder and curiosity in the crowd, mixed with the precision firepower of Arcan’s soundsystem, that allows you to push into the Margins. The perfect bubble of Redline.
As we’re just about to pass out, Tizone, the First Lady of Saigon’s LGBTQIA+ scene stepped in, delivering a mix oscillating between wall-melting club pyrotechnics and some Vinahouse edits she’s sworn to secrecy (she still won’t send them to us). Then the night ended with a b2b whispered in local lore, Nyjah b2b Zac, which can only be described as Chaotic Chaos.
TOUR DONE! No more shows to think about, but plenty of side quests to complete.
First off, banh mi. We walked for about 15 minutes from our hotel to a joint that was recommended by several Saigon folks. It’s fucking delicious. The baguette is light, warm and crispy — almost like a fried dumpling.
Lumi went off solo for a meeting. Lorenzo and Ar Googled the closest park, and rode to Vinhomes Central Park. But we agreed to meet in a couple hours for the main side quest of the day: getting a massage.
Huong Sen Healthcare Centre — Arthur Bray from Yeti Out had been bigging up this spot to us. Honestly, we might really have done the tour and wrecked ourselves just so we could maximally enjoy this reward. The centre offered a full-stack rejuvenation experience.
Afterwards we linked up with the Saigon crew, including Minoto from V2X. Had a massive dinner and plenty of beers. God, Vietnamese food is some s-tier shit.
Last thing on the side quest is karaoke. Thankfully the Saigon crew were down, so we made our way to a K-TV. This spot is very Redline, with Redline lighting, Redline decorations, crane games, a pool table, and of course, the most Redline song selections. We all sang ‘See Tình「Cukak Remix」’ hard out of our hearts. We felt we completed life.
Had one last bowl of noodles then we were off to sleep.
Finally, we are at the end. Our minds, bodies and souls reshaped and replenished. The real Redline is the friends we made along the way. Only thing left was to head to Tan Son Nhat International Airport because we needed to go to Greggs at Gatwick. Gap year: done.