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The Asia Diaries

The Asia Diaries: Denham Audio & Mani Festo go from Cornish pasties to eating their weight in Asian street food

While touring the region, the UK staple artists immersed themselves in forest sets, 8ams, bbq stingray and the famous Famichicki, among others

  • Denham Audio & Mani Festo
  • 7 June 2024

The UK underground scene is so close-knit, with everyone seemingly knowing everyone, but Denham Audio and Mani Festo are some of the first names that’ll come to people's minds when talking about the current scene.

The duo first connected online in a Facebook group for UK producers, bonding over their shared love for slow jungle breaks—a rare passion at the time. They created an EP over the phone, only meeting face-to-face for the first time at their EP launch party for a back-to-back set.

Since then, Denham Audio and Mani Festo have collaborated on numerous projects, including remixes, split EPs, and other joint ventures. The only thing missing from their partnership was a joint tour, making this Asia leg a natural next step for the duo.

Beyond the music, the pair also documented their food journey across Asia, jumping head first into the weird and wonderful world of Asia’s niche cuisines, with the mantra of trying anything once, no matter what, often accompanied by strong reviews and videos. Asia isn’t all Famichickis, ramen and hot pot.

Mixmag Asia got to catch up with Peri (Denham Audio) and Nick (Mani Festo) in Taipei, where they shared their dislike of stinky tofu, love for old UK breaks music, and the unsuspecting combination of Club Mate with vodka, before they jetted off to Shenzhen, Osaka, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, before finally bounding over to Australia and New Zealand.

Of course, we had to get their thoughts on touring the region. Read what they had to say below.

Shenzhen, China

Peri: After a long 14-hour flight from Heathrow we landed quite late at night in Shenzhen. Getting a visa upon Arrival was a stressful experience, to say the least. Me, Nick and a couple just waiting while they took our passports over the border with no real indication of what was happening, LOL.

Shenzhen airport is pretty wild tho, felt like being in the cleanest shopping centre you’ve ever seen.

We got into the country, were picked up from the airport and whipped it to the apartment we were staying in, dropped our bags off and met the promoters for the show for some dinner. Remember thinking the city looked like something out of Blade Runner when we were on the balcony.

Dinner was exactly what we needed after that flight too, a big hotpot on the street side with a bunch of local delicacies—the beginning of our food tour diary as well.

We had a few days to chill before the actual show so we spent a lot of time exploring the street food markets and just strolling around the city, even stumbled into some weird NPC area with loads of people doing TikToks.

Once we’d messed about sorting Alipay and VPNs and all that, it was pretty simple to get about but was quite an adjustment not being able to pay for anything or open your emails or anything like that as soon as we entered the country.

We ended up recording a mix each for the local underground radio station and then played our first show of the tour at OIL’s incredible club with an amazing set-up, a place that really puts the sound and club environment as a top priority. The show was great, we did this show b2b, and there was lots of energy from the moment we started playing - short and sweet time in Shenzhen but defo felt like got to experience it the best we could - perfect start to the tour.

Nick compares everything to a Cornish pasty.

Nick: Shenzhen—I can only describe it as something out of a Judge Dredd movie. The doors and elevators speak, the buildings tower around you, the streets are immaculate and all of the vehicles are electric. It fully felt like we had landed in the future.

We had such a great time with the crew here, they took us for mind-blowing food: Szechuan sea snails, street-side Hot Pot, spicy beef noodles and authentic bubble tea. We loved walking the streets, getting lost and eating every dumpling in sight, trying to navigate the minefield that is Alipay (takes a bit of getting used to that).

Absolutely loved OIL Club; amazing space with a formidable sound system. Couldn’t have been a better way to kick things off in Asia!

Taipei, Taiwan

Peri: Taipei was wild! The street food culture there is off the chain, from the moment we landed we linked up with the crew for food where we were persuaded (Dared? Encouraged?) to try stinky tofu—let me tell you this for free; f*cking awful.

Second show of the tour was great—we went b2b again at Studio 9, a sick rooftop club overlooking the city, which was extra special at 8am when the sun was up (and it was bloody humid again) after our set.

Spent the rest of the downtime in Taipei pretty much just eating and drinking, apart from a wholesome afternoon in a tea shop having tea and chatting to the owner via Google Translate for a few hours, that was cute (and a much-needed rest from the booze).

Had a hungover walk to the nature reserve which was a nice escape from the city fumes and hustle and bustle, we went up Taipei 101 which was pretty sick, to see the whole city and visited some night markets and temples too.

Nick: I didn’t know what to expect from Taipei, But from the minute we set foot in the city, I knew it was going to be a wild ride. This rang true right up to the final bell, a full-on assault of the senses, which I found relentlessly addictive.

We ate our body weight in street food here, trying everything from scallion cakes to intestine soup, fried chicken doughnuts and the infamous stinky tofu (this was a step too far). There was so much food on offer we couldn’t try it all, but we did make a damn good go of it.

Our show at Studio 9 was a real highlight of the tour, we played B2B on the rooftop with views across the city, the crowd were up for everything we played and the party kept going until the early hours of the morning. Can’t ask for much more than that, really.

Met some really great people here and made some amazing memories. I can't wait to head back to Taiwan someday in the future and really explore it in depth.

Osaka, Japan

Peri: Japan was a personal highlight of the tour for us both as I think it was the place we’ve both been to before and were both looking forward to returning.

We had a lot more downtime in Osaka so spent a lot of the week eating our body weight in fried chicken and ramen. Food was unreal here, and just the pure focus on convenience in Japan is something I love—ordering your ramen outside and by the time you get to your seat it's placed down in front of you. I'll talk about the convenience stores in the Tokyo section tho.

The first hotel we stayed in had a sauna and a public bath so we found ourselves relacing up there a few nights.

We linked up with the Jerry Horny crew from Paris who happened to be in town when we were, which descended into us bowling and playing baseball (badly) at 3 am at 1UP pretty drunk.

We linked up with Stones Taro on the day of the show to have a studio session which was super fun. There wasn't much chance to work on music on the go as I would have liked so was sick to get the chance to get in the lab, love Taro’s stuff as well so was a good match (keep your eyes peeled for those).

The show itself tho; wow! What a party! One of those personal highlights for me. This was the first show we did individual sets, the lineup was myself, Mani and Boogie Man. A little backstory I did a remix for Rhythm Discs a few years back of Boogie Man - Pachinko Man, so they booked us all for the same line and as a special treat we performed a live rendition of my remix.

Was in awe watching Boogie Man tear it up and was reflecting on what a bizarre crossroads that had happened. Somehow I, a self-taught producer based in Sheffield was performing a remix live with this Japanese legend Boogie Man in Osaka.

Nick: The thing I love about Japan is just walking the streets and soaking in the endless sea of visual and audible stimulants. It’s a relentlessly fascinating place with such a deep culture, a paradise for curious minds.

Osaka was a truly great experience, I was stoked to be eating my favourite cuisine straight from the source. Ramen, okonomiyaki, sushi and yakitori, all at the highest level. And let’s not even get into the convenience store food (Family Mart Famichiki is the one).

Big love to Stones Taro and the rest of the crew at Daphnia. We spent the day in the studio with Taro working on some pretty heavy collabs, then headed out to the club. Yet again the sound here was amazing and felt like a proper Dub sound, so it was only right to roll out a more Dub/Jungle-themed set here, which seemed to go down really well. It was also nothing short of an honour to share the stage with Boogie Man, and the other amazing selectors on the night.

Also had some of the best noodles ever literally in the club, shout out to the crew cooking up those bowls of deliciousness for the hungry dancers, couldn’t have been a better post-set feed.

The next day we jumped on the Shinkansen with very little sleep straight to Tokyo.

Tokyo, Japan

Peri: Tokyo was madness, really—the place I've been dying to revisit for five or so years. We got the Shinkansen from Osaka up to Tokyo and pretty much checked in, dropped our bags off and were taken into the Tokyo forest for the Grow The Culture Rave. Drive took an hour or so like being in Initial D winding down the long roads at night.

The venue was sick, I can only liken it to a scout camp or something but with a mad Void sound system—a canteen serving food, one of them was the owner of Duusraa where I played last time I was in Tokyo, and they were serving the curry I had hyped up to Nick from that night which was an unexpected surprise. All the ravers were dancing in their zones, in more of a meditative workout than a typical club - everyone felt locked into what was happening, and with the backdrop of the forest it was a super unique experience, we both played individual sets this time.

The rest of the Tokyo experience was the typical antics, spent a fortune in North Face with theme exclooooosives, boppin about all the neighbourhoods, and spent an obscene amount of time looking for the Pioneer gachapons (got 'em all, tho!).

Visited Breakbeat Ramen, the 10-story sex shop, caught up with a friend from back home who lives out in Tokyo and visited Tower Records.

Started the internal battle of the convenience store fried chicken, who does it best? 7/11, Lawsons or Family Mart? Gotta say I think Family Mart might have this one TBH. Also, shout out to them for being able to buy boxers and socks as well as onigiri and booze, the true definition of convenience.

Side note; I bet Nick he'd have at least two McDonalds while we were away. think at this stage he was on three.

Spent the last night rushing around Tokyo looking for parcel boxes and record mailers to package up all the stuff we’d brought to send home, then met with the GTC crew at an Irish bar Splitting G’s on Guinness pints.

The final morning before we set off to Hong Kong involved an hour-long post office trip communicated via Google Translate to send 3 boxes of snacks and records home.

A footnote for Tokyo for me, it was a bittersweet return to somewhere I’ve been dying to come back to since my first visit. I made a lot of friends the first time I arrived, some of who I was super grateful to catch up with six years later, one of those from my first visit was Naoki E-Jima who ran Disc Shop Zero, he was a proper pioneer of pushing uk culture (in particular Bristol) to Japan and he was a big part of the scene there.

When I visited he was kind enough to let me stay at his house and with his family, truly one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met. He sadly passed away some years back and throughout the whole event in Tokyo I couldn’t help but notice the void of him not being present but it definitely felt like a continuation and celebration of what he was pushing.

Nick: After arriving in Tokyo we kicked things off by heading straight back out of the city by car to the venue for Grow the Culture. They told us it was up in the mountains, but I was not ready for what awaited us.

Nestled in an utterly beautiful forest, right up in the hills above Tokyo, we arrived to find one of the most incredible places I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, let alone playing music! The stunning wooden stage had a huge stack of Void speakers and lasers mounted to it, spitting bass and light into the clearing until the early hours.

The stage was surrounded by traditional Japanese houses, one of which we stayed in for the night. The party here was so good with a great crowd, great food and great sounds! Shout out to the other wicked DJs on the lineup, T5MUT5MU, Mars89 and Lil Mofo were just some of the standouts for me.

I found myself walking into the woodland at sunrise watching the light peer through the trees, the air was so fresh up there, I could have stayed for days.

After this we spent the next week getting up to all kinds of mischief in Tokyo; late night ramen, gachapon adventures, arcades, shopping and a full-on Shibuya Meltdown. When it was time to leave, I still wanted more.

Hong Kong, SAR

Peri: I had somehow absolutely messed up my back so I was struggling to bend down and jolts were sending sharp pain up my spine. Spent a lot of the time lying down when I could with a pillow under my lower back, LOL. Not the best time but they had some good drinking times, food was dope too in Kowloon markets and met some really cool people.

Nick: Hong Kong was short but sweet. As Peri lay in bed crying about his back I decided to venture out and hike up Victoria Peak. This seemed like a good idea until I realised just how many steps there are in the city, I was done before I even got to the foot of the hike. BUT I did make it to the top... just as the heavens opened, so I had to take a swift tram ride back down to the city.

As with every other stop on the trip, the food was mind-blowing. We had spicy crab, spicy noodles, offal soup and all sorts of delicious things - again not enough time for it all.

The crew really looked after us and took us to all the best spots, really enjoyed hanging out and playing in an old roller disco!

Straight to the airport with no sleep was a heavy one but sometimes it just has to be done.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Peri: Pretty much went from the club in Hong Kong to the airport so by the time we landed in Vietnam. Was pretty tired but got picked up at the airport and taken for some food which was a solid way to keep the energy levels up.

Played our show at Birdcage, which was an Outlook Launch party also - a good club with a sick sound system which was a nice round off of week three.

Had a few days to chill before we went to Malaysia so we linked up with Prismer and crew who were in town for a festival so we linked up a bunch of times and went for dinner.

Visited a few spots from Parts Unknown, ate some pretty elite Banh Mi and tried Egg Coffee which was pretty nice.

Needed a little freshen-up after so long so went to this barber to get ourselves a fresh trim and to be fair this donny gave the one of the freshest fades.

Nick: I absolutely love Hanoi. I hadn’t been to Vietnam for over 10 years so I was really excited to reconnect and see the city again.

We landed bleary-eyed having come straight from the Hong Kong show and found ourselves immediately sitting on tiny plastic stools slurping a bowl of bun cha—heaven.

The Outlook launch party that night was great, the venue behind the club had some great live bands performing before the party kicked off at Birdcage. We had a great time playing here and felt super grateful to get some rest the following day after a heavy two nights.

For the next week, we hung out in the city, eating bowls of spicy noodles and drinking Bia Ha Noi. We caught up with our good pal Prismer here and met a bunch of super nice people as well.

Yet again when the time came to leave, I felt we were just getting started.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Peri: Wanted to visit Malaysia for years and it didn't disappoint—super cool crew who booked us. It was the lead up to Eid when we arrived so there were a lot of market stalls and performances happening. The temperature was unrelenting and so damn humid!

Think the home comforts were beginning to be missed so we ended up trekking around to go to a Nando’s (sorry but the UK menu does it better) which defo hit the spot.

Got to retreat back into my boujee self at a natural wine bar we were taken to, and spent hours in there drinking and chatting about all things Pet Nats and Skin Contact. Top tip for anyone visiting Malaysia to check out Gentle Giants, got a wicked selection and a hip-hop playlist that's on point!!

Enjoyed some downtime by the hotel pool, saw the Petronas Towers and went to the Mall before we played Pisco. Shouted out the kiddy from Sheffield who came up to us and asked where we were from and told us he was super excited to see Denham Audio play later while his mate just smiled at us trying not to laugh. Actually, I think that was the fourth Sheffielder I had met on this trip—wild.

Nick: KL was a good one, definitely one of my favourite shows of the tour. We had a few days here before the weekend so we took a bit of time to rest, soaking in the sun on the roof of the hotel.

Once the batteries recharged we ventured out into the city, finding ourselves drinking natural wine and Tuak until the early hours, before we even got to show day.

When the party came around it was wild, the room was small and packed, the system was loud and everyone was up for a proper party. When the lights came on the energy levels were still so high, we could have played for hours more.

Sending love to the crew here, everyone we met were absolute legends, really hope to go back for another visit!

Singapore, Singapore

Peri: When you are in Singapore, you behave yourself! Loved Singapore, somehow more humid than Malaysia?!?! Felt like we just constantly went to more humid places at each destination.

Heard great things about Tuff Club and the crew and they didn't disappoint for our last Asia stop of the tour before we went to Australia.

Enjoyed strolling around the city, and exploring - even if the thought of moving made me sweat. Had an insane Reuben sandwich that had no business being so good, while Nick ate a fruit salad (6 McDonalds later and 4 weeks too late).

Got to take part in local radio again which was dope, cool little space and setup.

Nick: Singapore was like spending 36 hours in a sauna. The ridiculous humidity here was almost too much to deal with. But we dealt with it nonetheless.

Shame this was such a short stop off again as it went by so fast. But in that short time, we received such amazing hospitality from the crew, had a great time playing and ate some mind-blowing food including BBQ stingray!

The local radio was a really nice vibe too, loved playing there. Also, the Mustafa Centre was quite the experience, I could have got lost there for hours.

Peri: My first Asia tour was wicked. I had the opportunity to visit a lot of places for the first time I've wanted to visit for a while as well as revisit Japan which has been top of my list for a while. Got to catch up with some friends in a few different cities as well as meet loads of new people who we’ll defo stay in touch with.

The tour had a lot of highs and some lows, mostly messing up my back en route to Hong Kong, but the highs far outweighed it.

Each party was super unique in its own way, so it was genuinely amazing to have the opportunity to be a part of such a blossoming scene in Asia!

Nick: An absolutely insane experience that nearly broke us more than once. It was a complete whirlwind of travelling, hotels, flights, meeting amazing people and eating all the food that we could.

The electronic music scene feels like it’s so exciting in Asia at the moment, there is a really great energy with some incredible artists putting on wicked shows and making amazing music.

Even after being back home for a couple of weeks, I’m still processing the whole adventure, it’s left an undeniable mark on me that has left me keen to return as soon as possible.

Sending love to everyone who looked after us at every stop along the way!

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