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The Asia Diaries

The Asia Diaries with Elif: "I'm still processing what a refreshing and fun little tour it was"

The Barcelona-based artist makes new friends and experiences while testing out her spice levels in Singapore, Bali, Phuket & Bangkok

  • Elif
  • 7 May 2024

Since bursting onto the scene in 2019 with her distinct sonic signature, Turkish-born, Barcelona-based Elif has become a sought-after artist, gracing stages at renowned venues and festivals worldwide — from Coachella to Tomorrowland, Hï Ibiza with Black Coffee to ADE and more.

In 2023 alone, Elif's tour schedule read like a who's who of the electronic music circuit, including prestigious venues such as fabric, Brooklyn Mirage, and Ritter Butzke, among many others.

This year, she spreads even more excitement during shows at iconic events and venues like SXM Festival in Saint Martin, and Thrill City in Los Angeles' Six Flags Magic Mountain Theme Park, just to name a few.

Beyond her performances, Elif is dedicated to fostering emerging talent through her Marginalia label, which she launched in September 2023, specialising in melodic house and techno, plus indie dance. This initiative reflects her commitment to giving back and fostering a vibrant music scene.

She's also preparing for her first Marginalia label showcase in Barcelona on June 12.

With releases on acclaimed labels such as Stil vor Talent, Anjunadeep, Kinetika Music and The Gardens of Babylon, Elif continues to push boundaries and there's no doubt her influence in the electronic music industry will only grow stronger.

Elif's evolution from a homegrown Twitch streamer to a global name is a testament to her talent, hard work, and innovative spirit, which has led her to be able to tour the world and inspire audiences with her distinctive sound. Take a listen to her set at Ritter Butzke below.

What's even cooler about Elif is her wide range of interests. She's given a TED Talk, managed a band, and even dabbled in architecture. When not mixing beats, she stays active by snowboarding and practising yoga. Despite her hectic schedule, she also stays grounded by focusing on health and sustainability.

Fun fact: her introduction to the vibrant scene of Southeast Asia was via a set at Wonderfruit, at the immersive Polygon Live stage — in case you missed it, you can listen to it here.

Having recently returned to the region in April, Elif shares with us what went down in Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand;

“It’s been some time since I returned from Southeast Asia, and I'm still processing what a refreshing and fun little tour it was, full of new experiences. I met so many wonderful people along the way, had the best food, experienced the best hospitality, enjoyed sunsets and massages, and felt constant inspiration.

I don’t want to gatekeep this amazing experience, so here’s a little recap from my first Southeast Asia tour!”

Day 1

It definitely started with a bang; I arrived at my first destination - Singapore after an eight-hour flight where I was blessed with -what I like to call “poor man’s business class” - an empty row all to myself where I could fully lie down and sleep comfortably. This is a pure blessing when you go to the airport straight from the club after two shows in Bahrain and Doha.

It was the last show of the weekend after a long economy flight, but instead of being exhausted, I was actually quite rested. Plus, the minute I walked out of the arrivals gate, these two guys came up to me and wanted to take pictures because they knew who I was Meanwhile, my driver approached with my favourite drink in his hand—matcha. Okay, this tour has really started nicely!

“Do you want to rest or join us for dinner?” is a tricky question for a DJ; you need to weigh your sleep deprivation and FOMO and see which wins.

Recharged by the flight and the matcha, I chose dinner and headed straight to the hotel to drop my bags and get ready in 10 minutes to meet the promoter and some friends for dinner. Here’s where my foodie side kicked in—the restaurant was 11/10, not only because of the amazing ambience and super delicious food but also because they source all foods sustainably.

Post-dinner, it was time to head to the venue where I was playing, The Riverhouse, where I was greeted with a warm welcome. Many people here saw me at the Wonderfruit Festival in Thailand in December, and many mentioned it was their favourite set of the festival. After a long, nice set and my super confused inner clock, I had to go and see the afterparty and meet some of the people I was going to party with in Phuket later in the week. What an intro.

Day 2

I finally managed to get some sleep in a bed, which was highly needed after 3 nights of non-stop playing and went out on a little Singapore tour with some good friends of mine from New York who just moved here.

We walked around the city, saw some pretty cool architecture with lots of high gardens and stopped at a traditional Singaporean food hall called a "hawker" to try more delicious food. One thing that truly impressed me (especially coming from a Turkish girl based in Barcelona) was how safe this city was - everyone would leave their phones and bags on the tables without worrying about it. Also, a fun fact — Singapore is full of fridges around the city where you can stop by and leave or take food regardless of your financial status.

To go to our next stop, we decided to take the metro, which once again did not fail to impress — also, the "No Durian" sign really made me laugh.

Day 3
Singapore & Bali

Today, I’m travelling to Bali. Before going to the airport, I had a quick lunch with Pari, a Soul Collective promoter, at a members' club called 1980. Again, I was so impressed by how cool, clean and nice everything was.

Usually, I wouldn’t say I like to spend time at airports and tend to go at the last minute, but this time, I wish I had come a bit earlier. Singapore airport blew my mind. Right across the departures, there was this incredible waterfall/jungle place that looked like it was from the movie Avatar.

Also, I loved how every gate has its own security, making everything faster overall. I have always found Barcelona airport to be one of the best, but the Singaporean one just made it to the top of my list as the mother of all airports.

I arrived late in the evening, and Bali traffic is no joke. After some time spent sitting in the car, I arrived at this beautiful hotel called Como Uma Canggu and was greeted with an incredibly fresh lemongrass towel that is going to become a big part of my life during the rest of my trip. I still miss the smell.

After getting a shower in my hotel room, which is three times the size of my home in Barcelona, I met with a friend who just moved to Bali, and he took me to this great spot called La Brisa for dinner.

He was comparing things back in Istanbul and here and how his quality of life drastically changed here with the same amount spent per month for the better. It’s dark, but I’m already impressed by how beautiful this place is. We ate delicious food, and then my batteries were out for tonight.

Day 4

A free day! Waking up in this beautiful hotel with exotic bird/ocean sounds and looking at the extraordinary nature, I felt blessed. I had a lovely breakfast, enjoyed some beach time and then received a text message from this amazing woman who owns a few clothing stores in Bali; one of them was called Newearth by Ashamaya.

She had been at my set at Wonderfruit and apparently liked it so much that she invited me to play dress up in her store and to style me!

I went there, and although, at first, I was sceptical about how the clothes would fit my tomboy style, I listened to her and tried on whatever she suggested. I was obsessed with everything I tried and left with a full goody bag. After this shopping spree, we continued our bonding, having a long talking session while watching the sunset—another wonderful day in paradise.

Day 5

Tonight, I’m playing in Bali. Normal travelling Elif would have loved discovering it, but DJ Elif was a bit tired, so I didn’t leave my hotel.

I downloaded some music for the night and spent the day with another friend who also moved here from Tulum.

Before my show, we had a wonderful dinner at Attiko. Then, I performed at Playroom Bali.

Day 6
Bali & Phuket

Today, I’m travelling to Phuket from Bali. Bali traffic and the long customs queue were stressful, but I made it to my plane.

I had to change flights at my favourite airport again. I spent quite some time at a different terminal of Singapore Airport without complaining because there’s so much to see and do there that it feels like exploring a whole other tourist attraction. I can’t believe how clean the toilets are.

I found a nice restaurant and ordered some carrot cake that was neither cake nor carrots but delicious. And some noodle soup, of course.

Finally, again, after a full day of travelling, quite late at night, I arrived at the next tour destination—Phuket.

I was greeted with a super sweet flower bracelet and my new addiction, a fresh lemongrass towel, and I was brought to my beautiful room with my own pool. I jumped in for a great way to finish this long day.

Day 7

I woke up in Phuket and couldn’t believe my eyes! Wow, this place is magical. I started my day with a little alone time on the beach, reading and selecting music for my private gig in the evening while enjoying pad thai and Thai coconut.

I was slightly offended by the waiter, who underestimated my spice levels and brought me "European Spicy", which had hardly any heat. Still, it was delicious.

To make the day even better, I got a nice Thai massage and prepared for the night. First, we had a delicious dinner/sunset at this Mediterranean restaurant called Carpe Diem with the private party crew.

After the food, we all went to the amazing house where the private party was happening. The first rule is that you take your shoes off. I’m Turkish, so I didn’t question this rule, but then I understood why.

The owner — a huge audiophile — has a very cool listening room upstairs where the party started with a great set from the Soul Collective crew. He also built a club downstairs, which everyone refers to as "The Fishtank".

The Fishtank has sponge-like, super comfy soft floors — hence the need to be barefoot — and it feels like a massage in your feet when you dance. The bottom of the pool upstairs can be seen through the glass section, and of course, what could be cooler than having a mermaid swim for you?

Crazy decorations and lights and, of course, incredible sound where you hear every detail fully yet can have a conversation- this was by far the best private party I played—a small handpicked group of nice people who really appreciated music. The owner of the house warmed up for me, and his set was great! It was surely a night to remember.

I met amazing people and stayed a bit longer, but I had one more stop before heading home, so I had to take a quick nap before heading to the airport. #showmustgoon

Day 8

After getting very little sleep, the last day of the tour brought me to Bangkok. I landed in the afternoon and, instead of a nap, decided to take a two-hour Thai massage.

After the massage, I met with the promoter, and we had amazing food at Lily Fu’s. This time, my spice levels were not underestimated.

Then, it was time to do my last Asia show in this amazing Sing Sing Theater club. I loved every little detail: the little nooks here and there and swings, dancers and more; the whole club sounded and looked great. I also had some Turkish friends join, and it was nice catching up.

The crowd and energy in this place was so good. We finished a bit later than usual, and after the show, we went to discover the crazy streets and nightlife of Bangkok. We had some street food, and it was already time for me to head to the airport.

This whole tour was a breath of fresh air for me. The kindness of people, the food, the massages, the hospitality, the aesthetics, the cleanness… Southeast Asia, you blew my mind!

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