Search Menu
Home Latest News Menu
The Asia Diaries

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

Amidst a flurry of gigs, the Berlin-based artist gathers insight on the region's electronic music community & culture, guided by insightful figures from each city

  • Red Pig Flower
  • 4 September 2023

Over the past decade, Red Pig Flower has made an indelible mark on the contemporary electronic music scene. Hailing from South Korea and traversing through Japan, Germany, the UK, and Italy, she's honed her skills in igniting dance floors and crafting intricate electronic compositions. Her career catapulted with a gig at the prominent Panorama Bar, solidifying her position as an act that's not to be missed in the electronic music realm. As a DJ, she takes audiences on a unique sonic voyage, spanning micro house to pulsating techno beats and many other sonic varieties in between.

When it comes to production, she immerses in elaborate sound design that feature trippy narratives while remaining true to the raw and rhythmic style she’s known for. Her latest EP, ‘House Thing’ showcases her prowess in crafting energetic and timeless compositions. Listen to it below.

Her trip to Asia this year serves as a sort of homecoming, with the Sound of Vast imprint co-founder expressing to Mixmag Asia: “Asia is the place where I come from, and I'm well aware of it. However, my serious career as a musician started in Europe (London and Berlin), which I consider my musical home. I spent nearly 15 years growing myself as a musician in Europe. So, while I missed the chance to delve deep into Asia during that time, it doesn't mean I didn't miss the people and the culture.”

Driven by a curiosity of the post-pandemic Asian scenes, she embarked on an extensive Asian tour, which turned out to be “a life-changing experience that reshaped my perspective of the Asian dance music scene,” she says.

Read her diary entries from Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bali, Bangkok, Taipei and Busan.

17-20 June

The day I touched down in Seoul, I went to greet my homebase venue, Concrete Bar/Beton Brut. During the pandemic, I stayed in Seoul for a year, and Concrete Bar provided me with a place to record many live sets.

The venue was recently renovated to add Beton Brut and its garden and has started rising again with its own morning techno garden charm. It's now booking international DJs again; for example, Magda messaged me that she'll be having a gig at Beton Brut. I always enjoy playing at Concrete Bar/Beton Brut as it has a good sound system and attracts enthusiastic crowds. I'm looking forward to more exciting things from the venue!

21 June

Today in Shanghai marks the real start of my tour. So many people are curious about the Chinese scene, but many are also hesitant to go there due to visa issues and internet blocking, among others. I was also one of those curious yet scared individuals. However, when I touched down in Shanghai and had a chance to talk with the club owner, Maxshensh, about the Shanghai scene, it changed my perspective.

We discussed the MZ DJs and LGBTQIA+ community, and a fast techno movement that's akin to gabber. I was stunned to find out that despite internet blocking, China had the same discussions and movements in the dance music scene.

I came to the conclusion that despite several stereotypes out there, the dance music scene is truly global; we have the same discussions and the same language of dance everywhere. "The global DJs are often afraid to come to China, but once they come, they realise it is totally different from what they imagined," the owner said, and I couldn't agree more!

After dinner, we moved to the club, The Potent Club. The moment I opened the door, I encountered a transgender woman…and I immediately realised that this is exactly my kind of club! What could be better than playing for gorgeous gay and transgender crowds who know how to dance?

The dancefloor was on fire, and the club had a very gay-friendly atmosphere, with passionate dancers screaming, kissing, and cheering while I played my set. Many cute young and old guys and girls kissed my hands and cheeks during my set, and I even saw some voguing on the dancefloor. Hah, so cool!

I was sad to leave Shanghai; what a shame I could only stay for a night. There is so much more to discover; the people are hot and hip, and they have a great scene!

22-27 June

Coming to Tokyo was important for me; it’s where I spent my teenage years, started my DJ career, and where my label partner Knock does our Sound of Vast label night at the legendary club, Womb. This reunion was extremely important for me to rediscover the Tokyo scene and meet my label artists.

Our label night was great; my partner Knock, who started Vast with me in 2010 in London, is now working closely with Rainbow Disco Club and Womb, becoming an important figure in the Tokyo scene. I was so proud of him and of us. Our main artists Monkey Timers and DJ Sodeyama played such amazing sets.

I stayed in Tokyo for a few more days after my gig and had a chance to visit the Sunday and Monday parties at Mitsuki club in Tokyo, which surprised me as well.

The club was packed, and the sound system was excellent. “Wow, every Monday is packed like this?” I thought to myself. It's rare to see even in Europe a Monday club with such good crowds and dancey vibe. "Yes, Mitsuki is always like this," the manager, Yamarchy Sang, answered me proudly.

Read this next: The Asia Diaries: Eastern Margins' Ar & Lumi leave behind a trail of intense beats across the region

This time, when I entered Tokyo, I realised there were so many young DJs I didn't know. I asked Knock how old they were, and he said, "They are super young, between 20-22 years old." I was so happy and relieved to hear this news.

About four or five years ago, my DJ colleagues and I were discussing the Tokyo music scene, noting that young DJs only wanted to be EDM DJs, and there weren't enough "Gohai DJs" (junior DJs) to carry on the house/minimal music legacy. "Now Rainbow Disco Club is kinda becoming Rainbow Ojisang (old man) Club haha..." one of my senpai DJs made a sad joke a few years back.

However, seems like things have changed; many more young DJ crews have appeared, and not only that, many foreign DJs are starting to settle down in Tokyo again, making the Tokyo scene exciting and exotic.

I always thought that having a good mixture of local and foreign DJs is important! I was very content to see these things happening; I really do care about the Japanese music scene.

28 June - 4 July
Hong Kong

After Seoul and Tokyo, Hong Kong is my third hometown in Asia. I used to come to Hong Kong more than a few times per year because of my music and art theatre jobs before COVID-19. Hong Kong people are special; from them, I learned how to work hard and play hard. They are workaholics…and passionate dancers!

I had a reunion with my favourite club, Acadana; they are my family. The owner, Jimmy, created this club with all of his passion. It's located outside the Hong Kong centre in the middle of an industrial area, so not random tourists go there; only passionate people who know where the good party is. This time, they collaborated with the new Y2K crew and managed to invite me.

My local Hong Kong friends treated me to so much yummy food and drinks before the gig. The Y2K crew really had Y2K crowds, young and energetic dancers dressed in special clothing. I had the luck to have not only local crowds but also international crowds who visited Hong Kong by chance — definitely an amazing reunion.

The next day, we gathered again for a drink, and I discussed with Jimmy and Finsent (the bookers of Acadana) about the local scene.

"The period of COVID-19 was hard, but actually, by this, we could focus more on Asian DJs and local DJs," they said. It was what I felt when I was in Japan too; COVID-19 was tough, but I felt that after, the scene became even more vibrant than before, and new movements and a new generation of DJs were rising.

"I feel that so much too, and I think all Asian countries need to unite and support more," I told them. "We think about this too; from now on, we want to book more Asian DJs, like from Japan and Taiwan," they replied.

I couldn't agree more. In Europe, DJs from every country play all over Europe and tour more easily; why don't we make the same thing happen in Asia too?

5-8 July

After an amazing time in Hong Kong, I boarded a flight to Bali. I had heard so much about Bali as a holiday destination, but I had no idea about the music scene itself. The long flights from Hong Kong to Bali, nearly 12 hours of travel, left me exhausted. However, upon arrival, the smiles of the people and the warm climate immediately comforted me.

Bali has something amazing; the air itself tickles me. The organisers and all the staff from the venue were incredibly nice; I had never experienced such hospitality in my life.

The Indonesian food and drink culture were spot-on, and I was very humbled and regretful that I used to think Bali was just a holiday destination for rich digital nomads and surfer kids. It turned out to be a big island filled with very good clubs and dedicated organisations.

"There are so many things happening, and new venues keep coming. So, if we do not work hard and innovate ourselves, it is easy to be forgotten," the promoters of backroom Mason said.

While I stayed in Bali, I discovered that many international DJs have summer residencies there, and the crowds were very diverse. Local DJs were serious about music research, and it felt like an Asian version of Ibiza but much better, as the crowds were less drugged and more into dance. Mason's hospitality, drinks, and sound system were all very professional and top-notch.

Read this next: Bali is back: Your music lover's guide to every kind of clubbing Bali has to offer

After spending a dreamlike three days, I simply didn't want to leave yet and regretted not staying longer. I fully understood why so many international DJs have residencies in this heaven.

8-11 July

My last gig in Thailand was in 2014. It's been so long, and I was very curious about the Bangkok scene since I left, knowing many things must have changed. My gig had previously been promoted by Mixmag Asia and already had quite a local buzz!

The Human Spectrum crew, who invited me, were not only event organisers but also stage designers and an art company that cares about the scene. "Red, I know you play pretty hard lately, but Thai people kinda like a deep vibe," the head Anat gave me a careful comment. "You know that I used to play minimal more than 10 years ago," I replied with confidence.

We arrived at the club early like 8pm for soundcheck, and I stayed the whole night long, observing the vibe on the dancefloor. People showed up early from 9pm, and the DJs Pysnus and Elaheh played a very good opening set with their chilled and minimal music.

Initially, I carried the groove quite minimal because I could see that the crowd enjoyed it, as Anat had already said. But as the set progressed, I slowly invited them to a faster and harder beat, developing the set from minimal to bangerhouse. It's always so much fun to see the crowd's reactions.

In the end, they were screaming, cheering, and dancing like maniacs for hours and hours. Haha, who said Thai crowds are shy? They’re definitely not!

The boss of Never Normal was extremely happy, dancing and drinking the whole night and ended up sleeping on the sofa until the next day. There were three times more people than we expected. I was very happy to hear that the club had a good turnout, and I made the club and the organisation happy, as we are all part of this ecosystem.

After the gig, for the next few days, the organiser Anat and the Human Spectrum crew were very passionate to show me local DJs, vinyl shops, and scenes. "You have to visit More Rice Record Shop, and you have to meet the owner Jay; he’s very intelligent." Anat has true passion about music and the Asian scene.

We spent day and night talking about the Asian scene, DJs, upcoming festivals, organisers, Asian labels; who does what, who goes where, prominent labels in Asia, music trends of each country, what are new clubs...we went on and on over Thai whisky and endless fruit pairings (and YouTube browsing).

Even though by this point in my tour, I was pretty exhausted, I couldn't stop talking with Anat. It's always my great pleasure to go deep into research and meet people with real passion.

Read this next: Festivals in Asia to look forward to in 2023

Anat also mentions how Vietnam has become a very hot hub for festivals; he even guided me on where I should visit.

The dance music culture has been relatively new in Asia, but after years and years of struggle from early pioneers and seniors, it seems that finally, the Asian scene has some spotlight it deserves. A good mixture of European organisers and local people, the scenes, and the passion makes for something very special in Asia.

It was then I realised properly how much I love the region, how much I care about the scene, and how passionate the DJs and organisers are. I also witnessed how much the Asian scene has developed in the last 15 years while I was away and how this connection and movement are growing bigger and bigger.

12-18 July

My personal motto "be a good human before being a good musician" worked well with the Taiwanese crew. Last year, I had the chance to play my first gig in Taiwan, I was just being myself, and it seems people loved it because they booked me right again this year.

When I met organiser Cory again from the Evaporate crew, he was laughing and said, "Everybody is calling me from everywhere saying that you have too much energy, sister." "Of course, my mission is to spread positive energy all around," I replied. It seemed that the people who booked me talked about me to each other, welcoming me into their circle.

My gigs this year were a collaboration with Studio 9 and the Evaporate crew. "Red, Taiwanese people don't go out in the daytime too much because it's too humid and hot, but we want to start making daytime parties. Can you play during the day and at night?" they asked, to which I happily responded, "Two gigs a day? Yes, of course!"

For the day time party, I played relatively easy and chilled house music to showcase the beauty and relaxation of daytime dance. The atmosphere was lovely, and I enjoyed playing chill grooves and easy, danceable house music while people seemed happy to dance while sipping their beers. Maybe this could be the start of a daytime dance movement in Taiwan.

Daytime me and the night-time me are very different. At the Studio 9 event, I simply wanted to show what a freaky party could be.

"You can play until the end, and you decide when it is the end," the organiser Kiko said. I started with a solid house/techno set for a few hours, and as the night turned into morning, the normal crowd went home, and the after-hours freaks stayed on the dance floor. This was the time when the real party started.

After a couple of hours of house music, I gradually transitioned to after-hour tracks, and people didn't want me to stop. "Come on, one more!" they shouted over and over. In the end, I played for only 5 hours, as I was quite exhausted towards the end of the tour and had to finish the party around 8:30am. Who knows, maybe with the right B2B partner, I can play an eight-hour set. I'll keep that in mind for next time.

19-21 July

One of my label artists, Jordan aka Yardone, had been talking about a certain venue in this city for months; "Red, I will stay in Busan for two months, and playing with you at Output Busan is one of my dreams." Well, I am a dream maker, and if my best friend has that dream, it needs to be realised.

Output Busan has been gaining international fame as one of the most established underground clubs in Asia. Owner Kimmbownicorn expressed that Busan didn't have a rave scene, but he was determined to create one…and it seems like he has already succeeded.

Jordan crafted an amazing build-up set, starting from dub techno and moving into slammer tracks. I then took it further, incorporating house-influenced Detroit techno. The whole night had an incredible vibe, and the people of Busan were funny and passionate.

Read this next: Selective Sounds: our picks for the most eclectic & off-kilter mixes of 2023 so far

It held a special meaning for me to invite Jordan, especially since it had been a long time since our Sound of Vast label night in Berlin years ago. When Jordan and his wife called us "family and soul sister", I responded, "Of course we are."

I'm so grateful to have these beautiful, passionate, and emotional family members all around the world. Overall, it was an amazing night filled with dance and revelry, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience.

22-26 July

My last gig of the Asian tour was supposed to finish in Busan. So, this turned out to be a rather spontaneous gig. As I was so far away from the Korean scene, I had no idea what to expect. But as someone said, unexpected presents are the best. From the venue name, Kunstash, I knew that it would be a pretty artistic place (as "Kunst" means art in German).

After the madness in Busan, where I burned myself out with excitement and lots of highball mixes, I arrived at the venue feeling extremely tired and with a massive hangover. Once I entered the cosy space, strictly curated with art and bathed in green lights, the venue owners (who also curated a gallery) welcomed me warmly. "I heard you rocked Busan yesterday, everybody talked about you," they said.

The venue was organised and frequented by music nerds, audiophiles, and even some hipsters. I felt both welcomed and pressured at the same time. Playing music in front of audiophiles always makes me nervous.

Read this next: The Mixmag Asia Clubbing Guide: Taiwan

After witnessing 'ill ahn' and 'Darimi table' showcase their stylish minimal sets, I decided to take a different approach from Busan. I presented my weirdest Romanian-style minimal set, and to my delight, they loved it.

It was a crowd that craved depth, and whenever they wanted deeper sounds, I could take them there. They were almost begging me to play more weird tracks, and as a fellow nerd, I had a treasure trove of special tracks that I usually kept for these kinds of moments. I call them my "gifts," tracks reserved for special crowds.

Discovering such intelligent and passionate audiences is one of my biggest pleasures as a DJ. So, well, the gig extended into two more days of a very long afterparty for a select group of private audiences, because they just wanted more.

This tour reminded me again of the power of love, the power of music, and the power of dance. It's all about the energy, the vibe, and the connection between the people. I hope we all continue to grow together and make the dance music scene in Asia even stronger. Thank you for the unforgettable memories, and see you again soon. Love you all, Asia!

Next Page