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Kiat’s double life collides in ‘I Against I’

The DJ & visual artist celebrates his debut solo show in Singapore

  • Words: Mengzy | Image: Dju-lian Chng
  • 23 February 2024
Kiat’s double life collides in ‘I Against I’

At the Gillman Barracks arts district in Singapore, a new exhibition opening is nothing out of the ordinary. But, for DJ, producer, and visual artist Kiat, last Saturday’s vernissage of ‘I Against I: An Offering To Deficit’ at non-profit gallery Art Outreach was monumental for two reasons. First, it marked his debut solo show - that’s easy enough to understand. The second reason has to do with the fact that Kiat has, until now, lived something of a double life…

Trained at both the Lasalle College of the Arts and Swinburne University of Technology, Kiat developed a practice as a multidisciplinary visual artist in the intervening two decades. Meanwhile, he also pulled off a storied career in music as a DJ, producer, and label head of experimental imprint Syndicate. However, as we learn, Kiat always kept his two worlds apart - but no longer, as evidenced by the show’s title, which borrows from a 2003 Massive Attack track.

The opening of ‘I Against I’ saw friends from across the Singapore underground, such as Darker Than Wax’s Dean Chew and Revision Music’s Nez Senja, descend on the non-profit space to support. Local DJs Intriguant, Tashasan, and Yetpet were also on hand throughout the evening for an extended b2b of esoteric background beats.

Mixmag Asia took the opportunity to chat with Kiat on-site for a deeper look at ‘I Against I’.

In the past, you’ve kept your music and art careers very separate. What were the reasons for this?

I think I just wanted to have the freedom to create in separate disciplines and not have either affect the other. But the funny thing is that throughout this journey to the show, the thing I was trying to distance myself from (music) is the thing that makes the art. I think I needed all those years of music production to understand the aesthetics of sound, which I subconsciously transmute into my visual work. As I explore this practice, I do find so many relationships between the frequencies of sound versus colours and how our individual experiences shape what we perceive.

Can you share a bit on the curation of DJs for the opening?

Initially, I wanted the music of four of my favourite selectors to create the soundtrack for the evening: Intriguant, who is from the Syndicate and Uploading stable, as well as two others in the form of Tashasan (North East Social Club), and Yetpet (Strangeweather). I absolutely love their selections since day one. To me, they represent the next wave that is doing something interesting and more importantly different. There’s a certain nuance to their sound which I find interesting and fresh. But beyond the music that they share, they are just absolutely lovely and generous souls. Big up!

We talked about some of the parallels between dance music production practice and visual arts practice (e.g., both happen in “studios”, both engage with forms of sampling). Are there any areas where they diverge or are they truly very synchronous?

I can’t speak on behalf of others, but for me, one cannot exist without the other. Both forms are good examples of the universal law of expansion and contraction in their essence. I see parallels drawn between the physical properties of sound waves and the waveforms that light generates, allowing our minds to perceive the idea of colour. The true nature of reality is that colour doesn’t exist, it’s just something our minds create based on how light behaves when we receive it.

‘I Against I: An Offering To Deficit’ is running from February 17-25 at Art Outreach, 5 Lock Rd, #01-06 Gillman Barracks, Singapore, from 11am-7pm.

[Photos: Dju-lian Chng]

Mengzy is Mixmag Asia’s Music Culture Columnist, follow her on

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