Aldrin Quek is Singapore’s local pride having performed alongside international DJs at global music festivals in New York, Ibiza and Korea to name a few. Music being his passion, is a huge part of DJ Aldrin’s life and it consumes him entirely. Aldrin was the first Asian DJ to appear on the cover of UK Dance Music Magazine “Muzik” and was voted “Best Local DJ” by the now-defunct JUICE Magazine for 2 years straight. The former resident DJ at Zouk is now a free-lancer who is constantly experimenting with new projects in theatre, and is constantly improving his sound.
ZoukOut will always have a special place in his heart despite his foray into the international scene. Aldrin gave his all to party revellers during the closing set of ZoukOut 2012. What we love about Aldrin’s sound is the atmospheric, minimalistic quality of his progressive house beats. Having recognized the music scene is changing and that it will soon be time to pass the baton on to a new era of local DJs, his advice to the young ones is to simply “Believe in yourself.” Popspoken chats with this music maestro to find out more about his future plans and how he sees our local DJ scene developing.
Popspoken: Describe your music in 3 words.
Aldrin: Deep, dark and dirty.
Popspoken: How did you get involved in the music scene?
Aldrin: I received my first set of turntables when I at the age of 14. I picked up the trade way back in my teens when we started something called “Mobile Disco”. We sourced for small gigs and played for parties, functions, army functions. I did that for most of my teenage years until I joined Zouk in 1996 which was when I became a professional club DJ.
Popspoken: How do you keep up with all the new genres?
Aldrin: I spend my entire life listening to music. To be honest that’s my work so my free time will be spent listening to music. Even when I’m driving in the car, I’ll listen to music. I get around 50-100 emails everyday sending me music so I have to suss them out, give feedback, see which ones I like and put them in the right categories.
Popspoken: Aside from music, is that anything else that you do to unwind?
Aldrin: Sleep. I’m really lucky to be in the position to tell you that my job is my hobby. Even if I had any free time I’ll do things in related to music such as coming up with obscure jams and producing music. Also, enjoying life, because life is short and you can’t possibly work all your life. You hope that whatever you have saved will give you a good life in your later years since you never know when you’re gonna go. I’m trying to learn to kick back and smell the roses once in a while.
Popspoken: Out of all the music festivals you have played at, which is the most memorable?
Aldrin: ZoukOut ranks quite high up there. Home ground is always special. It’s been twelve years, it just gets better every year.
Popspoken: Which up-and-coming local DJs do you think we should pay attention to?
Aldrin: There a lot of DJs out there and it also depends on what kind of scene you want to capture. There’s a lot of talent trying to push the underground scene. I think there’s one of them on the decks right now, his name is Eddie Niguel and he’s been around for some time – it’s only of late that he scored some really good production releases on the label. And I think he won a remix contest from Get Physical – which is very honourable. So he’s making waves in the production scene which is good, because these days when everyone looks at the DJ’s CV – it’s always about what they produced. He’s making headway in the underground scene which is good for Singapore – because it’s about time we get recognized for our talent.
Popspoken: Do you think Singapore’s DJ scene is exclusive?
Aldrin: There are enough people in the scene to actually bother. In the end what is most important is to keep pushing the scene regardless of this huge commercial sound that is engulfing Singapore and the rest of the world.
I’m glad we have all these key people trying to promote the parties and venues; the DJs themselves, not giving up and following their heart in producing good music! I think it can only get better as long as we have all this right people in the right places. There’s a lot hope for our local scene to progress!
Popspoken: DJ-ing is a very unconventional career, how does your family view it?
Aldrin: My parents don’t really say so much even though they come from a generation that doesn’t really understand what it’s all about. They don’t associate it with jobs such as a banker, lawyer, accountant. Well, it was my mum who bought me my set of turntables when I was young. I don’t think she lives to regret that but she obviously probably can’t go the other way because it was her who set me on this path.
They are supportive even though they still don’t really understand. You can tell when they ask questions: “Do you have gigs or not?” or “Is it ok this month?” My job is project based, it’s not a 9 to 5 job. This month, I have gigs every week, and there are months where I have no gigs. It’s hard for them to understand the whole concept of being a freelance DJ so they are always worrying.
Popspoken: If not for being a DJ what would you have pursued?
Aldrin: I can’t really say what I would have ended up doing. Prior to joining the Zouk fold I was with the airlines for 5 years, going: “Coffee.. Tea?”. If it wasn’t for the job at Zouk, it seemed like I was going to carry on – I was also making sure I was doing well at the airline.
Popspoken: How do you see your career developing in 5 years?
Aldrin: I love entertaining people so I still hope to be DJ-ing as that’s really my passion, although I hope I wont be so stressed out with trying to put food on the table. I know at some point it has to take a slightly backstage position because I feel the music is changing and the kids are getting in to a commercial sound which I’m personally not very big on. This means I will have to pass the baton to the next generation of DJs. I don’t know what I’ll be doing to be honest but I still have my music label and still like to produce music.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been quite involved with non-clubbing activities. 2 years ago, I did a two night show with the T’ang Quartet in the theatres – classical music and stuff, so that’s another avenue. I have always wanted to do something for the theatre – like a show – more of them sitting there and experiencing the sound. I’m actually involved in National Day Parade 2013. I’m not the main music director but I’ve been tasked to assist because the director for next year is actually Selena Tan from the Dimsum Dollies – she wants to inject some electronica into her repertoire.
Popspoken: If you could resurrect one person from the dead, who would it be?
Aldrin: I can’t think of anyone right now, I don’t get star-struck easily. I respect a lot of people out there. But I see everyone as the same – yourself, myself, they are the same – they need to eat, breathe, survive. I respect people for their work but I don’t really need to be in awe or need to be in their presence or anything. I can condition my mind to remind myself they are just like any one of us – just humans.