The international Burmese-British DJ with over 20 years experience is an advocate of turntablism, which the Vinyl Factory refers to as “being coined by DJ Babu of the Beat Junkies crew in 1995 to reflect the artistic practices of the hip hop DJ and, specifically, to denote the difference between playing back records and using turntables to manipulate sound.”
When not on stage, the Berlin-based DJ also spends his time working freelance behind the scenes as a product developer, contributor, and creative consultant for brands/services within the DJ industry.
We caught up with him via email from Germany about his thoughts ahead of his upcoming performance in Busan.
How did you get into DJing?
My family and I have always loved music so from a young age, I collected records and was curious to explore outlets in order to express myself beyond that of just being a listener.
Conventional instruments didn’t interest me so much but I was always fascinated at the tactile nature of playing and manipulating vinyl records on my parents’ hi-fi turntable. As a teenager, I started listening to DJ mixtapes and soon after discovered a videotape of the DMC World DJ Championships which fully exposed me to the culture and sparked a passion which changed the course of my life forever.
The rest is history but to note some of my milestones: I hand-built my first pair of turntables, taught myself how to DJ, won DJ battles / lost DJ battles, produced a DJ course, made content that went viral, attracting sponsors, and independently toured almost 70 countries.
How would you rate a good DJ versus an average one?
For me, a good DJ is all about striking a complex balance. The DJ community often holds technical ability in the highest regard, whereas most regular people care more for DJs who play popular music that they love, regardless of how it’s played.
Any amateur nowadays can buy cheap DJ gear, download the latest hits, and serve it to a live crowd instantly with the aid of today’s automated mixing software. But the best DJs in my eyes have manually honed their craft, have built a tasteful music collection and can please diverse audiences with unique (and skillful) musical experiences every time they perform.
“There’s a real healthy balance of both eastern and western cultures here, always the latest trends, and there’s really nothing quite like the enthusiasm and support of a Korean audience.” – DJ Angelo
Where’s been your favorite places to perform?
I love playing in Europe, but being originally from Asia, I will always enjoy touring and performing to Asian crowds, especially Korea! There’s a real healthy balance of both eastern and western cultures here, always the latest trends, and there’s really nothing quite like the enthusiasm and support of a Korean audience.
As a technical DJ, I particularly enjoy playing to crowds that appreciate DJ skills and have open minds regarding music outside of mainstream radio. South America is also fun and I’ve had great tours in Chile and Brazil, for example.
What’s a common misconception about DJs?
I think a lot of people assume that DJs only work when they are performing in clubs or festivals. I’m often asked about what I do in the daytime. If only they knew the hustle!
The truth is, professional DJs are constantly working on their craft, but most importantly on staying in business. It’s a crowded, competitive industry and there are so many aspects to maintain in order to stay relevant and continue growing; such as music production, handling bookings, organizing tours, marketing, creating content, managing relationships with brands etc. We work day and night so it’s much more than a full-time job, despite often being perceived as a lifestyle hobby.
What can partygoers at this year’s BeFM Expat contest expect from your set?
It’s my third year in a row closing the BeFM Expat contest so I’ll be giving my all to put on another unique and entertaining show with high energy, real DJ skills, and maybe a few surprises too. See you on Gwangalli Beach!
Catch DJ Angelo as part of the BeFM Expat DJ Contest hosted by DJ Chad on the special stage on Gwangalli Beach from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday, August 5th.