Notes From The Underground [September 2014]

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The Trenchtown Mayor

Hot off the success of his Endless Summer 2014 Mini-Festival, Stef:Funn is already gearing up for his next big party.

You’ve seen him everywhere, drumming in pop concerts and bands, spinning bass heavy drum’n’bass and reggae at parties. But Stef:Funn is also a live event organizer, setting up some of Hong Kong’s best underground parties, including Trenchtown.

SSS: I know that you’re a founding member of [drum’n’bass crew] HEAVY, why another unit?

FUNN: I started HEAVY alongside Lai Fai (aka BloodDunza) in 2006, and we mainly focused on drum’n’bass, dubstep and more recently reggae. Then in 2011 when I was planning on producing shows for my own band, Tuesday Morning Surfing Club, I figured out I could also help promote local and overseas live acts, hence Trenchtown.

SSS: How would you define Trenchtown?

FUNN: Although the word Trenchtown is usually associated with reggae,  I’m not trying to focus on any one genre. Instead, I’m hoping to create more cross-genre events. You see, I started out in bands and eventually got introduced to dance music. My musical horizon expanded with that, and I still think of that as an experience that’s  very precious to me. That’s why a lot of Trenchtown events are intended to break boundaries, combining audiences from different genres, for instance Vintage Canto-Pop Nights and Alternative Rock Parties.

SSS: You’ve just wrapped up Endless Summer 2014,  your annual concert event. How was it?

FUNN: It’s already our 4th anniversary, after our humble start in 2011. I decided to base the whole event in Fringe Club , which is where I was introduced to the local scene back in the day. This year we expanded into a mini-festival format, with a string of events including a TOP CAT dj night and a big finale with 8 bands at the Fringe. Although it was a huge amount of pressure, I’d say I’m pretty happy with the result.

SSS: Where do you think Trenchtown is heading?

FUNN: Keep on moving, getting better and better. I’d love to do some art-based projects as well.



DJ Bling
Pet Shop Boys are Back!

A renowned figure in the LGBT and House Music field, DJ Bling has long been a fan of Pet Shop Boys. He’s even got Being Boring as his ringtone and cites them as one of his biggest early influences.

BL: Their new album Electric was made for the dancefloor and it was produced by Stuart Price! In fact, it reminds me of their peak, which I say would be their albums Very or Introspective. ‘Axis’ is a modern blend of Techno and Italo Disco and ‘The Last To Die’, originally a protest song by Bruce Springsteen, has  magically become a gay anthem!

SSS: What do you expect from their upcoming concert?

BL: As far as I know, apart from half the tracks on Electric, they’ll be doing some classics as well, such as ‘Being Boring’, but re-arranged by Stuart Price!  And with an intense use of laser and their usual style, it’ll be a total embrace of rave culture, but with a ‘futuristic nostalgia’ twist. 

SSS: If Pet Shop Boys asked you to remix any of their tracks, which ones would you most want to do?

BL: Some of their hidden gems, like ‘Music for Boys’ and ‘DJ Culture’, which were both quite experimental b-sides back in the day. With the technology we have today these would be banging tracks, especially “DJ Culture”!


Review: Roland TR-808/909 & TB-303

Roland, the company responsible for the original TR-808/909 and TB-303, finally released some new gear based on the original designs. We were lucky enough to take the TR-8 and TB-3 out for a joyride, both in studio and during our warm up set at CHK CHK CHK live in HK 2014:

Sound: Mostly clean/raw drum machine tones you get from a modern Roland. The comp knob on the TR-8 fits the tone into anything quite easily. TB-3 also does it well in the ACID territory.

Control: Both units focus on live performance, with most controls you need on the front panel. But the real surprise comes in when I plug in the unit via USB. Not only you can get USB midi but also 12 tracks of digital audio. The instant multitracking is a joy to use, allowing you to punch in patterns via the sequencer and tweak it in your DAW later on. The MIDI is a bit tricky, as not much is labeled on that thin piece of paper they call a manual. Luckily someone wrote a maxforlive patch that accesses most parameters so if you’re on Ableton Suite, you should be covered.

Conclusion: Terrific as an add-on to a live/ DJ rig. The core value of are the sequencer and tactile controls, so by syncing it to your DJ software, you should be rocking the stage in no time. (Special thanks to Tom Lee Music)