He can spin our turntables anytime.
The man behind the resurgence of a great house music revival in Singapore, by putting the fun back in the function, chats with Adeline Loh about what’s the real deal on working in a club as the Liquid Room’s resident deejay and marketing manager.
GASHAUS: Do you have a philosophy towards your work and your art?
I always tell myself: Never take your music or events too seriously. Ultimately, a party is about having fun. If you’re too engrossed in the seriousness of the event, you can’t expect people to be having fun. Whatever it is you do, if you do an event or play music, the fun starts from you.
GASHAUS: Sounds like a ball… So is working in the clubbing line all fun and games?
Most people think I just sit around and wait for the crowd to come in. However, there is quite a lot of work to be done in order to get the crowd here. People just assume that since you’re working in a club, it’s such a fun and happening job. Most of the time when they see me it’s only when the club opens and that is only one third of what I do all the time.
GASHAUS: So it isn’t as fun? How is it different from a regular job then?
For one, the hours are definitely longer! I handle all the office stuff in the day and if I have an event at night, I’ll have to be around. I probably work 14 to 16 hours days but that doesn’t happen everyday, of course. I have to rest lah! If I were five years younger that may still be possible but not now. However, there are perks, for example, I can indulge in what I like on the music-side. Alcohol is definitely a perk. I don’t have to pay for it!
GASHAUS: What exactly do you do at the Liquid Room all those hours?
My job revolves more around taking care of operations behind-the-scene. This includes dry corporate stuff like branding, image, art direction, how we are going to communicate an event through our posters, or how our posters reflect the whole image that we are going for. I do the bookings as well for headliners, local and international DJs. I dabble with a bit of press relations and advertising budget. That is quite a lot of things to do.
GASHAUS: You’re also a resident DJ at Liquid Room. Why do double up as a marketing manager?
The reason most people take up an outside job apart from deejaying, is because it’s quite hard to survive just being a DJ. In a way it’s good to have a, I hate this word, something to fall back on. The entertainment industry here is very fickle. If you’re just a DJ, there’s quite a high possibility that you might be quite well-received today but tomorrow you can be a virtual nobody. If you spend your whole life doing something like this and not having other skills, in the end, you’re just the DJ and if nobody needs a DJ anymore, then you’re stuck.
GASHAUS: Well, as a resident DJ, do you get a lot of *ahem* female attention?
GASHAUS: Oh… but everyone else thinks you do!
I think so! My girlfriend stands in a corner and keeps an eye on me. It’s not really as wild as everybody thinks. A DJ might look like quite an interesting job but I think the honest fact remains that a job ultimately is a job. If you’re a resident DJ, there’s definitely a bit more pressure on you because I’m ultimately an entertainer as well. As a resident, you have to compromise on your own musical and creative indulgence with some form of music that makes people dance. There is quite a lot of work in terms of planning your music and planning the flow of the night. A club is definitely a social place. You get to meet people and interact with the party people. But it’s not like girls throw themselves at me lah.
GASHAUS: Ok ok! So, what can get someone prepared for working in a club? What if I want to do what you do?
Most people who go into the clubbing scene usually start off from square one. I don’t think there’s anything that can prepare you for it. Everything is based on experience, a bit of trial and error. Also, a lot of interest and enthusiasm with what you are doing! For me, my first step into the whole clubbing scene was deejaying. I’m quite a music geek so I was deejaying for a couple of years before I was approached by Liquid Room to be a resident here. Before that I was doing it as a hobby and avenue to earn extra cash over the weekend.
GASHAUS: What kind of things do you deal with, working from ground-zero? Any potential pitfalls?
Well, you have to change the mindset that this is a really fun job. Working in a club is very similar to working in a corporate environment. Maybe the only difference is in terms of dressing because you don’t have to be formal. Other than that, you have to deal with horrible clients. You have to deal with a lot of superficial people. You have to deal with people who make empty promises. That’s what I had to learn, the hard way.
GASHAUS: Bummer. Is it easy to get demoralised?
It is. Most of us start with a lot of idealism especially people who are more passionate about the music. It’s always about wanting to change something, wanting something new to happen and that’s probably where I started from when I first came to the scene. After a while, after you meet people who just tell you what you want to hear, people who promise you things but don’t deliver, you start to realize that you don’t make the culture. You are already part of the whole culture. You can change it, but you can’t really change anything overnight.
GASHAUS: Hey, but you still like your job don’t you?
It’s really the music that keeps me here. There is a quite bit of satisfaction in what I do. If the music is really bland, or if I’m trying to promote or brand something that I don’t really have an interest or don’t believe in, I would leave the job probably within two weeks or two days. I’ve been here for three years!