In Tune with AngeliKa, ABYSS Founder Pushing HK Rave Culture
Hong Kong/ Vibe/ Artists

In Tune with AngeliKa, ABYSS Co-Founder on Pushing HK Rave Culture Forward

In tune With Angelika

In the daytime, Asia embraces a true hustle culture; by night, we let our hair down and erupt in a magnificent energy to good crowds and good music. In Tune With meets the electric DJs and music makers of Hong Kong and Asia to feel their pulse and uncover why they entered the frenetic nightlife industry.

Spinning out soundwaves of dreamy open-air melodies interwoven with hard-pumping rhythms by day, and belting out edgy trance fused with sharp-cut techno by night, AngeliKa is a DJ for any occasion. As the co-founder of ABYSS, Hong Kong's techno event collective, and the music director for the local label Kiosky, her name carries a momentum that cannot be ignored.

Having played dual roles as both the backstage organizer and on-stage performer at numerous sold-out events since 2019, she found her roots in the Hong Kong underground music scene by producing events in collaboration with other locally based artists.

In discussing her challenges and successes so far as a burgeoning collective co-founder and rising rave DJ in the Hong Kong scene, AngeliKa shares with The Beat Asia her plans to expand the city’s musical horizons.

DJ AngeliKa playing music at event
AngeliKa

Congratulations on the first-year anniversary of Abyss! What was it like to start an event collective in Hong Kong, and how has it changed from a year ago?

Thank you! My very good DJ friend, Shanda and I started ABYSS, almost accidentally, after being inspired by the techno scene in Berlin and Europe – we wanted to create our own version. We didn’t expect that it would become a big hit, therefore we continued the series.

It is not easy starting an event collective. Since underground electronic music and techno is still not mainstream, we really have to find the right crowd from a small pool to attend our events. Space is also an issue; it is hard due to limited venue choices in Hong Kong.

Compared to a year ago, there are currently many more cool event collectives in Hong Kong, and that brings more choices for events. While it is great to have more players promoting underground music in Hong Kong, we are focusing on delivering quality music and vibes at our events to keep surprising our event goers.

What type of music does AngeliKa bring to Hong Kong’s music scene?

With classical music training from an early age, I love to navigate different genres depending on the gig and the venue!

Usually, I love to combine hard-groovy rhythms and melodic sounds – that's why I resonate with techno and hard trance a lot. Recently I’m also into lighter, glitchy and trippy house tracks. My music taste is ever evolving, and I find it hard to settle on only one genre.

How has it been working with Hong Kong label Kiosky? How did you get started in becoming their music director and what was the journey like?

It is a funny and unexpected experience. I went to the raves at Kiosky before and enjoyed them a lot. One day I passed by the kiosk during the daytime and chatted to the owner, then got my first gig opening for one of their parties. After that, I helped them organize their Full Moon Party, working on the DJ programming and marketing.

I was quite nervous as I did not know any DJs back then and began by just randomly reaching out to Kiosky’s past contacts. At the end, it was a blast, and I just kept doing that, as I enjoyed the process. Eventually, I became in charge of most of Kiosky’s music programming.

DJ AngeliKa playing music at event
AngeliKa

What is the current state of the Hong Kong DJ-ing scene like? How do you feel about your place in the picture?

The Hong Kong DJ scene is vibrant and diverse, with many talented DJs and event organizers. The community is also so supportive and welcoming. Before our ABYSS anniversary party, we needed some additional hands to help with sound and equipment, and without any hesitation, we got some kind help from event collectives Slimefest and Distrikt. I am grateful for this community.

As a DJ and event collective co-founder, I will be trying my best to promote this supportive culture, as well as giving local talents the opportunity to shine.

Do you feel particularly inspired by any subcultures associated with music genres or rave scenes around the world?

Absolutely! There are many subcultures associated with different music genres and rave scenes around the world that inspire me. I take reference from the techno and trance scenes in Europe and the U.S, and try to incorporate elements of these scenes into my music and events.

I’m particularly drawn to rave culture – in my own definition, it’s a sanctuary where everyone just dances together to music, respects each other, and has a good time. It’s also a time where people can be themselves and not worry that others are judging them.

Do you think there is a difference in treatment towards female DJs and male DJs? How does this manifest in the spread of women to men occupying important decision-making roles (e.g. music director, manager) in the music scene overall?

The most common difference is that people disregard the effort of female DJs and claim that they only got there due to their physical attractiveness. However, the female DJs I know work very hard and are incredibly talented. To deal with these judgements, one can simply ignore them, but sometimes the effects may not be solved simply through ignoring. It’s important for female DJs to support each other in the space and push forward together.

In Hong Kong, the industry is still quite male-dominated; managers and music directors that I have met, they are mostly men. Sometimes it is difficult to balance the men to women (artist) ratios in event lineups. However, much more female collective owners, DJs, and music-related business owners have entered the scene in Hong Kong lately, which is exciting to see. As it progresses, we are expecting to see more inclusive and safe events for all types of identities.

Portrait of DJ AngeliKa
AngeliKa

What would you consider to be the most important part of performing a DJ set?

Playing the right track at the right time, creating a flow that builds energy and excitement, gauging the vibe of the crowd, and deciding how your music can maintain or change the vibe. Maintain a connection with the crowd and create an experience for them with your music.

What’s next in store for AngeliKa?

I am always looking for new opportunities to grow as a DJ and event organizer. Our plan for ABYSS is to invite more international up-and-coming artists to showcase their unique sounds for Hong Kong.

For Kiosky, we will explore more daytime and chill music events as an addition to our overnight events in our new venue. I hope to continue pushing the boundaries of electronic music in Hong Kong and bringing new and exciting experiences to the scene.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Keep up with AngeliKa at @aglkbpm

To catch her next event, follow ABYSS at @abyss.852 and Kiosky at @kiosky.hk

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