In Tune with Helen Ting, Hong Kong’s Promoter of Afro-house Sounds
June 05, 2023
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.
To know who Helen Ting is to know who one of Hong Kong’s modern pioneers of house music, and most importantly, specialising in afro-house for the city and region’s musicwaves and ears.
Inspired to kickstart her DJ career professionally more than a decade and a half ago, Helen Ting was uniquely inspired by the African-infused genre of house music that celebrates good jive and rhythmic bass.
Promoting the beauty of afro-house and African-influenced dance music in Hong Kong, The Beat Asia caught up with Helen for a chat to spotlight her journey from music loving to DJing for crowds worldwide.
For those who don’t know you, who is Helen Ting?
I am Helen Ting, born in China. I came to Hong Kong in 1996 with my family to start a new life, after studying in my province of Fujian in southern China.
To make money when we moved, I worked with my mother in factories, but it was boring and I quit. I didn’t speak good Cantonese at the time. I spent a few years in sales but quit in 2007 when I became a full-time DJ.
How did music and passion for DJing enter your life?
From 1999 to 2000, I loved to party hard. I loved the scene, which had a lot of house music, with a New York style. Every Thursday till Sunday, we would club in Central, California Tower, Lan Kwai Fong, Wan Chai.
One day on holiday in Phuket, I met a friend who introduced me to DJ Galaxy to begin studying how to mix music. He got me to buy second-hand equipment to learn the basics, how to mix vinyl tracks.
In 2006, my friend Dean Morris helped me get into clubs, but I earned nothing in one month of DJing with CDs. My first gig was at Tifa Club, opposite dragon-i, playing four hours of very hardcore techno for HK$800 on the weekend.
Explain to me how the genre of afro-house music came into your life.
It was in 2010 when I first listened to afro-house. I had no idea of the name of the music, but when I listened, I fell in love with it, going through my veins. It is the rhythm, instruments, drums that make me happy.
I don’t understand the lyrics and vocals, but the music gives me such a strong feeling. House is popular in Hong Kong, but not afro-house. It is important to show that variety in the scene here and Asia.
How long have you been able to sustain your love for DJing for 16 years?
It’s about passion, the passion to do the things you love, your energy, people will feel it. I do it for the music. This is my shit.
Tell me about your involvement with Kazukuta Records label
In 2012, I was DJing at the Winter Music Conference in Miami, a massive music festival. I got a lot of eyeballs when everyone saw a Chinese girl playing afro-house. I bumped into DJ Eff, the owner of the record label, who said, I saw your music and loved your energy.
He asked me to join his label to produce tracks in 2013 when I saw him at Mi Casa Su Casa festival in Mexico.
He was based in Angola, Africa, and brought me into a new life. He’s my younger brother! We party together, share everything together, and produce together. With him, I produced ‘You Never Know’ in 2019.
In Hong Kong, where do you see the future for afro-house and house music?
I am happy to see many promoters bring African DJs, my friends mostly, to Hong Kong.
When I watched DJ Shimza play at Cassio during Art Week in March 2023, I felt like I was in heaven. I didn’t want to leave! I was in love.
Where are you playing this year?
I am heading to Croatia in July to play at SunceBeat Festival.
You can catch all of Helen Ting's latest gigs, DJ sets and festival appearance announcements on her Instagram account.
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