Ahead of Future Music Festival Asia, we get two of Malaysia’s shining DJ stars to talk to each other about spinning, sneakers and life-changing records.
DJ Bunga (Lim Kok Kean) is a fixture of the city’s party scene, as both a solo DJ and part of the Twilight Actiongirl team. TAG celebrated their tenth anniversary last year (which means they’ve been going for half the life span of some of their fans). When they’re not getting the party started in weird and wonderful places, they are resident Friday night DJs at Barsonic Zouk.
Robotron 5000 (Farez Khan) has been a key part of the 80s New Wave revival among DJs in KL, mixing in electroclash and indie dance for good measure. He’s also one half of the disco-happy duo DANGERDISKO, who have been busy in the last couple of years: they toured the US, broke into Hitz FM’s MET 10 chart and collaborated with the legendary Sheila Majid. DANGERDISKO’s album is due for release this year.
Robotron 5000 interviews Bunga:
R: TAG is pioneer for the alternative dance scene. How did you start DJing?
B: It’s all by accident, we started by DJing at friends’ birthday parties and then it graduated to a wedding. I use the term DJing very loosely here because back then I had no skills whatsoever – no mixing, beat-matching, nada. It was press ‘play’ and ‘stop’ literally. But it was fun and we didn’t even know there were so many people into the same kind of music, so we seriously started to look for a place to play, and Twilight Actiongirl was born.
You had a choice of other crazier names for a DJ name; how in the world did you end up with ‘Bunga’?
I think Bunga is already pretty nuts?! It was all a joke and fun and games in the beginning for us. so all of us just chose the most amusing name we could think of. I stole mine from a friend who DJed once as KJ (karaoke jockey) Bunga. I found it highly amusing and stole it from him.
Hands down, you’re the most hardworking DJ in KL, how do you keep yourself so energetic? Even after all those #bungabites?
Am I? I’m just lucky to be given all these opportunities to do different kind of genres of music that I like. In Twilight Actiongirl itself we play a wide range of genres but there’s some music which I personally love but will not work in TAG. So that’s why I decided to strike out on my own, plus it’s fun to play and work with other friends or DJs, exchanging ideas and music etc.
#bungabites is basically just a hashtag I started for all my food pics because if you know me, there’s three things that I’m really passionate about: that’s music, food and sneakers (in that order). My friends started teasing me about how it’s making them feel hungry at the wrong time and it started getting a life of its own. We’re cooking something with #bungabites, stay tuned!
Would you sell your shoes to me at half price? Pre-loved mah. Also in that note, why are you so infatuated with sneakers?
COMPUTER SAYS NO. I’m not infatuated, it’s rather more like a passionate hobby / disease, I’m now buying what I was deprived of or missed out during my youth. Believe it or not, when I was in college I only ever had two pairs of shoes and I wore them for close to five years. [Editor’s note: insert violin soundtrack here].
What’s your advice for all the party-goers in KL?
Always keep an open mind and go check out new nights at clubs, bars, dodgy venues and so on. Who knows, you might just discover some really good music and make some new friends as well.
Bunga interviews Robotron 5000
B: You started as a musician in a band, what made you pick up DJing? And what’s the biggest difference between the two?
R: I picked up DJing in high school when I was working part time after school in a record shop based in a mall in USJ, Subang Jaya. I kinda came to the shop everyday after school (back then we didn’t have the internet, so loitering at malls was a thing) and made friends with the shop owner. I was there so often that he offered me a job to clean the shop. In return, he taught me how to play [the turntables], which was a pretty sweet deal for a 14 year old kid.
At the same time I still had a band and we were playing experimental stuff and played gigs until 2009. We never broke up or parted ways, adulthood kinda just happened and everyone was working or studying and trying to make life happen, so we did our own thing.
To me, being in a band is a magical feeling. Especially when everything comes together and tightens up and the music finally blooms. I still get the same feeling when I produce tracks now but I have more control, so it’s no fun. But with a band, it’s fun because the final result is often a collective team effort.
Any dodgy DJ experiences you want to share? Groupies? Drugs?
HAHA I WISH. When me and Shah [Shaheed Naz] first started DANGERDISKO, we found ourselves playing at the most weirdest of events and venues. Dodgiest would definitely be Heritage Row. There was this one time, this gangster threatened to smash my face in with a beer jug and tear the club up if I didn’t play “harder” in like 10 mins. I quickly played David Guetta (lol) and he was happy.
Name the one record or song or album that changed your life. Why and how so?
It’s really hard to choose just one tune that changed my life. But if I had to, I’d have to say Gin Blossom’s ‘Till I Hear From You’ and the rest of the Empire Records soundtrack. Before that song, I was a geek who played with his Star Wars toys (I still do) and only listened to music that was on the radio. But the first time I saw that video, the promo music video for the movie Empire Records, I was like whoah. Rebellious kids. Girls. Rock music. LIV TYLER. That OST was my musical puberty.
So apart from your collaboration with Sheila Majid at FMFA 2014, what other surprises you have in store for us? You’ve been sneaky lately, my friend.
SNEAKY SNEAKY. Well, we’ve been working on our album for almost two years. The reason for it being so late is because both of us are pretty committed to our day jobs, and we don’t have the adequate funding, so we kinda just record and put together everything at our own pace. But we’re excited to venture into other things now! We’re ready to finally let go of this beast!
Can you bring me along to meet Kak Sheila (Majid) and have teh tarik the next time you’re going to see her?
Haha of course! But you’re buying yeah! Let’s go to some hidden warung somewhere so we can have a #bungabites session together!
UPDATE (26/03/2014): You can now catch Bunga, Robotron 500 and Ruud (Deer Society) at their new DJ night, IndieGo & Co, at Frangipani on Saturday nights, launching on 29 March.