Red Pig Flower: World in Bloom

Having begun her journey into electronic music within the fertile scenes of Asia, specifically Japan and Korea, Red Pig Flower’s love for music soon blossomed into a lifelong love affair. This would soon take her around the world and across the music spectrum and her mixed heritage would enable her to straddle these two scenes and pave the way for her releasing on a wide variety of imprints. With her discography starting back as early as the early 2010’s her work has already appeared on esteemed imprints such as Serialism, Adam’s Bite, Get Physical, Vandalism, Work In Progress, and Bedrock. With such a rich history in music, Red Pig Flower opens the doors on what has led her to her current musical standing.

Not all artists have loved electronic music since the day they were born and Red’s journey started in the most unlikeliest of places, “When I left my punk band, I was searching for the way to do music alone without band member drama. I was just hitting the age to enter clubs, the community and the sound of the club was warming me up and mending my broken heart, and from that time on, electronica music has always been my lover. “ Recalling a pivotal moment in her musical education, one particular album struck a major chord with her, “I was always trying to find a hypnotic / dreamy feeling to escape daily life, and I still remember the shock when I listened to Moby’s “ambient” album. The track “Dog” just constantly repeating a hypnotic beat, I listened to the same track on loop for hours and hours, it was, on one hand psychedelic but on other hand also very soothing to me. I think this kind of feeling built me from the core, in my 20 years of career I was really crafting and searching for hypnotic sounds to give people that same feeling.”

Now that deeply rooted feelings for electronica have taken hold of Red it was time to delve a little deeper into the rabbit hole. Clearly an ear was developing for more mesmerizing music forms and with a DJ career in the making, Red explains her formative influences, “When I was first starting to DJ, during the first and second years I listened to a lot of “tribal house” because I was into this priminal, hypnotic beat and percussion. At that time (around 2005) French electro was big and I couldn’t avoid to listen to it as it was everywhere. Back then, I was thinking those sounds were too cheesy, but funny enough, when I listen again to the sound from that time, I find it cool and nostalgic.”

Establishing the formative steps into her musical career, DJing was the next step in Red’s evolution. However, there is no such thing as a music playbook, but I guess that is all part of the journey “Well, I was a singer songwriter in a band, so I always made music, but back in time I was making ridiculous weird and bold music. I wasn’t mature as a musician at all, I come from a fine art background, so I just wanted to created something you know. Then I discovered DJing and electronica music so i took a break from making music for few years and I had to learn the tools from the beginning again. After a few years of DJing, I started to release music from 2011, if I listen to my first few years of releases then I feel ridiculous as the quality is so bad haha.

During our conversation, what is consistently refreshing about Red as an artist is her transparency. Artists, especially musicians can be a strange bunch, some are flamboyant and expressly outgoing, some take refuge in their anonymity. Red is as straight as a die, her honesty and openness about her own work is a breath of fresh air as it appears that she holds the journey and lessons learnt just as dear as the high points and successes. Few accomplished artists tend to stick in one place their whole career, this is what helps give them longevity, Red knows this more than most, “I always wanted to show my journey as a musician, even though it is shitty music it was still me back in time, I enjoy my journey as a producer every year as my sounds evolve and my production quality keeps getting better. And my production sounds and djing sounds effect to each other like ping pong at this moment. Now I play much more house music so my production also naturally gets more housey, but I still cannot get rid of my minimal side as well.” Remaining on the topic of Red’s soon to fly touring schedule, she takes us back to the very beginning and there was some important lessons to be learnt, “Tokyo and Seoul are where i started djing, i was very immature and i just took any gig who let me played, it was my practicing time I should say. The first club was “Rooty” in Tokyo, the very very small house music club, taught me the feeling of “community” inside of a club, we are family. I learnt that way of thinking there.

When living and breathing music, there are many steps up the ladder of success and Red knows this more than most. While moving to a new city or country is not an easy task, she made sure she had fun doing it, “Then, I moved to London and I stayed about 5-6 years. Back then, Shoreditch was still cool, there were some legendary clubs still existing, places like plastic people, cafe 1001, t-bar, fabric, some little gay bars such as Dalston Superstore. Things gradually moved to Hackney, so all the cool minimal parties were happening in warehouses. I was jumping between big clubs and warehouse after parties, it was the time Romanian minimal was super big, and everybody wanted to play like Ricardo Villalobos.” 

Continuing the London section of her tale, Red points out that it was not all plain sailing in The Big Smoke but most certainly was an important passage in her life, “The London scene was like a jungle and never paid me well and that’s why I moved to Berlin, but London also gave the chance to meet my label partner “Knock” and let us allow to get exposed to a lot of diversity of music, and “hard working “attitude. If you don’t hustle you cannot survive in London. Also in London, I was hanging out with a lot of the gay and transgender scene. Someone like “Daniel Lismore”, he used to make a lot of cool trans dress up parties back then, and it also shaped me a lot as a LGBT friendly artist.

Being exposed to many scenes and communities will almost always have an influence on an artist. However, few can argue the next place that Red would call home would perhaps have the biggest effect, “Then yes, I moved to Berlin. London taught me how to hustle, but I needed my own time as an artist, back at the end of 2014 I moved to Berlin, and there, I really finally started to spend my whole time as an artist just focusing on producing music. Back in time, 10 years ago Berlin was super cheap (not anymore), but it gave me stress free time. Free time as an artist, and of course the whole Berlin scene inspired me a lot, Berlin grew me and nurtured me to be an artist. From the moment I woke up until I go to bed I make music and when I feel too much I could go to my friends bar or club to listen to my friend’s sets, which were usually super good DJs. It gave me the chance to fully immerse myself into music. It is too sad to see Berlin now as it has become so expensive, and as a result it seems now artist in Berlin have a lot of money stress. It was not the way it used to be, the whole city used to be an institution for DJs and artists. I am glad I managed to experience that time of Berlin.”

As the old adage goes, “Not all those that wander are lost”, and it would seem that Red had already found herself. She had also found a love for traveling with a view to incorporating this into her creative processes. As you might have guessed, it wasn’t long before she was on her travels again, and with post Covid travel now a viable option, this meant Red’s tour schedule began to bulge, “As you might know, I left Berlin the middle of 2020 during the pandemic, I took a break from DJing and to focus on my masters degree as Information Designer. I then came back into the scene as the pandemic ends, I didn’t come back to Berlin as I had just started to tour. I wanted to see the world, and also I wanted to catch up with people I haven’t met for a long time, I wanted to come back to Asia.

Once Red had touched base with her family and inner circle it was time to fly the nest again and discover a new family. By this point it will be fairly clear that Red has no problems making friends and connecting with people in the right way. Her outgoing personality coupled with her unwavering thirst for life has equipped her with the necessary tools to accomplish her goal of soaking in all the world has to offer. She explains her next steps after Covid’s grip on the world began to lessen, “I also wanted to see what is going on in Turkey and Mexico, I tired of the European scene sometimes, it seems too static. As I became much more nomadic I had no fear, I wanted to show my music to crowds all around the world, and I wanted to know how the world works after the pandemic. Wow, each scene and each country’s electronic music scene, they never stopped to work and they have developed their own scene, and for me it is so inspiring. Mexico has enjoyed amazing economic growth these past few years and people seems have more money than Europe. They have almost everyday a non stop party, and people can feel this economic growth in the air, it is exciting to be in Mexico, to be around such happy party people.”

“Turkish people have also always been warm and music loving people but their economy and politics seems not working favour towards for them. However, people in the scene became much more professional over the years and they really grew the scene with passion. For example, No57 studio house in Izmir, its only a two year old venue, but they literally built Izmir’s house music scene from scratch. It is inspiring to see how young and very talented boys and girls are working their ass off to create a proper house scene and labels, and I feel like I have to contribute to them to build something together.”

The Asian scene is always a good mixture of locals and foreign organisers, it is still very small scene if we talk about only local crowds, but now the Asian scene try to have much more exchanges and booking between asian countries instead booking super expensive foreign DJs and try to support each other’s talent, which is inspiring also we need more Asian talents in the world. So, yes each countries or continent are unique in their own way, bit one thing in common is people who work in the scene are working with real passion. it is always heartwarming to see.

While Red is clearly a traveled and well versed artist it is always important to take something away from time spent in a different country. This may just be a unique way of dealing with an everyday problem, perhaps a some words to your vocabulary, Red explains how she has applied what she has learnt from her travels, “I say to people I have no life, be in the scene and travel, djing, making music daily is my life, and I have no other life and no other desire neither. This means everywhere I stay and spending time is my home, and people in the scene I share the decks with and have artist dinners with my family. Once I go to a country I am spending a certain part of my life with them, and of course my daily life is all about my inspiration.”

Red continues to discuss her absorbent approach to new countries, “Everywhere I go I learn their passions and also their challenges, and their pros and cons, and nothing is separated, the politics, the economy, and geopolitical population everything is ingrained into the scene, depends on the entry fee, which kind of people mixed in the club, how long time the clubs has license with, it all effects not only the club atmosphere but also in daily peoples life. I hate the idea or approach of a DJ who just play the gig and leaves. I mean,  for me everything and everyone is interesting and I learn so much from each person I talk with.

This sort of engagement with each scene that she enters is what makes Red stand out from her peers. She is not an artist that tends to play things safely, this can be quantified by her preparedness for more experiences at any given moment. Constant touring does however, have its drawbacks and it is often the artists’ mental health that is effected, “When I finish the gig, I come back to home, or airbnb whatever, and next day to get over my post gig depression i start to make music, after gig after all people I was surrounded are gone, i feel utterly lonely and just open my laptop and create something and thinking about the  next project makes me feel stronger. I think about last night, the conversation I had, the atmosphere I was in, and just started to make tracks.

Moving onto Red as an artist, we begin to delve further into her character that she has built up around her. First of all we delve into where your rather unique name came from, “As an artist, I think everything needs to start from a name, it means you want to be. Red /pig/ flower each word is a representation of reality, desire, and dream. Since the very beginning I wanted to become a dream maker. I wanted to show how a dream can change the real world, and yes it sounds childish and naive but it is still my attitude and idea towards the world.

Having moved forward to a more house focused sound in recent years Red explains where the shift came from, “I think pandemic changed everything, not only me but everybody, of course house music was slowly ingrained in me, cause my sound of vast label itself was shifted from minimal house label to full of house/disco label, so as house music label owner listen good house music I was growing my love of house, but i was still consider me as minimal dj, however during pandemic without any people’s contact, i missed the touch, i missed contact, i missed people’s screaming. 

While for some, the ability to still perform to audiences was enough to get them through this time, Red was not able to find a substitute for human nature, “The whole live streaming gigs bored me so much, and i wanted to see people sweating and dancing like crazy, and yes once club open people got more excited, and every genre became much faster, people, seems like they can not stand slow emotional music any more they want to dance and celebrate, and me also i wanted to just go out there and celebrate our existence, and survival.”

For Red, it would appear that the remote music experience comes from something much deeper, “I used to think the bring synth of house music is too much and too cheesy, but now i listen the bright synth and shouting vocal in the club i got excited , when i see people kissing and dancing and get naked in the club i feel alive, now I sing with people and play old school track like “Stay alive” it almost became anthem for me, hey we are here, we are alive, we are dancing, so, YES, stay alive.”

With Red’s musical direction already in full flow, we take a few steps back to look at another avenue of her development. Having been mentioned earlier, when in London she met with her longtime partner Knock back in 2010, “at that time we were young Asian DJs who knew nobody, desperately try to find connections. Well, nobody booked us so we decided to make a party and book ourselves, and also it was a way to expand our connection in London. we started to make party  under the name of “vast”, how ever after few years knock decided to leave London and go to Amsterdam, and we wanted to do something continuing our legacy even though we are apart, and making label together just make a scenes, so yes we made a “sound of vast” that continue our sounds of our party vast.”

Red then went on to discuss how the music direction of the label has also evolved over time too, “As the label name said we wanted to release “vast” range of music , under the house genre we were releasing, minimal house, disco house, classic house and everything, but as the under the distribution RushHour record, which has mostly house music customer than minimal customer our minimal release didn’t do well as much as house music release, and also we decide our vision is more close to house music. So, after about 5 years of “Vast” genre, we decided to focus on house.”

Ten years is a long time to run your own label, and when doing this mostly from a remote position it can be even harder. With Red’s worldwide respected network she has big plans afoot, “We are having 10 years of sound of Vast label night in Tokyo, which is very exciting, and myself starting from tokyo gig for sov celebration, i will kick off my asian tour, it will be Tokyo, HK, Shanghai, Taiwan, Seoul, and Malaysia. Very exciting. In the meantime I am preparing my first album on my label. I am aiming to release it this year for our ten years celebration. The vinyl plant should have space for us this year, so fingers crossed for that. Yes, many things are on our hands. After our 10th year anniversary we are looking forward to another 10 years ahead. I hope our label will be one of the important contributions to electronic music scene in history.”

Finally, we throw the floor open to Red Pig Flower’s contribution to our Free Download series and she how s us under the hood of “Chicago Classic”, “I produced this track to included my tenth year celebration album, my album concept started initially to bring back 90’s house, people now asking what is my primal genre and I say “between Chicago house and Detroit techno” cause as i get older i appreciated more where  house music really come from and how it developed, also last year the queen Honey Dijion booked me for her party, and I really wanted to show my best side of house music in a Panoramabar context. The primal house music feeling with LGBT community, I researched so much of house music roots and the back in time feeling, I started to imagine myself going back to 80’s and 90’s getting into sweaty house music parties and dance my ass off with a glamorous disco ball. Even my fashion and dance moves also changed on the deck from dark Berliner minimal dj to glitter all over dancing queen lol. It is hard to explain but it was a natural but distinctive transformation for me as a DJ.”

“I made “Chicago Classic” to contribute the idea of my own nostalgia of Chicago back in time which i never experienced and missed out, but somehow very nostalgic about. So my initial album concept was a time machine to go back to 90’s Chicago, but as the album developed my partner Knock wanted me to show more artistic side of me and pushed me to put more emotional tracks and downtempo in my album. So, yes whole album concept has changed a bit, but the track has a life. I thought it is good track to show my transition, as many people still remember as minimal DJ and producer, and currently I am in Berlin for tour and many young producers talking about my minimal tracks (yes i know i will never get away from my minimal side), but also in the meantime I wanted to show people how am i right now, who is all about be happy on the dancefloor.

Red continues to provide about much more in depth details on the production technique itself, “So last few years I emphasise kicks more, house but almost technoish big kick, with bright synth with rather simple chord, I took an old interview from a black jazz musician talking about “young musicians they don’t even know simple musical chord how to play  major to minor”. This interview is almost scolding young musicians towards their attitude and I thought it is cool sample to put. In terms of bass line I am very much into acid bass lines, it does well with almost every genre so there you go, i do not use too complicated synth or crazy technics when I make tracks, I think the idea and what I want to talk about is the key, rather than complicated modulation.

You can download Red Pig Flower “Chicago Classic” for free via our Soundcloud profile.

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