Wednesday, September 28, 2022

OzAsia 2022

Aaron Duff will be performing November 3 at OzAsia Festival
Last year I performed a dj set on the opening night of OzAsia Festival's Lucky Dumpling Market. It was an incredible night with coloured lanterns strung up by Adelaide's River Torrens and maybe a thousand people sampling Asian street foods on the grassy hills of Elder Park. The weather was perfect, Adelaide Oval was lit up and I played some of my favourite tracks with many being my own productions through the sunset in what was a beautifully lazy evening.

So I'm super excited to share I'll be back for OzAsia 2022!

I'm busy preparing for another 2 hour set from 7:30pm on Thursday, November 3. It will feature some of my own unreleased music from the Chinese Electronic Music Project as well as other artists I've discovered that like me, also combine traditional Asian instrumentation with electronic beats and sounds.

It's totally free admission, but I would love to hear in advance if you are planning to be there - just send me a DM on Instagram or Facebook @chineseelectronicmusic

To get you in the mood, I've included a recording of last year's live set as well as the official write up:

Aaron Duff, DJ / Producer of the Chinese Electronic Music Project
There's a place in North Asia where the Manchu, Han, Korean, Japanese and Mongolian cultures have intersected with each other over many centuries and created a rich, cultural legacy.

Known to the west as Manchuria, this is also the adopted homeland of Aaron Duff, DJ and producer of the Chinese Electronic Music Project who having returned to Australia, remains immersed in the language, culture and music of the Manchurian peninsula.

Aaron has pioneered new music forms using classical, wooden instruments such as the erhu and guzheng, fusing together their incomparable sounds with the rainbow lights, beeps and beats of synthesizers and drum machines - something championed by very few in Australia or indeed the world. The same goes for Aaron's guest DJ sets for radio stations and podcasts around the world; where he shares his treasures found on the English and Chinese speaking webs for future bass and beats with a traditional Asian flair.

Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 Year in Review

It has been a long time since my first 'Year in Review' post in 2014 and it's pretty interesting to look back on how I've progressed as an artist, all the cool things I've been a part of, and also how my motivations for making music change over the years.

2021 saw me progress my Chinese Electronic Music Project plans working with some amazing classically trained musicians in David Dai, Kangkang Huang and Zhaohong Liang and their beautiful instruments of the erhu, zhonghu, guzheng and guqin. 

I started off the year with my now customary Chinese New Year's mix for local radio station Fresh FM and followed it up with a guest mix for one of my favourite progressive breaks DJ's in Joe Wink who is based in Florida and seen the breaks scene grow up over many years. It was a real pleasure to join his Broken Essence show as I've been an avid listener for a number of years and I felt a real sense of satisfaction that I could play one full hour of nothing but my own, original music.

Big news came in June when I announced our first EP Mountain Water had been signed by UK label Break Wind Productions. The label boss Uncle Boba (Bobalino) is a titan of the global progressive breaks scene and was my first choice as our type of music fits in well with his back catalogue of releases that have a focus on melodic storytelling.

Further to our EP, we did some promotional work releasing 3 music videos and also appearing as the feature artist for UK artist Dovetail's monthly F.A.B. show.

Undoubtedly the highlight of 2021 though was playing on the opening and closing nights for OzAsia Festival's Lucky Dumpling Market. It had been my goal to play at OzAsia since putting together Chinese Electronic Music Project and to be able to play to thousands of people in the centre of my hometown as the sun went down was something to remember - especially while most events and concerts have been cut back due to COVID.

I'm particularly proud of my 2 hour DJ set from the opening night where I have scoured both the English and Chinese-speaking web over searching for outstanding electronic music tracks featuring traditional Asian instrumentation - including around 30 minutes from yours truly! You can listen to the whole set on my Youtube channel here: Traditional Asian Electronic Music DJ Mix.

2022 will undoubtedly be different again from this year as my bandmate and fellow collaborator Kangkang has moved to Queensland, but rest assured I am still working on new music and have big plans.

If you are still reading, then you must be a true fan and I thank you for your support and wish you and your family all the very best in the new year!

(L-R) David Dai, Kangkang Huang, Zhaohong Liang, Aaron Duff

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Introducing the Chinese Electronic Music Project

Chinese Guzheng, Erhu & Electronic Music? Yes, Please!

I first started learning Chinese the same year I began DJ'ing (1999) and in the 20+ years since, I have married a Chinese girl, had children together and lived in China for a number of years. Despite graduating from university with a degree in Asian Studies, I had very little exposure to traditional Chinese music until around 2013 when I was fortunate to work in an office with a guzheng, multiple erhus and pipas as well as team-mates who could play them.

I became enthralled with traditional Chinese music and began working with organisations such as Adelaide's Chinese School of Arts and Music, Adelaide Festival Centre and OzAsia Festival in promoting Chinese music to my home state of South Australia. I even went as far as purchasing a guzheng which is now in pride of place in my lounge room and is played on by my 14 year old daughter and often accompanied by my 12 year old son on the dizi (Chinese bamboo flute).

Naturally, some of those influences began to appear in my musical creations such as Hutongs & Alleyways, The First Day (which features my wife Crystal) and Church Mice as A-DUFF. Those tracks were the best I could make at the time and featured samples and virtual instruments to make those Asian sounds... but I wanted more!

With COVID coming in 2020, I chose to pivot to a new direction looking to include live session instrumentation by classically trained traditional Chinese musicians. I was very fortunate to be connected to KangKang Huang and David Dai through the Chinese School of Arts & Music who play the guzheng/guqin and erhu/zhonghu respectively. They both graduated from university in China and Taiwan with a major in their respective instruments. KangKang is also very involved with electronic music and has worked in studios in China in the past and David has played for multiple orchestras around the world - even including the Taiwan Philharmonic Orchestra!

(from L-R) Kangkang Huang, David Dai & Aaron Duff

It was in August of 2020 that we began working on half a dozen songs with live session recordings at my home studio which ended up into a 3 track EP signed to the UK label BW Productions.

We are very proud of our work which combines traditional Chinese music with futuristic electronic breakbeats with a sound that ends up in a range between Rufus Du Sol, BT and Colombo. All 3 tracks have had incredible feedback from DJ's around the world. 

Enjoy the 3 music videos and please leave a comment and some love!

You can follow Chinese Electronic Music Project on Facebook here: