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: www.facebook.com/chineseelectronicmusic

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Working with Jesustronic

Over the past year or so I have been able to build up a good relationship with a Christian EDM promotion group called Jesustronic. They are based in South America and have a focus on the Spanish-speaking world and so it has been interesting to see my music be shared and fanbase start to grow in exotic places like Guatemala and Columbia etc.

Jesustronic have been very good in promoting my One-Life album and music videos, but recently they asked me to do a 30 minute guest mix.

After DJ'ing many years ago, it took a while to raise my courage for a live mix - and I had to learn the new style of decks (not CDJ's anymore!) using my newly purchased Traktor S8.

You can watch me mixing live at:
or listen to the audio only here

Keep an ear out for some more interesting content that I'm doing with Jesustronic - hopefully I can share it very soon!