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!

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