Jane Tan, aka DJ Siesta, is the loving founder of Phreaktion, a committed follower of drum ‘n bass, and a dedicated party enchantress. Last May, Phreaktion celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a party featuring Andy C. Some days after the party, when Siesta was trying to have a chill out week, we decided to interrupt her rest and had an e-chat with her about Phreaktion’s history, present and future. And better later than never, here we have it.
Layabozi: Hey, Jane.
Jane Siesta: Hi.
LYBZ: How are you?
JS: Yeah, not bad! You?
LYBZ: I’m fine, thanks. How is the chill out week going so far?
JS: Not going so well (laughs). I’m still working.
LYBZ: What are you working on?
JS: Following up on Andy C, Eklektik tomorrow, next few posters, etc. I mean I’m “fairly” chilled but I wish I could do NOTHING AT ALL.
LYBZ: Yeah, I understand that. How was the Andy C gig for you?
JS: Yeah, it was a really good night. I’m very glad.
LYBZ: You know I thought we must write about Phreaktion anniversary of course, and if we talk about it this way it would make it much easier to get it published sooner. So, are you okay with free time now to go for it?
JS: Yeah, sure!
LYBZ: Cool. …It’s Phreaktion’s 10th anniversary right?
JS: It’s not an “anniversary” per se. My first party was in July, 1999. I guess it’s a marking of promoting drum ‘n bass for 10 years.
LYBZ: What party was that one?
JS: It featured Dieselboy.
LYBZ: Where did you do it?
JS: Hong Kong. We converted a sports bar into a party venue.
LYBZ: And how did it turn out?
JS: Quite sad really. We had ninety something people. But the party was so good and Dieselboy was so amazing, the word got out. The next time he came to play for us we had over 500 people.
LYBZ: Wow! Was drum ‘n bass popular in Hong Kong already?
JS: No. It was still very underground and an expat thing
LYBZ: Was that party the first one of “Phreaktion”? Or you created it after?
JS: No. I took a break in 2002 because it was getting too difficult to put on events. And on 2003 I started doing the nights again that were smaller, easier to handle, and involving more local DJs, under the name Phreaktion.
LYBZ: Still in Hong Kong?
JS: Yeah, I only came here at the end of 2004.
LYBZ: Were you working alone, or did you have any partners?
JS: My first 3-4 parties in Hong Kong I had a partner. After that I pretty much did it alone. Of course, I have had a lot of friends around to help me.
LYBZ: So that was the beginning of Phreaktion, pretty much. It looks like it began very naturally, almost by chance.
JS: I’m not sure what you mean. I don’t think it was by chance I started doing parties. I mean, it was by chance I heard the music for the first time and I wanted to learn more or get involved more, but I was doing some research and talked to a lot of people before deciding to do it myself.
LYBZ: What were you researching before?
JS: How to put on parties. What kind of things do you need to do.
LYBZ: Were you expecting to become a professional party planner?
JS: Yeah that was the plan, to make it as a professional outlet. But we were just doing it and learning it at the same time.
LYBZ: What was the role of the music in your plan?
JS: The party was about the music. It was to promote the music, parties were just one of the mediums to promote it.
LYBZ: And the music is drum ‘n bass.
LYBZ: So what is your relationship with drum ‘n bass? What attracts you to it?
JS: It has a rebellious, almost punk-like attitude about the music that I’m mostly attracted to. Of course, because it has so many different many styles incorporated and the parties are always so high-energy, it’s a very expressive form of dance music.
LYBZ: About the almost punk-like attitude, why did you choose drum ‘n bass and not punk?
JS: They’re not the same kind of music. I guess with punk music it’s more lyrical, you voice, your opinions through the lyrics. My comment on the “punk-like-attitude” relates to how drum ‘n bass rebelled (against) the existing dance music at the time.
LYBZ: I see, so is this what moves you about drum ‘n bass?
JS: No. The music moves me; the beats, the bass line. I mean, everyone goes through different stages of taste and preference when it comes to music and that extra something about drum ‘n bass kept me interested. It’s always evolving. Challenging what’s around already, pushing the boundaries.
LYBZ: Is that what you have been doing, too, with Phreaktion?
JS: The predominant goal with Phreaktion is to promote drum ‘n bass in Shanghai and China. We’re doing drum ‘n bass and we are one of the first people to introduce dubstep in Shanghai, and now we’re doing it with Crack House.
LYBZ: Crack House?
LYBZ: A new style of music?
JS: What Zinc was playing. A new style of house, yes.
LYBZ: I see. So, Jane were you DJing since the very beginning?
JS: No, after 4 years of putting on parties. So (I’ve) only been DJing 5-6 years so far.
LYBZ: And how do you feel now as DJ?
JS: In what way?
LYBZ: How relevant it is comparing it with the promotional work?
JS: The reward and result is immediate when you DJ. Whatever you do you see immediate results: either the crowd loves it or they hate it. You know right away. Promoting takes months to prepare and even after the gig is finished you feel like you’re still wrapping things up. It’s a different outlet. As a DJ you are expressing yourself and making people move. Promoting is more of creating a platform for people to come together and it’s more of a business. So I guess you can say it’s art vs. business.
LYBZ: How was your experience DJing when you brought Commix to The Shelter?
JS: Why was that particular gig brought up in relation to my DJing? Just wondering because I’m not sure how to answer.
LYBZ: I just remember I saw you extremely happy.
JS: To be honest I don’t remember anything particularly different that night. It was a Commix gig and I think I only DJed an hour after them. I was happy because it was successful, as a DJ.
LYBZ: Maybe you can recall (an)other gig that was to important for you.
JS: Well, I guess it was pretty cool to play in England the first time, quite amazing to play to a crowd that knew the songs and react(ed) to the mixes.
LYBZ: How is your feeling, after all these years of producing parties, about the crowd in Shanghai and China? How would you describe it?
JS: The crowd here is up for a good party. Good music. They’ll give pretty much anything a chance. I just hope to see more informational channels being created here: Internet, magazines, radios, so people can learn more about the music.
LYBZ: Yes, I know about that.
JS: This is already happening with Neocha, Douban, Udance radio show, etc. So I’m feeling positive
LYBZ: You also created your own website last year, Phreaktion.com. How is that working out?
JS: Phreaktion.com was created in 2006. Last year we re-designed it and re-launched.
LYBZ: And how is that going on?
JS: Yeah, the website’s doing its job. At the moment we haven’t had time to put in too much work because we don’t have enough contributors. Starting July August we will incorporate it more with the radio shows and podcasts.
LYBZ: So far, what is your feeling with the evolution of Phreaktion? I mean, are you totally fulfilled with your achievements?
JS: I’m proud of how long we’ve come. Very happy with the chance of having Andy C to mark the ten years in the business. The recession and financial climate is going to be a factor in deciding what the future is for us, so hopefully in the next 6 months we will see something positive. I mean, it was a positive outcome with Andy C. I am hopeful about the future.
LYBZ: If all goes well, then what are your plans for the future? What is your mind set on?
JS: A good radio show with good audience, a good web-zine that is the first Chinese drum ‘n bass website. Good events of course, and also spreading the music in other cities of China.
LYBZ: What is the next coming gig of Phreaktion?
JS: Sweatshop is still going every month at The Shelter. We are talking about having Total Science in August, and maybe, maybe, Roni Size in November.
LYBZ: How do you see the evolution of drum ‘n bass in China, compared with other styles of music?
JS: There’s no “evolution of drum ‘n bass”. There’s no local DJs, MCs, no producers. We’re still trying to create a scene, a scene which doesn’t mean “parties”. Right now we are a successful party promoter, underground party promoter, but still (have) a long way to go.
LYBZ: But are you hopeful about it?
JS: Yeah, of course. Just keep doing our thing and hopefully the kids are gonna get into it and want to make tunes. I know a couple of kids are already making the music, so it’s good.
LYBZ: And what about you?
JS: What about me….?
LYBZ: What about you making music?
JS: Producing is a very time-consuming thing and so is promoting. I made a few tunes but right now I don’t have time to do both.
LYBZ: And who are those guys making drum ‘n bass we should keep an eye on?
JS: Do you mean in Shanghai?
LYBZ: Yes, those you just mentioned that are making music.
JS: A bit too premature to say, honestly. Just a few high school kids playing around.
LYBZ: I see.
JS: The point is, there is an interest, so it’s good.
LYBZ: What is Phreaktion recommending to listen to these days?
JS: Sub Focus, one of my favorite producers, he is releasing his new album out in July so really looking forward to it. Also this new producer who is making a lot of noise right now is ShockOne from Perth, Australia. The ShockOne EP is very good.
LYBZ: What was the best gig you can recall by Phreaktion until now?
JS: Can’t say that!
JS: That’s over 100 gigs! The best ones have been the ones I formed unbelievable friendships from: (The) first time Goldie, Shimon, and Blame came, (the) first time Scratch Perverts came, doing London (with) Elektricity was amazing because he was my drum ‘n bass idol, and lastly of course, having Andy C. Just amazing.
LYBZ: OK. is there anything i haven’t asked you, you would like to add?
JS: I think that will be it! I have to go now anyway. Thanks for the interview.
LYBZ: Thank you.