19 Aug 2021
by ebatalla | Interview, Festivals, Nightclub Events
We recently caught up with Florian Mélinette, DJ and co-founder of FuFu Creative about Pitch, his newest project related to daytime events, the current scene in Hong Kong, and what's happening with Shi Fu Miz this year.
Enrique Batalla: Could you please introduce yourself to users who might not know you?
Florian Mélinette: I'm Florian Mélinette, a French guy based in Hong Kong since 2014. I launched FuFu Creative in 2014 linked to a booking agency representing international DJs, regional DJs, and local DJs for the Hong Kong and Asian market, In the agency, we have artists like Dan Shake, Jamie 3:26, Mafalda, Pablo Valentino. From Asia we have Jesse You, Airbear, and more to come when we can open the borders. From Hong Kong, we have MLCH, Guido Balboa, and I’m putting a lot of local DJs to play when we have a residency. This is the booking agency side.
We also have a record label, FuFu Records, that we launched this year but launched officially in 2017. So, from this year we're doing a compilation every three months of eight tracks. The compilation is called “88 - double happiness”. The goal is to push the Asian electronic scene from disco groovy vibe to techno, Acid, Trance vibes. A really eclectic compilation and I tried to bring like 7 - 8 different countries in each competition. We already released 2 compilations and the next one is on the 16 of September. This is the second part of the company.
Then we have the event promoter side. With FuFu, for events in clubs or bars in Central, Hong Kong Island, Kowloon. Also doing some FuFu events, sometimes out of Hong Kong in Asia. Pitch is a new entity, doing daytime events, FuFu is going to focus on nightime events, and Pitch will focus on daytime events.
Pitch is a private member club but it's free to access. The goal is to gather people who want to follow us, every time you can have access to our event easily just by email, instead of following Facebook, Instagram, you can just receive an email with the next upcoming event.
The goal of these events is to bring people to atypical places in Hong Kong with unique spots, the goal is not to do any rooftop party in central like people are already doing, our goal is to visit the different areas of Hong Kong.
The first party was in TaiPo, the next second was on Lamma Island. The goal is to go everywhere in Hong Kong. Imagine some hidden & unique spot still virgin of any events. Somewhere private, where you can unwind in peace, indulge in music exploration, dance freely and delight in entertainment.
The last event project is Shi Fu Miz which I launched in 2016 with La Mamies. SFM is an art and music festival like you can see in Europe but with Asian-Hong kong touch. The goal is to do a mix as I do with the booking agency, by bringing international DJs in Hong Kong with regional artists, with local artists from Hong Kong in order do a memorable festival with some output, well-being, sustainability, and a lot of music performances.
Shi Fu Miz gets held in Cheng Chau Island. The festival has been postponed for two years but it is planned for 2022.
EB: Going back to FuFu records, Do you see a future in producing music or is that just a part of the whole FuFu ecosystem?
FM: As for myself, I will always want to produce music. I have a built-in on my computer, but I still need to learn more before producing tracks, but I will do it in the future for sure. But my main goal is to push artists to produce, manage all the distribution and it's important for the company to obtain contacts, partnerships, all around Asia. About the compilation “88 - double happiness”, the label doesn’t get money, neither the artists, which they’re only obtaining some royalty, our goal is to support NGOs as we’ve done with One tree planted.
This year we partner up with one tree planted and every three months, FuFu Records do a donation following the sales of the compilation in order to plant more trees in Asia. As a goal is not to make money with this is really to push the scene and gather, all the people who love music.
EB: How do you think the pandemic has changed the scene? some people have mentioned that the pandemic has reunited the whole industry.
FM: Yeah, 100%. Because we are all together on the same boat. I think people realize that we're all suffering the same way. I mean, we cannot play, we cannot organise events, we cannot book any artists… we are all affected and all-seeing like the majority of the countries they don’t support the art industry, we are not a priority for them.
EB: You have a monthly show at FM BELOWGROUND, can you explain what’s the show about?
FM: It's called World Exchange. It's really linked to the pandemic, April 2020 I think, just at the beginning. I was like “okay, I got all my show canceled, all my gigs, uh, what can I do?” at that time, I was digging a lot of music, I continue to do so, and I’ll still continue digging, but at that time it was really intense. Like, I could spend 7-8 hours digging music, so I built a big catalog of my own references, and what I was digging especially was more world music.
I always play techno, house, disco, etc. I felt I had this opportunity to find real grooves from all around the world. I started gathering, and gathering, until I had like maybe 2TB dedicated to world music, I was like: “I love African music but I also love Asian music and I love South American music so I didn’t want to just focus on one area. I have time.”
In my collection, I have music from Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, all the Caribbean music, like the west Caribbean music which is more like Netherlands vibes, almost all African countries. Then I was digging Japanese, South Korean music, mandopop, cantopop, Indonesian pop,...
I was becoming crazy but good crazy because I have a lot of music in my mind but I'm happy about it. I started a YouTube channel and a Mixcloud channel. I was doing a weekly mixtape of 30 minutes of showcasing a Country and sometimes in the country a special style. For example, South Africa has the 80s disco, which is more linked to European vibes, but they also have the bubblegum from the 80s or Kwaito from the 90s, so different styles in each country. I was doing a weekly mixtape every week.
After that, I saw Arthur from Yeti Out with his new project FM BELOWGROUND and I went to visit the radio. I was like: “man, this is beautiful, It's amazing.” the design of the radio is magical, it’s made by Brinkworth Design, and just thinking that it's inside Landmark it's insane. This is amazing for Hong Kong.
About the monthly show, I do two hours of world music. Sometimes I focus on facing two different countries. For example, I can do France VS Nigeria. The goal is seatting well of having music from two different countries. The last one was special for West African countries, part II is coming this month.
I don't think too many people in town focus on playing music from one country.
EB: What's your opinion about the future of festivals in Asia?
FM: We are all waiting for the end of the pandemic.
Hopefully, what my team and I would like to see is that more festival organisers think about the planet.
As we saw in the past, there are so many festivals leaving the festival areas full of waste, full of plastic, cups of plastic everywhere... This should never exist again.
The point is that we're living in different countries in Asia and every country doesn’t have the same development. Like, you go to the Philippines or you go to Japan or Hong Kong or Thailand, it is not the same development. I would love to see festivals more focused on sustainability and well-being, so we can all think more about the planet.
Wonderfruit is already doing it, at Shi Fu Miz we try our best to do it, and I hope more and more festivals will think like this, actually, we should be thinking this way already, and I also think attendees are realising about this.
EB: Continuing with festivals, what's happening to Shi Fu Miz?
FM: Shi Fu Miz it's postponed this year. Unfortunately due to the pandemic, we cannot bring international artists or regional artists. And we don't want to do a festival just relying on local artists. It's not that we don't want to push the scene and like it's just that the brand is linked to international and regional talent. So if you do just local, it's better to put another name.
That's why we launched Pitch, Pitch is different. It's not like a festival but it's day time concept linked to the local scene. So that's why we don't want to lose our time waiting for Shi Fu Miz.
We're trying to offer something different and new to the market. The festival had to be postponed, no choice. We cannot take the risk. We can’t bring international artists, well, we could bring them, but they would have to do one week quarantine. Financially speaking, if I need to bring 20 artists to stay one week in hotels... If I have to do this, I’ll have to increase the tickets to at least 70% and festivals in Asia are already quite expensive. The market is like this compared to the price of European festivals. I don't want to increase the prices more. I feel SFM prices are already at market price.
So I prefer to postpone and be in good condition with the people for when we can have the festival.
EB: Let's talk about one of your newest projects Pitch. Can you tell us a bit more about this series of member club events?
FM: So Pitch has been launched with Suraj, my partner and we have a designer called Guido, which is also a Pitch resident and FuFu resident DJ. We are all three together. The first event was in Tai Po in a barbecue area but with a huge lawn, with like pantry on the back close to the sea, beautiful vibe.
Our goal is to find atypical spots with, unique vibe. Bring people to discover the territory of Hong kong. This means sometimes you have to travel for one hour, but after that, you have a good time to relax.
The second one was in Lamma in a beautiful seaside venue.
EB: Can you explain to us how people can sign up?
FM: We have a website (https://pitch-hk.com/) It's free to join. You just have to put your name, your email address, etc. We send every week news and updates about upcoming events. The goal of the membership is to get together.
CT: Where’s the name coming from?
FM: Pitch comes from a few ideas: Every time we go to a different pitch and also, Pitch is linked to the pitch of the turntables.
EB: Where do you think electronic music in Asia is heading? Do you think we still need to look at Europe, or is it time for Asia to forge its own path?
FM: We should never watch nor compete with Europe, ever. We should use Europe as an example, yeah, but never pretend to be like them. We want to reach the same stuff but Asian countries have to do their own thing. The Asian scene should look at what’s working in all countries in the world, and apply it.
As I said, everyone is going to collaborate together once the pandemic is over. What we're doing in Hong Kong is already good with how we are collaborating with different promoters and clubs, but in the future is going to be the whole of Asia working together. I was already building these relationships in the past collaborating with South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, etc. but this is going to be stronger and stronger in the future, for sure.
Here, we have a lot of amazing producers, we have a lot of amazing promoters in Asia who love music, which is the most important. What I can feel from other people is that we are impatient to come back to our normal lives, I would say.
EB: I think Covid has also brought people together from an online life perspective. Since we can’t travel yet, the only way to connect with other people is online, people are still doing livestreams quite actively.
FM: Too many Livestreams I would say. To me, the only company that has been affected is Boiler Room, as it has always be linked to Livestreams. In the beginning, we can see 100 daily livestreams. How can any of these differentiate from each other?
Livestream is a thing on its own and some people consume it but to me, is not one of the best things that the pandemic has brought. Everyone has an iPhone, everyone can GET a small timetable so everyone can be a DJ from his bedroom. So...
EB: I mean on the opposite side, I think that it has given an opportunity to emerging talents to be seen, to be showcased, and get known by labels, promoters, clubs, etc.
FM: I agree with but there are too many livestreams. Is just too many. In the beginning, when United we Stream arrived I felt it wasn’t bad uniting us again on a bigger platform pushing the local scene in different countries but in the end too many livestreams every day.
EB: I mean, I used to watch livestreams back in the day on BE-AT.TV or BR while doing pre-warm-up drinks before going clubbing, haha. Maybe this is the future of livestreams, who knows.
FM: BE-AT.TV It's like BR. they are massive, they are powerful. They already reached a lot of people. So they don’t face difficulties compared to a single person doing a livestream on Facebook.
EB: What's your opinion about the Hong Kong scene?
FM: The HK music scene is good. More and more producers and more organisers are coming up. Hopefully, people are going to do legal parties again. It's important for the scene. it's growing. But as I said, we need support from the government. Hong kong is a finance city that is not a city that focuses on promoting art & culture. They might change in the future, but it will take time. That may be one of the main problems of Hong Kong for the scene.
On the other hand, you have a lot of people who want to push the scene, who want to organise events, we have a lot of DJs, promoters. We still have good clubs, Oma is still a great club for that many years, Social Room is pushing the scene by welcoming a lot of new promoters, Mihn Club is pushing really strongly the scene and waiting to welcome regional and international artists.
The problem we are all sharing in Hong Kong is the lack of space and the cost of the rent. As a promoter is expensive and as an owner of a venue is difficult. This is a tricky part of Hong Kong and it doesn’t seem to be going to change, especially if you want to do things legally.
The point is to do things legally. You need the proper licenses, insurance, bouncers, etc. which is why we all need to understand this part, is for the scene. We cannot compete with promoters who don’t follow the rules, this is why the difference in the price of the tickets, the repercussion of the cost of each event.
I think Hong Kong is well represented in Asia with all the actors who are pushing the scene in here. The future of HK is how we can collaborate with other countries in Asia, push more HK artists to other countries, bring other artists from Asia to HK. We should all act together in Asia to push the scene as much as we can.
EB: I think people should push for a more qualitative type of events in Asia. I believe that people here should fight more towards the music and a certain quality instead of other things. There are great promoters and clubs already doing this and is great to see.
FM: Yeah, but this once again, it is all about education. This is how we feel or how we want to see events, as we say in the Hong Kong market or even different markets in Asia. Some people don’t fully get what kind of style of music is electronic music because there are so many genres.
The majority of the people, I would say on Fridays or Saturdays they go to have a drink, and if they find a good place where they can have the possibility to dance, they will do it. They are not against dancing or listening to music, but they still need to understand the promoters, type of events, prices, etc. It's all about education or understanding of the people. So it takes time, step by step. I’m happy for the market and to be part of it.
EB: Could you name a local talent that should deserve more attention?
FM: There are so many in Asia... I would say Saint Guel from the Philippines, he’s growing quite a lot, but there are so many, I cannot say just one. In Hong Kong Mr. Ho is the best, Xiaolin is doing a lot of good productions, I’m even listening to more pop-funk from the group R.I.D.D.E.M, I like them.
South Korea has so many, Mogwaa, Closet Yi released on Silk Road Sounds from Yeti Out, Naone who’s going to release a track on Dekmantel complication; Singapore has HALAL SOL; in India, I can’t even say one, they have hundreds of amazing artists: Rafiki, Zokhuma... Rudoh in Pakistan; Temple Rat in China…Munir, BTVC in Indonesia…Every country in Asia has some amazing talents.
In the end, these are producers, you can check on our trimestral complications and I would love to see them exploring the world. There are so many... I could continue for hours and hours to mention great artists from Asia.
Keep up with Florian's creations on Electric Soul, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and Instagram.