DJ has freedom to flourish in Beijing
Professionals share their experience of relocation
A disc jockey in the capital's hottest clubs by night and a department store music specialist in the day, Ken Chan Kin-hang has found a progressive environment where his creative instincts have the freedom to flourish, and a youth scene hungry to absorb any form of individual expression.
Mr Chan's job with Lane Crawford allows him to stay at the top of his field, importing the latest tunes from Europe and the United States, play them to customers on the shop floor, and place his top rated imports in the terminals where potential buyers can hear samples of what is on offer. After dark, he pushes his favoured genre of drum and bass on grateful crowds of clubbers in a selection of Beijing's most popular venues.
The 26-year-old made his DJ name with the Magnetic Soul contingent in Hong Kong while working as a clerk for a litigation firm straight out of high school. Last year, he was selected as Hong Kong's first representative for the prestigious annual Red Bull Music Academy. In 2005, he changed jobs to work for Lane Crawford and, when management recognised his talent for filtering audio gold from trash, he was offered a similar position in Beijing. With Syndicate, a group of likeminded producers, DJs and event promoters there, he is able to indulge his flair further. 'You can tell people who come to our events love the music and are not only there to meet friends and drink,' he said. 'They genuinely support us. Artists here, not just in music, come from many backgrounds and there is no pressure to conform to a career that family might impose on you. You can make things happen here as an artist mostly because costs are cheaper, but also because there are less old-fashioned expectations from the older generation of what you should be doing as a young person.'
At the Season's Place mall in the financial district of west Beijing, Mr Chan brings in the revenue for Lane Crawford by identifying which tunes might flick the switch of browsing customers. 'You can look at people and guess what they might be into. If I see a group of young people I'll put a certain CD on, maybe they will be interested. I like being able to share good music with others. It's satisfying if they buy something I have just played.'
Admittedly fortunate to be receiving a Hong Kong salary, Mr Chan said life in Beijing was good. 'Beijing allows me to fulfil my ambitions but I know I will return to Hong Kong some day.'