FUSION FOOD HAS SWEPT the world and now fusion music may follow in its wake. With the appetite for East-meets-West concoctions showing no sign of abating, JJ's resident DJ Anthony Pidcock recently teamed up with talented local musician Emmanuel Hart and two classically trained instrumentalists to combine classical Chinese strings with modern electronic beats. The aim: an Asian chill-out evening of hypnotic and haunting tunes played live every Wednesday at Stage Two at the Grand Hyatt's nightclub. Hart, who plays bass, recruited erhu player Peggy Li Pei-jun and her friend Fee Ling, who plays the zheng, often called 'a Chinese harp' with 21 strings, and the pipa - a four-stringed pear-shaped instrument that resembles the European lute. The group began scoring their own music to blend with top records sourced and spun by Australian Pidcock, aka DJ Antman, on the decks. 'We're cooking up new music,' says Hart. But the process was not as simple as it sounds. There were several hurdles to overcome. Firstly, Chinese music has five tones not seven as in the Western scale. 'There are not too many flats and sharps in Chinese music,' says Longman. It meant a lot of restrictions on the choice of records the classical players could accompany. Secondly, the erhu is different from Western instruments because it has four strings. 'The guitar or piano can play any key, but this instrument is really limited,' says Li. Finally, there were differences in performance style as Li and Fee are both classically trained orchestra musicians. 'It's a learning process, but every day they're getting a bit more free in their expression,' says Pidcock. 'At the moment it's pre-rehearsed and pre-programmed. In an orchestra the musicians are reading music and being conducted. They're used to that environment. But I'm hoping in the next period were going to have a more ad-lib feel. A bit more like jazz where they can play over the top of anything.' Hong Kong-born Hart, known as 'Longman' (presumably because he is tall, lithe and with incredibly long, slender fingers), is a professional musician who plays Latin, jazz, chamber music and steel drums. Always immaculately dressed in chinoiserie, he and the cheongsam-wearing women give the group a graceful elegance. Hart says Li was a natural. 'The day she heard a CD she began playing by ear,' he says. The erhu player from Harbin, China, came to Hong Kong 10 years ago after marriage and joined the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra in 1995. JJ's project 'was very difficult at first,' says Li, who only ever listened to classical music before. 'But it gave me a chance to be involved in something different. It's fresh and a challenge.' Fee, a music teacher, hails from a Chinese opera background in Fukien, but at 13 switched to being a musician. 'The zheng sounds very natural and fluent, like water,' she says. 'It's very traditional, more than 2,000 years old.' The pipa 'is very dramatic and loud. It's used on soundtracks to kung fu sets.' The idea came from JJ's manager Thomas Connolly after renovations left the club with a lounge atmosphere - so the decision was taken to diversify from the previous full-on Latin theme. Connolly says the experiment will be further developed, perhaps with the introduction of a bamboo flute to add another dimension and help overcome the limitations of existing instruments. Pidcock, who has held residencies in Beijing, Sydney as well as running his own clubs and music business, specialises in jazz funk and house, so he needed to do some fast research into lounge and chill-out vibes. 'It was a massive education,' he says. 'What we're doing is not new, but it's something which hasn't been challenged on the scale we're challenging it at. 'This music has enormous potential,' he says, adding that some guests have begun to ask for recordings. 'We're doing it on a sophisticated level and hopefully we can take it one step further.'