Celeste Siam is no stranger to the international dance music scene, although from Thailand, as a DJ and artist she made an early impact on the European scene, spending her summers in Ibiza playing at many of the iconic parties alongside established international stars. It was an apprenticeship that gave her an early indication of the importance in immersing yourself in the scene to get the very best out of it.
We caught up with Celeste not long after her appearance at IMS Asia pacific in Shanghai, where she featured in a panel and starred at the after party, as she gets set to head back to Europe and to ADE in Amsterdam, where she will appear on two panels. With a new single – ‘System Override’ released this week on Jango Music, a collaboration with Alex Seda – and several other productions and collaborations in the pipeline, not to mention a brand new party concept, ‘Life’s A Pitch’, launching in Asia, it’s a busy time for the talented DJ Producer…
You’ve added production to your portfolio in recent years, how important is it as a DJ nowadays to be making your own music?
Competition is high, every day there is new young DJs all over the planet. The only way to stand aside and make a difference is by crafting your own sound. Recently I’ve been experimenting with more software (plug-ins), getting together with other producers, sharing information and tips to understand more on technicalities that i need to create my signature sound. Once you reach an established level, you need to push harder, it’s like a dream i have where some day i will perform my own song and the crowds is singing along. That would be a very precious moment and I’m working for it! In our business, like with any product that is newly launched, after a while you need to take time to improve, develop it and renovate it, or you simply lose the momentum.
How would you describe your process when approaching a tune, do you have an idea going in, or do you get inspired during the production and see where the track leads you?
Is like exercise, I get motivation in different ways, depends on the day, situation, people I’m with etc… I just need to stick to it everyday, practice, repetition and work with it all the time, that’s all! My creativity sometimes comes when I’m watching a movie at the theatre, or walking outside the streets, you never know when suddenly an idea pops up, then instantly, i try to plan more or less in my head before I go to my studio and start to write that melody or idea, then follow with bassline, kicks, snares… etc but when I’m not on my way to my computer, i just use a mobile app to record the basic idea on my phone. Other times, I’m just playing around with my plug-ins or synthesisers. As soon as I find some sound that I like, it’s time to add more elements into it, other instruments, change rhythms and play around until i am satisfy.
You were a recent speaker at IMS Asia Pacific Shanghai and are due to talk at the upcoming ADE in Amsterdam, how proud are you to be representing Asia at these world renowned conferences?
Very proud to voice my insights on common industry subjects and issues. I think it’s key to share our point of view with people from another countries or territories, you never know that what seems obvious for you, isn’t for your neighbour due many reasons that we may or may not comprehend. So, the main thing for me coming to IMS or ADE is about communication, about sharing my point of view, digesting other’s outlooks and absorbing as much knowledge as i can. I am very thirsty for new skills and learning! If I want to grow, personally and professionally, I realised that the best way to learn more is by been active and question everything. It’s gonna be my first ADE, i am so excited to speak at two panels. I am delighted to share my Asian Music scene knowledge and exchange points of view with other artists, speakers and industry professionals from all over the world. I can’t wait!
You played at the official IMS after party in Shanghai, what is the Chinese audience compare to those you have played to around the world?
Many years ago, when I first went to experience parties and festivals in China, it was completely unpredictable, the BPM was at 135, i could see DJs having a hard time pleasing the crowd, basically if you don’t play safe, you couldn’t experiment and that, at least for me, is not fun if the same records are playing again and again, there was no room for surprise. I went back to IMS in Shanghai from their first edition last year, and I experienced a big change, with the younger Chinese crowd being more open minded and looking for new stuff. I felt very comfortable playing at Lola’s, everyone responded amazingly, I was able to start playing at 122 BPM, raise it a bit with Arab and Tribal/ Latin deep house, then shake it up with vocals and tech house, everyone love it, i fell in love playing there. I feel that clubbers in China have an appetite for foreign DJs and any music that comes from abroad. Due to the great fire wall, it is hard to get our music or mixes there, but that makes it even more interesting for them, as they want to explore more and more when new DJs are playing in the city. I can’t really compare with other cities, everywhere is different due the “geopolitics of the party” and that’s what i love, to be honest, it’s nice to never know what track they are going to love or simply walk away, it’s challenging and exciting!
Which panel are you on at ADE?
October 20 at 14:00 ‘Heath vs Hedonism’ by She Said So (more info https://www.facebook.com/events/1481778591838402/)
October 2016 20 at 17:00 ‘What Do Artist Do All Day’ alongside Dave Clarke, Eats Everything, Nitin, Benny Rodrigues, and Cevin Fisher. More info (https://m.amsterdam-dance-event.nl/program/2016/what-do-artists-do-all-day/5085213/)
Some DJs are too comfortable in the booth and tend to never venture outside of it professionally, how important is it to be involved in these ongoing discussions to ensure the longevity of the scene?
For me new knowledge is one of my pillars, it’s very important as I want to be in the scene as long as I can. I am a passionate and very active person, and on top of that, I have a manager who keeps pushing me to always go the extra mile and deliver better work to the audiences. Whoever is in this business that is not learning and absorbing as much knowledge as they can, relevant with the electronic music industry, the I don’t know what they are doing. To understand where we go, we need to recognise our common issues, how to address them, what is hot now, how other people – artist, promoters or brands – feel about their home countries because, if you wish to penetrate those markets, learning is KEY!
There are several global dance music gatherings, what is it about each of these conferences that impresses you?
My first conference was JADE in Jakarta. I had the chance to speak on the same panel as Todd Terry and Xpress2. It was around 2009 and that opened my eyes in ways that I never knew, due the short time I had been involved in the business. Since then, I’m trying to go to as many industry gatherings that I can. What i like about IMS in Ibiza is the amount of knowledge is shared, the updates on music tools, the networking between artist, producers, promoters and management and what you learn about brands, new media and PR strategies and above all, to make new friends and enjoy in one of my favourite destinations of the world, Ibiza, where I had my first International gig and which was a breaking point in my career. The same applies to IMS in Asia (Singapore and Shanghai) where all the above got a new meaning in my home continent. The answers to the same questions you ask in Europe, vary significantly due the different cultures involved, which many of them are still taking baby steps when it comes to developing their dance culture, the food, the history and again the friendships.
ADE: I’ll find out very soon, as this is my first time going to this conference. I already have several meetings arranged for every day, lunch appointments, parties to check out and friends to hang with.
International Music conferences lift me up to a new, better level of understanding of the business i love!
You have a new single, ‘System Override’ released this week on Jango Music, a collaboration with Alex Seda, how did that collaboration come about and what has early reaction been?
Myself and Alex might come from different places – he is Cuban but lives in Miami and I’m from Thailand – but we both share a passion for music and love for Ibiza. We have the same desire for house music, and as we both have been working as resident DJs in Ibiza for many years, we share many stories and feelings. I believe we were destined to meet each other and put our heads together in the studio. It’s always nice to have a partner in crime who likes or dislikes (and vice versa) what we both write. We have been talking to each other for a while, as soon as we both felt connected, studio work started and ‘System Override’ is the first of more tunes that are in the making. The reactions have been nice so far, everyone who listened to our first track is happy and very supportive. Many of my fans have been waiting for my production for long time and i feel that i didn’t disappoint them. Now it’s time to push harder!
What else should we be looking for from you?
This year ahead i have few projects on the pipeline; after the release of ‘System Override’, I am finishing more tracks in collaboration with Alex Seda and also my own productions. I plan to release more than 12 tracks in 2017, some of them with another Thai singer, and others we are currently dealing with other producers to create new groovy sounds. Aside from music production, I have created my second party concept ‘Life’s A Pitch’, which we are planning to take on an Asian and Thai tour during 2017. Life’s A Pitch is only quality house music from the record boxes of local and international DJs. My partners and I in Thailand, are doing the first Educational Music Conference in Bangkok early next year. Big plans and support for key conferences around the world as well as labels, management and other creative minded people. I’m very excited about our Alliance, which we present at ADE this year as well.
Asia has always had big, commercial venues but there seems to be a strong underground scene developing, with great producers and DJs doing their own thing throughout the region, is that a fair comment and which DJs/parties have caught your attention?
In terms of more underground sound (which I believe would be mainstream soon), there are few clubs, DJs and collectives that we must watch. Beam Club in Bangkok has one of the best vibes in Thailand, line ups start to experiment more and I see the will of the clubbers to let themselves go to the new sounds. Lola Club in Shanghai, what to say, I played there the first time as after party for IMS Asia Pacific and i simply loved it. From my first track to my last tune, the energy was bananas. It’s been a long time for me in Asia that I could play all what I wanted and the crowd reacted superbly. Blanchy’s Tash in Ho Chi Minh city, the owner is a charismatic music lover, I’ve played few times there, only house music and we promoted a few shows with the likes of Pete Tong, Roger Sanchez, Wally Lopez, Andy Baxter, Bob Sinclar and others for a venue of 250 pax – it has an amazing, back-to-our-roots vibe. d’ART (Art Rebels Party and Festival) in China; it is at the forefront of electronic music and culture in that massive country. As far as artists go, Machina is very talented DJ and producer from Bangkok, he’s known in Thailand for his EDM and trap productions, but the sound that catches my hear is his nu-disco, he has magic in the tips of his fingers!