With all the hullabaloo about the closing of Underworld this past Sunday, many people forget that there was another bar just down the street that closed its doors a long time ago that was also very influential: Spin. Shanghai-based DJ Siesta (also known as Jane Siesta), who will be playing this Saturday night at Revolver, cites the basement club, which used to be located on Heping East Road (和平東路) as the place that got her into music.
Siesta moved from Taipei to Hong Kong in the late-1990s but missed the scene at Spin terribly when she was gone. “I didn’t grow up listening to electronic music or around nightclubs or raves, but I was a total Spin kid,” she said in an email interview with the Taipei Times. “Living in Hong Kong was very tough because I didn’t have a group of friends or a place like Spin for me to search for my ‘tribemates.’ One year I went back to Taipei for holiday and DJ Mykal (林哲儀) was playing the Aphrodite tune Woman That Rolls and my old friends were already loving this new style of music that I hadn’t heard before. They told me it was called drum and bass and the rest is history.”
Siesta began her career behind the decks when she started throwing drum and bass parties in Hong Kong in 2004 at smaller clubs. “After taking a three-day crash course at my friends house, I thought I’d give it a go,” Siesta said. “It was really to save money by not paying DJs to play the graveyard set before the punters had rolled up to the party.”
In 2007, Siesta got her first pair of turntables as a birthday present. The next year, she moved to Shanghai and wanted to elevate her deejaying. “I decided to take it seriously and really practice night and day to be a better DJ,” she said.
Siesta’s deejaying and promoting skills started to pay off when her series of parties known as PHREAKTON, planted the seeds of drum and bass in the ears of many young Chinese partygoers. She’s organized events in Shanghai with top-shelf drum and bass DJs such as Andy C, Roni Size, Goldie, Marky, LTJ Bukem and London Elektricity. When asked about her favorite all-time gig, Siesta said, “I can’t answer that because there were so many. The first timers are always the best. It was electrifying when Goldie played for me the first time.”
The most recent pinnacle in Siesta’s career happened in 2008 when she was selected to be the first DJ from China to attend the Red Bull Music Academy in Barcelona. There she made a track, Long Night, with drum and bass legends, DJ Zinc and MC Stamina.
The DJ business, as well as drum and bass, is dominated by males. Siesta believes that it’s an advantage to being a female drum and bass DJ. “Of course being girls we are given a leg up because there’s extra press and PR value,” she said. “I’m all for it. I believe it’s what you do with it that matters. I’m sure these girls work just as hard, if not harder than their male colleagues and in the end, the music will do the talking.”
Nowadays, Siesta is grooving to the 130-140 beats per minute of UK bassline music and even throws a monthly party in Hong Kong called Wonky Kong.
“It’s just so fun to experiment with different things and mash it up. It reminds me of falling in love with drum and bass in 1999,” she said.
Siesta will be paying extra luggage charges and lugging her vinyl all the way to Revolver for this special night. She said, “I’ll be playing an all vinyl throwback set, trying to fit in my favorite tunes from between 1999 and 2008. The music will be funky, heavy, accelerating, and it’s gotta be girl-friendly!”