Over the past four days, Toronto has been ground zero for party rocking DJs at the Red Bull Thre3Style world finals. There were burlesque shows, puppetry, vaudeville and robotics — and that was just during Kid Koala’s set on day one. Koala, one of the first people credited for using the turntable as an instrument, wore an oversized rabbit outfit and played on three turntables without headphones. He also tossed his vinyl records out into the notorious hard-to-please Canadian crowd when he was finished with them to the delight of those in attendance.
What does this mecca of turntablism have to do with Taiwan? If you have been following what has been going on in the club scene here, then you would know that DJ Ray Ray (Chao Hsin-lei, 趙心蕾) won the Taiwan Red BullThre3style competition in June. Ray Ray was not only the first finalist from Taiwan, but she also made history by being the first female finalist ever. She got to battle against 21 other DJs representing their countries.
On Tuesday night, the first of five nights of battling, the lineup was Azerbaijan versus Taiwan versus Argentina versus Chile. Ray Ray executed her set properly and represented Taiwan to the fullest, but in the end, DJ Byte from Chile won the crowd and the night and moved on to the finals, which will be held tomorrow night.
Don’t shed a tear for Ray Ray, though, as she had one of the best experiences of her life and was known as the Queen of the Thre3style in Toronto. Also, instead of having to worry about her set all week long, she got to hang out with and learn from a who’s who of A-list DJs including Jazzy Jeff, Skratch Bastid, Maseo, A-Trak, Four Color Zack and Cosmo Baker.
Another person who is doing innovative things in Taiwan is producer Ten (梯依恩), head of How We Roll Music. Ten (aka Chung Tzu-yang, 鍾子揚), makes music for some of the hottest young acts in the Taiwan music industry like MJ116 (頑童), Mean Machine (狠角色), Down South Boyz (壞南孩) and ASH. He had an idea some time ago to combine classical music, jazz and hip-hop, and the result is tomorrow’s Swing Your Neck Classic Brass performance at Legacy. The show will include a full band, a big brass section and even some of Taiwan’s best b-boys doing their thing. The future goals of Swing Your Neck are to do a brass performance, a string performance, a choir performance and finally a hip-hop party with a full orchestra. They are lofty ambitions, but that’s how Ten rolls.
■ Swing Your Neck Classic Brass is tomorrow from 7pm to 11pm at Legacy Taipei (傳音樂展演空間), located at Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914), Center Five Hall (中五館), 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號). Presale tickets are NT$700, available at www.indievox.com. Admission is NT$1,000 at the door.