- Zilka Grogan
A chat with Diskonnected
As a resident of the revered Taiwanese collective Smoke Machine, Diskonnected is both a tastemaker and selector of wide esteem. The driving force behind the collective’s podcast, the Taiwan-based artist’s selections have had a considerable impact on the scene for more than a decade. Below, we caught up with Diskonnected, real name Gregory Huang, to hear some more about his recent mix for Patterns of Perception and the projects that have kept him busy this past year.
Hey Gregory! How have things been going for you lately?
We had a COVID outbreak just the last couple of days and suddenly everything stopped. So now it's time to stay home and dig for more music on the internet.
Overall, what impact has COVID had on the electronic music scene in Taiwan? I understand that smaller events, including your own club nights, have been able to continue at a local level – has the pandemic impacted the scene in other ways?
Last year was something truly bizarre: we almost had no COVID and everything was running as usual for a year, including the clubs. The first impact was everyone needs to get involved playing at the club a lot more cause we didn't have enough DJs when international traveling is prohibited. A lot of new local DJs came along, which is a great thing.
You are the driving force behind the Smoke Machine Podcast, which is now more than a decade old with 143 podcasts in the series and counting. How have you gone about ensuring the series stays fresh in its sound and approach?
I would say stick to something that resonates with your feelings, keep looking for new artists/genres and be willing to take risks.
How would you say your own sound as a DJ has changed since you contributed the very first mix to the series? Is there any relationship between the evolution of the podcast and your own taste and style?
I started to listen to electronic music or to be more specifically “techno” around 2008. And I started to work with Smoke Machine in 2009, so basically the whole Smoke Machine history is my personal music journey. We kept sharing different ideas and concepts during each period.
What is it like to play a club night in Taiwan, compared to say Europe or elsewhere in East Asia?
Of course it depends on the party and different venues. The first thing I noticed was actually the length of a party in Europe, which is very, very long compared to the parties in Asia and this really changes the music people play and listen to at a club. In Taiwan, the party is much shorter so sometimes people require more obvious “excitement” during a DJ set. Also music culture wise, we don't have that many media or music enthusiasts discussing music on a daily basis which creates a barrier between DJs and crowd.
How have you struck a balance between all the different aspects of the Smoke Machine platform – podcast, club nights, Organik festival and more recently a record label – over the years? Have events, especially Organik, become more of a focus in recent years?
Little do people know I stopped getting involved with the “organising” part of Smoke Machine for years due to the conflict between my artist life and being a promoter. But I continued to give music directions since. We usually just went with the flow and kept our passion, without thinking too much.
Tell us a bit about your mix for Patterns of Perception: Where has this one come from?
It is a live recording of me playing a drum n bass set at (Taipei club) Pawnshop in April this year. It was actually my first time playing a dnb set at a club, experimenting with extremely pitched tracks and combining different music styles. It was loads of fun.
Looking ahead, what’s next for you and the Smoke Machine crew?
Me and Andy (from Smoke Machine) started a conversation podcast called “了然瑞迪歐/ Liau-Lian radio” this year trying to share and discuss music knowledge and DJ culture. The main reason behind this is Taiwan lacks information about electronic music and often has misunderstandings in music and parties. Even though we've been doing events in Taiwan for more than a decade, it still feels really new for people to understand the concept and the driving force behind all this. So we decided to speak up.