They say that necessity is the mother of invention. And in this case, that adage is most definitely accurate. When Shanghai-born, Singapore-based DJ and producer Eden wanted to honour the legacy of one of the world’s wonders, the Great Wall of China, in music, he set to work on his label, inspiredly christened Great Wall of Sound. Built on a multi-genre foundation that embraces schools of thought as storied as UK bass, wonky, garage, dubstep, hip-hop and jazz. Today, he unveils a single by one of his artists Brock UK and takes us through his own journey.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Eden. I’m 31 years old and I don’t have a moniker because I wanted to represent myself and I think my name is enough to do that. I started loving hip-hop since I was young, when I used to play basketball. My coach is a Christian and she gave me the name Eden, from the Garden of Eden because my Chinese name was too hard to pronounce. The direct translation of my Chinese name to English is actually, garden and so, I loved the name and took it on ever since I was 15 years-old. Fast forward to a few years later, I was studying film production in LA SALLE and I wanted to make some money, so I started taking photographs for JUICE Magazine. My first gig for JUICE was for one of the JUICE Anniversary Party, which was a decade ago.
Yes, it’s known that you have a history with JUICE.
I started taking photographs when I was about 18 and was a huge fan the magazine. Wayne was my idol and till today, we keep in touch because I’m so grateful for all the opportunities he gave me. I took photographs of my favourite gigs at Zouk, which got me interested in music by observing how the DJs play. I wanted to give it a try myself after seeing A-Trak at Ready Set Glow. One of my friends offered to let me play around with his records and the first one was Show Me Love by Robin Schulz, which was a big track then. I started from there and then my friends and I, including DJ Kurt, started doing this series called, “You say Party! We say Rave.”
“The wall is not a barrier, it’s the foundation of the integrity and belief of the producers that continue to do what they choose to, instead of following trends.”
What sort of sound were you playing back then?
I started with house music but for the nights in-house at Dempsey, it was new disc but, we had an eclectic sound through a mix of funk, soul, hip-hop and new disco. I got exposed to more genres and gained exposure to more DJs such as Dean Chew from Darker Than Wax, who thought me a lot and introduced me to Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jurassic 5 and record labels that were big in UK. I also had a good friend, MC SWTLKR (aka Vijay Singh) who was working at MTV back then. He introduced me to BBC Radio 1 and asked me to check out Benji B. So basically, Benji B exposed me to London music.
His shows were on Wednesdays nights at 3am. I would sleep and wake up at 3am just to listen to his BBC Radio 1’s shows. The first track that really got me pay attention to dubstep was Jay 5ive & Kromestar’s “Wishful Thinking”. I was moved by the synths, warm bass layered with the melody was touching and the BPM at 90, it was honestly, one of a kind.
I told myself that I had to go to London after listening to all this music. I tried my luck and applied to London’s College of Fashion without my parents knowledge. I went for the interview with my portfolio, got my slot, went home and passed the acceptance letter to my parents. The first day I landed at London, I went to one of the anniversary nights at Deviations and I saw Benji B.
Tell us more about your record label, Great Wall of Sound.
Within the first month, I got booked to play with Joey Negro, which was amazing. I got to play along Norman Jay, Joker, Caspa, Giles Peterson and more. I played in a North London club called Silver Bullet and was also doing a weekly radio show in China called ‘UDance’. I decided to bring UDance’s brand to London and actually, Pulse radio ran an article of me putting UDance brand in London and running a night called, “Great Wall of Sound”. So, I leveraged on the radio’s brand.
The title is based on Great Wall Of China which was built upon different eras and influences throughout history and became the Great Wall Of China it is today. I was born in China and raised in Singapore, so I wanted to pay homage to my heritage. I believe the spirit and battles the wall has faced will give me the motivation, strength and energy to continue to do what I want to achieve. Although the trends keep changing, if you believe in the sound and continue to push it, people will pay attention to you. The wall is not a barrier, it’s the foundation of the integrity and belief of the producers that continue to do what they choose to instead of following trends.
What’s coming up for the label?
The title of our forthcoming EP is Clueless. Clueless himself has been the forefront of garage since the beginning but he is from Oslo. He has been producing for the past 20 years, although he is unreleased, his sound has been supported by some of the biggest two-step garage and dubstep DJs. The amazing thing is, he is very low-key but recognised. When I discovered him, Great Wall Of Sound was releasing free music to the world but I wanted to pay the artist, so I decided to run it as a proper label by buying the rights and getting it distributed to pay the artists fairly. The EPs are on major distribution channels now. I am very excited by the response for his first EP on the label, Boom.