Co-founder of the all-girl DJ/event collective, ATTAGIRL!, Serene Ong a.k.a. DuriO is a force to be reckoned with in the regional electronic music scene. From a low profile kid curious about what buttons on a console to press, to hosting and playing at some of the biggest underground parties in the region, DuriO shares with us how it all started, how the quirky names came about and what's in the pipeline.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started DJ-ing?
I moved to Johor Bahru from Alor Setar when I was 15, and quite a contrast from my sometimes chirpy personality, I was the new kid on the block with a very low-profile. It wasn’t until around the age of 18 that I started mingling with the “cool kids” of JB through mutual friends at local house parties and gigs.
I met DJ Melvin at a traffic light themed party once and the whole idea of operating a CDJ, piqued my interest. At the time, he was giving crash courses on DJ-ing and I decided to go for it, it seemed fun to learn. That's kind of how it started. I am currently based in Singapore mostly where I’m involved in the music scene.
How did the name “DuriO” come about?
Melvin was spinning a track by the Chemical Brothers called “Do It Again” and when the gang sang the words “do it again”, I was asking my friends from KBnL if it sounded so much like “durian” and I thought it was hilarious! They started calling me “DJ Durian” ever since. Also, I really love durian!
Describe your sound.
Very UK-influenced as of now. Most of the artists I listen to are from under the UK Bass umbrella of UK Garage, Grime, Drum and Bass, Jungle, I would say my main influences are of those sounds.
What is your go-to software?
I personally use Rekordbox just because it makes DJ-ing hassle-free and a little easier when organising and managing tracks. Plus, it’s also a fail-safe back up to manage my music on a thumb drive. I’ve previously used other softwares such as Traktor but I find Rekordbox a little more convenient for me. I personally prefer not to read waveforms when I mix, so I can train my ears in real time.
And how did ATTAGIRL! come about?
Amanda (A/K/A Sounds) and I met at the FFF Girl DJ Bootcamp in Singapore about 4 years ago and the conversation sparked over a couple of drinks after bootcamp! The idea of just creating an all-girl collective sounded really different and cool. There wasn’t much female-centric movement in the non-mainstream scene, so we figured we could start something of our own and we got Syaheedah (Jaydah) who was part of Singapore label called Phyla to join us. And in a blink of an eye, it’s now coming to 4 years!
And this year we have expanded the crew to 7 girls now with us; the 3 founders and 2 new DJs- Fatim, who’s based in KL, Wern (Kinnie) and 2 VJs- Amanda Tan (Empyreal) and Hayley (Collectivenonsense). We’re very thankful for all the support we've gotten over the past few year and hopefully we can keep ATTAGIRL! going for as long as we can.
Most memorable party?
I guess the most unexpected one was our 2nd Anniversary Party. We had about 500 attendees throughout the night! We were throwing around a lot of ideas about what we wanted to do to commemorate the special occasion. Since we were a non-profit collective, each of us pumped in some money to make our own merchandise, silk-screened our own shirts and worked with illustrators to revamp old skateboards – all proceeds went to charity. Everything was done out of pure passion. My recent tour to India with Amanda was memorable too, the vibe was amazing! But that's another story altogether...
Is there a pre-show ritual that you have?
Beer. Just give me beer before any show, and I’ll be good.
What kind of audience / venue you love spinning at most?
I prefer small and intimate crowds. Well, I haven’t played at a 5000pax capacity venue yet but I think the number of people in the audience isn’t a priority just yet. It’s always best to have an audience that’s vibing even if it’s just that one person in a crowd that doesn’t respond to your set.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I'm actually not very versatile in this sense. There's always got to be an electronic element to the music that I listen to, I just need them beats man! Even during my downtime, I tend to go for mellow electronic music. Fun fact, when I first started out, I listened to a lot of indie bands like Empire of the Sun, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Daft Punk. But after that I slowly ventured out and kind of found my way. Pretty interesting journey I would say.
You’ve played sets in both Singapore and Malaysia. Are there any differences between the JB crowd and the Singaporean crowd?
I believe that music is a form of habit, it takes time for people to adapt to a different genre of music, have a willingness to step out of their comfort zones and keep an open mind. I think the JB crowd is very loyal to the type of music they love. But, they are absolutely supportive of fellow artistes and creatives and this is something which I find very cool.
What are your forthcoming projects?
Well, ATTAGIRL! has always been female-centric and genre-less, eventhough we’re kind of being categorised as a Bass music collective due to our personal styles. I have been wanting to do more outside of ATTAGIRL!, so I teamed up with Amanda and we recently launched our new project called BAOWBAOW.
We incorporated the Chinese character “宝” into our logo which can be translated as “babies”, because we are essentially children at heart; and also “treasure” because we like to shop on Taobao (which is like the Chinese version of Amazon).
We created BAOWBAOW with the intention of supporting the Bass music scene here as we wanted to maintain the consistency and do something for the bass-loving community here regardless of gender.
I’ve been asked this a couple of times already recently *laughs* so YES, we will still be running ATTAGIRL! at the same time cause we believe that It’s always good to keep ourselves busy. Plus, we’re hosting ATTAGIRL’s 4th Anniversary Party at BluJaz Café in Singapore on the 22nd of July! This year, we have curated a huge lineup (as always) with over 30 artists, DJs, musicians and VJs on board for this edition. Do not miss it!
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