Canadian DJ Rocks Seoul
By Sarah Ferguson
Canadian DJ Colin “Big League” Chu plays music at Apkujong’s Garden in mid-March. Chu expects to return to Korea in August for an encore presentation. For free downloads and audio streaming, go to www.bigleaguechu.com. /Photo by Ben Voborsky
``I've been happy with everything. Taking it in has been overwhelming at times,’’ said Colin Chu of his first-time visit to Seoul. Colin, the DJ commonly known as Big League Chu, was trounced by jet lag, and carried ground-level expectations for his Korean gig. After all, with a healthy dose of apprehension in tow, events usually turned out better than would-be assumptions.
``Everyone tried to feed me soju the days leading up (to my performance) and I was like `no no, I just want this gig to go well.'... It turned out alright.''
Seemingly, Chu voiced `big-league' humility; he has been one of the only deejays to play Seoul to have been requested to play an encore performance. His DJ set packed in more party-happy club goers to Apkujong's Garden than have been seen there, since they opened. Garden is planning to schedule an encore show sometime in late August_ or sooner if he is booked elsewhere in Asia, sharing the flight costs with the other venue.
``By the end of the night we were really just so happy with the way things went, how the crowd was, the turnout; we were just ecstatic, and we cried a couple times. We made it happen, and it worked,'' Chu said.
The Toronto raised Chu, got his undergraduate degree in psychology and sociology, and his break as a DJ, in London, Ontario. He began playing the funky brand of electronica known as ``breaks'' at raves and clubs in Toronto in the late 90s. ``Break-beats'' are any music where the beat doesn't land solely on the 4/4.
``Everything that's not on that steady beat is pretty much a `breakbeat'. I would say the actual genre started with James Brown. Then there's all the hip hop artists that `breaks' draw influence on for hooks and vocals... then there's the b-boys (break-dancers) that brought the actual dance part to it and all the funkiness: It draws on everything.''
In the 1970s, `breaks' started in hip hop with DJs like Kool Herc who looped (repeated) the singular part of a funk or jazz song when the song's beat breaks to make room for the rhythm section. Break-dancing was and is an integral part of hip-hop.
Kool Herc said the name `breaking' (as in break-dancing) originated in the slang term `break', meaning someone going off or crazy, like break-dancers do when they're on the right beat. Chu said: ``I still get off when I see some dancer at a buildup (of the music). When that thing hits they're going to go mental, they're going to `break.' Breakbeats always had this cool kind of edge to the street culture; I think it's still here.''
Electronic music is in its early stages in Korea. Dance clubs in Hongdae, Itaewon and recently, Apkujong, furnish the main exposure for digitally inspired music. While you can hear a generous dose of loud, euro-dance blasting from street side businesses, generally the more fine-tuned electronica need be sought out to be found.
``Electronic music is the wave of the future,'' said Chu. ``In Europe it's everywhere; it's all over there. It didn't catch the last wave (in North America), to reach the mainstream. I'm sure when hip hop first started it didn't explode right away, but there were those people that still listened to it and now hip hop culture is everywhere. I think (electronic music) is probably in its second chapter of many to be written in North America, and in Korea it's in its early stages too. It's only a matter of time before electronic music grows here. It's going to be huge.'' He added: ``The people aren't jaded here too which is refreshing.''