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In conversation with AMBU BAMBU

“Experiment, go out of your comfort zone, try new things, make mistakes”

AMBU BAMBU: a DJ who dives into the off-beat realm of broken rhythms and percussive experimentalism. Taking the decks at our ADE weekend livestream (and killing it), Bambu brings us a unique blend, fusing together fast break-beat styles and synth-absorbed electro while incorporating the musical elements of her Chinese upbringing.  After moving to Groningen, Bambu immersed herself in the local electronic music scene and eventually started to mix her own tracks, sharing her sound through online radio stations and club night appearances. Recently playing at Radio Flouka in Paris and Sisyphos in Berlin, we knew we too had to discover what lies behind her sound and learn more about the industry through her eyes. 

Hey Amber, nice to meet you! So, I’m going to go straight into the questions. How would you describe your DJ style?
Breaky, percussive, and bass-heavy. Whether I’m playing a more-calm opening set or a full-on high-energy closing, these elements always find their way into the tracks I select. For the club I tend to lean more into straight-forward and recognisable sounds but for radio sets I often feel more comfortable experimenting, for example with ambient and heavily-textured stuff.

Nice! Which other DJ’s or music artists inspire you the most?
Ciel, Nikki Nair, Howie Lee, LCY, Kimmah and Coco Coquelicot.

Good choices. If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
More diversity, and not only on the line-ups. Although I’m happy to see that line-ups are becoming more and more diverse, it feels like a pretty one-dimensional
approach to inclusion. I feel like for a more sustainable and thorough approach, there should also be a lot more diversity within organizations. Perhaps more
importantly, something that’s often not taken into consideration is increased safety measures for artists and staff; femme, queer, and BIPOC people have a considerably higher chance of getting harrassed. If you are creating diverse line-ups and organizations, you should also commit to keeping those people safe!

Yes definitely, I agree. What’s your main source of inspiration?
A big source of inspiration for me is my Chinese heritage. I often try to incorporate Chinese and Asian sounding elements (drums, melodies, vocals) into my sets and productions. The electronic music scene in China is quite a young one, but the music that is created and released there is so uniquely daring and almost rebellious.

Besides DJing, what do you do in your daily life?
I’m an information science student, currently writing my master thesis so that’s what I spend most of my time on. Besides that, I’m also one of the programmers for Relate Radio.

Oh wow, so you must be very busy! What is your biggest accomplishment thus far?
This year is my first time being at ADE so I would definitely count this as a huge milestone! I also recently played in Berlin for the first time, at Sisyphos.

Congrats! What’s your favourite song at the moment?
Left my feelings- Elsa (Pressure Dome)

What advice would you would give young DJs trying to break into the industry?
Try to show your face often at events, but reserve some energy for meaningful
connections with people whose music or vision align with yours. It’s a fast-paced industry that can often feel quite lonely, so it helps if you have a few people around that know what it’s like, so you can talk and hang out with them!

Also, believe in yourself, especially for femmes! I feel like imposter syndrome often hits us harder, but it’s good to be aware that the things this little voice says are not the truth!

Experiment, go out of your comfort zone, try new things, make mistakes. I think it’s good advice for life in general but also for music: you might try something new that you really end up liking and it helps develop your sound.

This is really powerful advice! Thank you so much for talking with me. 

Words by Dexter Burningham

Listen to Ambu Bambu below!