The techno DJ and bar-queen of 24 Kitchen Street shares her inspirations, influences and why high energy music is so important to her.
Mix. Bass. Strobe. Mix. Bass-drop. Dance. The rhythm of mixing a techno set is intense. It’s hard hitting, high energy musical pummelling. Overwhelmingly addictive, techno as a genre is abrasive by its very nature. For NIKKI CHONG, these events are “impossible to ignore”.
Away from the music, however, Nikki seems grounded and gentle. Her energy is nevertheless relentless, with sparks snapping from her as she speaks. Somewhat of a night owl, there is a part of Nikki which comes alive in the darkness of a club. Beginning her work as a lighting engineer for a popular club back home in Australia, Nikki has been immersed in electronic music for years.
Since then Nikki has been playing out mixes as a DJ in her own right. With a show on Melodic Distraction Radio, Codes and Keys, and bookings with Club Bad, Humble Abode and The Wonder Pot, Nikki is a rising star in Liverpool’s techno scene.
“There’s nothing better than showing music you love and have people relate and love the music too,” she explains, “It’s also super rewarding when you play and vibe with a crowd who don’t know who you are, and then come up and say how much they enjoyed your set.”
Her music career so fair is studded with momentous sets, none less so than warming up alpine crown for an A-list actor. “I played at Snowbombing back in 2018, on top of an Austrian mountain, opening and closing for Idris Elba.” Nikki tells me recalling a career and altitudinal high.
Still exploring, learning and growing as an artist, Nikki is constantly taking inspiration from those around her. “While music is universal, I also think where you’re from will influence your decisions as well,” she tells me, “As I come from Australia, I follow a lot of Australian artists that the UK audience may not necessarily be familiar with.” It’s an approach that defines the left turns within her hurtling sets. Surprising audiences is what Nikki does best.
Her warm, humble demeanour during our interview differs from the cool, confident boss lady energy given off at her last performance at Meraki as part of Humble Abode back in August. Throughout her set Nikki commanded the decks, as if her music was an extension of herself. With members of the crowd standing, claiming it was “impolite to sit down during a set like this” Nikki reminded us why techno cannot be ignored.
Socially distanced events, live streams and online gigs are a challenge for all artists but perhaps present the most obstacles for techno DJs who rely so much on the energy of the crowd. “Usually when you DJ in front of a crowd, you can feel the vibe and can steer the set to go with the vibe,” she explains, “When you’re DJing for a live stream there’s nothing to follow. You also can’t replicate the feeling you get at a festival or club” Not all hope is lost, though. “I am still grateful I have a platform to play on,” she adds, “gigs are extremely rare right now.”
Nikki tells me that she has learnt “Gratitude… gratitude for friends, family and time” during lockdown and has taken it as a moment to, for once, take the foot off the gas and relax. Music is our biggest healer, especially during difficult times, Nikki agrees. “Music brings people together and creates a sense of community which I think is super important,” she shares, reminding me that just because techno maybe relentless, loud and chaotic, it is not without heart and purpose.
Be sure to keep an eye out for this intergalactic princess shelling out some tunes post lockdown. With hopes for headlining sets, Nikki has her eyes on her future, with more festivals, gigs and events for sure heading her way soon.
Nikki’s radio show, Codes and Keys,can be streamed via Melodic Distraction Radio.