We’re spicing up the start of autumn with a very special Man of the Month interview… yep, we’ve got double trouble with our very first male duo! Our Men of the Month are Ed and Mike, the founders of Hong Kong’s leading DJ and production school, Sol Passion Music. We chat to these two cool dudes about how they started the business, the most memorable moments of their careers and of course, what their favourite spots in Hong Kong are. Read on to find out find out what some of their favourite tracks were over the summer, the recipe for a perfect night out in Hong Kong and their hopes for Sol Passion Music!
How did you end up in Hong Kong with Sol Passion Music and what got you both into DJ’ing?
Mike – My DJ’ing career kicked off around 12 years ago, over a couple of fantastic summers of epic parties which myself or friends of mine would throw in inner city Sydney (my home town). It was at one of these parties, a house party no less, where I first met Ed! We were both asked to DJ and our similar musical tastes and attitudes made for one hell of a great party that night. It also kicked off our chemistry in working together on a ton of professional events, a variety of musical projects and also becoming really great mates.
A few years laters, we had established ourselves in multiple clubs and bars across Sydney as well as working with a few brands exclusively for their events. We had one particular weekly event on Sunday’s which focused on creating a platform for young up & coming Producers/DJs to perform, but more importantly to come together to swap musical ideas, skills and inspiration as a community. This concept was to become the foundation for Sol Passion Music’s vision.
Ed – I began DJ’ing around 10 years ago back in Sydney too, as a result of the growing house party scene I was building around the inner west. I was collaborating with some of my best mates at the time, hosting regular house parties where the music was inevitably becoming a crucial part of the night. I can remember my first “DJ” set at one of these parties where I’d borrowed a 2 channel mixer and rigged up a laptop to one channel and a DVD player to the other. Beatmatching was next to impossible, but at least I could carefully select the next track and do some sort of bastardised mix. Mike and I first met 7 or 8 years ago, and we fed off each others passion for music. It was only natural that we combined forces and began growing something together.
Do you have a daily routine? What do you do on a day-to-day basis in your job?
Mike – Espresso! My morning ritual is to have an espresso and a light breakfast before getting stuck into my day. My favourite place to go is this brilliant little local café called Mansons Lot in Wan Chai. The guys there really take care of me and that 15 minutes at the start of the day to prepare for the rest of it is priceless! The rest of the day (any day) is just too hard to put into one box!
Ed – Routine is something I’ve lost from my Sydney days. I can’t say I’ve fully adjusted to the Hong Kong lifestyle yet, even though it’s been three years. As a first time entrepreneur, I’ve learned that taking a pay cheque from day one and doing your 9-5 in a start-up is not the key to success. It comes from hard work, putting your heart and soul into everything you do and enjoying every little success you accomplish. As a result this leads to 18 hour days, little to no sleep and high stress levels. However I always go home with a big smile on my face. I love my job.
Everyday I feel like I’m out of my comfort zone, which I find exhilarating. As founders, Mike and I find ourselves wearing multiple hats to keep our company on track. Managing our team which is growing rapidly, creating interesting content, working on building the business, as well as DJ’ing at bars and teaching at our studios.
What’s your ideal weekend in Hong Kong?
Mike – For me, my ideal weekend starts early on Thursday with studio time! Then Friday would be a late start, before heading to Boujis or Stockton for another DJ set. Saturday morning would start with a few hours in the studio with the team before meeting my other team – of the football type – the Spartans, for game at some crazy stadium. To get the party started right for Saturday night, I would head to Brickhouse to catch our Hip Hop DJs there in full swing before bar and club hopping to a few of my favourite music spots – oma, The Social Room, Mitte, Fly, Volar, XXX, Boujis, and Drop. Sunday is all about sunshine. Either a late morning hike followed by some time chilling on the beach in Big Wave Bay/Shek O OR it’s junk boat party time! Occasionally it can be a bit more tame, with Hong Kong family dim sum at the HKCC followed by beers and barefoot bowls on the oval.
Ed – I’m a sucker for cafe culture. Beginning the day with a great cappuccino and scrambled eggs with my girlfriend in a funky cafe is my idea of heaven. I really enjoy the many hiking trails around Hong Kong especially if you can structure it around a beach stop. I also really enjoy the nightlife here too, as we frequent many bars and clubs around town. Great music, an unpretentious crowd, a few margaritas and I’m all good.
What’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time?
Mike – Obviously creating and performing under my Mike Wolf project is up there. I’m also a serial entrepreneur, so starting and running businesses/projects comes a close second. But my absolute favourite is adventure travel. I love exploring Hong Kong and when I get the chance, exploring greater Asia and the rest of the world for that matter! Whether its local or abroad, exploring the world has always fascinated me and it’s one of the key reasons I moved to Hong Kong. The city has so much to offer in this regard.
Ed – I also love making music. I took a break from producing so I could focus on building our business into a well oiled machine and it’s the most important part of my life at the moment. Currently I’m setting up a home studio to begin producing again and working on an EP release next year.
What are your favourite local hangout spots (restaurants/bars)?
Mike – I’m throwing a few clubs in this list as I have been working with them from the beginning and consider them high on the favourite hangout list: Boujis – the people behind the scenes make this place are amazing, Drop – this is my recommendation for that late night house music craving, Stockton – the ultimate adult cubby-house, Mott32 – this is one of my favourite places to take someone from out of town, Limewood – this is a top get away from the hustle and bustle for me, Blue Butcher – number one for getting the ultimate steak fix and Cococabana (in Shek-O) – I can’t pass up another quality beach side restaurant.
Ed – Too many to choose from. At the beginning of the night, I like small rooftop bars like Fu Lu Shou and Blk Brd where I can have a few drinks and a chat with mates. Brickhouse is always good for margaritas, some good hip hop vibes and tacos. Butchers Club for burgers, although Double-D do a mean chicken burger! Carbone is some of the best Italian food I’ve ever had and a great atmosphere. Boujis is always a great place to party, the cocktails are brilliant, the music is fun and the staff are some of the best I’ve come across. Social Room, Oma, Bassment and Drop are where I’ll end up at the end of the night to kick on to some deeper house and techno tunes.
Give us your itinerary for the perfect night out in Hong Kong?
Mike – Start with early dinner at Mott32 followed by cocktails at Stockton. Then it’s off to Boujis for some dancing. If you’re still going pass 2am then finish your dancing with a night cap at Drop.
Ed – If I went to all the places I just mentioned above, that would be a pretty good night. There are so many new places opening everyday and unfortunately some closing. I used to DJ and frequently go to Gecko. Unfortunately they closed earlier this year. That was one of my favourite late night stops for some decent deeper disco. I hear good things about My House, a new vinyl/wine bar in Wan Chai. It goes without saying that Clockenflap is probably my favourite night out in Hong Kong though.
Tell us about your first crush and first kiss?
Mike – I’m not much of the kiss and tell sort, but I can tell you a few tracks on the first mixed tape I ever did for someone – Need you tonight (INXS), Billie Jean (Michael Jackson), Kiss (Prince), Caribbean Queen (Billy Ocean), Ain’t No body (LL Cool J), Changes (2Pac)… to name a few.
Ed – Occasionally my older brother and I would get sent to summer camps when we were younger. There was a girl there one year who took an interest in me. I think we kissed, but we were so young and I can barely remember her!
What’s your biggest dating disaster?
Mike – Turning up to the wrong place, on the wrong day, at the wrong time. Don’t ask…
Ed – I think I’ve been lucky not to have anything too disastrous.
What do you think makes a girl Sassy?
Mike – Intelligence, open mindedness and loves to dance.
Ed – Someone who is confident, cheeky and playful!
What’s the best date you’ve ever been on?
Mike – I love adventure dates! I did a bike tour of the New Territories recently with my girlfriend and it was so much fun! #bikehongkong
Ed – I’d never single out one in particular. For me it’s important to regularly block out date nights with my girlfriend. We both work incredibly hard and it’s a great feeling to drop everything and focus on each other.
Where in Hong Kong do you go for grooming?
Mike – I was introduced to a brilliant hairdresser just over a year ago – Fung, who works at Le Belle on Glenealy in Central, and he has never let me down!
Ed – I’ve often been to Gentleman’s Tonic for a beard trim. I’ve been eager to check out ERA as I’ve heard they do an edgy look.
What are your favourite local boutiques and stores in Hong Kong?
Mike – Big fan of Ted Baker in Pacific Place. For odd bits about the studio/home, I like browsing at Blacksmith in Wan Chai and the markets in Sham Shui Po .
Ed – Being 6’ 4’’ it’s hard for me to find fitting clothes and shoes here, so I generally do all my clothes shopping online or when I’m travelling outside of Asia. I love what the Genie Juicery girls created here (check out our recent interviews with Melanie and Cara, the founders), I think they were first to the game in the whole ‘juice cleanse fad’ and I find myself doing a cleanse every few months and feel great for doing so. I guess a guilty pleasure of mine is heading to Sham Shui Po and exploring all the grungy tech markets there. All sorts of interesting things to find.
What’s one of the most memorable moments in your career and why?
Mike – A recent trip to Berlin is up there, but working at Clockenflap last year was amazing. The festival is truly on a world class level. With so may moments to choose from that weekend, the one that sticks out to me the most was getting the chance to meet Kool & The Gang backstage with one of my young students. One of the first records I ever owned was from them and being able share my passion for their music in person and with one of my students meant a lot to me as a fan, as an artist, and as a teacher.
Ed – As Mike mention, we were recently invited to Berlin as product specialists to participate in various invite-only events for industry leading music software and hardware developers. It was an absolute pleasure to be involved with companies, artists and like minded educators that we look up to with such high regard. It was one of those moments when we both had to look at each other and laugh at just how far we’d come.
How do you select music for different events? What’s the key to making sure the music fits the mood/crowd?
Mike – I have a system for categorising my music collection that allows me to narrow down and filter different genres and moods of music. This helps me find tracks I’m after fast. However it still comes down to personal taste. By listening to a lot of different music and from different sources you cultivate your own style on what works in different situations. Ultimately the best selectors are those that see the art form as a partnership or dance with their audience – you guide or lead your crowd through a musical journey suitable for the time, place and music policy, but always staying attentive of their body language and reaction to your selections. Respect then flows both ways in this fashion and makes for a great set.
Ed – The answer is in the question. It’s all about mood and crowd. There are many different opinions out there as to what the role/responsibility is of a DJ and let’s not go down that path, for me I think it’s pretty simple. Have an open mind and invite other styles of music into your heart. If you are open to a range of styles of music you will never be short of a good tune to keep the crowd happy and make a successful event. At the end of the day, it’s about sharing music together not just sharing the music you want to hear.
What are your top 5 tracks for summer 2015?
Mike – In no partiuclar order and across a few different genres to fit different situations:
- Fangtango (Original Mix) by Matthew Dekay
- Dance a Little Bit Closer (Original Mix) by Babert
- Like A Fool (Original Mix) by Crazy P
- Celestial Vibration feat. Kristie McCracken by Delf
- Is This Love (Montmartre Rexmix) by Bob Marley
Ed – This is going to be hard, but here goes. I love a lot of laid back deep disco, future rnb, right through to uplifting house and techno. Here’s some of my favourites at the moment:
- Juan Laya, Jorge Montiel, Andre Espeut – It’s Got to Be Music (Extended Re-Edit)
- It’s You – Kartell
- Andhim – Boy Boy Boy (Joris Voorn Remix)
- Crazy P – Echo (Original Mix)Floorplan – Never Grow Old (Re-Plant)
- Floorplan – Never Grow Old (Re-Plant)
What inspires you and where do you go to fix a creative block?
Mike – Any form of art inspires me. It’s amazing how anything from a photo exhibition to a live dance performance can make me see, hear, feel and experience things from a different perspective, which to me is usually where I’m getting stuck. When I combine that with travel, then the creative juices really get going.
Ed – I get so inspired exercising with a pair of headphones on, listening to random Spotify playlists. I can’t help deconstructing music in my mind down to every last detail. I’ll take that inspiration into the studio and the creative flow is a natural progression for me. I love messing around with synth sounds and experimenting various styles of music. I live for that moment of inspiration.
What are your future plans for Sol Passion Music and where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
Ed – We kicked so many goals in such a short span of time, I guess that’s the Hong Kong way, this place moves at incredible speed. We have some big plans in the pipeline that I’m really excited about, stay tuned…
Mike – There are quite a number of really awesome things ahead for Sol Passion Music (you’ll just have to wait and see!) but the thing I always want us to stay true to, the very heart of what is important to us, is the sense of community and family that fuels our goal of being a world class platform. I want people of all ages, backgrounds, styles and experience come together to perform, learn, teach, access and share their passion for music.
What are your top tips for budding entrepreneurs/aspiring DJs/Producers?
Mike – For the entrepreneurs – dream big, plan often, fail quickly, and celebrate your successes.
For the aspiring DJs/Producers – be open minded, try to do something creative everyday, practice perfect practicing and always ask questions.
Ed – For the entrepreneurs, start small and constantly improve what you do. Take risks but never put all your eggs in one basket. Work incredibly hard and find someone to partner up with. I couldn’t have done this alone. Mike and I have learned so much from one another and is the only way this was possible. Also a loving, supportive family helps.
For the DJ’s and producers. Stay true to yourself. There is so much opportunity out there which can be overwhelming and trends that might steer your focus in the wrong direction. If you’re not playing/making the music that’s true to your heart then it will show. Ignore what other people are doing and stop comparing yourself to them. Do what you do and do it well.
Sol Passion Music, 11/F, EIB Tower, 4-6 Morrison Hill Rad, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, www.solpassionmusic.com. Call 9422 0367 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Thanks to Jon Butters for the awesome pictures of Mike and Ed! Check out his website here. Click here to read our other Man of the Month interviews!