It’s hard to pinpoint what Hong Kong-based DJ Angus Wong is like. A bundle of laughs? Serious thinker? Frank observer? Part-time fop who really just wants to be comfortable? All these descriptions apply, but relay mere parts that pale in comparison to the whole picture. Just like his music, which he refuses to classify. “My genre is good music!” he declares, punctuating it with a guffaw. “Every song has multiple inspirations, multiple samples, multiple personalities. It’s hard to narrow it down to a few words.”
Despite settling for an in-depth email questionnaire due to conflicting schedules, I believe I got a pretty robust idea of Angus. Call it writer’s sixth sense, no doubt aided by his very detailed responses to each of my 33 questions, some more personal than others. It’s a rare treat, if you’ve ever worked in this industry.
Angus started out as “a small potato” (his words) in fashion, and moved on to manage a small gay bar in Hong Kong where he realised he wanted to be spin records. When the DJ didn’t show up, he volunteered – “Of course I was terrible! But it was such a thrill!” Later he went on to a DJ boot camp organised by W Hotels and Coca Cola in Ibiza, from which he shared his work with people across almost 40 cities. “I tell people those were my years of backpacking, except I slept in 5-star hotels and packed my overweight suitcase with blazers, shoes, and headphones.”
One night in Beijing, he found himself sitting beside Kylie Minogue, who was headlining a show he was involved in. Told at the outset not to engage her, it seems divine intervention – “given Kylie is my goddess” – made sure it was the seat next to him that Kylie picked during a break, out of 35,000 others. She even initiated conversation. “I told her all about my obsession [over her] like a real dork!”
It’s always fun to interview people who are intensely self-aware, and are not afraid to be the butt of their own jokes. In Angus’ case, it’s the quips he completes his thoughts with that betray that wry wit. While letting me know about his studied love for coffee, he goes off on a passionate tangent. “Not just drinking it, but to discover places where beans are harvested. Invest in a decent grinder. Learn about different brewing methods. Tasting different notes from each brew.” To which he adds, “Is that a weird hobby?”
The 31-year old is clearly a stylish gentleman. A quick flick through his Instagram account suggests he’s quite eclectic in his wardrobe choices; one day it’s a simple tee with jeans, another it’s denim shorts against a Thom Browne jacket with whales embroidered all over. “That might be the wackiest thing I’ve worn and I absolutely LOVE that jacket…It works because it makes me happy, and I really don’t care if you didn’t like it. Trust me, some people really didn’t like it and they weren’t afraid to tell me,” he says, with a 😉 smiley I can safely presume was an unabashed “stick it”.
When asked who his favourite designers are, the graduate in fashion gave a somewhat surprising answer. “I don’t really have one, to be honest. I gave up following “fashion” a long time ago. Instead, I prefer spending on something that’s of good quality and style, something I can go back to from time to time.” No wiser words have been said, except maybe an adage he posted on Instagram alongside a natty selfie: Dressing up and going out is good for the soul.
“I said that? I’m very wise!!” Angus remarked with laughter. And when I asked if he was a conscientious wardrobe planner, more wisdom poured forth. “I think of what I want to wear when I shower, and then it’s grab and go. I allow myself to change one thing before I exit my wardrobe, but one thing only. I can’t spend all day thinking what I should wear and miss out on what’s going on out there! I feel sometimes it’s fun to make fashion mistakes. What’s the worst that could happen? Be adventurous!”
Have a rough picture yet? It’s probably better to hear it all from the man himself. Including his music, which you can find here, and which, according to DJ Angus Wong, is best suited for making love. “Sharing music is intimate.” We can hardly disagree.
HIS STYLE DIARY: What did you study in college? Was it related to what you do now?
DJ ANGUS WONG: I went to school in Hong Kong, my hometown, and studied Fashion in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. It feel so strange now that I said it out loud. This feels like forever ago and completely unrelated to what I do these days. When I went to school I was also been trained to be a barista. I pulled lattes to pay for my Dr Martens (remember those?!) and vintage Hawaiian shirts (remember THOSE?!).
HSD: How did this DJ thing happen?
DJAW: I think I started about 10 years ago in that little gay bar. Just watching other people do it, I thought to myself – I can do that too! So I asked for a little tip here and there. Luckily those DJs I worked with were nice and always happy to help.
Honestly, it never even crossed my mind that I would grow up and be a DJ, but you know that feeling when you were 5 years old and have just learned how to ride a bike? I really miss that feeling, you don’t get a lot of that once you are out of school. So when I realised that I am actually doing okay, it was that sense of achievement that keeps me going when I was terrible.
HSD: I’ve listened to your tracks on www.djanguswong.com, and I enjoyed them very much! It’s not the beat-beat-beat house music you hear in clubs that seems to go nowhere. I hear bits of R&B, funk, and even some Oriental riffs.
DJAW: I guess that’s up to you to interpret it! Haha! I do get influenced by music I grew up listening to, and 90s R&B plays a big part of that.
HSD: How would you describe your own music? What kind of genre(s) would your music fall into?
DJAW: My genre is good music! [laughing] I prefer not to put a label on music, because these days every song that is released has multiple inspirations, multiple samples and multiple personalities. Generally I draw music from Nu Disco, Funk, Italo, Balearic, R&B etc. I also draw inspiration from the past and look towards the future. It’s hard to narrow it down to a few words.
HSD: Walk me through the process of putting together a mix. How does it start? What are your sources of inspiration?
DJAW: It starts with going through my inbox and see if there is any exciting promos sitting there waiting to be unwrapped. I have a few Spotify playlists that I follow of people who are tastemakers in music. They usually give me some idea. The place I do the mix also influence a lot. I travelled extensively in the last few years and when I look back and listen to some of my old mixes, I can hear the destination from each mix. It’s almost like a journal.
HSD: From what I hear, your music sounds more chill and chic than sweaty rave party. You can move and dance to it, but it’s not fist-pumping moshpit. What kind of feelings do you want your audience to have?
DJAW: Like I said, sharing music is intimate. Your job could be a bank teller and you sit behind a window and count money all day, which is a great job, but you are not sharing something with the person who came to cash a cheque. My job is to listen to music and give you a sound track for you to dance to, to cook to, to brush your teeth to, to make love to. Really, if you think about it, what is more intimate than that?
Generally if you catch me live at a party, I want you to be happy. I used to have this thing where I start a DJ set and I find a person in the room who looks like he/she is having the least fun. And I focus on getting this person to dance – whatever it takes. It was a silly game but it helps me focus.
HSD: Do you think people who listen to your music can conjure an accurate image of DJ Angus Wong simply from your music?
DJAW: I think you get a sense of who I am but it’s not a full picture. Maybe you have to see my hair too? [laughing]
HSD: What do you think is the best way to use your music?
DJAW: Make love to it. Thanks 🙂
HSD: Do you think the market/business of DJ-ing will expand in the future, or will it slow down?
DJAW: There will always be a place for DJs. There is something about personal selection that is better than any jukebox or algorithm. Music is not science (not all science anyway) and I think it takes passion, which is something that can’t be replaced by a machine.
HSD: Besides spinning records, what is one thing you really love doing?
DJAW: I love traveling, learning about another culture is very exciting for me. My favourite way of traveling is without an itinerary. You wake up, walk out of your hotel room, pick a direction and just keep walking. Observe. Do what the locals do. I have walked into the coolest most hidden treasure of destinations many times before and I would love to do it again and again.
It’s funny you take everything for granted at home. Every time I travel I manage to last 3 or 4 days and then I MUST have some Chinese food, and trust me, it’s not easy trying to hunt down some Hong Kong style French toast in Barcelona, or decent Dim Sum in St. Petersburg.
HSD: Your Instagram feed is like a men’s style magazine! I see you looking classy and dapper sometimes, and other times being more of a rebel with torn jeans and leather jackets, varsity jackets, and denim jackets. How would you describe your personal style?
DJAW: Thank you! I feel like I used to be more adventurous and now I go back to the classic and comfort. I like my jeans from Levi’s. I like my retro sneakers (Stan Smith and Nike Internationalist are my favourites, as well as some Converse All Stars), and you can go a long way with a blazer that fits you well. I try to make an effort for special occasion, and I am guessing those colourful Instagram posts are from those times.
HSD: What are some items in your wardrobe now that you absolutely cannot live without?
DJAW: Clean underwear! But if we are not counting basic, I absolutely LOVE leather biker jackets. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.
HSD: I see many pairs of shoes on your feed, including a pair of awesome Gucci shoes. Are you a shoe person?
DJAW: I am definitely a shoe person. Thank you Gucci for sending those over for my DJ set at their party 😉 I think the right pair of shoes really elevate an outfit.
HSD: I love that your Instagram feed isn’t all glamour shots, but includes candid, and sometimes wacky photos of yourself. You seem like someone who doesn’t take yourself too seriously. Is that the case?
DJAW: It’s social media! If you are taking yourself too seriously you are doing it wrong! Life is too short, have some fun while you can. If you get to capture it, then even better!
HSD: What does the term “personal style” mean to you?
DJAW: It means I get to wear whatever I want and you get to keep your opinion to yourself. If I want to wear a flower on my head and call it my style, don’t you dare to stare at me (but really though, I don’t wear a flower on my head.)
HSD: Does “DJ Angus Wong” have a different style persona than “Angus”? If so, how different are the two? Calvin Harris is almost always in black; do you have a signature way of dress as a DJ?
DJAW: I guess a little bit yes. I try a little harder when I go to work. It really helps me get into the zone and blend myself into the party when I dress up. When I am not working, I just want to be comfy.
HSD: Who are some of your style idols? In other words, is there anyone in particular whom you think is very stylish?
DJAW: David Bowie (RIP) definitely dressed well over the years. Can I name a comic book character? I feel like The Joker has always dressed well. I am not sure about Jared Leto’s hipster take on The Joker though. I guess we will see when the movie comes out.
HSD: What are some things men do with their clothes that you absolutely cannot stand?
DJAW: Flip-flops are fine for me, if you are going to the beach. Otherwise no. I feel like if I have seen your toes in a business setting, I could not bring myself to respect you anymore. I also hate it when people wear clothes that are obviously 3 sizes too small for them, hoping for the illusion of looking thinner. They should be told that the tight clothes are doing the exact opposite thing they were hoping.
HSD: How would you rate the men in Hong Kong in terms of fashion sensibility and stylishness?
DJAW: I don’t want to rate other people, especially not a whole city of them! But I do feel like people in Hong Kong don’t try as hard as they could. There are a lot of situations in New York or London when I am walking down the street and see people trying out a look or working with something they have sewn themselves. I think you don’t see that kind of effort in Hong Kong.
Another thing about Hong Kong is that you don’t really have a lot of diversity in relation to geographical location. People dress the same from north to south. I don’t understand why we don’t have regional culture here. I miss spotting the East Londoner in Soho and pointing out the Upper East Sider lost in Brooklyn.
HSD: What would you say is a man’s style of dressing that is unique to Hong Kong?
DJAW: I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not but I’ve seen outfits so loud that the people wearing them should have just stapled banknotes to their skin if they want others to know what they can afford. This is quite unique to Hong Kong and I leave you at this comment so we can all have a think. [Dead silence]