Newcomer to the scene Jengi has only been making music a short while but in that time he’s already managed to release two EP’s with a third on its way in late November. Taking inspiration from travel through Asia, in particular, South Korea, the Dutch-born and raised producer is looking towards a bright future.
We sat down with Jengi ahead of his debut performance at ADE in 2018.
You’re quite new to making music, right?
Jengi: Yeah it’s true. I started making music when I discovered GarageBand on my father’s laptop when I was about 14 years old. It was an accident it wasn’t my choice to make music at all! In the beginning, it was just clicking GarageBand and that’s when I started and I was having fun.
How would you describe the music you make?
Right now I’m more into the funky disco vibe kind of music. If you listen to my older productions it’s more like a UK house vibe, a bit more like Disclosure. I think right now I’m just getting older and I just want to make fun music. Two years ago I was very serious about making music, right now I just feel very comfortable with the music, and with the Disco type of music. I think everybody responds to a disco vibe, everybody has fun with it and everybody enjoys it.
Tell us about your newest release ‘Roller Skates’, are you happy with how it has turned out?
Yeah, I’m happy with it, I like the vibe of it and I’ve had some really good responses so far.
Your next EP ‘Rare’ is coming out in November. Will the whole EP be following the funky disco vibe?
Yeah it’s coming out in late November and it will certainly be more like ‘Roller Skates’ and more of that vibe, but there will also be a little bit of old Jengi in there as well.
There is a song on the EP which is in collaboration with a Korean singer. Right now K-pop is really booming so I’m happy to be into it early because I’ve got a really big fan base in South Korea so to me it’s really exciting to have a feature with a Korean artist.
The last song on the EP which will be released on the 2nd of November was actually an accident. I made a video with a South Korean cartoon and posted it and it went a little bit viral on Instagram. Everybody was asking for more of it. It contains an old sample at the beginning and I was worried about copywriting, so I recreated the sample. Essentially I’m sampling myself which felt a bit unique, it was certainly something new for me.
The whole EP is like a new style of Jengi, which is why it is called Rare, because it’s new, unique, a bit special.
Given all of your influence from South Korea, have you spent much time travelling there?
Yeah, I have been there three times in the last year, I’ve also been to Indonesia a few times this year and I came back from Thailand last week. I’ve done a lot of travelling this past year which is also something new for me.
Were you making and playing music during your travels?
A little bit when I had the time.
What are your recommendations for the music scenes in the different Asian countries that you have travelled to?
In South Korea, there is a club called soap in Seoul. It has a 300 person capacity and they only book SoundCloud artists, so people who are a bit smaller and haven’t necessarily been signed on to big labels. I saw the schedule of their parties and I recognised all of the SoundCloud artists from back in the day that I used to listen to. It is a really friendly venue.
In Indonesia, I recommend Parc 19. A crew called De La House organise a lot of really great parties there. They have a really good selection of DJs and it is quite chilled.
Who are some of the artists that you have really followed over the years and draw inspiration from?
When I’m into house music I really like Disclosure. For the more funky stuff, I like Breakbot and Daft Punk. Fatima Yamaha who is an Amsterdam based producer is also great. I’m also really into classic soul music like Roy Ayers.
Do you have any recommendations for good venues for music in Amsterdam?
Bitterzoet. They have a lot of different styles of parties and music. Klear also has good parties and good music.
Do you think there’s a particular style of music that is the quintessential Amsterdam vibe? Do you think that influences your music?
A little bit. I have a really broad taste of music sometimes I’m really into the funky house scene, sometimes I’m more into the future beats type of vibe. Klear is good for the future beats music.
I never actually play in Holland anymore. I did that 2 years ago but right now my music is not particularly mainstream and it’s quite niche. I’ve played twice in Paris, twice in London but mostly my music is best received in Asian countries like South Korea. I think people in Europe really respect my music but they don’t yet really know Jengi.
It’s hard to be yourself with music these days with social media and all of the offers that you might get in. I’ve had offers from labels but I really just want to do my own thing and I can be quite a shy person so I just want to be myself, and if I change my music and my identity people will think I’m fake.
So where is your favourite place in the world to play?
It’s a very personal perspective, but it’s definitely South Korea. That could change but for now definitely there.
What is the music scene like in Seoul, it ’s a huge city with very formal working family life, is it a bit of a subculture that the music scene is thriving in?
Definitely. Seoul contains 10 million people and there are only a few places to perform music like mine. So for a city of 10 million people, it is quite small.
What do you think makes the music scene in Amsterdam so big and so different from other cities, obviously with an event like ADE it’s clear that there’s something very unique about the music scene here.
Everyone knows each other, and everyone is supporting each other which is really cool. If I release a track everybody involved in my scene shares it and so’s there is support. Particularly with my scene, it is quite small and only one style of a party so there is a community.
What is a stereotypical go to after a drunken night out in Amsterdam?
It’s like a kebab with fries, salad, cheese, it has a bit of everything. That’s what everybody goes to because there’s nothing else like a proper meal to eat at that time of day. That’s another reason why I like Korea because you can have dinner at 7 a.m.
There is a huge community of expats and tourists in Amsterdam, so if you could offer them one piece of advice on how to get more acquainted with the Amsterdam Music saying what would it be?
I recently heard that Shelter is a really good place to go. Definitely check out Bitterzoet because they have good parties and Claire. I prefer the intimate spots to the big clubs.
Interview by: Madeline Kilby