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An Interview with Kuala Lumpur DJ Lionel Rizki

An Interview with Kuala Lumpur DJ Lionel Rizki

A relative newcomer to DJ'ing, Lionel Rizki has submerged himself in a world of 70's disco and electronic sounds, a Japanophile who also includes Indonesian disco into his sets certainly makes for some interesting listening. He runs his own Malaysia Disco Parties and also the head of Marketing and PR for SaturdaySelects, a collective, platform and record label plus a member of Public School, focusing on leftfield music which is deemed unacceptable to be played at clubs.

What got you into DJ’ing and when?
It all started when I was asked to be a part of Public School. At that point of time, we were organizing this show called Sesi Kaki Lima which literally meant Sidewalk Sessions at the Pasar Besar TTDI around the end of 2016. While we 
soundchecked, a fellow member of Public School by the name of Rudy asked me to try out on the decks and gave me a 10 minutes crash course. Needless to say, I fell in love. On the same day, I bought my very first record, it was Evelyn Champagne King's I'm In Love and I never stopped since.were



How did you learn, did you have someone who mentored you or did you work through it on your own?
I have to say that I'm quite lucky to have a few mentors behind me. Rudy La Faber  (Public School)  and Uzair Sawal (Public School) were my main mentors, giving me feedback every time I make mixes, making sure I understand the importance of beatmatching by ear and not with visual cues. Boon KH Tan (Public School) gave me my biggest playing time when I first started. Every Saturday, 
10pm - 4:30 am for four months straight at Bait was basically where I was thrown into the sea and I have to teach myself how to swim. Fortunately, the bar is frequented by many other DJs such as Kelvin Oon (Twilight Action Girl) who also helped to give me feedback on how to improve better.

What are some of your musical influences?
Munir from Midnight Runners, Funk Bast*rd from Singapore and my own mentors: Rudy, Uzair and Boon from Malaysia

Describe your sound?
A range of disco and electronic sounds with groovy beats, horns and synths from the late 70s, often mixed with nu-disco edits/re-edits, Japanese city pop singles and 
nusantara / south-east asian disco

You're originally from Jakarta, how did you end up in KL?
My mom received an offer for a transfer to the KL branch of her office back in 2001. Seeing how bad the economy was for Indonesia at that time, my mom took a leap of faith and we both ended up in KL. I have now been living here in KL ever since.  



What has been your most memorable moment as a DJ?
It was a show in Jakarta, my second show at a venue called Hatchi that I played on the second day of Raya this year and it was treated as a homecoming gig. I wasn't expecting anyone to come but it ended up being a full house. At first, the crowd was dead, knowing that Hatchi is more to
hip hop joint and I was playing disco and house. Nevertheless, I managed to turn things around, I started off slow with familiar tunes and gave them teasers of more obscure but equally groovy tracks and I got everyone dancing. It was still one of the best nights of my life.a

Without naming names what’s the worst experience as a Dj to date?
A fellow friend played a prank on me, saying that my 
ex was showing up at the gig. Anxiety hit me hard and it lasted for a few

You’ve been running the monthly Malaya Disco Parties, where did the idea come from and what are your plans since Under9 closed?
The idea came from Jakarta when I watched these guys calledDiskoria. The one thing that I observed was that the majority of the crowd were young and I was comparing their demographics with Malaysian demographics and realized that the Malaysian crowd is generally older. Hence, withSaturdaySelects I started Malaya Disco Party, aimed at educating the younger crowd on disco by mixing up the lineup with new DJs and more established DJs in the disco scene. 
I can't tell you just yet, but I'm planning to change the concept of MDP. We'll release something soon enough, we are currently looking at March 2019.



You also look after the PR for Saturday Selects, can you explain a little bit more about the SS concept and its aim?
SaturdaySelects is a record label and collective of like-minded individuals who share the same passion for music. We create and provide an avenue to share music for up and coming artists around the world. We aim to create value in the music and events that we organize to foster a strong community that supports up and coming artists in the future.

Name one DJ you’d like to open for?
Motor City Drum Ensemble

What frustrates you (if anything)  and what do you love about the music scene here in KL?
I think the most frustrating part about KL is that a lot of parties are not willing to take the risk. Sometimes, magic can happen if you go beyond the norm.
What I love about the music scene here in KL is that the network is pretty tightly knit. We're able to hop from one scene to another regardless of language and genre. It's also beautiful to see many working alongside each other this year. The scene is healthy and that's the way it should be.

What else have you got lined up personally for the rest of this year and moving into 2019?
I'll be playing less and focusing on hosting some of my friends who are touring and playing KL such
Agrikulture who are playing 13th November at Live Fact and 14th November at fono and also the boys from Mondo Jakarta will be playing Cross Borders Showcase at fono on the 17th. I've not released my schedule for December but I will be playing a few shows here and there too.

Follow Lionel on Instagram @rzmaulana

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