The DJ/production partnership of Layo Paskin and Matthew Benjamin has come a long way since delivering their first album 'Lowlife' on End Recordings in 1999. Three albums — including their latest opus 'Rising And Falling' (out now) — and more DJ gigs than John Terry has had affairs down the line, they've been to a few places. Still enamoured by the experience of travelling, the pair embarked on an album tour of Asia where even they learnt some new things. This is Layo's story...
“Hard to imagine with DJs complaining on Twitter, but for us, we love to travel. Of course, the music, but unconsciously the adventure, the zest for seeing the world is almost what made us become DJs. It was raining in London yesterday as we left for Singapore and connected to Bali. The air heavy, tropical.
“Mint Club could be at home in many cities from Miami to Sydney. It's got a great sound, holds about 400 and is in downtown Seminyak. The night flies. It's very easy when there is such a buzz. You can take the crowd in different directions, from deepest house through to funky techno. Still full at closing, it felt way too early.”
“7.30am up after a glorious 90-minute sleep and a five-hour journey to Hong Kong and a three-hour bus to Guanzhou. Luxury (Eat your heart out David Guetta!). We arrived at a famous seafood restaurant called Hong Xing Seafood. When asked what's on the menu, our host Ben Cheung, said: “The whole sea! Go choose! Well, apart from dolphins and whale (unless you know the chef...).” He wasn't lying. Obviously our cultures are way different, but it feels quite far from the UK's sustainable fish campaign. Visually amazing, but after calculating the number of people versus animals to eat, the sums aren't great.
“The gig was by a beautiful river. Dream Garden. The warm-up played really great, deep music making the transition easy. We even had some fans armed with singles and albums, which was great to see and very unexpected here...”
Layo: “In the lobby after four hours' sleep and ready to go, Ben arrives two hours later, so, half laughing, we tell him we are meant to be the ones who are late, not the tour guide! So Macau, a Portuguese outpost, once full of colonial charm, now a gambling powerhouse.
“Club Lotus is thankfully more intimate than the complex that houses it, but it has the feel of an add-on to the action downstairs. Despite a few tables of high rollers and some local Macau fans, it isn't really much of a night unfortunately. We even heard the club closed down a week after our gig. Shame. After the gig, Matt hits the roulette and yes, against all the best-laid Chinese plans, he won!”
“After The End, as Shake It, we did warehouses to keep changing location and size of party. While great, we lacked a space that could be a home. Egg invited us this summer and it's been great. An album launch party has something very special about it. Richy Ahmed from Hot Creations opened the room, he built it brilliantly. Matt followed and played a great set, and then Mr C was a surprise late addition, having lost his venue for Superfreq. He finished the party off in his great psychedelic style. Nearly 2,000 people in and rocking till 2pm Sunday!”
“Few cities can beat arriving in Bangkok. I love to hit the street food and through a combination of tuk tuks, the MRT skyway, a lot of walking and a city app, I found four stalls I had been searching for. A kind of Valhalla of Pad Thai noodles and a place called Jay Fei, dubbed the 'Mozart of the Wok'!
“The venue was Bed in Sukumvhit, based on the old Amsterdam model, but with its own identity here. Great night, small space of a couple of hundred, but with great energy. And the promoter is Dave Milligan, an English rogue for sure, but in the best possible way. Matt has a belief which has been almost scientifically proved, that you can tell so much about how a party is going to be by the person running it... it follows true for Bed.”
CULTURAL CENTRE PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
“Even after many years on the road, there are still new tricks for old dogs. Phnom Penh was certainly a first. A beautiful riverside location, an element of lawlessness, a tropical air and a party that stops when we get tired. It's like the rider we never wrote.
“Following on from Matt's promoter law, we meet the Scotsman abroad, Eddy, eight years in Phnom Penh. Dinner, some, how shall I put it, interesting bars, and we hit the German/Cambodian Cultural Centre. A long rectangular room, very dark with a small bar, boiling hot and rocking. Will remember this night for a long time.”
“The last date of the tour. The promoter is very quiet, city looks huge and not that inviting. So a sense of low expectations crept in, mixed with lack of sleep and jet lag. Well, rule book torn up, as the place was kicking and a massive cheer as we took to the decks. We kept it tough and loads of people have copies of 'Lowlife', 'Night Works' and 'Feels Closer', as well as Olmeto singles, and of course, 'Love Story'. A real surprise, much closer to playing Tokyo in spirit than anywhere else in Asia. And so the most important journey begins, the one home. After 15 years working together, to experience surprises, to savour things we have always loved, and to have enjoyed such a creative journey... it has been a privilege.”
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