Good morning, afternoon or evening wherever you are Deep souls. Very warm welcome to dr-foo.com Here you will find me explaining the depth behind my musical journeys as well as the guiding spiritual compass. Along this journey, I am more than happy to prescribe you aural pills to soothe your senses and guide you towards the deeper authentic self.
But first, who is Dr Foo? Is he really a doctor? Here’s the background:
I became obsessed with electronic dance music (referring to the entire dance music scene, not the abomination of a genre term today) in the form of Trance and House music towards the end of 2007. Whilst the next two years of my life will be spent getting loyally immersed into the fantasy world of Trance, it is the accompanying and initial tryst with Progressive & Tech House music that will eventually ground me towards the realisation of the Dr Foo sound that is known today. Trance music will always have a special place in my heart, like a first love with magical memories. However you soon realise that life (and the world) is never a bed of roses and rainbows. By the time I touched the CDJs for the first time in 2010, I had realised that the art of journey creation was the essence of DJ-based electronic music. Trance was in fact a gateway drug into the art of Progression for me. I was fortunate to be around the Prog House influenced Trance of 07/08, before a certain Markus Schulz pulled me towards the next level realisation in 2010.
Just as a confused and increasingly angry Sek Sheng Foo began to question the facade of Trance as a genre led by his once idol – the Jesus posing clown known as Armin Van… ok enough -, Markus Schulz provided a breath of much needed honesty and musical education across the genres. When the euphoria of Trance died, I needed to go deeper towards the truth. Enter the Coldharbour sound. I remember how stunned I was in 2010/11 when I saw Markus Schulz live – he was different from every 100+ Trance DJs I had seen prior. In fact I wasn’t sure I could call him Trance.. I didn’t know what to ‘label’ him as. But did it matter? I was about to realise the ridiculity of genre restrictions. It was a seminal moment for me. Hearing Markus take us on seamless marathon journeys most certainly went above & beyond (see what I did there) the Trance experience. I was bamboozled, and through religious following, realised that Markus had in fact opened the doors of Techno, Minimal, House and Ambient Electronica for me. Why be restricted to a single genre when access to multiple electronic music genres absolutely increases the Journey experience and invokes plenty more room for creativity? Isn’t the art of Journey creation meant to induce the ebb and flows of different musical elements to educate listeners and take them to new places and realities?
Dr Foo was eventually born in 2011, after DJing across Melbourne’s commercial and underground scenes. I was a nerd for music, pursuing my honours in how negative word of mouth affected electronic dance music. I poured my heart and soul into it, interviewed fans around the world as well as local record labels, while DJing on the weekends. Nothing else mattered. Most importantly, I realised what made my blood tick, and what the Coldharbour DNA meant. I could recognise music that I love in each genre. This move out of the traditional confines of a Trance DJ essentially founded the Dr Foo sound, and many of the Coldharbour lieutenants out there at that time. In fact, I remember a group of hardcore Berlin techno fans who only listened to Markus Schulz in the Trance realm. Then you have people like Marcus Schossow, Sander Van Doorn and Moonbeam who blurred the lines between House, Techno and Trance to such a delicious extent. DJs such as Basil O’Glue, Tucandeo and old Coldharbour compilations such as Miami 05, Amsterdam 08, Toronto 09 reminded of what drawn me to Trance and electronic music in the first place: Deep, Dark, Hypnotic, Melodic, Sensual, Tribal, Otherworldly and Progressive vibes.
My first professional gig in Melbourne came via a corporate events company who needed a DJ to spin at a tertiary institute on Valentines day. Perfect date between me and the DJ decks! I was instructed to play House and Commercial music and I really enjoyed blending the Deadmau5/Adam K & Soha Prog House with Commercial House from the likes of Edward Maya. I did a couple more gigs across clubs and schools using this formula to great success. The wheels eventually fell off one night at a private birthday party in Richmond, Melbourne, that I was playing at. I was enjoying myself, educating the crowd with some Moonbeam weirdness, when the birthday gal requested some Justin Bieber. As a paid DJ, I had no choice but to play it. I thought, its ok, for fun. As I played it, I could see looks of disgust amongst the crowd. It won’t look worse than the disgust my soul had with myself that night. This wretched feeling consumed me the whole night, and I had to cleanse myself with deep and dirty techno for 8 hours – I remembered clearly. I searched for underground DJ gigs immediately. I ended my last ‘commercial’ DJ gig with a bang – on an Asian boat party. I defied the vibes of the party by playing underground Progressive House throughout, clearing the dancefloor to my delight. I was done. Fortunately, an underground collective soon invited me to DJ at a warehouse Techno gig. I was going from one extreme to another lol. This warehouse gig was right smack in the middle of no where, and the walk through the dark secluded path to reach the venue was reflective of the mood of the music. I was home in the underground alas – proper Melbournian style across Trip Hop, Drum n Bass, Dubstep, Techno, Psy, Trance and Progressive. Multi coloured hairdos and costumes, with people laying on the floor intoxicated or overdosed. Thankfully it is the authenticity of the music that stuck with me.
Coming back home to Singapore in end 2011, I wondered how was I gonna get a gig that espoused the underground ideals I was looking for? Within 3 months, me and the LAMEBPM crew had gotten in touch with Aloysius, who is one of the old school Prog heads I am fortunate to meet. We started the Dark Knights series of gigs at BluJaz Cafe in April 2012. At this point of time, I determined that the Unicorn Slaying style of modern Coldharbour sound would balance both my musical urges and the pounding drive the Singapore club floors yearned. And it very much did. Leveraging on my residual anger at the electronic music scene falling victim to the generic ‘EDM’ sounds, I approached each gig with a duty to destroy the dancefloors. What set me apart from other Trance DJs was my keen sense of attention to powerful driving Bass and Percussion beyond just melody and long breakdowns. Some successful gigs with Trance Republic followed in Home Club and Avalon. People began to recognise my sound as the destructive Progressive Trance segment before the ‘140’ guys took over. However, by 2013, I started to feel restricted by the kind of music I could play in the usual clubs. Around 80% of my Progressive music library could not be played at peak time. I was tired of just banging it out for 1 hour. It was not the DJing I know, and as I would come to realise: while I had lots of fun ‘destroying’ the clubs, it didn’t go beyond egotistical satisfaction. The soul needed artistic satisfaction, at the very least.
An idea hit me in mid 2013. I called up DJs that I knew across the different genres and discussed an idea of collaboration to showcase the diversity sounds in the deeper end of electronic music. These were DJs who played sounds that appeared to be different, but were essentially coming from the same kinda vibes – the Coldharbour vibes that I had always recognised. We had dedicated DJs for Deep House, Deep Progressive, Tech House, Techno and Trance. And so the Deep End was born. Fate would have it that the owner of the Spiffy Dapper had seen me playing at BluJaz a year earlier, and contacted me to do gigs at his new hip and dark joint. June 2013 saw us kick off the first of 6 Deep End sessions at the Spiffy Dapper. It was the perfect place, as it was dark, cosy, had very unique underground vibes and some amazing bartenders. George himself would get drunk and start mixing music alongside us lol. The quality of the music was absolutely on point and authentic. As a DJ and organiser, this period gave me a lot of joy. It was the self actualisation of my ideals. We were playing music as Deep and Dark as we wished, and even brought in artists to paint to our live music which made for some extremely memorable nights. By mid 2014 however, the Spiffy Dapper had lost its licence in Boat Quay due to complaints from neighbouring shops of their rowdiness – George and the crew had smashed chairs up during gigs to illustrate this point. Regardless, I realised a need to start a new community in the scene. The Deep End would go on to become a group on Facebook for all similar souls of the Deeper music realm to gather, share and discuss music. What I call the Coldharbour sound is what someone in House, Minimal, Techno, Breaks would love as well, if one possessed this resonance to the Deep. Artists such as Guy J, Hot Since 82, Eelke Kleijn, Tale of Us, Jeremy Olander etc continue to spread the Progressive legacy of Digweed & Sasha across and between the genres. The Deep End series of gigs has been revived recently in Nov 2015 in KOI. SO keep a lookout for more Deep End gigs in 2016 right here at the Deep End Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/deependprog/
Apart from the Deep End, in 2014 I started playing some spiritual/chilled out gigs at Zsofi’s Tapas Bar. It was a fantastic experience to play music from the sacred soul in an open rooftop of such ambience. I realised the spiritual force in the music I possessed was already so strong. Subtly, all the progressive tunes that I have been collecting since 2008 espoused messages of connection to one another and the universe. Even the darker stuff from the likes of JOOF contained mantras of my fancy which were already nudging me towards the otherworldly ethnic direction. At Zsofi’s I felt a really strong pull to play spiritual material that soothed and elevated people’s senses. I felt a presence and a connection at that place like I have never felt before. This intense feeling reached its peak in Sep 2014 during Ganesha’s birthday (which I had no idea of) where I stepped into Zsofi’s for an impromptu B2B with my Prog brother Aman. I was soaked in tears before and during our set, needless to say it is one of the best natural sets I have ever done. I then felt a strong pull to head to Varanasi, India for no reason really. These travels and how they shaped my musical journey to the present day are detailed in the next blog post my 6 hour Ethereal Transformation Mix for 2015.
<Update in 2017> Music has catalysed a spiritual awakening in me, with the seeds of dharma and metaphysical truths sprouting forth since end 2014. A consistent practice of Yoga and Meditation since then, and a natural change of lifestyle towards one that honours the body and environment has also led to a stronger connection to a oneness and divine lifeforce across all beings, as well as the continuous learning and realisation of different energy and healing modalities (including sound healing). This connection has in turn refined the intention of my music to be one of upliftment of human consciousness amidst diversity, whilst staying rooted in the honest depths of our imperfections. It is also worth noting that during my pivotal year of 2011, the seeds of meditation and dharma knowledge were planted subtly alongside the birth of my DJing exploits in Melbourne. A Buddhist centre near where I stayed had offered free weekly meditation classes, which caught my eye during a stressful period of writing my thesis. I went for a few lessons and found it very useful and resonating. Furthermore, I read several books on Buddhist philosophy and meditation in their library and found it surprisingly rational – hmm this doesn’t seem like a religion that I was brought up to know? This founding seed will serve to guide me forward til today.
A thought came to mind that the music that DJs play shouldn’t be confined to just clubs/bars in dark alcoholic environments. I started to become attracted to the idea of playing in outdoor settings where I could see the sun and natural elements – the vibes were significantly different and more harmonic to my musical intentions of deep, melodic and peaceful progression. The gigs at the Zsofi rooftop pathed the way. I then continued further with a series of spiritually inclined psychill and progressive gigs there for people to chill out and connect over deep conversations from 2015 – 2016. In terms of rooftop gigs, I still continue them at Hotel Jen Lvl 19 with beautiful ambiance at sunset times on some saturdays to this day. Moving forward, my main focus since 2016 has been on curating aural journeys for conscious and spiritual gigs/purposes, in alignment with using music for healing. I have had the privilege of meeting many interesting and good souls/light workers who I continue to learn from, and have collaborated with some of them to organise intimate sessions. One of them is the Conscious Dance Movement, which is a form of ecstatic dance fused with light Yoga, a safe space where people can move and meditate to their own rhythm/style without judgement or intrusion from drunk or rowdy people. I have a lot of satisfaction playing at such gigs because I can really integrate all my musical, creative and spiritual influences by fusing progressive, house, trance with world music, mantras, ethnic instruments and nature sounds to create a journey that goes beyond the realm of the physical. I see firsthand the power of music to heal, vibrate and meditate, where every tune played really affects how participants move and feel. In 2017, I have continued this with Freedom Dance, a similar concept, but one with more underlaying energy work – this is an area that continues to intrigue me. The power of sound to heal, is made more potent by intention. In Freedom Dance sessions, the feeling before and after is night and day, like we are all washed by energy. I have also had the pleasure of DJing for other conscious corporate/yoga gigs in 2017, and look forward to more collaborations in 2018 with like minded souls in this journey.