Music and Meaning
Closet Yi, a DJ based in Seoul is well a part of the scene. She is a regular in Seoul's best underground clubs like Pistil, Cakeshop, Faust, and local online radio platform Seoul Community Radio; delivering the sounds of balearic and groovy house. Moreover, her journey as a DJ has reached another level recently after starting C'est Qui, a DJ duo with Naone.
We spoke to Closet Yi as part of our Music and Meaning series to get to know more about her journey and her influences.
1. Who is Closet Yi? How would you describe yourself?
I'm a DJ from Seoul, South Korea. I've never been taught music properly, but I started digging and collecting music by myself since I was a kid and now I'm on my journey to become a full-time musician. I'm also very interested in visual arts so I've been doing all the graphic design for the posters that I use at my parties. I've been dedicating myself to the dance music scene in Seoul as a DJ, clubber, designer and promoter since 2014, and now I'm trying to focus more on producing my own stuff at the moment.
2. Do you represent a specific genre?
Deep house would be my strong point compared to other styles of music, but still, I don't want to be categorized into a single genre. Regardless of the genre I always try to deliver a constant feeling of authentic, organic atmosphere to the mixes that I play in clubs or other events.
3. Do you find that it’s harder to represent one single genre as a musician?
Yes and no. I believe there won't be any musician who loves only a single genre and wants to perform the same style of music through their whole career. However, I think branding is very important for musicians these days, and presenting oneself by focusing on a certain genre could be one of the most effective branding strategies. When I first started djing I wanted to show people that I love so many different kinds of music, but there was a time that the crowd were confused about my identity as a DJ. However, as more as I specified my sets to the mixing style as I am today, people started to recognize me better. So although an artist might not want to be categorized into a certain genre, it may be easier for them doing so in order to promote themselves more effectively.
4. I imagine being a DJ is like composing a presentation to a crowd of people who open themselves up to listen to music; how much of your identity is in the way you compose a set?
I believe djing is a mixture of presenting my identity and satisfying the people on the floor at the same time. One of the key challenges for a DJ would be how to get a perfect balance between those two aspects. I try to spend enough time so I can dig tunes that can describe who I am, and are enjoyable for the crowd at the same time.
5. How was it establishing yourself as a woman? (Do you feel you’ve had to work harder to prove yourself?)
When I first read the question I thought yes I have worked harder to prove myself as a female DJ, but now I think twice and realised I would have done the same even if I was a man. I've been working hard for what I love and thankfully the people in this industry that I met were always supportive and took it seriously. However, there are still so few female DJs in the scene (maybe 1 out of 15 would be the ratio) so I try to expose myself to young girls so that they can see a new image of what a DJ can be, and that's one of the reasons why I started the duo crew C'est Qui with DJ Naone.
6. How do you give people a unique experience when playing a set?
I try to introduce people to music with less energy, such as ambient or downtempo when I can. I want to let people understand that club music doesn't always have to be super heavy and full of sounds at every frequency. For example, I recently had a chance to DJ for a yoga class with Asics so I played a very Balearic, beachside, ambient set while still mixing some beat music.
7. Would you consider yourself a feminist?
Of course, I am, and it would be really great if I could see this question in a male DJs interview as well!
8. Where would your ideal location to do a set?
It would be a seaside beach club, or I heard there are some wonderful rooftop decks in Spain! I wish to play more outside, but Seoul has all four seasons so the warm days are quite short.
9. What is your greatest fear?
Losing self-awareness I guess? For the past few months, I've seen so many musicians and collectors who are so talented and successful in their career but are still eager to learn something with so much curiosity and passion. I think being humble and keep questioning back at yourself is very important to stay young and with a soul, so losing that part inside my mind would be my biggest fear. I hope that I'm constantly changing every moment.