words by Sidonie Bird from the heart
We talk to NAK about the art of playing the opening set and the importance of representing queer femme in the Melbourne/Naarm DJ scene.
Kicking off the party at Bourke Street Courtyard as part of Novel’s React Tomorrow series is NAK, an up and coming DJ from Melbourne. “The React event series is really special to me because it was there that I was introduced to those deeper and darker tones of techno – genres like breaks, trance and electro that are all now signature of my sound,” she told us.
“I have a very special memory where I saw Jennifer Loveless play in one of the React’s maybe 2 years ago.”
“She played a phenomenal set that night, and seeing an Asian woman on stage made me think for the first time that DJing was something I could do too, as someone from an Asian background.”
“It was like I had reserved the idea of DJing in my head as a male-only activity, unless you were a super-influential, international, or cool white woman.”
“The chance to see someone from the same cultural background as me on stage was so empowering – that’s why it’s so important that we have more POC, fem and gender non-conforming DJs.”
What you need to know
- React will take place at Bourke St Courtyard June 25th
- The headliner is Danish techno DJ Schacke
- Kick-off at 3 p.m., final release tickets are going fast
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Now, two years later, NAK will open the set tomorrow for Novel’s takeover of Bourke Street Courtyard. “The setup that Novel is doing for their Bourke St Courtyard is insane – speakers, lights, projections – so I’m thrilled to be a part of that. It also feels like such a full circle moment, I remember listening to Schacke’s Kisloty People on repeat a few years ago with my friends.”
“When I’m recording a mix at home, it’s completely planned out — I usually have an idea in my head of the journey I want the listener to take,” she said when I asked her about her mix-planning process. . “If it’s a DJ set at an event, I’ve actually tried to walk in without a plan…I’ll just make a playlist ahead of time with way more songs than I need and think they’ll fit the vibe of the event.”
“Someone once told me that all of their best DJ sets are completely improvised, because you have to read the crowd during the event – you really can’t perfectly plan and predict where the set will go.”
“Since opening this event I’ve been more into setting the mood for the night, warming up the dance floor etc. So that means slower tempos, grooves, pauses as people start filling in. Calm, opening sets are hard because everyone is sober…”
“I’m really excited to play my music on nice speakers, it makes such a huge difference,” Novel has so many resources and they really know how to throw a party, so this is getting sick. Literally my React playlist right now is just any song I want to play on big speakers.
“It’s a really beautiful moment to come back to React, so surreal to think I’m going to stand where I watched Jennifer play.”
Responding to Bourke Street Courtyard is Saturday, June 25 from 3pm. Buy your tickets by going here.