Every week we ask a creative, artisan, or musician to share what music gets them going from dawn to dusk. This week, Singaporean DJ Maurice Simon handpicked the rhythms that stimulate joy throughout his day.
Simon is one busy man. The half-German and half-Chinese practices corporate and commercial law in the day and spins the deck as a DJ at night as the resident DJ at Kilo Lounge. Fueled by his fascination with electronic music, Simon secured his first gig in 2004 and has gone on to perform at huge music festivals like Ultra Singapore. Apparently, his affinity with music started when he was exposed to classical and jazz music at a young age, thanks to his mother—veteran violinist Lynnette Seah, who is co-concertmaster of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
Although Simon dabbles with House and Techno now, he allows his intuition to string an engaging electronic set that gets the crowd moving. Intrigued? Experience a night of diverse music styles as he plays alongside DJ Ata (Berlin) for HUGO's Blackout party which celebrates the opening of the third and largest HUGO store in Singapore at Jewel Changi Airport.
Below is our interview with Simon on his music philosophy and how he selects fitting tracks for a particular themed set.
The HUGO Blackout Party happens on Friday, 15 March at the Brass Lion Distillery.
ESQ: What sparked you to become a DJ?
Maurice Simon: I’ve always been an avid music collector and used to skip meals in university to spend the cash on vinyl. My favourite moments in life all involve music and sharing my collection with friends.
Weekly trips to the original Zouk and my time as a promoter for Ben Watt’s Buzzin’ Fly Label in London are what got me fascinated by club culture and the role DJs play in bringing music lovers together. That’s the brief history of how I got started.
ESQ: Tell us some memorable or unique experiences while spinning the decks.
Maurice Simon: Travelling abroad to play gigs in off the grid locations has been one of life’s finest pleasures.
Some recent highlights have been playing at Epizode Festival on the sands of Phú Quốc Island in Vietnam; at a Spanish Hacienda-style villa in the hills of Khao Yai Thailand for Karma Kastle and at one of my favourite festivals, Wonderfruit in the fields of Pattaya.
ESQ: What makes you stand out from other peers in the industry? Do you experiment with genres or stick with personal favourites?
Maurice Simon: People often associate my style with House & Techno but my philosophy involves breaking down genre barriers and seeing electronic music as a connector and an open platform. What makes DJ’ing rewarding to me is the painstaking process of drawing connections between diverse musical styles that aren’t casually obvious. That process is very personal to me since no one else gets into my head, and I hope it plays some part in what sets me apart from my peers.
ESQ: How do you decide the tracks for a particular themed event, say for the Hugo event which you will be supporting.
Maurice Simon: Collaborating well starts with a shared understanding of what we each stand for and believe in. To me, Hugo as a brand portrays a sophisticated edginess that is both striking and understated simultaneously. I like that their collection draws cues from German club culture.
It couldn’t be better to have Ata from the iconic Robert Johnson Club in Frankfurt headline the night and I’m looking forward to playing music that I hope both resonates with Hugo and sets things up nicely for Ata’s forward-thinking and diverse take on contemporary electronic music.
ESQ: What's next for DJ Maurice Simon?
Maurice Simon: I’m looking forward to more club and festival gigs at home and abroad this year, as well as kicking off new collaborations with my friends at Straits Clan and Telok Ayer Arts Club, along with more upcoming shows at Kilo Lounge where I have been a resident DJ since 2015.
“A selection of mellower numbers that I like to gradually awaken to. No kick drums before noon, please.”
1. ‘Introduction'—Nick Drake
"Melancholic but hopeful folk music from a talented and obscure Englishman who tragically died of a drug overdose at the age of 26."
2. ‘I Wouldn’t Dream of It’—Joyce Heath
"A fluttery blues number that tells a tale of pure, naïve love from a bygone time."
3. ‘Untitled 06 | 06.30.2014.'’—Kendrick Lamar
"My favourite track from Kendrick Lamar’s 2016 compilation of experimental unreleased demos. I find that it goes perfectly with a Monday morning breakfast."
“The daytime hours are when I feel most comfortable seeking out bright and quirky oddities with an uplifting vibe to keep my tank chugging until the night shift inevitably begins.”
1. 'Mabruk’—Ali Hassan Kuban
"I love to travel and this is one of the songs I'll play while walking through airports or waiting to board a flight."
2. ‘Cool Cat (2011 Re-issue)’—Queen
"Funky, disco rock from Queen that puts a spring in my step every time."
3. 'The Way You Do'—Rheinzand
"Psychedelic funk fused with disco-rock overlaid with soft dreamy vocals—there’s so much going on in this tune, and I keep coming back to it time after time."
“A few songs that I’ve been playing recently in sweaty dark rooms once the sun goes down.”
1. ‘In The Arena’—Celine Gillian
"Discovering this tune and the album Bad Woman felt like waking up from a bad dream and then realising it was an amazing thing. An amazing work of surreal, experimental pop that catches the attention of a dancefloor in the opening moments."
2. 'Cyborn (Velvet C Tape)’—Spongemagnet
"A Sci-fi tinged slo-mo trip here from the Belgian cosmic beat duo, Spongemagnet."
3. 'Back To Work (Xen Revox)'—Naduve
"Naduve are part of the currently emerging generation of new Tel Aviv producers (through the Red Axes connection). This haunting, psychedelic house number has been permanently in my box since I uncovered it last month."