Born in South Korea, Peggy Gou moved to London in her teens to learn English and stayed to see out a university course in fashion. Thanks to visa issues a couple years ago, her move couldn’t stay permanent and so a hop over to Berlin followed. Unsurprisingly it’s helped her music career has gone from strength to strength.
After developing her craft under the mentorship of two STW favourites – Highlife’s Esa and Nu Guinea – she’s ready to deliver her debut EP this month for Rekids. The UK house and techno imprint run by Matt Edwards (aka Radio Slave) proves a perfect first home for an EP that has a Detroit synth-heavy roughness to it, packed with ode to the African rhythms from which Peggy sites as a particularly strong inspiration.
We weren’t yet acquainted with Peggy’s DJing prowess before she sent over this mix, but that first fifteen minutes made such a strong first impression we had to lock it in. Deep, yet up-lifting, soulful yet hard-hitting, it covers the breadth of Peggy’s DJing interest, featuring cuts from Boo Williams, Kai Alce, Delano Smith, Geology and Telephones. We also asked her a few questions about her musical upbring, and current work in fashion and music.
Art of War drops on 22nd January on Rekids, coming correct with a Galcher Lustwerk remix. Grab it from Red Eye.
Could you tell us a little about where you’re from originally, where you grew up and whether you had much of a musical upbringing?
I was born in South Korea and moved to London when I was 14 to study English, by myself with support from family, and ended up staying there till I graduated from university two years ago. Regarding my musical background, I was learning piano for quite a while when I was teenager but that’s about it. But I was having one-on-one music production lessons during my time in London.
What’s your first musical memory?
I would have to say when I got to know various different genres from my brother’s MP3s. I was like 10 years old and my brother taught me all the genres I didn’t know like jazz music, classical and soul.
What inspired you to go into music in the first place?
I was always into music – I used to love telling friends/people what I listen to and what I like, finding new songs, new artists… well I still do that. Then for these reasons, while I was in London I was interested being a DJ and producer. First it was just DJing, then I realised it’s important to have your own sounds so I started learning production.
When did you make the move to Berlin, and why?
It was in November 2014, so it’s been more than a year now. I was in London to finish uni – unfortunately my visa got rejected when I applied to music school last year in London, as the course level was lower than the course I just finished at fashion uni – so to stay another year in London I had to do a higher level course in fashion even though I didn’t want to. While doing fashion I was having music lessons on the side and realised this was what I was into and what I wanted to carry on. A few good friends of mine from Berlin told me the city could be the right place for me to move, and after visiting Berlin several times I decided to move here as I always had fun while I visited.
Who have been your main inspirations musically as you’ve been finding your own sound?
Well there are too many good producers/muses that pushed me and helped me finding my own sound. I started my very first lessons with Esa from Highlife when I was in London a few years ago, and also regular lessons with Nu Guinea guys in Berlin. I never stopped learning and I still feel like there is tons to learn. I also got to know great musicians and producers I didn’t know before from these guys too. And from those great artists and their musics I get my inspiration (specifically African music).
Do you see the worlds of music and fashion as linked in some way, and how have you made the most of these links in your own career?
When I decided to move to Berlin I was thinking to myself “I will only do music – not fashion”. I wanted be serious with music as I thought doing both might not make me look serious, but somehow where there is fashion there is music. Of course the music I release might not be the fashion stuff, but I still make music for my designer friends for their fashion films ad shows, and still work in fashion industry. Not as much as I did before but I decided to carry on doing everything I can.
Releasing your debut EP on such an esteemed label as Rekids must be a nice way to announce yourself. How did you first get involved with them?
I met Matt few years ago in London after he recommended me to someone who was organising a Mercedes-Benz Auto show in China, as they needed a female/Asian DJ. We only knew each other through Facebook but it was really nice of him to introduce me. We became friends since. After knowing him for a while he knew I produced music and after few years I sent my demos to him and other labels. In the beginning I was a bit nervous as I wondered if my tracks would fit the label but guess they did! :>
Could you tell us a bit about that EP with them? How did it all come together and what would you like listeners to take away from it?
I have tons of demos but producer friends always told me to believe in my instinct – “when tracks are ready, you will know it” – and there were originally five tracks that I felt like were ready to go. Rekids decided to go with four but I’m still super happy with their decision. As you listen to the sounds there are little similarities within those songs that perhaps listeners might not be able to find out straight away but hopefully sooner or later people will recognise my sound.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve made for us?
I made this mix with tracks I really like – especially the very first track, Kai Alcé – ‘Take A Chance (Larry Heard mix)’. I couldn’t stop listening to this track when I first heard it! And another big tune Geo-Logy’s ‘Moon Circuitry’ – when I met him in Berlin, seeing how he played blew my mind! Great DJ and great producer.
Starting off slower and deeper, the mix progresses into a number of other territories throughout the 50 minutes. How would you say it is a reflection of your tastes and versatility as a DJ, for those who haven’t seen/hear you play out before?
I would say I just tried to show what kind of sounds I’m into. There’s not much difference from what I play out live.
Beyond your Rekids EP, what’s on the horizon for you in the coming months?
In March I have an EP coming out on Phonica and in April the second of my Art of War EPs on Rekids. Then I’m planning to do one more release before the end of this year .