You may remember him as the youngest kid behind XXX’s disc jockey panel; you may also remember him as the boy who bluntly confessed his love for Triple G and “blue horns”. Either way, you are looking at Tang Fong Ching Kelvin, who goes by Kelvin T. Young he may seem, but the teenager is hardly a novice. The 19-year-old has the reputation of a prodigy, having dropped 7 EPs in the space of four years. Currently a member of partynight-organizer-turned-record-label Absurd TRAX, as well as Shanghai avant-garde label Genome 6.66 Mbp, Kelvin has been making appearances in Hong Kong, China, and online radio stations like NTS, Radar Radio and RBMA Radio.
Right before Absurd’s first ever EP release, we sat down with the DJ-producer to talk about his formative years, song-making regimen, and sweet tooth.
Still / Loud: How did you first get into music?
Kelvin T: I was hooked on this website called ClubCreate—there you can find a lot of free samples, then you can start layering and building your own songs. That was the website that got me into music. I think that was around 2013.
Did you know any instruments back then?
Yeah, our school made every one of us pick up a musical instrument. I took guitar lessons but I never liked it. They give me backaches! I had to bend and shit. And the guitar doesn’t even sound good.
So you dropped it?
Yeah, then I started playing electronic music. It was my dad who suggested taking a Garage Band course. That was still 2013, maybe 2014? Basically we had an iPad at home, and he saw this Apple course. Dad has always been super supportive, he would even buy me gadgets. Later I upgraded my kit with Ableton in 2015. It was my ex who first introduced it to me.
When was your first show?
It was 14th January 2016, the day after I turned 18, at The Wanch. It was weird. I first saw this The Underground HK sticker in the streets. Then I looked it up online, saw they were recruiting musicians for shows, and filled in the forms. Soon they lined me up.
That was a while ago. What happened between then and now?
Woah, I was so close to giving up on music. During this period, I kept on making music and sent my tracks to many labels. Fact TV, Boysnoise Records… everything. But there was no reply at all. So one day I told myself, if I still don’t hear anything, I might as well just give up.
Luckily, a few days later, Tavi from Genome [6.66 Mbp] finally reached me. That was the day after my DSE results were out—goddamnit I only got 1 point in Chinese. Anyway, she invited me to join the label and added one of my tracks into their compilation. Through that Gavin from Absurd Creation found me.
Everything took off super quickly during my foundation diploma year, from September 2016 to July 2017. Hong Kong Community Radio was founded, then Absurd sent me to play at Sonar, Genome, and now there’s Absurd TRAX. It’s a lot going on. And during this period I learned a lot, I taught myself producing skills and how to use CDJ.
What kind of artist do you want to be?
I want to make things—make MVs, make music, make tours, make art shows—anything. Which is why I’m playing with visuals, with Premiere Pro, I try to learn everything so I can do anything. I wanna be a multimedia artist, or even an interactive media artist one day. I’m learning interactive media at school right now. Everything in 3D, though, is self-taught.
Kelvin T’s remix of Edison Chen’s 即影即有. MV artwork by EDCFANCLUB.
Isn’t it demanding to handle so many things? Does your music-producing clash with school?
It has already happened. Last October when Mechatok invited me to DJ at OIL Shenzhen, I was very hesitant. I always took music as a hobby, and I was nowhere near a professional yet.
A few days later when Negroma was visiting and DJing with [Absurd Creation] they reminded me it’s time for me to take music seriously. Their words meant a lot to me. From that day on I told myself I want to become a professional and see myself as a musician. I decided to make music my top priority, so I took OIL’s offer to DJ for Mechatok. It was a Wednesday, and I got school the next day. I just slept through my lectures. (Laughter)
Let’s talk about your new EP. When did you start making it?
3 months for 6 tracks, and 1 year for 1 track.
Which track is that? Is it “Lying”, our premiere track? 😍
Yeah, that’s the one.
What’s your theme and message? Why did it take you longer to write this track?
There was no theme. I just got inspired by tracks from Arca, SOPHIE, Tzusing and the like. Then I started to form ideas in my head and play on my Ableton randomly. I experimented with sounds, getting some high pitches. It became an instrumental track, and I thought that was it.
Later I heard Arca’s song “Piel”—he was murmuring things like mumble rap. That gave me some inspiration and there were lyrics floating around in my head. I thought if he could sing, I could sing too. And I told myself I could be an artist, of course I should give it a try. Then I added my vocals. It’s only after I made the song I started to make sense of it.
So you worked your songs the other way.
Yeah. There was barely any context originally. It was Laiki [aka @fotanlaiki] who suggested that I try auto-writing, to explore my consciousness from the subconscious. I listened to my track and started freewriting. It helped me understand what I was trying to express.
Still / Loud is premiering Kelvin T’s “Lying”, courtesy of Absurd TRAX.
Are you in the present? You seem very dreamy.
No, I’m in San Po Kong right now! (Laughter)
Are you always “high”?
Fuck that, why does everyone keep saying that? I’m not, I’m just being me, just happy.
So you’re happy all the time?
Yeah, pretty much!
What makes you unhappy?
Waiting for food maybe?
From your Instagram stories I see you’re very into sugary stuff.
It’s just randomly mixing stuff together. Nothing special. Oh, there’s this once I mixed chili sauce into ice cream, though. I don’t know what happened, but my whole body was so numb I got into the hospital.
What?! So what did the doctor say?
He didn’t have an answer. But it’s not a big deal, I just stayed in the hospital for a night. I even had a Facebook live session that night.
You really are the up-and-coming star, aren’t you?
(Laughter) Well, I am the young prodigy.
Kelvin T’s EP “Sedative” is out 5 January 2018. Don’t miss the EP launch party slash Absurd Creation’s last gig at XXX held on the same day, featuring visiting Shanghainese DJ Organ Tapes.