There are few in Singapore’s music scene who haven’t heard of Amanda Keisha Ang, better known by her stage name AKA Sounds. The homegrown DJ specialising in Hip-hop, Jungle, and House tracks is also part of ATTAGIRL, the all-girl collective aimed at bringing together women in arts and music. She might started her foray into music with church choirs and girl power bands, but now, Amanda is one of the industry’s coolest beatmakers. In this edition of City Nomads Radio, she shares what she loves about being a DJ, her father’s vinyl collection, and and her tricks to creating new mixes.

 

Hi Amanda, it’s a pleasure to have you on the site! Tell us what you love about being a DJ.

Just being able to share music I love with so many different people on the floor. I feel great when I finish a set and people tell me it made their day. As an entertainer, I would like others to feel that my music relieves them of stress and provides an escape from the daily grind. Often with what I do, I get to meet others who share the same musical interests as I do, so it’s nice to be able to get nerdy with others about it.

Photo courtesy of Justin Tai

You’re big on Hip-hop, House, and Jungle. What is it that you love about these sub-genres?

That’s the general information that I put on my profile for others to get a simple idea of what they’d expect out of my set. However, I do play a lot of UK underground music such as Dubstep and Grime, and I also enjoy Chicago Footwork and Juke. I can’t really put a finger as to why i like them… I’m sure i can try to trace influences or try to find associations, but I guess when you do, you just do. It just sounds good to me.

How about one sub-genre that you think doesn’t get the attention it deserves?

Here in Singapore? UK Dubstep and Footwork. Some of us play it out sometimes, but it’s still music that needs a bit of time for it to grow on the general club audience.

What is your approach to creating a new set or mix? Any secret tricks?

If it’s a secret, I shouldn’t be telling you! But for reals, I don’t think there’s any trick other than feeling what you want to play and creating a mood for whoever cares to listen. With a mix it’s the storytelling, it can be super personal with a journey about your childhood or it can be just a mix with new material you’re currently listening to… I’ve created mixes for all sorts of reasons. So just pick your tracks intelligently.

Photo courtesy of Basil Tan

You’ve played alongside some pretty amazing DJs and beatmakers from around the world. Who do you have a lot of respect for?

It’s hard to say because there’s so many to mention, but I’ll give a special shout to my girl Chrissi aka MADAM X for being a real boss. She’s not only an excellent DJ with taste, but she’s humble, and mad hardworking – she’s been touring nonstop since June and still seems like she has boundless energy to spare.

You’re one of the founders of the all-girl DJ collective ATTAGIRL!. How’d that come about?

ATTAGIRL! came into being after I met Serene (Durio) and Shy (Jaydah) at the FFF Girl DJ Bootcamp, which was then a month long DJ workshop for women. As newbies, we weren’t getting that many gigs and also found it hard to assimilate into the electronic music scene here, so we decided to just fuck it and make our own parties. Time waits for no (wo)man, right? Since then it’s been 5 years of ATTAGIRL! activity.

Are there any interesting events coming up? Or any projects that you’re currently working on?

Currently, ATTAGIRL! is doing a monthly open call DJ jam for female-identifying people of all ages. It’s a great way to meet others of all varying levels of technical DJ skills and also talk about music and network. We hold a quarterly DJ workshop for women as well for a small fee. For myself, I still play often as part of urban party series Kampong Boogie, my own bass music collective BAOWBAOW, and also a personal bi-monthly Footwork DJ/Dance session called JUKE IT! with Choice Cuts record store and #SGFOOTWORKERZ.

 

Photo courtesy of Ungku Ibrahim

We read that you grew up with your father’s large vinyl collection. What’s your opinion on the gap between old school vinyl DJing and modern day DJing?

The difference between them is just that one is older technology and the other, newer. And with that, it’s inevitable that attitudes to DJ techniques and collecting music will differ. With newer systems to DJ on, it does mean more convenience to the DJ in a technical sense, as there are screens to view music and BPMs (beats per minute), less hardware to be fussed about, more access to music as it is acquired digitally (so we don’t have to lug like, 5 kg of vinyl around), leaving the DJ free to switch music quickly with more flexibility.

Whilst with turntables, one has to rely on a keen ear to mix as there’s no screens and also spending time collecting physical copies of music from different places which may not be ideal for busy people. But it’s also in itself an exercise and experience that most modern music collectors might relish as opposed to just downloading music online. New technology makes DJing more accessible to the wider public and can easily satiate a curious mind without much work – however such conveniences also make people become lazy selectors and lousy DJs in terms of technical skill and track selection. It’s all about how you use both existing technologies to give yourself and others the best experience and education.

Describe your mix for us!

I decided to revisit some old Dubstep and other experimental tunes that I haven’t played out in a bit that was less club-friendly from some bass music producers that I really respect, and also wanted to mix in some hard hitting dancefloor 4/4 belters from producers within the same realm (such as Addison Groove, Mumdance & Logos, etc). People often pigeonhole producers or beatmakers in certain genres and separate themselves as an audience musically, but I find that the best music comes from producers that make a wide range of music styles, which is a trait that should be highly appreciated.

I had to add a track from my partner (Danny Scrilla) whom I’ve been with for just the past two years, and that came from the first ever record I bought off the label he is part of – Cosmic Bridge. Every time I do a mixtape, it’s kind of documenting my life in a way (if you listen to my old mixtapes, you can definitely “hear” my influences and state of mind) and I wanted to reminisce how electronic music has influenced my personal life. I live recorded the mix too – I prefer to do mixes organically so there’s some human errors in it. I hope you guys enjoy it.

Keep up with AKA Sounds on Facebook, Mixcloud, and SoundCloud