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Profile: GAYLE SAN
There was a time when Singapore was being called a cultural desert, a time when the music you discover seems to come from faraway lands and arrived a few months, or worse years, later than your friends in the Western hemisphere, it was a city that's a far cry from the hip town it is today. This was a time when working in nightlife was somewhat a questionable career choice, and telling your family that you want to be a DJ will be met with an intervention from your family about the virtues of not relying on music as a job. But sometime around 1988, and before that, a Singaporean girl decided to take up a new form of music that's just came out in the West as her musical language of choice - Gayle San wants to be a techno DJ. For someone to be a DJ in Singapore in the 80's, even with what would be dream gigs for other DJs playing the warm up sets for funk legends like The Commodores, Earth Wind & Fire and Kool & The Gang, she knew she had to leave Singapore to pursue her dreams. And she relocated to UK.
Gayle's first steps into the London clubs were via DJing at record company parties, various one-off guest spots and fashion shows. These slots soon led to Gayle being made resident at 'Reach for the Sky' at London's Limelight club, where she played alongside global DJs which Gayle describes as "the steepest learning curve possible". Having honed her DJing skills and broadened her understanding of music, Gayle began to experiment with the harder side of dance music, particularly the lesser known techno sounds coming into UK from Europe and the US of that time. Her reputation for mixing on three decks and DJ sets spread like wildfire over the techno centres of Europe, most notably landing her a monthly residency at the legendary Omen in Frankfurt, Germany, (the club founded by Sven Väth, Michael Münzing and Matthias Martinsohn, which many has counted to be one of the clubs that kickstarted Techno in Germany) after playing an 11 hours set at her first gig! Apaarently a thing quite of the norm back in the day, as confirmed by Gayle here, and Omen rewarded her with a sound introduction to the German audience, opening doors to more clubs and festivals outside of UK and placing her alongside the pioneers of techno of the 90's.
With a sharp increase of bookings and residencies around Germany, and in order to reduce the constant flying over, she decided to move from London to Heidelberg where her management office was based. Heidelberg is very close to Frankfurt, so she got involved with the Frankfurt's scene for a long time naturally, and began playing regularly at another legendary club for Techno after Omen's closure, U60311. She was also on Frankfurt radio regularly and even had a show "XXL Clubnight" where she DJs live on TV! (What Boiler Room?)
Gayle San's consistent discography and dancing-driven big room sound fills her calendar up with dates at some of the finest clubs in techno's capital cities, playing Bionic in Detroit, the Pure Pleasure parties in Chicago, at legendary clubs like Twilo in New York, Sona Montreal, Fuse Club Belgium, the original mainroom of Zouk Singapore, played parties for Prince, Chaka Khan and Kylie; and when she's back in the studio, she works on her signature sound putting out tracks on numerous labels including Toolroom, Time Warp, V2, DJ Mag, Mixmag, FAR, Naked Lunch, Trapez and her own labels Equator and GSR, short for Gayle San Recordings.
Having established a career in music as a DJ and producer, she said it's beyond her expectations when she first moved from Singapore to London, she indulges herself in other passions and businesses today. But by no means she is hanging up those headphones. She is still releasing records, and she's sharpening her music sense, yet keeping that signature tribal-house-groovy-techno sound that is deeply rooted. She's just also found new adventures in life, perhaps to take her to new highs, quite literally with sky-diving.
It has been more than a decade since this pioneering female DJ played in a club in her original hometown, but she found some time and arranged for a trip back to Singapore for some personal business and agreed to a quickly arranged impromptu mid-week booking with Interstellar at Kilo Lounge on Wed, 14 Feb 2018. When asked if this would be the beginning of a renewed relationship with Singapore, she said "I've been away for so long, I feel like a tourist every time I come back for a visit. I'm always intrigued coming back to the huge, fast pace, changing Singapore, may it be in the club scene, the lifestyle, the surroundings, and the people... so yeah, I would like to call it a renewed relationship!!"
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