Collaborate more, play out less – and record a debut album
Deep in the heart of Bali, against the backdrop of the ocean and not far from a newly-erected creative centre at Potato Head, Peggy Gou brought in the new year – and a new decade. An electrifying set in a surreal but spiritual place, this was a dream-come-true headline act for the DJ. “I can’t describe it,” she says, reminiscing the following morning. “It was a very, very special moment. It will be one for the books.”
Gou has been coming to Bali every December for the past four years. “It’s one of my favourite islands. I normally play one of the smaller parties here, and they will have Grace Jones or Disclosure headlining for New Year’s Eve. So to be given this opportunity this was a huge moment for me. There is such a spiritual energy here, it’s very powerful.”
Gou’s set also coincided with the soft opening of Desa, Potato Head’s new creative centre, a monumental brutalist building designed by architect David Gianotten at OMA, the Dutch practice founded by Rem Koolhaas. More than just hotel suites, it will also be home to an exhibition space, workshops (vastly focused on sustainability), a cultural centre, and recording studio. Among its early collaborators are Wild Life Archive – the most extensive collection of dance music artefacts in the world founded by Steve Terry, artist Faye Toogood, and designer Max Lamb. Dance music icon DJ Harvey is even designing his own nightclub, opening in a few months and perfectly named ‘Klymax’, and spearheaded by Potato Head’s creative director Daniel Mitchell (co-founder of Dalston’s LNCC) who has brought in collaborations with Virgil Abloh, Gou, and Stüssy since 2014. “(This space) gives me goosebumps. Apparently in Bali if you get goosebumps it’s a good thing,” says Gou, who has also designed a hotel room suite inside the building. “Rem Koolhaas is one of my favourite architects. I’m so happy to have been one of the first people to design a suite.”
2019 was a big year for Peggy Gou, and 2020 is set to be no different – especially with work on a first album. So, what was Gou doing at the start of the last decade to bring in the new millennium? “I was in LCF, and I would never go to school! I was arguing with my tutor every time and she hated me,” she laughs. Unveiling her list of resolutions for the new decade, what advice would she have given her 2010 teenage self? “It might be weird for me to say, but I don’t want to give her advice. I didn’t take any advice from too many people and that’s how I ended up doing what I’m doing. The only thing I like to tell people is that I always try to give a message to always be yourself and don’t take shit from other people. That’s the only message I would like to give. But ten years ago, she wouldn’t listen to me anyway!”
RECORD HER DEBUT ALBUM
Peggy Gou: I need a lot of time for myself this year because it’s my album time! That’s something I can tell you – I signed a deal with XL. I need to work on this and they (the label) keep calling me everyday saying, ‘how’s it going?’ I’m like, “I didn’t start it yet!” I’m writing things down – do I want to do features with other people, or with a band? I don’t want to be just a DJ playing someone else’s music. I don’t think of myself as just a DJ, so that’s my main goal and priority. Hopefully it will be released in 2021, or even 2020, but I’m not putting any time pressure on it, because you will know when you’re ready. Whenever I try to rush it, I never make anything that I’m happy with.
Peggy Gou: I thought a lot about who I want to collaborate with this year. I’m not really looking for a fashion collaboration, but if something happens, then great. I’m more into collaborating with artists and musicians, for my music, and more visual and art installations. Also, my fans are very creative, they want to do stuff! I would like to give people some kind of opportunity or platform to be creative. This is something I’m thinking about.
PLAY OUT LESS
Peggy Gou: In 2020 I will definitely reduce my gigs, because I believe that creative people – and consider myself one of them – need to do nothing to be creative. At the moment, I’m travelling so much, and all I can think about is Netflix and movies. Oh my god, I don’t think about anything else! So to be able to do that, I need to take time off. In January, I’m going to Thailand for two weeks with my family and then February’s off. I say ‘off’, it’s like, one or two shows. My next big show is Coachella in April.
PUSH BACK ON SEXIST ASSUMPTIONS
Peggy Gou: A lot of people ask me when they interview me: “How do you feel being a female DJ?” And I always tell them their question is wrong. You’re asking me how I feel to be a female DJ? You could just ask me how do you feel to be a DJ! 20 years ago, my mum was one of the women who struggled with (sexism). About three years ago, men in the music industry would also tell me, “You are going to reach a glass ceiling. You’ll be able to see what’s up there, but you won’t be able to go up.” Then, my mum called me the other day because she finally reached the highest position at her work and was like, “Peggy, I broke the glass ceiling!” I was like, “Mum, I didn’t know career people used this word, but me too.” It made me so happy. In Korea, it’s so much more conservative. If you’re a female driver and you make a mistake, they will shout at you and say, “go home and cook rice”, or “go look after kids”. That said, I do think women are finally on a good path.
GIVE SOMETHING BACK
Peggy Gou: Aside from the album, I want to do more in the arts and find ways to give back. Here at Potato Head, we were thinking of doing events and giving the proceeds as a donation to an important cause in Bali. I found out that stray dogs are a big problem here, so I’m visiting BAWA dog charity tomorrow, I’m giving my money to them.