Born & raised in South Korea and now residing in Berlin following several years studying in London, Peggy Gou made her recording debut in January 2016 on Radio Slave’s Rekids label with ‘The Art of War Part 1’, featuring a remix from Galcher Lustwerk (White Material, Lustwerk Music). With a diverse range of inspriations including J Dilla, Patrick Cowley, Yellow Magic Orchestra and DJ Sotofett, her productions immediately garnered attention for the maturity of their sound coupled with an uncanny ability to create instantly accessible dancefloor records. She soon followed that first release with the ‘Day Before Yesterday’ / ‘Six-O-Six’ 12″ for Phonica White – the vinyl-only label of the internationally-reknowned London record store – before returning to Rekids for the ‘Art of War Part 2’ EP, this time with a remix from L.I.E.S. regular Terekke. During this period her DJ bookings skyrocketed, with a debut at Berlin institution Berghain, a support slot for Moodymann at his DJ-Kicks album launch, and gigs alongside The Black Madonna, Jackmaster and DJ Koze before the end of the year.
How did growing up in South Korea Influence your music?
I wouldn’t say that Korea really influenced me, as I grew up listening to what every kid in Korea was listening to. But my brother was always that guy that listened to music that average kids don’t listen to. He was listening to classical music when he was 12, and I learned piano at that time. I was eight. So, I guess that’s what influenced me at the time. But I think I was a lot more influenced when I moved to London, which was at the very young age of 14.
How much better has the industry got for female DJs?
First of all I think we’re on a very, very good path. There are a lot of very good female DJs coming up, lots more gender equality, and male DJs are supporting female DJs. Some male artists I know say that if you want to book me I want the same ratio as a female DJ. They speak up when they witness something unfair. People are speaking up now. That said, I don’t like it when people try to put the word female in front of DJ, because then you’re already differentiating those two words. We are doing everything we can at the moment.
What’s your earliest memory of music?
When I was young my brother had one of the first massive walkman-sized MP3 players—he would hold up the earphone for me, saying I had to listen to this. He listened to music people at his age of 10 or 11 years old didn’t really listen to, like classical piano such as Chopin or Bach, which is still quite rare in Korea—mainly young people listen to K-pop.
What do you prefer more, producing or DJing?
I like both, but I’m more of a DJ. You only like what you like when it is done. [With producing] sometimes it takes long, sometimes you don’t like it, sometimes you think you killed it, but then two weeks later, you listen to it and think, what the fuck is this? DJing is more about connecting with people, and I’d rather be out there connecting with people than being on my own in the studio. I like to share my vision, I like to share my taste. I guess this is one of the reasons why I try to express my tastes and preferences, although some people might not like it.
They might not like it, but surely this is good for the crowds you play to, right?
Exactly. For example, I just played in Korea recently, where the EDM scene is still bigger [than house or techno]. And I decided to play exactly the same kind of sets that I’d play in Europe. They need to hear it, otherwise they won’t know because a lot of Asia is a little bit behind in music. I needed to be the one that shows them this music. So yeah, in a way it is educating, but who am I to educate anyways? But if I can be somebody who can influence other people on new music, then yes, I’ll take that responsibility.
What came first for you: style or music?
It would have to be music. I was always one of those kids who would go around with a Walkman with both CDs and tapes. I was also trained on the piano growing up too, and always felt really deeply connected to music growing up. My brother was very good at piano too. My dad sang and played guitar too. But then I also loved dressing up since I was really young too. I got properly into fashion when I was 19. I went to London to pursue my love for fashion more, but then while I was doing that I got more involved in music and then I realised that was what I needed to do.
What else do you want to explore in your music?
Before, I wanted to be a house DJ. Now, all my favourite DJs are playing everything, not just house music. So I thought, why not, when you can do everything? With music, I want to try to make something that’s not for the dancefloor. I want to be able to show people something different all the time.
You’ve said that you don’t have a specific style and what you wear can vary quite a bit.
I don’t even define my style. I want to be able to show people that I can wear this but I can also wear that.
It’s kind of like your approach to music.
Everything is about that! You think I’ll only do this music, I go right. You want me to go right, I go left. When you think, “Okay, I don’t think she can do any better than this”, I like to break that [expectation]. This is one of the reasons why I live. It’s the moment that I feel most satisfied.
On the production front, you seemed to arrive on the scene seemingly out of nowhere with four standout EPs. How many tracks would you say you produced before releasing your first record?
Including unfinished tracks, I would say around 500. It’s hard to be objective about my own music, but at some point, it just felt like the right time to release them.