In 10 Tracks, we link up with the cool kids and OGs of nightlife, then ask them for a mixtape. This time around, the DJ known as Criminal 6 dishes on the origins of his name, his almost rap career and becoming Tyson Yoshi’s favourite DJ.
Ask any DJ about their biggest hurdle starting out. Instead of beat matching or mastering the jog wheel, 4 out of 5 will tell you the toughest part was deciding on a name. But for 6 — well, that was an easy one.
“The pronunciation of my name is 6 (LUK) in Cantonese, therefore most friends call me ‘6’,” he says. “When I received my first gig, I thought I needed a DJ name, so I chose ‘Criminal 6’ from a rap name generator.”
6 had the kind of musical education you might expect for a born-and-raised Hong Kong kid — the piano — but fell in love with hip-hop at a young age, which drew him to the drums and even taking a shot at rapping (“I was not satisfied so I didn’t release it”). However, once he got his hands on a Pioneer XDJ-RX2, he never looked back.
Since then, his journey behind the decks has found him shutting down music festivals in Bangkok, parties all over the city and more famously onstage as the DJ for Hong Kong’s hip-hop darling, Tyson Yoshi.
Fresh off a series of sellout shows with the artist, we caught up Criminal 6 to chat about his journey, his most memorable gig and where he hopes to take his DJ career next. And as always — he made a mixtape to take us into the weekend.
10 Tracks: Criminal 6 aka DJ 6
How would you describe yourself as a DJ and your sound?
I have been fascinated by hip-hop music since I was a child. I learn how to increase the atmosphere of the audience by watching different concerts, which allows me to know how to create the atmosphere of the show, and gradually develop my own personal style through hip-hop and house music.
What was your first introduction to music? Did you play instruments or sing growing up?
I came into music through piano; my family forced me to learn [laughs]. I learned the drum set for about four years after, and I also tried rap, but I was not satisfied so I didn’t release it.
What made you first start spinning?
There was a friend who suddenly bought an XDJ-RX2 in his store one day — shout out to The Loading Store! — then, I started this journey.
Do you remember the first party you played? How did it go?
That was at the birthday party of my friend; I was super nervous [laughs].
What was your most memorable gig?
The Bangkok Block Party in Thailand. It was the afterparty located in the W Hotel. It was my most memorable party during my journey so far.
Is there a set or performance that you’ve seen that had a lasting impact on you?
Kenny Beats’ DJ set at Boiler Room x Primavera Sound Barcelona x Cupra, he cleverly mixes the sample positions in various new songs, so he brings the atmosphere to the highest level.
How did you end up working with Tyson? How did you guys first link up and what was the synergy that kept it going?
We got to know each other through my friend. Since our previous jobs are in similar nature, we quickly established a relationship. By chance, we have continued to work together till now.
Which DJs or artists in Hong Kong are inspiring you lately?
How do you find inspiration outside of music?
I am a graphic designer, as well; sometimes I find new inspiration by appreciating artworks.
What’s your creative process?
Mostly I establish a certain theme through things around me, like the mood or weather, then I will find suitable songs to connect.
What’s the best thing about the scene in HK? What do you feel is missing?
Various types of music are constantly developing in Hong Kong. I hope there will be more ways and channels to spread different forms of it to the public.
What’s next? What do you have coming up and where can we see you?
I have always wished to perform at an outdoor music festival. I look forward to seeing you all when the festivals are held again in the future.