In 10 Tracks, we link up with the cool kids and OGs of nightlife, then we ask them for a mixtape. This time around, we talk to SUBEZ YETI aka Subi of Yeti Out, Thür and Mean Gurls Club.
You go out? Dance? You gotta know Subi. Killer ink, fantastic fits and a smile that can light up the club, her reputation as the founder of badass all-girl music collective-slash-community Mean Gurls Club only comes with a single issue: She’s actually one of the sweetest people you’ll meet in nightlife.
Bringing good energy wherever she goes, it’s no wonder a party is never far behind. Likewise, if you ever catch yourself under the strobe lights on a pulsing bass, sweaty dance floor surrounded by dozens of your fellow Hongkongers (properly socially distanced, of course) there’s a good chance Subi, or one of her Yeti Out, Thür or Mean Gurls Club contemporaries is in the booth, directing the vibes.
Raised in a musical home, Subi never thought she’d end up a DJ. But we’re glad she did.
As we await Hong Kong’s latest reopening, Lifestyle Asia caught up with Subi to talk about making a difference in people’s lives with music, why she never became a singer and one very memorable gig in Chicago with Arthur Yeti. And as always — she made a mixtape to take us into the weekend.
10 Tracks: SUBEZ YETI
Who’s SUBEZ YETI? How would you describe your sound and what you do?
I’m just a girl who was born and raised in Hong Kong with a big heart for the music community and culture. My purpose is some shit that’s way fucking bigger than me. I know I’m one person, but I kinda feel like this ripple effect is gonna impact the people around me. I believe our experience is not just to learn, but to teach others what we have learned — to try to bring people together and break down the boundaries of music.
How has the latest round of restrictions impacted you and your work? What have you been up to?
I feel great without the parties, ’cause I quit alcohol 2.5 years ago because of the pandemic. I had to improve myself to do better and my health. And I’ve been meditating for a couple of months, practicing mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought or activity to train a mentally clear, and emotionally calm and stable state.
What sparked your interest in music? Did you play any instruments growing up?
I grew up in a house filled with music. My brother always bought a lot of CDs, and I could listen to all kinds of music like hip-hop, techno, electronic, trip-hop, and so on. Sometimes when I did homework and put on headphones to silly sing-along songs, my dad hit my head because I sang too loud. [laughs] But I couldn’t sing ’cause I’m tone-deaf for real — deadass.
When I was a kid, I never thought I’d become a DJ. There didn’t seem to be a rhyme and reason to what music I loved; my tastes spanned from punk rock, to show tunes, to hardcore, to techno and electronic and funk classics and UK bass and disco deep-dives. ALL KINDS OF MUSIC! I mostly listened to punk rock and post-hardcore, songs I burned to listen to in the skate shop I worked at when I was a kid. Music is frequency and energy — we are frequency and energy — and music alters our vibration and mood. Music brings people together, music is a means of catharsis, music helps us through our bad days, music makes our good days even better, music heals and helps! Fuck, I could go on forever.
How did you end up starting Mean Gurls Club and THÜR?
I had been part of the music collective Yeti Out since 2014. At that time I hadn’t started to DJ yet, I had just always been with the Yeti boys, travelling. I started learning to DJ in 2017 when I was in London, then in 2018 became a Hong Kong-based DJ and promoter and founded Mean Gurls Club. In July 2018, me and another crew created “Thür”, a party focused on pushing Hong Kong’s underground music culture, and bass loving, dance-heavy DJs. “Mean Gurls Club” is a community that can be anything you make it. It’s all about connecting with people who make you a better person.
Do you remember the first party you played? How did it go?
I think was in London — a Christmas house party — and I played vinyl. That was the very, very first time. I still remember someone requesting a song, I said “No”, and I put down my headphones and left the house instead.
What was your most memorable gig? What was the worst?
Most memorable was Boiler Room x Vans in Chicago in 2019. It was a B2B with Arthur Yeti and 1,000 people in front of me. When I passed the headphone to Arthur, my hair was stuck in the cable. YouTube has the video, go check it out [laughs].
For me, I don’t have any “worst gig” at all. Only people are the worst. I create a party or got hired by some brand, I use music to connect with them. But some of them don’t understand that DJing isn’t just DJing; it’s not just us playing some records or mp3s. As DJs we have a lot of power, we control the party.
Outside of music, what inspires you?
People. Meditation. Movies. Poems.
Is there a set or performance that you’ve seen that had a lasting impact on you?
Denzel Curry — his on-stage energy is 100%-BLOW-YOUR-MIND! And Skepta’s Tokyo Block Party in 2016. He was with his whole crew, they flew to Tokyo for the launch of his album Konnichiwa. That’s crew love!
What’s your creative process?
Expect the worst, hope for the best? I don’t do that — I expect the best, hope for the best! If some bad shit happen, it was a test. Keep moving forward, baby. Even if only a small number of people see it, you will inspire the next generation. The important thing is to know yourself. You can’t be the best at everything. Find what you’re good at, and then work with other people who are great where you’re lacking to support each other.
What’s your favourite thing about Hong Kong?
My favourite thing about Hong Kong is the food. There are many fantastic eateries and restaurants around this city. And Hong Kong’s night view — I especially love the nightscape from the Harbour. I never get bored of that.
What makes or breaks a set?
I love DJing with the freedom to play what I like. Music is about more than having fun, learning a skill or sparking creativity — during these uncertain times, I appreciate all the performance opportunities I can get and rely on music to deepen the bonds between the community and culture, process my emotions and express my creativity.
(All photos courtesy: Subez Yeti / Shot by Ivan Chan)