Brian Hioe spoke with Hojo about his recently taking up a post as music director of 23 Music Room in Taipei. The following article originally appeared on Electric Soul, a Hong Kong-based electronic music magazine and ticketing platform, on February 24th.
Brian Hioe: Could you first introduce yourself for readers briefly? What was your musical history before you came to Taipei?
Hojo: My name’s Allen Huang, I DJ as Hojo, and I throw parties using the CUSTOMS moniker. I moved to Taipei from Seattle about 5 years ago, and I’ve been DJing and throwing parties for a decade.
BH: What other work are you involved in? Besides DJing and party organizing, you’re also involved in booking, for example
H: I’ve worn a lot of hats in my life, but currently I work as a booking agent for Awesome Agency, representing a myriad of electronic artists, organizing tours for them and whatnot. I also write regularly about music and culture, and do all sorts of odd jobs and freelance work. I worked as an engineer when I lived in the US and while I don’t do that work regularly anymore, my experience there proves useful occasionally.
BH: What excites you about taking up a post as music director at 23 Music Room? What are you planning on bringing to the table?
H: Getting the keys to a venue is a new chapter for me, so I’m excited to even at this point be doing something new and rich with opportunity. I’ve done a lot of shows at a lot of different venues all over the world, from small, DIY spaces to large VIP clubs. I’m excited to take what I’ve loved from these experiences and try to implement them in Taipei.
Photo credit: 23 Music Room
BH: What do you think is particular to 23 Music Room, as a space? What do you hope to accomplish with it, as a form of intervention, or to create as a space that is currently lacking in Taipei?
H: I think 23 Music Room has a lot of things going for it. There’s little fear of noise complaints, and the logistics of the space are pretty good for shows both big and small. But the best asset is that it still has that spirit of “anything goes”, from DJ parties to live shows, to dancing to flea markets and everything. I think spaces like this are incredibly important to fostering a scene, such as ForestLimit in Tokyo or Seendosi in Seoul. I really look up to the freedom those venues offer, as modest as they are, and I want to make 23 Music Room into Taipei’s version of that.
To that end, I want to work closely with the organizers who have already made 23 such a huge success, like Queer Trash and Dysfunctional Reality, and really bring them in on what we can do to make their already successful events an even bigger, greater thing. We have the customer base, we have the reputation, now let’s try even bigger things.
I also want 23 to become a fertile ground for the next wave of organizers and promoters. By imparting my knowledge and experience, as well as working with the rest of 23’s management to reduce the risk of throwing an event here. More types of events, more creative parties, and a bigger sense of community I think are all tangible goals that will really make 23 a pillar of the scene.
Ideally, I’d like 23 Music Room to be a space where anything goes, and everyone wins.
BH: Any events you have coming up that you would like to talk about? What’s upcoming for you?
H: I haven’t gotten the reins completely for the music director gig, but I’m already talking to people in the community about the next couple months’ of plans, so keep following the 23 Music Room socials for updates. And feel free to contact me directly if you want to talk about doing something at 23!