“A Sense of Unity and Resilience”: Eastern Margin’s Road 2 Redline Tour

by Brian Hioe

Photo Credit: Eastern Margins

New Bloom’s Brian Hioe spoke with obese.dogma777, rEmPiT g0dDe$$, and Lumi about Eastern Margins’ recent Road 2 Redline tour of Southeast Asia, collaborating with artists that previously worked on their Redline Legends album, released in 2021.  The tour included stops in Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Jakarta, Bangkok, Bandung, and Saigon.

Brian Hioe:  Could you introduce yourself for readers that don’t know you? Where are you from, how would briefly sum up what you do, and where are you playing this time?

obese.dogma777:  My name is obese.dogma777, I’m from Manila, Philippines, I’m an electronic musician, film scorer, music producer, sound designer, singer-songwriter, community advocate, and club venue owner. For this Eastern Margins tour, I was able to play for their Manila Leg over at Apotheka, which is the club space that I own and run but I was also lucky enough to join in on the Eastern Margins leg in Arcan Saigon.

Lumi:  I’m Lumi, I started Eastern Margins. I was born in Nanjing, China but the baked beans called out to my soul and I’ve lived in the UK for a minute.

rEmPiT g0dDe$$:  I am a music producer, aspiring Southeast Asian music researcher and DJ based in both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. I am known for my two experimental electronic music projects, VIKTORIA and rEmPiT g0dDe$$. I am interested in the development of Southeast Asia’s underground music scene and I have been exploring in-depth the practices of club/rave culture through traveling and playing in parties of Southeast Asia.

BH:  What excited you about the tour going in? What surprised you during it?

obese.dogma777:  I think I always get excited about going on tour because of how I always find myself struggling to relate with people musically where I’m from, I’m always usually the odd one out but whenever I’m on tour the music manages to draw similar people towards me like a magnet, in that way, I’m always excited to discover and meet like-minded people who I can consider kindred spirits. Music seems to be the great connector and glue that brings us all together via an invisible bond and I’m always pleased to find my people/tribe in any place or country I am blessed enough to be invited to.

Saigon was very interesting for me because I had zero context as to what type of music was popular for their nightlife, I’ve had the pleasure of performing in Saigon as “similarobjects” (my former project) in 2019 for Cloud Room but the context was super different from now and it was a surprise for me to see that I felt right at home with Arcan Saigon’s Hard Dance loving nightlife scene. I had stepped up to the show with zero preparation and no playlist prepared as I’ve been testing out the concept of just mixing by mood and it was a pleasant surprise that despite the uncertainty and mystery of improvising I was able to connect fully to the crowd with my selects, theatrics, and performance. I felt truly at home and it was such a pleasant surprise<3

rEmPiT g0dDe$$:  While I was touring Southeast Asia, I met Jorge aka obese.dogma777 from the Philippines in Jakarta for a music festival that we were both playing & puppy ri0t from Vietnam in Saigon during a music residency club night. They were both involved in the Redline Legends album compilation & I was so happy that I got to meet like-minded musicians across Southeast Asia in real life. When I met Lumi in Pisco Bar in Kuala Lumpur, I was so excited to thank him for organizing the album compilation because I was thankful to be introduced to a network of music friends across Southeast Asia who are very talented & special.

Lumi:  This tour was all inspired by the compilation we released a couple of years ago, Redline Legends, which was about exploring regional club mutations in Southeast Asia. Due to the pandemic, we never got a chance to meet a lot of the artists on the compilation, so it was amazing to finally embark on the Road 2 Redline.

What surprised me the most was just the sense of acceleration and momentum in all the cities–  even in the two years since Redline Legends’ release, there’s new crews, new artists, new mutations. The velocity of sonic innovation is a perfect embodiment of the energy of these cities–faster is better!

BH:  What were the takeaways that you took from the tour, in terms of what you learned? Did you draw interesting connections, in terms of the music? In terms of connections developed with other artists?

rEmPiT g0dDe$$:  I learned that there is a strong and supportive community in Southeast Asia that is committed to building and pushing the boundaries of club/rave culture.

obese.dogma777:  The main takeaway is the invisible pathways that exist in between all minds that connect thru music, without saying much I’ve really felt a strong connection to the people i performed for, swaying in beat together, raging to the gabber and hardstyle kicks in rapid succession felt like we were all flowing together as one and that was a great reminder of a bond stronger than anything for me. Despite our differences in origin/language, we all spoke the same language when it came to music, and thru that it made me feel less alone in the world, as someone who’s always felt alone because of my affinity to the unpopular, the obscure, and the bizarre and absurd. We are way more connected to each other than we know and that’s the biggest takeaway for me, that and how Saigon is hella HARDCORE <3 ahhahha ya’ll are my ppl fr fr

Lumi:  What resonated with me the most is the sense of unity and resilience of certain scenes. In Kuala Lumpur, an hour before doors started, nobody had sound checked as the venue called us up on the day they had an issue with the show, saying our sound was too abrasive. I was struck by the calmness and determination of the promoters (shout out Shelhiel and Jin!), sourcing alternatives and ultimately working it through with the venue.

The infrastructure for underground electronic music in a lot of the cities we visited is still lacking– but that creates a sense of urgency and resourcefulness. When there’s no space afforded to the underground, there’s a sense of solidarity that draws everyone–from the techno goths to the drainers, cosplayers to the IG baddie–together under one roof.

Brian Hioe:  Are there any other reflections you would want to share with readers about the tour?

rEmPiT g0dDe$$:  We should relentlessly support the growth of independent experimental music record labels and underground party collectives across Southeast Asia by encouraging the autonomy of creating new sounds, contributing to making a safe space for all music and people to co-exist.

obese.dogma777:  It pays to stick to your guns and be real with yourself coz, in the end, you will always attract what you are whether its something good or bad, I’m just happy that I’ve always kept it genuine since day one–in effect I’m happy to have been brought to only the realest people in this lifetime. Make love to the music and the music will love u back is what I mean <3

Lumi:  It’s easy to overlook the amount of dedication and sacrifice that goes behind the stage. We need more than just artists. All the promoters, venue owners, and agents we met were silently taking huge personal risks to be putting on the shows that are the lifeblood of these scenes. There’s a huge amount of belief needed to be the first to step up and commit to building an infrastructure where it doesn’t exist. It takes a village to build the Road 2 Redline!