[Interview] BATE

Malaysian DJ Duo BATE has been no less than impressive. 28-year-old Ethan Curzon and Yeoh Wai Hong are making waves in the electronic dance music scene, both regionally and internationally.

From dropping sick beats at Zouk KL to playing at music festivals such as Future Music Festival Asia (FMFA) 2013 & 2014 and Thirst 2013, BATE has gone on to perform alongside big names such as R3hab, Hardwell, Calvin Harris, and Martin Garrix.

In February this year, they released their hit track One I Love, which has since been recognised as one of the hottest singles from Asia, reaching some 9.6 million streams on Spotify, according to the duo.

How They Got Into DJ-ing

BATE shared that they played their first official gig some 7 years back, but became interested in music while they were still adolescents.

Ethan: I always listened to all kinds of music, but then I discovered trap — I liked tracks like Exploration Of Space. At the age of 17, I started clubbing. I went to this club called SPACE in Kuala Lumpur, which is where I discovered house music. I was like, “wow, this is amazing!”

Ethan and Wai Hong, who knew each other all the way back in high school, enrolled into the same DJ academy. The duo laughed as they told us that their mentor thought they would look “good together”, and even asked them to stand together and play a set.

Sometime later, while Ethan was furthering his studies in Perth, his roommate received a called from Wai Hong, who suggested that they should host a party when he returned to Malaysia.Wai Hong recalled that “as college kids, a lot of people show up if you’re hosting a private party,” explaining that 50 people turned up for their party, which was where they played their first gig together.

Tweets about the party went semi-viral, which was how they got spotted and landed at residency at Zouk club in KL, a hotspot in KL’s nightlife scene.

On Muses And Dream Collaborations

Wai Hong shares that as a child, he enjoyed dance music and appreciated “old school stuff”, citing The Beatles as one of his favourites.

Ethan, on the other hand, listened to all kinds of music —“2000s music and emo bands like Taking Back Sunday.” Ethan explains that he was once in a band himself, during his teen years.

We asked them who they currently consider muse for their music, and Wai Hong says its Calvin Harris for him, while Ethan chimes in saying he looks up to Zedd and Kygo.

“We have not just one muse, but rather, many muses,” explains Wai Hong.

Naturally, the question of collaboration comes up. The duo shares that they would love to collaborate with Martin Garrix, whom they find “amazing.” For vocals, they mentioned Khalid — “when you turn on the radio, you just know its him,”— as well as Ed Sheeran. Wai Hong also expressed that one artist he respects and wants to work with is Calvin Harris, as “anything he touches becomes Billboard No.1, which is incredible”.

Success of One I Love Still Feels Surreal

“When we made the beat, we were going for the happy, joyful kind of vibe. But as you’ll see in the video, there’s a hint of nostalgia. We feel this is quite relatable to many youths, and even people like our moms — everyone has that one person who got away, or the one person they miss.”

BATE’s hit track One I Love achieved international success, with around 9.6 million streams on Spotify — “and we’re going for 10!”

“Our aim was just to hit 1-2 million”, says Wai Hong. As One I Love was their first track, Ethan said that the success of the track still feels surreal. He recalls that during the first week after the track was released, “numbers weren’t looking great”. Fast forward three months, and One I Love was picked up by Spotify playlists such as Young, Wild and Free, and Hits Don’t Lie. The track even emerged as Global Viral No.5.

Thoughts on Asian DJs

“There are a lot of Asian artists coming out and getting recognition,” says the duo, citing 88rising, the company who manages Asian artists such as Rich Brian and Higher Brothers, as an example.

“It’s definitely different from the past where the scene was dominated by Europeans. Our top listeners for One I Love are actually from the US — Malaysia actually ranks 7th!”

BATE noted that the music scene was becoming more progressive. “People are no longer seeing us as Asian artists but listening to the song and liking it for what it is. It’s a huge milestone for us — we may not be playing huge festivals now, but these are like small steps to achieving something.”

By Natalie Danielle