It’s something that we hear often – “There’s no good music in Hong Kong” or “no good artists or DJs come to Hong Kong,” Truth is, you’re either not looking hard enough, or you simply haven’t heard of Cliché Records.
“Something was missing in Hong Kong,” says Ouissam Mokretar, Co-Founder of Cliché Records. “There wasn’t enough groove or smiles on the dance floor.”
Over the years, Cliché has brought the likes of Xinobi, Kartell and FKJ to our shores. They also take care of their artists’ bookings around Asia and the Middle East.
However, organising some of Hong Kong’s most talked about parties isn’t all fun, games and handing out shots of patron – Ouissam’s shot of choice for welcoming newcomers. The truth is, a few hours of fun often requires weeks, sometimes months, of work.
“The hardest part is all the the logistics between the agent or the artist and the booker (or sub-booker) and us. Flights, hotel, pick up, set up, but also the negotiation with the venue we are going to work with,” says Ouissam. That’s not to mention the event promotion, flyer design, and so much more. “We are a human size company, and we want to keep it that way. We want to handle everything so that each artist who comes can feel that we are real.”
Beyond booking artists for events, Cliché has grown its repertoire to include artist management and a record label.
“All the best labels are based in Europe, U.S. and Australia, but none or very few exist here in Asia” Ouissam explains. “We wanted to create something to represent the face of the electronic music in Asia.”
In 2014, Cliché Records debuted its Homesick series created by music enthusiasts living far from their homes, reworking tracks from the past into music that ‘feels fresh but retain their memories.’ Each Homesick series was released on vinyl in limited runs of 400-500 copies.
“The first group we signed to Homesick was a Swedish Duo we love, who did a rework of a cheesy R&B track that I love – No Scrubs by TLC,” Ouissam recalls. “I still play it, and it always surprises people!”
With each project, Ouissam says it starts with two questions: Does the city need it? Does it exist? If the answer is no, “then let’s do it,” he says.
This summer, Cliché also opened its first club called Savage in Hanoi, where Ouissam now spends most of his time. “The club in Hanoi is to represent all these DJs under the radar in Asia. People like Yoshi Nori (Taiwan) Nic Ford (Saigon) or Magico / Antwork (Seoul) need more visibility. They are amazing. In the near future, the club will be a house for all real talents based Asia,” says Ouissam. “I come back to Hong Kong at least once a month to work with the team here. I can’t live without them, we’ve become a family.”
Words by Coco Marett
Photos by Home Kong