Wong Yat-tung is a familiar face for fans of TVB dramas such as War and Beauty, and Life Begins at Forty. However, some of you might know Wong by her DJ alias, Miss Yellow. After giving up acting, Miss Yellow went on to become one of the most in-demand DJs in Hong Kong, and has even shared the stage with Imagine Dragons and Fatboy Slim.
Ahead of her second appearance at Clockenflap, Coconuts Hong Kong sat down with Miss Yellow to talk about DJ’ing, and her set for Clockenflap this year, which will pay tribute to Hong Kong’s history and culture.
Now you weren’t always a DJ, you actually started off as an actor…
I was an actress for about 10 years. I really like performing, but my dream was to become a singer. But somehow I went in a different direction, I went to become an actress, so I couldn’t fulfill my dream of performing on stage.
So around eight years into my acting life, I had a chance to learn how to DJ, so I switched to DJ’ing and found my passion to be in the DJ booth.
How did you start DJ’ing?
One day I talked to my friend. At that time I was a bit sad in the TV industry, because the roles I got were not quite good – I mean for my image – because I was always [playing] the mean woman, bad characters.
So I talked to my friend… and he told me ‘hey, I just started learning DJ’, and I said ‘really? Whoa! I would love to learn too! Can you ask your teacher? Would he like to teach me?’ And then he asked, and the teacher said ‘yeah, yes come, I can teach you for free.’
What is it about DJ’ing that you enjoy?
I enjoy it because I can choose the music I play, and share it to make the audience have a connection with me. It’s interactive, I can control the flow, ups and downs, I can control it.
When I was an actress, I just got a script. I got a character, I got a role, but I couldn’t choose. I couldn’t choose because I was at [Hong Kong-based broadcaster] TVB; they never let you choose, they just give you [a script] and you go ‘OK, I’ll do it, I’ll just do it’.
So at that time, I didn’t feel freedom with acting, I could not discuss with the director to know more about my character, I didn’t have a chance. So with DJ’ing I really can control things; it’s so different.
I think you can express a message to people. For me, I really like positive messages. I don’t like aggressive or violent or angry [messages]. I don’t want to express this message to the audience, [and] even though there are no lyrics, you can still feel it.
What kind of positive messages?
I like hope. It’s really important in this society, because I realize so much music is so dark nowadays, dark or negative. So I think hope is very important.
Love is very important. It sounds old-fashioned, right? [laughs] But I think it’s very important.
Do you have any favorite types of music you like mixing?
Mainly I like electronic music, but I like to mix it with different elements, for example, hip hop or bass or grime. Sometimes I put trap into the mix.
Good music is good music, it shouldn’t be just ‘OK, one genre’, you should mix it together so it’s more rich for the audience. It’s difficult, because, for example, in hip hop, the tempo is different, it’s a bit slower, and electronic music is higher, so you need to find [the right] tunes that can mix together. It takes time… but if I find these songs and mix them together, I’ll be very happy.
Last year during my Clockenflap performance, I did that. In the opening I played some hip hop tunes and I suddenly dropped dance music and wow! The audience, they were quite surprised and they danced together. I really miss that feeling.
So you performed at Clockenflap for the first time last year. What can people expect this year?
I want to do something similar to last year, but I will put more vocals in the mix, because this year I won’t perform on the same stage, I will perform on the robot stage [which features family-friendly entertainment by day, and edgy electronica by night]. So with the robot stage you can perform different kinds of genres, so I want to add more vocals. And if I can, I want to sing one of my songs. I don’t know, I need to practice more.
Which one is it? Is it Nightlights?
No, it’s the other one, it was just released this year. It’s called Satellites (see video below), I want to sing that.
Is it harder mixing in vocals?
Yeah [laughs]. I’m still figuring out if I can mix them together. The music [this year] will be quite similar, but maybe I’ll add some trap or rhyme. But I prepared a video with a VJ (Ferrous Wong) this year. He also played with me last year for the video background.
The response was very good last year, so this year, we prepared something together about Hong Kong, because we are Hongkongers right?
We really want to show the beauty of Hong Kong to the audience, and there are so many signatures of Hong Kong, for example neon signs and the modern buildings and the traditional buildings — they are very, very special.
But as Hong Kong people, maybe you just get used to it everyday. But I want to keep it special and present it in a modern way, because I realize the government, they take down the neon lights, they take it down and then they don’t put a new one up again, right?
You’ve toured around the world and you’ve shared the stage with people like Fatboy Slim and Imagine Dragons. Is there a part of the world you would like to DJ in and anyone you would like to share the stage with?
You know, I really like Daft Punk, and Soulwax… 2Manydjs [another project by Soulwax] have come to Clockenflap many times; I really like their music. Actually, they are my influence, they got me into electronic music. Daft Punk and 2Manydjs, Soulwax… if I could share the stage with any of them I would be super honored, that is my dream.
Another place in the world you would like to perform in?
Hmmmm. Italy, because my husband is from Italy, so after I met him I know more about the Italian culture, and I realize that in Italian culture, they appreciate everything so much. If you play music for them, I think the response would be really really wonderful, because they just appreciate you so much, and they will dance with you, yeah, I really want to experience that.
What’s next after Clockenflap?
I still have some jobs – DJ’ing and modeling jobs, and I go to events for shop openings. But I really want to rest a bit because for Clockenflap. I spent many, many months to dig for the songs, the right songs. To be honest, it’s not easy to play a show where you can play the music that you really like in Hong Kong.
So Clockenflap to me is a very important show every year, so I spend so much energy on it. After that, I really want to rest [laughs]. Hopefully I can go for a vacation.
*Miss Yellow is scheduled to play the robot stage at on Saturday.
Clockenflap starts next week and runs Nov. 17, 18 and 19 at Hong Kong’s Central Harbourfront. Acts this year include Massive Attack, The Prodigy, Feist, Stormyz, Kaiser Chiefs, MØ, Jungle and many more. Three-day passes and tickets for individual days remain available via Ticketflap here. Oh, and while you’re at it, check out our recent interview with up-and-coming mainland hip hop artists Higher Brothers right here.