Didi Han (Paris-based Korean DJ & Producer)

We caught up with Didi during her trip to Singapore on how she’s inspired by fashion and the natural environment…and how dance parties can be a real form of therapy.

Parallels between the creative process in fashion and music

Culture Cartel: Thanks so much for taking time out of your Singapore visit to chat to us. I understand you came from a fashion background, what are some ways fashion and music are similar?

Didi Han: It’s in how I create and finish something, the whole way of thinking and getting inspired. From starting with research to when I make something and the finish, it’s quite similar to the fashion process.

When I started making music, I adapted this kind of knowledge from studying textile and fashion design. It really helps me with the process of creating something.

Culture Cartel: Can you tell us a bit more about how Nicholas Jaar inspired you to become a DJ?

Didi Han: I started DJ-ing because of Nicolas Jaar after I listened his BBC Mix set. When I listened, I noticed he was creating ambience, not just mixing one track to another. He created atmosphere, he’d put the track on and then put some sound design there. It really felt like you’re watching a movie (even though you’re just hearing things), you can imagine something because of the ambience.

I really loved his way of mixing and decided I wanted to learn the skill of DJ-ing, but I didn’t expect to ever be a DJ. I just want to create something, like Nicolas Jaar did.

Touring East to West and differences between clubbing culture in Europe vs Asia

Culture Cartel: Yeah, great artists make us feel like we’re in a story or in a experience through the soundscape. So the next question is about your travels across Europe and Asia. What did you learn from that time you went touring?

Didi: I’d already toured around Asia before I moved to Europe and started DJ-ing there. When I came back, I could adapt well to the Asian city vibe where I toured often, especially in Seoul. Then in Europe, I learned how to adapt my DJ set to the European crowd.

Culture Cartel: What are some differences between the Asia crowd and Europe crowd? Any examples of how it’s different?

Didi: European people know to wait, they’re more chill I think. And a DJ set is quite long, they’ll listen to a three or four hour set. But in Asia, a four hour set is not normal. Usually it’s more like a one to two hour set.

For example, when I was playing in Seoul, I’d only have a 1.5 hour set. One hour is a very short time for me, so I’d really need to decide which track I want to play. Whereas if you play a three hour set, you can play different kinds of track and create different moods.

The good thing with a 1 hour set is you can show yourself in a short time frame, only the good parts. But both are good in different ways.

Culture Cartel: That’s interesting. So in Europe, people take the time to enjoy the experience and really immerse themselves?

Didi: It’s more the vibe. When they go to a club, they also want to chill, dance and something like that. But in Asia, they want to celebrate for a few hours, they’re very excited about this moment. So when you’re playing in Asia, people are more excited and for 2 hours you really need to hold the energy.

If somebody asked me to play for four hours in Asia, it will be exhausting because people are so excited and I cannot spend high energy for 4 hours. But in Europe, people are very used to going to a club and there are alot of places to chill also.

So the energy and their way of enjoyment is just different. Because in Asia, clubbing is kind of also a new culture here. Maybe that’s why?

Drawing inspiration from nature’s sounds and field recordings to compose new tracks

Culture Cartel: That’s really interesting. The next question is about nature. You seem to have quite a strong connection to nature, especially in Forest and Wake Up. Can you tell me more about how sounds from nature inspire you?

Didi: When you’re recording a field record, you can get inspiration from the noise.

For example, if you listen to a bird sound you will not something like rock and roll or super-crazy stuff, it’s going to be more chill. Or if you listen to a crowd shouting sound, maybe you’ll make something more exciting. This kind of thing gives me a lot of inspiration. Just the feeling.

I recently made a track inspired by a trip to a lake with my friends. It was a really peaceful moment with seven or eight people. We were just doing things by ourselves, I went swimming, someone else was reading a book, others were talking and someone was working out. But it was so peaceful.

Then there was a sound of a bell from a church and I recorded the church bell sound. It was just a church bell sound, but when I listen to it, I can remember the whole vibe on the day. And then I started to compose from the bell sound about that day.

This kind of inspiration sparks creativity and helps me make something. I’m inspired alot by these kind of things.

Culture Cartel: So it’s deeply personal, how one sound can be a symbol for the whole day.

Didi: There are so many different ways of creating in music. Sometimes I’m inspired from drum sounds, sometimes I’m inspired from words, it’s always different.

When I’m inspired from nature, I don’t hear them as just nature sounds. I imagine something from the sound and then start creating.

Culture Cartel: Yes. That makes me think of the fashion process as well.

Didi: I realised it’s quite similar actually, after doing both. From start to finish, when it comes to making something, they all have the same rules for creativity (even in cooking).

Culture Cartel: With cooking sometimes just one ingredient inspires a whole meal. And it doesn’t have to be the main ingredient like chicken. It could just be one herb.

Didi: Yeah. I like that thinking.

Dance Therapy: bringing people from all cultures and ages together to party, de-stress and celebrate freedom through music

Culture Cartel: The last question is about Dance Therapy. Can you share what inspired you to start Dance Therapy? What kind of people do you want to connect or bring together through therapy?

Didi: I already decided on the name before I started making parties (even though I didn’t know when the first party would be).

In America, there are therapists who actually practice dance therapy (people get therapy from their movement). I never tried it, but I think it really makes sense! When people have depression, they need to move, work out and see the sun. This would really helpful. So I thought that Dance Therapy could be something like this.

I had this in my mind and my first party was Fete de la Musique (a musical day in France). On that day, the French government allows artists to perform anywhere in Paris. You can perform at the bar, outside on the street or anywhere. So I heard about this and wanted to make a Dance Therapy party on that day.

It was really successful even though it was my first time doing a party on the street. In Korea, our rules are very strict, so it’s impossible to have a party on the street. So it felt really wild with the raw energy from the street. I want to keep this image and energy for this party.

I want to bring a lot of different people together so people really get therapy, like, release their stress from my party and also connect with many people there.

When I did my Boiler Room set in Paris, there were many types of people there. Because I’d toured often in Asia, perhaps when I’m playing in Paris, some people send my poster to their friends and say, “Oh, you should go to go this party”. Some people turned up because their friends would say, “This is my favourite DJ, she’s playing this week. When you’re there, you should visit her”. So many people came through word of mouth.

I love that Dance Therapy is a mix of different groups of people. Many people outside of the country or foreigners living in Paris came, there were very mixed colours. There are so many different type of people and ages also.

I really love this vibe and want to keep this kind of vibe for my party, so we can really feel the freedom.

Find out more:




Listen to Didi’s upcoming EP “In the Zone”: