Behind the Beat: Justin Oh
South Korean EDM artist Justin Oh is on the rise. He was first discovered by legend Paul Oakenfold and continues to receive support of many power players in progressive house and trance music like Armin Van Buuren and Above & Beyond. Instead of being a lion tamer, he chose the career path of being an innovative DJ and producer and he shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.
This week he released his latest collaboration with DubVision titled ‘Under The Stars’, on Hardwell’s Revealed Recordings. ‘Under The Stars’ kicks off with smooth vocals, but ascends into a high-energy banger.
DubVision & Justin Oh – ‘Under The Stars’
Only The Beat: When did you start DJing and producing? Where was your first official gig?
Justin Oh: I started DJing and producing early in high school, kinda before EDM blew up. I was into all kinds of electronic music at the time like house, trance, progressive and breaks. It was more of a hobby back then. I started producing for fun on this crappy computer I built from leftover parts from other old computers. It was like a Frankenstein machine but I managed to run this music making software called Fruity Loops on it. That’s pretty much how it all started.
The music I was making back then was pretty bad in today’s standards. I laugh now if I think about it, but back then, it was playable. A couple of local DJs started to drop my tracks here and there and I even had a couple remixes played on the FM radio a couple of times. I think my first official gig was a New Year’s mega party at pretty big club at that time called The Docks in Toronto. I had a 15-minute set time sandwiched between other local up and coming DJs. So basically, I played 3 songs haha!
OTB: Do you have any mentors in the industry? If so, how have they helped your career?
JO: I think once I started to really take music production seriously people started to notice. I was very fortunate at that time because Paul Oakenfold, who was and is a legend and pioneer in my eyes, came across one of my tracks and started to support it heavily. I didn’t even know and found out months later.
But, he was playing it on his radio shows, putting it on his mix albums and even picked it as one of his top ten tracks of 2011. I reached out to him and his label, Perfecto Records, and they gave me my first record deal. That really helped when I was starting out, especially in Korea (where I was living at the time). Since then, I’ve made friends with a lot of other DJs, artists, and labels in the industry who have been super supportive and influential. Also, I have an amazing team now that supports me and my goals. It definitely helps to surround yourself with good people, but more importantly, the right people.
OTB: If you had to pick another career?
JO: Lion tamer.
OTB: What is the dance music culture like in South Korea?
JO: Crazy awesome. It blew up and everyone is still super excited about dance music and festivals. They play electronic dance music everywhere. There are tons of big production festivals and clubs. And, the fans are just starting to get educated on the different genres of EDM and exploring new styles and DJs. It is an amazing time to be in South Korea and Asia right now!
OTB: What is your favorite track that you produced and one that you did not produce?
JO: I have a new track. It’s not released yet but it’s called “Jekyll and Hyde”. That is definitely my favorite track I’ve made. It took a while but I got very lucky with the sound design and it has an original sound to it. I’m super proud and excited about this one – it’ll come out early 2017 I think.
OTB: What advice do you have for an aspiring DJ that is trying to get a shot in the industry?
JO: It takes practice, hard work, and some luck to get successful at anything. Need all three to make it work. To be honest, no one quite knows where the next big discovery is coming from, whether it is through a label, YouTube, Facebook, or through mentorship. But, at the end of the day it is all about good music. So, if you have good music and keep putting it out there then all it takes is a little bit of luck to change everything.
OTB: Where do you see the dance music industry going in the next 5 years? New technology? Changes?
JO: Space? Ultra Music Festival on the Moon?
OTB: Outside of DJing, what are your other interests or hobbies?
JO: I’m a bit of a foodie. Love checking out the local cuisine and eats. I like sightseeing when I get the chance and Netflix when I’m on the road. But, DJing and music is almost a 24/7 thing. If I’m not touring I’m usually either making music or working with my team. Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.
OTB: What can we expect from you the rest of this year? Any new tracks or collaborations coming up?
JO: I recently released my track called “Start Again” on Armada. A good friend of mine, Tom Swoon helped out with an edit and made it sound huge! Been playing that for a couple months now and debuted it at Ultra Japan a couple months back.