There’s something genuinely refreshing about Ricky Chong. The Sligo-based DJ and producer mixes house and disco records with a deft hand, digging deep for radiant cuts that stomp and soar with NRG, funk and soul. A resident at Sligo’s Faint club night as well as Dublin’s The Big Romance, he’s been building his profile for a couple of years now, but his love for music that kicks and swings stretches back to his childhood. Growing up, his dad’s collection was a treasure trove of jazz, funk, disco and sounds from around the world such as Oscar Peterson’s We Get Requests, Gwen Guthrie’s ‘It Should Have Been You’ and Alex Naumik’s Handle With Care.
As his own tastes veered into hip-hop, R&B and Chicago house, he remained anchored in the music he grew up with. These sounds were alchemised once Chong started DJing four years ago when, after finishing college in Sligo, he fell into a period of poor mental health, and followed his friend Goose’s advice to learn DJing as a way of focussing his energies and overcoming anxiety. Soon, gigs at house parties and pubs evolved into club sets: “Those gigs really saved me,” he says. “It helped me get out of my comfort zone, and I found that to be a great coping mechanism to deal with those issues I had developed.”
Chong’s ethos when it comes to DJing is simple: he just really, really loves sharing the music he loves with people, and building a sense of community through that. It’s been this way since he and his friends would sit around until the early hours at afterparties sharing tunes, and it’s the same now. He even got to share a Track ID with legendary DJ Paul Woolford, aka Special Request, when they shared a bill at Faint. “[It’s about] being part of something inclusive, with people loving and enjoying the same thing you love… I haven’t found anything else that could replace that joy.”
This summer will see Chong play his first festivals, including Life and Otherside. With a view to producing more of his own music and gigging more, Chong’s passion is palpable. We can’t wait to see where it takes him. Eoin Murray
Photos by Gemma Bovenizer