10 Tracks: DJ Daryll Griggs, Faye music director and Hong Kong nightlife OG

In 10 Tracks, we link up with the movers and shakers of Hong Kong’s nightlife scene to learn a bit about their background, their inspirations and their ten perfect tracks to kick off the weekend. This week, we talk to DJ Daryll Griggs, music director for Faye.

If you’ve been out past dark in Hong Kong during, say, the last 30 years or so, you ought to know the name Daryll Griggs. Half Korean, half English, and a local since he was six months old, he’s the product of two entertainers — his dad was lead singer at the legendary Ondine Room in TST’s Miramar Hotel, while his mum was a traditional Korean dancer. Knowing how to put on a show is, quite literally, in his blood.

So it’s easy to understand how this skateboarder and music lover went from working in a skateboard shop on Kimberley Road to making crowds move all over the world from Hong Kong to London to Ibiza and back. Along the way he’s opened LKF hot spots like Volar, and more recently, Faye, where he’s the music director, and in normal times you can catch him behind the decks alongside a stacked roster of DJ talent on the top floor of California Tower.

With Hong Kong finally eyeing a glimmer of hope following the brutal fifth wave restrictions on restaurants, clubs and life in general, Lifestyle Asia linked up with Griggs to get his story — one that includes Kanye West, triad nightclubs and blues legend Robert Johnson. He’s got some tips for up-and-coming DJs, and also wants you to know he can still hit a tre flip.

And as always — he made a mixtape to take us into the weekend.

10 Tracks: Daryll Griggs

What sparked your interest in music? Did you play any instruments or sing growing up?

I grew up around music because of my father; I got exposed to a lot of jazz and big band music from an early age. On the weekends as a kid I would get to go and watch my father perform at the Ondine Room — this showed me the command you can have on a room with just music or singing. I started playing the guitar at 15 and got really into blues, specifically bottleneck blues (also known as slider blues). I became obsessed with Robert Johnson and learned to play a lot of his music. I also started to compose music and sing around this time.

A young Griggs and his dad’s band

Who were some of your earliest music influences?

Michael Jackson was the very first cassette tape album I bought as a kid, and from there, soul, funk and disco were a huge part of my growing up. As I got a little older into my teens, I started listening to rap and hip-hop; artists like Beastie Boys, D-Nice, KRS-One, Jungle Brothers, Red Head King Pin, Big Daddy Kane, Run DMC and Rakim were some of my biggest, earliest influences.

In my later teen years I started getting really into acid house, house, garage and jungle. I was in London around this time and this music was just blowing up everywhere. London, I guess, was the reason my music taste grew. I wasn’t loyal to one particular genre; I just wanted to soak it all in. To me, a good tune was a good tune — the genre didn’t matter. 

When did you start DJing?

I worked in a skateboard shop called BFD on Kimberley Road in TST in 1995. They sponsored a DJ team and had three turntables with about 3,000 records. Naturally being in the store all day, six days a week, it piqued my interest and I asked one of the owners — “Tabo”, who was a DJ himself — to show me how it all worked. Once I got the hang of it, all I would do is practise every chance I got when there were no customers.

Griggs (left) and Tabo

Not long after that I got a job as a DJ assistant in a club called CatWalk in TST, which was a well known Triad club — this place was insane. I got to know everyone pretty quick being the only white-looking dude that spoke fluent Cantonese there. I enjoyed my time there and learned a lot. One lesson was when you DJ in a Triad-run club and someone asks for a request, you play it! Immediately! (laughs) 

Do you remember the first party you played? How did it go?

The first party I ever played was Joe Bananas in Wan Chai back in the day. My first night there went really well, and the place was truly a party spot. People in this place were wild, and on weekends, the place really got lit! What’s crazy about the place, at the time, is that they regularly had Hollywood stars there, which always blew my mind. Lee Burridge was the resident DJ, too.

What was your best/wildest/most memorable DJ gig? What was the worst?

My best moments were playing at a club called Sugar in Central, I did a hip-hop night there every Thursday. It became the busiest night the club had, with 1,500 people packing out the venue every Thursday — we called it Church.

The other most memorable nights had to be at Volar in Central. The best night of all was putting together a specific hip-hop set because I knew Kanye West was coming down; he arrived and then just stood looking at the booth wearing shades nodding his head. I knew his influences and put together a pretty hard hip-hop set, so it was amazing to see him enjoying it so much.

Griggs at the office.

How did you end up getting involved with Faye as music director?

I started working with the group from the opening day of Volar, then in 2008 I left for the UK and didn’t come back until 2016. I started working with the group again as a DJ, and through a series of changes, I got offered the job as music director.

When was the last time you travelled?

I went to Ibiza in 2021 during low season and it was magical.  

Without travel, where do you look for inspiration?

Discovering new music and artists inspires me; watching interviews of artists I like helps me learn so much; seeing friends around me achieve their goals; reading articles of people over coming adversity and hardship. Inspiration is everywhere if you look in the right places.

Griggs’ parents

Is there a set or performance that you’ve seen that had an important, lasting impact on you?

Clinton Sparks! His performance in Hong Kong at Club EDGE blew my mind and showed my how a DJ can rock a crowd with two turntables and a mic, playing a hip-hop set that went in-and-out of rock, heavy metal, funk, soul, ’80s disco and more. It was amazing and it set the bar for me of what a DJ can do, and to this day I still see that as what a top level DJ looks like.   

Is there anyone who’s music you’re currently excited about?

I’ve been listening to Ben Bohmer a lot. I’m fascinated how he can project so much emotion in his music and the sounds he produces. I follow Charlie Puth on social media, and the way he can come up with songs really shows how talented he is; it’s amazing to watch.

What makes or breaks a DJ set?

It depends on the situation. Playing in a club, an event, recording a set, live-streaming, a warm-up set, main set; it really does depend. But in general for me, it’s a balance between good song choices and good technical skills. I feel you can’t have one without the other, but not being able to beat match and phrase properly is a big no-no as these are basics that every DJ should take the time to master. 

What are you working on next?

Taking music production more seriously and doing a lot of tutorials and courses — looking to move into music production.

Anything else you want the world to know about Daryll Griggs?

I like to shred big ramps and bowls. Frontside 5.0’s are the best, and I can still do a tre flip.

A portrait of DJ Daryll Griggs (@mycameramyrules)

When reality resumes in Hong Kong, you can find Daryll Griggs at Faye, on the top floor of California Tower. You can also check him out on Mixcloud and Instagram.

Lead and featured image: @mycameramyrules


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