It was an electrifying experience over at Hennessy night in Megastar Arena, Viva Home last weekend (7th December 2019), as some of the best DJs were in town to perform.
One of the highly-anticipated artist was Kim Lee, who is one of the most sought after DJ in the business. Touring from Asia to Europe, Lee has performed in some of the biggest festivals all around the world, alongside stars such as Steve Aoki and Deadmou5. Her song “Bang For The Underground” featt Lil Debbie, was even pick up Dj Snake and will be featured in the upcoming “Fast & Furious” film.
Besides being a DJ, the 31-year-old is also a prolific model, host and music producer. She even kicked off her acting career with a cameo in “Hangover 2”. Filled with fresh styles and energy, it’s no wonder that she has one of the fastest growing fan base in the industry.
Before she headed out on stage, we managed to catch up with FHM’s sexiest women in Asia 2011, where we found out what she thinks about DJ-ing, acting, her impression of Malaysia, and her biggest breakthrough yet.
1. What made you start doing DJ-ing and Electronic music?
It started in 2012, when I was still hanging with the Black Eyed Peas, I’m really good friends with them. And long story short, they told me they were looking for artists and DJs to manage and I was like, “hey, I want to learn how to DJ” and so they encouraged me. I went to Scratch Academy in LA and I learned how to use a turntable and everything. And because I do so much modelling in Asia already, there was like crazy press release saying Kim is like the biggest DJ (my background is Vietnamese and French). Because they gave me an opportunity, I started opening up for Steve Aoki, doing shows with Martin Garrix, this is the prime of EDM. So everything just happen.
2. We heard that you’re particularly close to Apl.de.Ap, do you have any fond memories you would like to share?
I have nothing but great things to say for Apl.de.Ap because, he’s the one that encouraged me to be where I’m at right now. But being around them, they’re just always trying to motivate you, encourage you, and it’s really nice to have friends that are pushing you be to better and better. You know, they’re really fun, we’re all from LA, so it’s like we bump into each other at the club, so yeah. I think LA is kind of small in the show business (so) everyone knows everybody.
3. Did you had somebody to look up to when you start?
Absolutely, I really like Diplo, Skrillex, and DJ Snake. When I first started off, I was like, wait, I really love how Diplo and Skrillex were interacting with the people and the audience and making sure everybody in the room have a good time. So I really like that and I was like “Wait if I’m going to start DJ-ing I’m going to be that too”. You want to make sure everybody just have a good time, you know, so yeah they definitely are the ones I looked up to till this day.
4. Do you want to do a collab with them?
Definitely, I would love to, I never really approach it. I produced my own music, I release some music on Barong label with “Yellow Claw” or “BadA**”. I love them, they’re like my boys. Yeah, cause I have so much going on, I’m not just doing music, I’m doing like TV stuff now, I’m getting to films, so I feel like, I’m like all over the place but that’s still my bucket list to collaborate with other DJs.
5. Besides DJs, are there any rappers or hip-hop artists you’re into right now?
Oh yeah I love Hip Hop, I’m from LA so growing up, that’s what I listen to. I love artists like Kanye West, Travis Scott, Drake. That would be a dream if I could even collab with them, I think anybody would want to.
6. You mentioned acting just now, so do you see a future in that direction?
Definitely, that’s exactly where I’m going actually. I can’t say yet, but in 2020, I have something really big coming out. A really big TV show, that is probably gonna be my breakthrough for my career actually. So, there’s exactly where I’m going. I want to dive into films, I’m going to do it, I hate to say “I want to”. I always tell myself I’m going to do it and I’m going to find a way.
7. How did this partnership with Hennessy came to be?
I’m actually with 2 agencies – for the US I’m with SKAM Artist, they’re like the biggest hip hop agency. And for Asia, I’m with Asia biggest music agency which is Supermodified. They have Martin Garrix, and so many more, they’re the biggest. It helps when you have an agency as they help schedule your tour or anything. My advise to artist and DJs is to just keep hustling and it be great to find a manager or an agency, cause they will help take you to the next level.
8. What’s your favourite thing about Hennessy?
Oh I love Hennessy, as a drink. (Laughs) Hennessy is a very good drink that I like, even though I don’t drink that much alcohol. First of all, I love the colours, I love black and red. I love that it’s very classy, very fun, very young, it’s a mixture of like, for different people, different age ranges and they throw great events. So I’m very honoured to be here tonight. Especially in Kuala Lumpur, it feels like my second home when I’m here.
9. Are there any likes and dislikes about Malaysia you wanna share?
Malaysia is one very cool hip country. It’s growing so fast when it comes to music. The culture is amazing, everyone is very friendly. There’s a lot of like great food here. The only thing I don’t like is that the airport is so far from the city, and the traffic. But other than that, I have lots of friends here, so every time I come back to Malaysia, it feels like home.
10. Besides being a DJ, you’re also a model and a TV host. Which one of these jobs do you prefer?
I actually love music, I love music before anything, it’s my passion and that’s why I DJ. Model is my passion too, but I do it cause I look at it as art, and it’s part of your image. But I definitely love music and am leaning towards film and TV right now.
11. We heard that you’ve been playing the piano since you were 8. Have you been keeping up with practice?
I love classical music. It’s really strange cause my taste for music comes from Hip-Hop, to house music, to classical music, to Jazz. I started playing since I was 8 years old, I play by ear. I can literally hear any song and I can figure it out. People say it kind of like a gift in a way, I don’t know, that what I do when I’m home relaxing. I get on the piano, sometimes play for the family during dinner time. And I love the piano, it’s my first love, then DJing is second love.
12. Do you remember being named one of Asia’s Sexiest Women around a decade ago?
Wow, that was a while back. It was a very nice surprise in Singapore. This was with FHM magazine which is very popular throughout Asia, throughout the world actually. I was able to be on the cover, for a lot of FHM covers from Singapore, to Malaysia, to Indonesia, even in Europe, it was very nice. I look back now and I have it all frame out in my house; that was definitely a very special chapter in my life.
13. We heard you had a ghost experience in Singapore?
Yes, I was traumatized from that. So now on when I travel in hotels, I sleep with the bathroom light on, a light has to be on. And I sleep with the TV on too, I know I’m a big chicken but I have sensitive energy. When I walk into a room I can feel energy. Yeah it was a very bad experience. It was very scary, luckily I haven’t been, you know, sometimes I’m just tired “I’m like whatever, listen, if there’s spirits there, whatever” (laughs).
14. Seeing that Christmas is just around the corner, have you received any gifts yet?
No, I hoped I get gifts tonight (laughs). I was just joking, my gift is a bottle of Hennessy (laughs). No I haven’t gotten gifts yet, but I’m looking forward to it, I like surprises sometimes.
15. Do you have any advise for people trying to get into electronic music as a career?
I say, just whatever you do, just don’t give up. It’s a hard journey sometimes people get very frustrated in life. When they’re like, “how come it’s so hard, how come that person get the opportunity that I can’t.” Cause everyone’s different, timing’s everything. I think people need to learn how to brand themselves – marketing is very important too.
But then again, we live in a great time right now where social media has opened the door for everybody; it’s free. So don’t be afraid to use social media to network, don’t be afraid to DM (direct messaging) that person and get your music out there and do mixtapes. Produce music and put it out there, even if you don’t see views. Try and reach out to agencies management, other DJs and asked them to play your music and if it’s good, other DJs will play it.
16. When you first started out, you say that the Electronic music industry was very hard to get into. It was very male dominated and there weren’t a lot of Asians. Do you any changes now?
There’s definitely a lot of changes, now, you see a lot of more females in the game. Which is great, I’m very happy to see that. I love that a lot of girls are doing their thing right now and I really support that. It has changed a lot actually, so yeah I’m happy to see that. There’re definitely more guys DJ-ing but it’s changing, and it’s not about guys or girls. It’s kind of like everyone’s doing their thing at the end of the day.
17. What can people expect from Kim Lee in 2020?
You’re going to hear a lot about me more and that’s a promise.
A big shout out to our friends from Hennessy for making this happen 😉