music • 20 Sep, 2017
AAMixtape: Kim Lee
The LA-Based DJ And Pianist Is Doing Things Solo
We first met Kim Lee back in 2014 when she was here to judge and coach the BUDJ competitors with her accomplice, Katerina Nova. And we checked in with the ‘Malibu glamor girl’ again last year for her ‘unabashed and unapologetic’ Girl Talk Youtube show co-hosted with rising Hollywood starlet Levy Tran.
These days rolling solo, Kim just played the long-awaited first ULTRA China, in Shanghai. And she recently starred in another Esquire photoshoot. So we figured it was time for a refresh, and a guest mix. Unsurprisingly, it features East Asian hip hop talent like Okasian and Golden Dragon, as she’s been kickin’ it with Korean rapper Keith Ape of late.
You can tune in after our chat.
We’ve introduced you a few times now. So how would your family and friends introduce you?
My friends would say I live in the wrong city because I’m like a LA girl but with a New York mentality because I’m always about the work, work, work! But I think I’ve learned how to balance my life now. My family would call me a big kid because I’m always talking too much and making them laugh.
How is it different DJing alone than with your partner?
It’s not much different since I’m a very independent person. I love a challenge and you’ve always got to keep things fresh. I did the duo thing and it was time to continue to build my brand and I’ve got so much going on so the timing was right.
We last met you judging a DJ competition at Cargo three years ago. How do you feel about the way Vietnam has changed since then?
I’m excited to see the music scene here grow ever since that show. I mean, thanks to the Internet right? Before you would barely see artists come to Vietnam and now I see a lot of my DJ friends tour there which is great to see.
Back then you told us after DJing you like to go home and be boring. What’s the most boring thing you’ve done lately?
Did I really say that? Haha. Well, yes, I am like two different people. When I’m working I’m in work mode and when I’m home I like to just relax and do normal things like go to the bookstore and workout. Touring can be tough, being on the plane and the time differences…
You don’t talk about personal relationships much.
Yeah, I prefer to keep that part of my life private. But me and the Korean rapper Keith Ape have been together for a while now. He’s pretty much the guy version of me — he’s low key and he understands me and we have a great bond. A relationship is like a plant you’ve got to keep watering to keep things new all the time.
So what’s the most ULTRA thing you saw at ULTRA China?
There were a few Chinese rappers, Al Rocco, Blow Fever and also BCW, that performed there, and I was really impressed. I’m like, ‘this sounds dope!’
And what was your favorite jam at Thailand’s Asia Summer Jam, where you also played?
I love Cardi B’s ‘Bodak Yellow’. She’s doing her thing. And her story is crazy especially where she came from, and now her song is on the Billboard charts!
You like self-help books. What would you write your own about?
I love those type of books. I would write about self-motivation and staying positive.
You’ve said you believe anything is possible.
In this day and age anything is possible. If Donald Trump is America’s president then…
If your piano could talk, what would it say?
It would say, ‘Kim, please clean me!’ Because it’s kinda dusty right now.
What’s your workout routine like?
30 minutes of cardio, 500 sit-ups, squats, then arms and legs.
And your killer workout song?
Kanye West’s ‘Workout Plan’. I’m joking, I have a bunch of hip hop songs.
What things in the future are you most looking forward to?
Seeing my family and everyone healthy and happy. My career becoming even bigger than ever. I also want to work with upcoming artists and female DJs. I get so many messages from girls asking me to manage them or help them in some way.
Tell us about this mix.
This mix is exclusively for AnyArena. I mixed a bit of house with hip-hop. A few of the tracks are remixes I made personally. One of my favorites is Okasian’s ‘₩1,000,000’ with G-Dragon 백만원. The original is super-dope, but I wanted to switch it up a bit and so I made a house version of it. Another one to watch out for is M.I.A’s ‘Bad Girls’. I’m a huge fan of hers and I also wanted to remix more underground tracks. Enjoy…..
Words by David Kaye
Graphics: Ivan Kamensky