DJ KULU (FRI)HK
DJ Kulu first began his lifelong love affair with Jazz during the early 1960’s. The first record he ever bought was ‘Tea For Two’ by ‘Enoch Light & the Light Brigade’, a rather commercial Latin-Jazz outfit who popularised the Latin dance classic in the 1960’s, during the Cha-Cha dance craze championed in Hong Kong by Bruce Lee who played a little-known but significant role as the ‘Prince’ of the Hong Kong Cha-Cha scene.
Stan Getz’s Bossa-Nova Jazz sound inspired Kulu to begin digging deeper into the roots of jazz & he quickly discovered the ‘Blue Note’ record label, which lit the fire that kindled his passion for jazz and his desire to one day own his own Jazz club.
The mid 1960’s saw Kulu depart Hong Kong’s shores for London to pursue further education as a graphic designer. This did not turn out to be his true calling and he dropped out of university, ending up living in La Mola, a small town on the tiny but beautiful island of Formantera nestled next to Ibiza, Spain. He spent his time here in pursuit of ‘spiritual refinement’. During this period, he discovered the art of imagery.
On his return to London he worked as a successful photographer in the fashion and advertising industry. He quickly established himself as one of the leading photographers in 1960’s ‘swinging London’, working with many well-known brands of the day including ELLE Magazine, Cartier, Chrysalis Records and the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi. Kulu also photographed many of the leading Jazz legends of the day including Dizzie Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Chet Baker, Roland Kirk & Elvin Jones.
It was at the height of his photography career in the mid 1970’s that Kulu first became interested in DJ-ing. His photography studio in Westbourne Park, West London, had become a popular hangout for models, photographers, designers, PR Agents, known faces & those in the know and was used to host monthly parties, where the then, underground sounds, Soul, Jazz and Funk would be spun by a small collective of DJ’s. Over time, Kulu’s parties achieved a certain notoriety and became more and more popular.
Kulu’s DJ Career began abruptly after his regular DJ failed to return from a trip to India, never to be seen or heard of again. In order to appease the masses, Kulu jumped behind the decks to spin himself – and so began a DJ Career that has so far spanned over three decades.
The 1980’s saw Kulu’s photography career develop further, shooting many of the big pop artists of the day including Boy George, Bananarama, & Kim Wilde to name but a few.
By the mid 1990’s, growing increasingly restless & disillusioned with the commerciality of the industry, Kulu had retired from photography and sought real freedom to be closer to his lifelong love of the Jazz music scene. This was realised in 1995 when he relocated to Edinburgh, Scotland where he established his popular ‘The Jazz Joint’ club nights a, then sleepy cellar bar called ‘Henry’s Bar’ in Morrison St, Edinburgh. Here he DJ’d with a collective of Acid-Jazz, Soul, Funk, Drum & Bass & Hip-Hop DJ’s as well as live acts playing an eclectic mix of Bebop, Latin-Jazz, Funk, Rap & mainstream Jazz as well as live Break-Dancing performances. One of Kulu’s original resident DJ’s was a then 18-year-old DJ PLUS-1 who went on to win the World DMC championships in 2003. Other luminaries to grace the night included Hip-Hop DJ, Roots Maneuver, Jazz Pianist Brian Kellock & Reggae artist Finlay Quaye.
Within just two months ‘The Jazz-Joint’ nights became so popular that Kulu was invited to become a shareholder of Henry’s bar organising, booking and promoting all the music and talent for the venue. Henry’s Bar still exists today and is now firmly established on the jazz circuit as one of the UK’s top venues.
Exhausted, after 5 years of working 7-day weeks, the autumn of 1999 saw Kulu return to his native homeland of Hong Kong ‘for a rest’. Here he was instantly in demand, workingwith leading venues including ‘The Jazz Club’ and the legendary ‘Club 97’ as well as the then, newly opened, ‘KEE Club’. The new millennium saw Kulu spin for the opening season of many new venues including Club-ING, LIQUID, DROP, 1/5, Phi-B & Home Base with popular underground club nights including ‘Zero’ & Root-Up.
It was originally planned that Kulu would stay in Hong Kong for just one month, however, the time felt right for a change and deciding it was time for a more sedate pace of life, he sold his interests in ‘Henry’s Bar’ and settled back permanently in Hong Kong.
Kulu has worked closely with Hong Kong Jazz Trumpet legend Mark Henderson, producing Jazz Funk band ‘Brother’s Keeper’.
In 2002, he established his current project ‘The Ultralounge’ a collective of talented DJ’s, musicians & vocalists who work closely together to create an energetic, eclectic live performance. ‘The Ultralounge’ is a fluid, constantly evolving entity and has had many members & homes in Hong Kong including LIQUID, Club Nu, KEE Club & The Bohemia Lounge with it’s current spiritual home at SOLAS on Wednesday nights.
DJ Kulu & ‘The Ultralounge’ crew are always in demand internationally and have performed for top brands as diverse as Christian Dior in Shanghai, Motorola in Tokyo & Dreams Hotel in Bangkok and are a regular fixture at the more upmarket fashion shows and launch events around Hong Kong. Please see list below for full details.
“Kulu is Hong Kong’s undisputed ‘Godfather of DJ-ing’. His encyclopedic knowledge of music and laid-back, unpretentious yet slightly mysterious demeanour ensure he is well-known and well respected by all who know him.
His funky, eclectic style makes him instantly recognizable as a Hong Kong icon.” DJ Steve Bruce – Hong Kong. February 2007