Superstar electronic music duo Peking Duk has one message for young people: “Don’t follow the crowd, don’t follow the trends. Do you.”
Adam Hyde and Reuben Styles – who hail from Canberra, Australia – visited Hong Kong for the first time as part of a China tour, where they spoke to Young Post about their incredible journey and unlikely rise to fame.
“It’s been a pretty wild ride,” said Hyde, 26. “Starting from doing really trashy electro, to developing into real songwriters where we’re writing all the lyrics and singing on some of the tracks. We don’t even DJ nearly as much as we used to; now we put on full-on live shows.”
Styles, 27, fondly recalled how it all began. “We were 18 years old and we had never even heard of electronic music. Then one day our friend showed us a mixtape with artists like Justice and Bloody Beetroots and we thought ‘Man, electronic music is awesome!’”
They spent the next two years in a “YouTube hole”, where they would do nothing but watch videos of other top producers to learn more about the music and the industry. Once they realised how much they loved it, they decided to start making their own music; that was in 2010.
“There was a moment when we decided we had to make the jump and go all in,” Hyde said. “Reuben said to me: ‘Let’s move to Sydney’, and at first I was hesitant because neither of us had any money whatsoever. We had to borrow so much money just to pay rent.”
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While making a move to a new city without any money was stressful and crazy, Styles believes it was a blessing in disguise, since it forced them to work harder.
“We were putting in 16-hour days,” he said. “We were just in our rooms making songs all day every day.
“It was hard, but it was also one of the best things that could’ve happened because we made a lot of great songs. If that hadn’t happened, Peking Duk might not even be a thing right now.”
As for the origin of the group’s name, Hyde laughed and said: “It has nothing to do with the food whatsoever; it’s just a dumb play on words we came up with when we were young.
“Sometimes when you’re out having fun, you start ‘peaking’ [being your most fun self], and your face scrunches up and looks kind of like a duck. We used to say to some of our friends ‘Ha, he looks like a peaking duck right now.’ We needed a name and we thought that sounded cool so we just stuck with it.”
Now, Peking Duk is travelling the world going on tours, headlining music festivals alongside the world’s most famous musicians.
“There was one time we were chilling ... before performing [at Coachella music festival in Los Angeles] and we looked at who was sitting next to us and realised ‘Oh, that’s Ellie Goulding,’” Styles said.
Hyde said that it’s been an incredible rise to success, and Peking Duk has no plans of slowing down.
“We’re dropping an album in March, and then from there we want to take a live show around the world and play this new music and have twice as much fun as we’ve been having whilst doing it. It’s been incredible, and we can’t wait to bring it [to Hong Kong] actually,” said Hyde, adding that he felt our city is “a neon wonderland of wildness”.
Styles’ advice for young aspiring DJs and producers is to “just keep making more and more songs.
“Keep exploring different styles and genres until you find one you really like. Out of every 20 ideas, maybe one will be any good.
“Also, don’t worry about finishing songs that don’t need to be finished,” he added. “It’s much better to have 20 songs to choose from than one finished song that isn’t very good.”
Hyde advised young musicians to listen to their hearts rather than what’s trendy at the time. “Trends will be here and gone before you even get up off the ground, and by then they will just be irrelevant, so just do you.
“Do something unique and do what you feel, cause that’ll get you further than anything at the end of the day.”