Text and Interview Syahirah Khairuddin Photography Raisa Azzam; Instagram
Styling Voon Wei Art Direction Mils Gan and Voon Wei Apparel All from Coach
Make-Up Pearl Tan Hair Cody Chua Styling Assistant Monisha Sivanesan
For some, music may just be something that just fills in the gaps, in the car or on commutes. But for others, it has the power to transport and transcend time and place. Fashion influencer-cum-DJ Ashley Lau sees music as a spacecraft designed for her listeners to escape reality — even for just brief moments.
Known for her in-your-face style and playful takes on athleisure, Ashley’s passion for fashion has extended to the realm of music mixing. Despite being in the same industry as her sister, Jane Chuck (also a social media influencer and a DJ), Ashley has her own eccentric style and approach to life, fashion and music that sets them both apart.
While her Instagram persona is edgy and the cool-girl image may seem intimidating, Ashley is the opposite in person. On set with #TeamCLEO, it was clear that beneath Ashley’s calm and composed exterior is a warm, friendly and funny girl who’s also #extra all the time (in her words!).
In this exclusive Cover Story, Ashley rocked the set in the latest Coach x Selena Gomez threads and spoke about how she loves staying in (yet knows how to get the party started!), and how alt-rock and sad-girl music also has an influence on her. Ashley is the embodiment of contrasts — and she knows how to own it.
When did you start getting into mixing music and who was your inspiration prior to you joining the DJ scene?
I think it has been almost a year since I got into mixing. I’ve been to a lot of music festivals and I got inspired by all the DJs around the world. I’ve been to Tomorrowland in Belgium and it was crazy! That experience made me feel like trying it and I’ve always liked music anyway so I figured why not share all the good music with others. That’s really how I got into DJing.
What were some of your earliest memory of music?
Definitely rock music! I remember Simple Plan and Paramore — some of my earliest memories of music.
How would you describe your sets?
Hmm, I would say that my sets are a little bit different because I would play all kinds of music. I’m an open-format DJ so it’s always different. Sometimes I would play more ”party” music and sometimes for events I usually get into more disco-type of music.
What’s the hardest part about learning how to DJ and mix?
Actually, mixing itself is not that hard. The challenging part is reading the crowd and knowing what kind of music or tune they like dancing to. If they are bored of the music, then no one would be on the dancefloor and they would just move away.So I don’t pre-select the songs I’m playing, normally I would see what vibe the crowd is giving and tweak accordingly. If they are not moving and dancing, then I would definitely change it — it’s all about trusting your gut-instinct sometimes.
Are there any DJs out there that you think people should know more about?
I really like DJ Peggy Gou and DJ Yaeji. I think people should listen to them because they are really cool and Peggy Gou’s style is really nice! When I say cool, I’m talking about how they play their music during their sets, their characteristics and the vibe they have when they are spinning. I hope someday I get to be like them and have my own style of DJing.
If you could explore a new music genre, what would it be?
I want to get into more emotional, sad type of music, if that makes sense? Music that would bring my listeners on a journey — deeper and more personal. It’s different from any kind of genre because people usually like to listen to party music but with this one it’s more for people who are sad or those who just went through a break up. [laughs] I want them to be in their own world when they listen to this type of genre.
What kind of preparations do you do for your sets?
I definitely practice before I play any of my sets. I need to make sure that I’ve got the songs right, and the most important thing is that my pendrive is working, right? Otherwise, I cannot play any music but so far my pendrive has never failed me, so… Touch wood!
Have you ever thought of doing your own track or make your own songs?
Yes, I’ve thought about it, but it’s not as easy as it sounds so maybe it will take some time until I get the opportunity to produce my own music. I think my favourite genre is something like Japanese disco — it’s very modern yet it’s also retro.
We know your sister, Jane Chuck is also a DJ and an influencer. Have you ever felt like you were compared to her in any way?
For me, not really because we’re both very supportive of each other. We play gigs together — like a duo — so it’s actually quite fun. We both love music and it’s something that we can share together.
We love how you’re rocking Coach x Selena Gomez on this shoot! What is your top pick of the collection?
Thank you! My absolute fave is the slip dress because it’s so feminine and versatile. The last time I was at Coachella, I wore something like this. It’s cute!
What do you consider a “Malaysian” style of dressing? What do you think influences our fashion scene?
To me, fashion in Malaysia is really about comfort. It’s very laid-back, probably because Malaysians are still not so daring when it comes to trying different styles. We’re used to the comfy, flip-flops everyday look. That’s the true Malaysian style, I feel.
What does your typical day look like?
I usually watch anime. [Laughs] I love to watch ‘Attack on Titan’ or any other romantic comedy anime because I really like the graphics and the animation. I’m really into Japanese and Korean influences, so that’s something I do on my day off.
Describe yourself in five words.
Cool, fashionable, unique, funny and weird. Weird because I feel like I’m super extra all the time! [Laughs]
What’s the one thing people don’t know about you?
I think people don’t know that I watch anime. Because to me, they always think that I’m cool on the outside. Plus, anime is very cartoon-ish and can be childish.
We know fashion and music are your middle names, what are some of things that you would want to explore next?
Hmm… I can’t mention anything yet because I am working on something right now so… Stay tuned for that!