Hailed the Chief Shepherd of Eurodance music in Singapore, DJ Harpic is a name that many people associate with the Eurodance and Handsup community in Singapore. While the genre may be small and not widely played in commercial clubs these days, it had one of the largest followings in the world with hits such as Everytime We Touch by Cascada Crazy Baby by Fantasy Project and Lonely by ‘Deep.Spirit’ which made headlines in 2004 as ‘#1 Dance Track in Singapore’
We sit down with DJ Harpic to talk about his story and how his connections with German Record Label Zooland Records has shaped his career.
ADM: How did you get your start as a DJ?
HRP: I was admitted into the hospital for a period of time towards the end of my 3rd year in Secondary school. When I went back to school I had learned that one of my schoolmates had dropped out of school and he actually became a DJ.
I asked him if he could introduce me to his teacher, and he did. The guy's name was Joe, he wasn't really a Eurodance or Handsup DJ, he played more progressive house and trance. It was interesting how eventually I ended up learning those genres since he didn't play them.
ADM: From there how did you get your first professional show?
HRP: My first professional show was in Boat Quay. Back in the day Boat Quay was actually the hot spot for nightlife in Singapore. One day one of my friends told me there was a club there looking for a DJ, I headed over and auditioned and got myself my first show at a place that eventually was called Club X. (Nothing to do with the club of the same name in Clarke Quay now.)
ADM: One of the things you use to journal your experience is the Zooland Story, could you tell us how you ended up working with the people in Zooland?
HRP: I got to know them through this DJ called Masterchef, he was working for a local radio station, WKRZ 91.3FM, as an AVP. One day he told me he was bringing Cascada to Singapore, so the guy who produced for Cascada was Manuel Reuter (DJ Manian), who also happened to be the owner of Zooland Records.
I was playing with him one night and after sending him back to his hotel, he had left his case of CDs in the Taxi. Now, this was a very different time, music wasn't easy to come by and every DJ had their own remixes and special songs all in their song folder. My girlfriend at the time told me I should just return it to him the next day at the airport.
When I passed him his CDs back, he was really happy and he felt that I was honest. Masterchef mentioned to me that during that time most people would just either steal the CDs or copy them and not want to return it to the original owner. Because of this incident, we became friends.
Years later, through his younger brother Pascal, I learned that the day that we became friends was also his birthday.
ADM: Could you tell us more about Masterchef?
HRP: One thing I really admire about him is that he's a man of passion. When he plays and pushes Eurodance, he does it with all his heart. It isn't about the fame or glory with him, his love for the music is pure.
Back then we met up regularly for drinks while drinking he'd help me improve my knowledge in music by testing me on the lyrics. I'd have to take a shot for every song I got wrong.
Without him, the Eurodance scene wouldn't be as big as it is today.
ADM: With your father's recent passing, how has it changed the way you look at music and DJing?
HRP: I was really sad when he passed, and during that time the people who I've met from Zooland Records really helped me through the difficult time. People like Dan Winter and Ryan T, to cheer me up they actually sent me a lego set of the DOM Cathedral.
Because of that, I asked myself how would I ever be able to repay the kindness they had shown me. If you were in my shoes, going through such a difficult time, obviously you'd do what you can to support and repay them for their kindness.
Dan Winter was the first of my friends in the industry to text me and tell me to be strong. After that Ryan encouraged me to serve at my dad's funeral mass, he told me to think if my dad would be ok with me being like this and not serving at his funeral mass. He said that he was sure my dad was proud of me for how successful I have become. Damae had also sent me a voice message to comfort me when my dad passed away.
Eventually I did serve and I did to the best of my abilities. Because of this and one other incident, it really propelled my love and support for Zooland Records.
ADM: Other incident?
HRP: There was a period of time when I was really down and DJ Manian saved my life.
It shaped my love for them a lot and because of this one night, I've decided to do my best to fight and live for Zooland Records.
One day I was feeling really upset because someone claimed to be from God and she blocked me on a messaging app. It so happened that I was at a student's house, I went down to the convenience store, bought a bottle of Chivas and a few strips of Panadols.
I really wanted to forget everything that led up to this person to block me and decided that I should pop some pills as well. I remember it was on the 7th of July, that's Manian's birthday.
At that time we had been out of touch for a while due to how busy both of us were at work. I still had Pascal's contact so I decided to hit him up. I asked him to help me wish Manuel happy birthday and to wish him all the best.
I didn't expect a reply but a few minutes later Pascal replied that he was with Manuel a week ago and that he missed me and that he wanted to come to Singapore. He said he was grateful for the support I had for Zooland.
When I saw that, it made me feel that there really are people in life that support me and it made me feel like there was something to live for. Afterwards, I took the stuff I bought and threw them away.
At that moment I decided to give my all to Zooland. That's why I do all I can to repay them for what they did for me and for their love for me.
ADM: So now as the Chief Shepherd for Eurodance in Singapore, what do you think is next for this genre?
HRP: Dan Winter actually suggested that we could start doing more bootlegs of modern tracks to create more interest in the genre. That way people would be able to identify the tracks they hear while we're playing the genre.
Another way that I thought about was to bring down more acts that people know like Cascada and Master Blaster. These acts were influential in shaping the Eurodance community we know today.
At the same time, we can also help promote the individuals and smaller groups that are trying to make their mark like Sonera and labels like Sonic Flash Records. They're all amazing artiste and producers if anything we need more people to support people like them to help the genre.
ADM: Is there anything else you'd like to say?
HRP: Follow your heart. I know people who tell me that they can't become DJs because their parents don't approve. All I can say to them is just to follow your heart. Few parents will approve of their kids being DJs but if you really follow what's in your heart and you keep at it, one day you will definitely accomplish your dreams.