We chat to Jef Cheah aka DJ Teng Boon about his life story before making it in the music industry for 25 years.
You may be surprised by his look but Jef, aka DJ Teng Boon is half Chinese and half Dutch. His stage name originates from his
from his Hokkien Chinese roots given by his Chinese grandmother.
From a young age, Jef listened to a range music; from old-school disco to hip hop to early techno. So who were his influencers? “Danny is an expert of tuning sound systems and famed for playing at The Sound Factory Bar, a famous club in New York City in the 1980s. The music was meticulously tuned so anyone on the dance floor could feel the music go right through your body and you could still hold a conversation with the person next to you. Also Dereck Carter for mixing his re-edits to make his unique version,” he explains.
Growing up in Canada, he had thrown himself into loads of activities. As a result, his grades suffered a due to a combination of DJing, teaching tennis and balancing his social life, “life got in the way of school,” he explains. His first gig came at university when he was organising an event for his dorm. Coincidentally, he learnt how to mix on turntables but struggled to find a suitable DJ for an event, so he decided to spin the decks himself.
Graduating with an Economics degree, his music career kick started soon after. He moved back to Hong Kong with two job opportunities offered at the same time, so he accepted this challenge. Jef was offered to DJ at one the hottest and most exclusive clubs in town, Club 97 and to reformat music at a commercial radio at 864AM. His radio show Traffic Jam played during peak times when broadcasting music was popular.
Some of the most notorious rave parties happened during the early 90s and Jef was the DJ to warm up the crowd. As the number of gigs increased, his reputation grew. Being the multi-talented young gentleman, he had no problems playing various genres and reading the crowd.
However, as the culture of DJing has changed, Jef decided to stop as he prefers to scratch songs or certain sounds from vinyls. Today, he DJ’s as little as possible but was asked by Clockenflap 2016 to spin at the Silent Disco. Unfortunately, the weather had a different plan in mind; it rained when before he was to hit the stage. Reflecting on the previous year’s performance, Jef talks excitedly about how as a DJ, you rely on the outside sound as a reference on what to play; but with a silent disco, there is no external help.
Although not designed as a competition, another DJ was mixing at the same time for the Silent Disco with Jeff. “The crowd decides on the mix, if they see your energy, they’ll switch to your channel. Playing at a silent disco can be quite a challenge, even the most experienced DJ’s,” he explains.
A final word of advice for uprising musicians: “Don’t try to play what all the others are playing, play and represent what you love and want to share with your friends.”