Hot Wax Soundsystem in the mix!
Welcoming a great friend and long time purveyor of high quality sound, music and parties thrown with 100% love! Melbourne’s Fei Pao aka Glenn Ellingsen, the mind and master craftsmen behind Hot Wax Soundsystem has a deep appreciation and love for great music in everything he does, building soundsystems to honestly reproduce what the artist originally intended – a philosophy championed by NYC Loft legend David Mancuso and carried on by Loft party enthusiasts to this day.
Beginning his journey into sound in Bergen, Norway some 10+ years ago before moving to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong and finally landing in Melbourne in 2018, Glenn’s own sound and worldly curiosities connect people to beautiful moments in time through years of listening, digging and mixing throughout Norway, NYC, Hong Kong and Japan. It’s with real joy that we’re able to hand it over to Glenn for a taste of the Hot Wax sound, and chat about his journey into the crazy world of soundsystems. Fire up the home Hi-Fi and settle in for the ride!
Originally from Norway, I know you were involved in quite a few creative pursuits that set you off on a path to starting Hot Wax Soundsystem. Tell us what the music scene you left behind in Norway was like back then, and what kind of involvement did you have?
It was a great scene, even though I was only able to enjoy the nightlife for a couple of years before I moved to Hong Kong. The music scene in Bergen is very vibrant, the live scene much more than the club scene. I don’t think there were any good clubs back then, none that I went to anyway. There are a few special venues that come to me however like Verftet, a former sardine factory, Hulen, an old bomb shelter deep inside a mountain, and my favourite, Landmark, which is a part of Bergen Kunsthall, Kjøtt, a former meat processing factory.
The bar culture is strong, that’s where you find people most nights as club nights and parties used to be far apart compared to the scene now. I frequented Skatebård’s Digitalo parties, Jassbox and Landmark always had a focus on quality bookings and events. I only started doing nights in Bergen after I moved away.
Before arriving in Melbourne you also spent a number of years working in Hong Kong as a resident DJ and promoter, launching your own hand built soundsystem and events brand under the hot Hot Wax Soundsystem name. Tell us a bit about your connection with Hong Kong, what were some of your fondest memories there and how did that city and it’s unique music scene inspire the Hot Wax sound?
I lived, studied and worked in Hong Kong from 2010 -2018. My mum used to live in HK for a few years and I did a couple of holidays over there before I got the opportunity to do a Bachelor in Creative media of Arts. It was in HK where I started putting more time into music, doing gigs, bookings and parties. I was lucky and got a residency at Salon No.10, a place where the other DJs and patrons inspired me culturally and musically.
Mr.Ho, K-Melo and myself had a little crew and party called “ House’n Pleasure Unit” I picked up so much from long b2b jams and digging all over HK. My whole stay in HK was very special to me, it’s where I grew into my skin, made a lot of friends and my life partner. The Hot Wax sound is what I’ve picked up from Norway, Hong Kong and now Melbourne. Such a strong connection with the places and people through music.
While on the soundsystem, I’m sure this could make for a much longer discussion but briefly tell us about how the idea first came about, what are the system’s main specs and how has it evolved over the years?
My interest for music has been running parallel with an interest and curiosity for sound. I got obsessed after a night at AIR in Tokyo. It’s mind blowing when you notice all the new details and subtle frequencies on tracks you know well. Soon after My former soundsystem partner and I got an opportunity through a friend to check out everything that goes into setting up the infamous NYC Loft party, from sound to decorations.
This invitation was extended from a Loft legend and friend of David Mancuso, he has been growing and nurturing the culture from the Loft parties by sourcing and sending Klipsch Khorn sound systems to people all over the world. He has been instrumental in getting like minded people involved and has given us the tools to do Loft style parties.
It’s very much a community where we share advice on how to set up the parties, speaker position, room temperature, decorations and every little detail that makes it a great and safe party. The Loft party was one of the best experiences I’ve had and we want to share that experience with people.
Not long after the trip to NYC we received 4 Klipsch Khorns from the early 1970s. We had to put a lot of work into the Khorns to bring them back to life which was a good insight into how they are built, all the speaker components and how our changes affected the sound for better or worse. The 2 pairs I have originated from west coast, CA. 1 pair came out of a bar and the other came from a home. They travelled over to Hawaii where they lived at Hotel 39, a Hawaiian disco paradise by Gelareh Khoie and DJ Harvey. They got shipped over to HK after many years of sitting around collecting dust. I ran the sound system for nights at Salon No.10, a few private parties and some art related events before I moved to Melbourne.
I didn’t have the opportunity to take the soundsystem with me at that time, so in the meantime the soundsystem travelled to Sri-Lanka where it got used at a venue and for some lush jungle parties before it landed in Melbourne. I acquired 2 pairs of Altec Lansing 604-8k and a pair of Klipsch La Scala to get things started for me in Melbourne. Feels good to have the whole soundystem in Melbourne and a joy to continue to with it.
Tell us about the mix you’ve put together for us.. How was it recorded and what are some of your favourite records in there?
Its a mixed bag of old and contemporary music from Japan, France, Norway, Hong Kong, Brazil, Italy, U.S.A, jumping from decade to decade. Rhythms that takes you places, a steady dose of groove to keep you moving.
All favourites but ill name a few, Chmmr – A1 Ultrafine, I am a sucker for interludes and generally very short pieces. DJ Sotofett & Jaakko Eino Kalevi – Main Bar Mix, this is one of my all time favourites. Fauve Records – I Can Go O No (RFX Edit).
While the pandemic has driven most of our event related things to a halt for the moment, I know you’ve recently entered the world of home hi-fi and have done some great soundsystem fit outs at bars in Melbourne. Tell us a bit more about all that, and what else do you have coming up?
Been very fortunate and met a bunch of great people from the music scene in Melbourne, they all have been very helpful getting me involved. So far the soundsytem has been at Strawberry fields, Sun-Cycle, and a range of different venues in Melbourne. Thank You Bar has 2 Klipsch K horns in their intimate blue dance room, 2 Altec Lansing 604-8k in the bar and I am currently working on another pair of Altec speakers for the courtyard. Had some other fit outs that did not happen because of the situation we are all in.
Since Covid happened I have been putting my energy into sourcing and renovating speakers and amplifiers, with focus on sound systems for home. It’s been a fun project so far. Feels good to know you’ve helped someone to enjoy much more music.
I have a few other projects dropping soon, also related to audio at home. Just visit the Hot Wax Soundsystem website for more info on everything from the past and ongoing. My focus is to throw my first loft-styled party in Melbourne once our community opens up again. I will set up more info on the website and start to get a mailing list going for the people who are interested.