Culture

Nightlife across borders: How Yeti Out is shaking up the party scenes in China and Europe

Oct 09, 2019

A night out in Hong Kong leaves much to be desired. Clubs and lounges tend to play the same EDM and pop music. Underground parties are few, and house parties even fewer in between.

In densely populated Hong Kong, you’re probably living in a tiny apartment that can fit at most four people, and your neighbors, who are literally a wall away, will likely call the cops at the first sign of a beat.

Enter Yeti Out, a music collective that’s upturning the party scene in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Eri Ali, Tom Bray, and Arthur Bray, co-founders of the music collective Yeti Out.
Eri Ali, Tom Bray, and Arthur Bray, co-founders of the music collective Yeti Out. / Photo: Yeti Out

Founded by Hong Kong brothers Arthur and Tom Bray together with Eri Ali, the DJ trio has been bringing diverse acts to the music-starved city, ranging from house and techno to garage and Afrobeats.

“In other cities I’ve worked in, whether it’s Paris, New York, or London, the scene has been happening for so long, they’re so concrete that people who are into certain music won’t necessarily go to other clubs or parties,” says Tom Bray. “But I think China is still growing. Everyone is very curious and interested. They want to hear it all and see it all.”

A recent party hosted by Yeti Out.
A recent party hosted by Yeti Out. / Photo: Yeti Out

Yeti Out started in 2010 as a blog documenting London’s underground party scene and evolved into a series of raves and club nights. At the time, it was called Yeti in the Basement.

“The whole name comes from, you know, everyone’s got an inner Yeti in them,” says Arthur Bray, “and you’ve got to let that Yeti out. You’ve to go wild.”

There’s also a metaphor in there about getting as high as the Himalayas.

(Read more: Chinese-American rapper Bohan Phoenix is not selling out)

The crew set their sights on Asia when Arthur Bray returned to Hong Kong in 2012 and Tom Bray moved to Shanghai (Ali, meanwhile, remained in London).

The three now organize parties in their respective cities, upturning the local scene and injecting some fresh air into an otherwise stale nightlife.

The Bray brothers both grew up in Hong Kong.
The Bray brothers both grew up in Hong Kong. / Photo: Yeti Out

They’ve brought FKJ, Jay Prince, and Cozy Boys to Hong Kong. They’ve played on the Great Wall and thrown parties in the infamous Chungking Mansions. Recently, they’ve collaborated with Coach and Under Armour on apparel.

It’s a natural outgrowth of their interests and experience. The Bray brothers both have a background in fashion—Tom in PR and Arthur as an editor at Hypebeast—so the evolution into a streetwear brand was a no-brainer.

Another outgrowth of their work: in recent years, the collective has been exporting talent from Asia to the rest of the world.

“Originally, we were always West to East. Now, the music is so strong in Asia that we can finally export it back into Europe.”

Eri Ali

When Yeti Out first started hosting parties in Hong Kong and Shanghai, much of the work was inviting artists from abroad.

But in recent years, the scene in China—and Asia broadly—has grown to a point where they’ve been able to work the other way around.

(Read more: Chinese DJs are making some of today’s most exciting electronic music)

“Originally, we were always West to East,” says Ali, “You know, exporting Western music to Hong Kong, all around Asia. Now, the music is so strong in Asia that we can finally export it back into Europe.”

At the group’s Paris Fashion Week party, they brought Hong Kong rapper Young Queenz, who stole the show rapping in Cantonese.

“There’s so much domestic talent coming up that there’s a lot of eyeballs on what's happening domestically in China.”

Tom Bray

“We’re now inviting DJs, emcees, and artists from mainland China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, all of these places,” Ali says. “That sort of momentum is exciting for me.”

The shift is apparent in the local scene, too, where partygoers are demanding to see more domestic artists.

“In the past, people in mainland China were interested in seeing a foreign artist come to the country,” Tom Bray says. “But I think the trends are slowly changing now. There’s so much domestic talent coming up that there’s a lot of eyeballs on what's happening domestically in China. So I think it’s really important to highlight that, too.”

In that mission, Yeti Out is in its milieu. With the Brays in China and Ali in London, the cross-cultural exchanges have been organic. What started as a couple of guys blogging from basements has grown into a full-scale operation with a sharpened focus and mission.

“I think nightlife is super important because it brings all walks of life together,” says Arthur Bray. “Just being able to provide an event space for people to hang and be inspired and experience good music is really important.”

Underground musicStreet culture

Credit

Producer: Hanley Chu

Videographers: Hanley Chu, Nicholas Ko, Joel Roche, and Russell Chan

Editors: Hanley Chu and Caron Che

Mastering: Victor Peña