Anything But Low Key: The Vibrant Vibes of DJ Key Minor
Updated: 2 days ago
What do you get when you mix ever-changing hair color, sick electronic beats, and a passion for music?
Key Minor is a Beijing-based DJ who, through the conscience usage of passion and knowledge, creates sets that are tactfully tailored to get you dancing.
For this latest Temper Sampler, I caught up with Key Minor to chat about DJing and her own personal journey with fashion.
See the China Temper posting with minor edits here.
Follow Key Minor on Instagram to stay on the beat with where she’ll be bringing the party vibes.
Images come courtesy of Key Minor.
When thinking of Key Minor and her esthetics the first word that comes to mind is vibrant. Vibrant hair, vibrant outlook on life and vibrant fashion sense. With hair that never stays the same neon shade of the rainbow for long to a life philosophy that is profound as much as it is high-spirited, Key Minor is the personification of the electronic, vibrant music she curates.
An artist manager by day and audiophile for life, Key Minor is a disk jockey who uses her love and knowledge to cleverly create sets that are tailored to elicit dance fever and to command a room’s mood (more on this later).
With such a major, larger-than-life persona and attitude towards DJing, settling on a pseudonym like Key Minor almost seems paradoxical. But there’s a deep-seated significance behind the alias. Key Minor tells Temper that the nickname derives from a little bit of play on pronunciation with her birthname, Yueshi (乐诗| yuè shī). “The pronunciation [is] kind of like ‘Yaoshi’ [钥匙| yàoshi] and that’s [how] ‘key (for the locks)’ [is] pronounced in [the] Chinese language,” Key Minor explains, “my family [has liked] to call me Key as a nickname since I was a child.”
And what about ‘Minor’? Well, this part of the nom de guerre has two meanings.
First, through years of exploring the vast array of genres that the music world has to offer, Key Minor has discovered that she prefers music that is in minor keys over major keys.
In very simple terms, what is meant by minor keys within Western forms of music is instrumentals where the overarching feeling is either dispirited or melancholic. Think Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” There are, of course, exceptions to this and the actual explanation and comparison to major keys is way more technical, but you get a general idea. #TemperTeachings
Besides preferring tunes with a harmonic three-scale pattern, the term minor for Key Minor also evokes pleasant memories of when she was underage (aka a minor).
With a few unreleased demos that we here at China Temper hope see the light of day sooner than later, the only way to experience one of Key’s sets is in the flesh under synchronized multicolored strobe lights.
Fusing together hypnotic and electronic melodies with full funk undertones, videos on Key Minor’s social media illustrate the polychromatic magic that her aural enchantments cast. Examples of this are sets at events such as a few volumes of the Unicat Attacks where partygoers sway and bounce, spellbound by the electrifying atmosphere that has been intently spun. For Key, a set is more than just an aural collage that sounds nice. Instead, it’s about playing the right music at the precise time to generate the perfect vibe. “A great DJ,” Key Minor tells Temper, “is able to play the right music in the right place for any kind of people.”
Key’s first time behind the DJ booth was in 2021, but her love for the art started much earlier. During her early 20s, Key Minor was a regular weekend warrior at the clubs. “At that time when I was in the club, I found myself strongly curious about what DJs do at the parties,” Key explains, “how do they make people dance, and why [use] different genres and BPM…at different places and times.” This curiosity about how DJs could control a room eventually got the better of her and led Key to hunt down some gear and start experimenting in her bedroom. With the help of friends who were already established DJs, Key honed her skills and ultimately got the chance to display her passion to the world. “Thanks to my DJ friends they gave me a lot of performance experiences. And one day my DJ friend said to me ‘Hey, we’re holding a party of our own label, come and play your set and that would be your first performance! ’ Then I became a DJ.”
MUSIC AND FASHION
Music and fashion, as far as Key Minor is concerned, are not unrelated. Alternatively, they are two distinct methods for human expression. What does she mean by this?
Well, let’s have her school you: “I think music and fashion have never been separated. Life gives different perceptions and feelings to people in each era, and people record their feelings at that time through music and fashion. Without music, fashion would be a silent picture. Without fashion, the world of music would also be pitch black. Fashion and music together can express the rich and colorful life of human beings.”
From her hair color that never stays one shade for too long to her multi-fengge clothing style, Key is a fashionista who boldly expresses her vibrant humanity. But she wasn’t always so flamboyant. “In terms of dressing and dressing up, a few years ago I was in a slump for a while, and I remember that during that time I only wanted to wear black and didn't want to draw attention to myself,” Key recollects, “I would usually wear black jeans and a trench coat.” For Key, black is wrapped in a sense of mystery and, when worn, is a kind of invisibility cloak. But even during this period of wanting to fade into the shadows, Key’s personality still twinkled brightly. “There was always a single item on my body that would express myself, such as a band t-shirt or a commemorative necklace,” she continues.
When asked about her views on fashion specifically, Key believes it to go beyond consumer goods or wearing the hottest trend to show you’re in vogue. For her, fashion is an attitude and an enthusiasm for novelty. “Fashion means you are always open-minded for what is new…an old lady or man who always accept[s] new things she or he is my fashion icon,” Key exclaims, “age, how you dress, what you do for [a] living these have nothing to do with fashion. Unless you could find your real happiness in what you’re doing.”
As someone who approaches broadening her fashion (and music) horizons with open arms, Key seems to find happiness in what she’s doing, and her look is definitely an extension of this joy. But when gigging, the objective for Key is spinning an aural tapestry to mesmerize and not her get-up. With this music-first mindset, Key only has one requirement for her stage attire: danceability. “Actually, there is not much difference between stage [attire] and daily life, but there is something in my mind about stage wear. Wear comfortable enough to dance to the music.”
Defining herself as a “half Beijinger,” Key has been living in the capital for a decade and is regularly on the bill at parties and events throughout the city.
Currently, Key Minor has a set in the work for early July that will be of cinematic proportions. For more information on this forthcoming party fit for the silver screen, and to stay in the loop on where Key Minor will be weaving the beats, keep an eye on her social media.
If you’re a club kid in the big city that enjoys music spun with philosophical intent instead of clogging the airwaves just for the sake of it, then why not!? Key Minor’s sets are well-tailored sonic collages aimed to get you on your feet and busting moves.
So, get dancing!