Secret Walls x Havaianas

This event has passed
Jul 3

Hong Kong’s third season of competitive graffiti artistry wraps up on July 3. Anderson Muth talks to Louisa Haining, the organiser of Secret Walls 2015, and Roy Malig, one of the local DJs spinning tunes, to learn more about the night’s mix of music and art

Secret Walls x Havaianas – the global art battle humbly self-described as ‘the world’s premier live art event’ – is actually living up to the hype here in Hong Kong. Pitting two artists against each other, the format allows only 90 minutes to paint a black-and-white masterpiece that is then voted upon by two judges and the public in attendance.

Head to head and single-elimination, the energy and tension in the air is palpable ahead of Jay Pelmet’s showdown with Bao in the competition finale. And that’s not just due to the glory and the prestige and the $10,000 on the line.

An equally talented line-up of Hong Kong-based DJs are playing a supporting role at the event, mixing up a passionate, groove-filled vibe aimed to inspire artists and audience members alike. This creative symbiosis lies at the heart of local organiser Louisa Haining’s vision for Secret Walls x Hong Kong. Haining is, by her own admission, ‘an obsessive music fan, [along with] street culture. Hip-hop, funk, reggae, it’s all interlinked’.

Music, she believes, not only creates a positive environment, but also ‘breaks down some of the snobbery within art’, something that’s a key element in the appeal of Secret Walls. An excited crowd gathers round, watching art emerge from blank canvases, but it’s more packed club than quiet gallery. “Great music gets everyone excited,” Haining explains, making for an evening that’s ‘more emotional than your average night out [and also] more accessible’.

Curation is obviously important for an event of this magnitude, so three experienced DJs are on board to keep the atmosphere appropriate throughout: Roy Malig (one half of Vibaholics), XLarge, and Yao [XXX]. Malig – a long-time pillar of the Hong Kong DJ community who is widely respected for his eclectic tastes and deep music collection (including over 25,000 records) – is first up, kicking off the event off to get the crowd properly warmed up. The focus is ‘on the music [while] people are waiting for the artists to perform’, he explains, so he plans to ‘try to surprise’ with a wide ranging blend of hip-hop, rare groove, and other funky genres. Having said all this, Malig, with a knowing smile on his face, admits, “What I will play is very different [from normal], a special set for that night.”

So what’s the attraction for veteran DJs used to being centre stage and the focus of attention? Why be eagerly relegated to the side? For Malig, it’s a nice break from the norm to support top-notch visual artists ‘who know exactly what they’re doing’ when putting brush to canvas in such a pressurised, competitive arena. There’s certainly a sense of kindred creative spirits here, as Malig is pleased to help make Secret Walls ‘not just an art thing’ by making the music an equally dynamic part of the event. Though, arguably, Secret Walls is an art thing: a mixed media event that promotes music and painting together as a fun and kindred pairing.

Secret Walls x Havaianas – Grand Final Fri Jul 3, 7.30pm, Backstage Live, Central. Tickets: $150 (adv), $200 (door);


Backstage details

1/F, 52-54 Wellington St

Area Central

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