Trailblazers: Godwin Pereira, Kyo
Welcome to the latest edition of Trailblazers – IQ’s regular series of Q&As with the inspirational figures forging their own paths in the global live entertainment business.
From people working in challenging conditions or markets to those simply bringing a fresh perspective to the music world, Trailblazers aims to spotlight unique individuals from all walks of life who are making a mark in one of the world’s most competitive industries. (Read the previous Trailblazers interview, with Aventus’s Annika Monari and Alan Vey, here.)
Following October’s interview with O Beach Ibiza’s Tony Truman, Trailblazers begins 2019 in conversation with another club boss: this time, Godwin Pereira, founder and CEO of south-east Asian club brand Kyō.
The Kyō brand debuted in Singapore in 2013, quickly becoming one of the city-state’s most popular clubs and pulling in international heavyweights such as François K, Osunlade and Nic Fanciulli for its house and techno nights. In December 2016, it expanded to Kuala Lumpur, opening a 6,000sqft, 770-capacity club (divided into two spaces, main room Kyō and smaller space Ren) at the city’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Since opening, Kyō KL has welcomed DJs including Seth Troxler, Dubfire, Talib Kweli, Pan Pot and Jeremy Olander, and recently agreed a partnership with London’s the Egg that saw it take over the club in October.
“Kuala Lumpur has the right elements for a club concept like Kyō to thrive,” said Pereira last year. “It has a cosmopolitan dynamism and a music scene teeming with numerous subgenres and collectives, although there is yet to be one specific venue that caters to all of these genres. Kyō KL was created to fulfil this purpose: housing a spectrum of genres, both up-and-coming and forgotten, to bring together a community of music lovers who can enjoy these in one venue.”
How did you get your start in the industry?
I started young, in the back end, as a roadie and rigging boy. My interest grew from there – to learning the business, booking DJs, doing everything. It was a natural life path to somehow end up owning a club. It drives me nuts but it’s very rewarding and I love it still.
Who, or what, have been the biggest influences on your career so far?
DJs and music, first and foremost. Clubs like Paradise Garage and Studio 54 are influences, for sure – about how humans going into clubs and relate these emotions. [DJs like] François K and all that are huge inspirations for me.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I say, when people ask, that I am in the business of selling memories. If people meet and hook up in my club, that’s a good enough job for me.
What achievements are you most proud of?
In terms of growth for such a small brand – we started in a back street in the business district. We started as a joke. And within five years we’re in a five-star hotel… I think coming from an underground club to a five-star hotel in a basement is a great achievement and shows how strong our brand is.
“We started as a joke. And within five years we’re in a five-star hotel”
How has the business changed since you started out?
I think when we started it was more underground. Our first three months was really an experimental lab. We were seeing what people were and were not responding to.
With this new club we have two rooms, so we have more intimate stuff upstairs and then went more mainstream in the main room. We can do the stuff we want to in the week, but more edgy in the small room at the weekend.
What could the industry do more of?
I think it’s just making artists more accessible. The biggest struggle for mid-sized clubs like us is that it’s hard to afford the big guys. That’s the hardest bit.
Some guys realise that – Seth Troxler and those guys were looking for an intimate vibe instead of the 60,000-people festivals, so we hope artists can see what we are trying to do for them: to offer more intimate shows.
What advice would you give to someone making their start in the industry?
Keep your head clear and have a great legal advisor. Just be hungry for information. That’s what keeps driving things forward.
Go and immerse yourself in something and experience it.
If you’d like to take part in a future Trailblazers interview, or nominate someone else for inclusion, email IQ’s news editor, Jon Chapple, on email@example.com.