0 Love It
Save it

XXX founder Cassady Winston on the famed venue's move to Tai Kok Tsui

As the famed venue moves across the harbour to Tai Kok Tsui, Anderson Muth speaks to founder and owner Cassady Winston about XXX version 3.0

It’s time to make a move,” explains Cassady Winston as our interview begins in the now-former Sai Wan home of XXX. The celebrated music venue’s relocation to Tai Kok Tsui in Kowloon – doors opening some time in early February – is certainly representative of the realities of Hong Kong’s current musical climate, as well as the positive possibilities of change.

Having previously moved from digs in Sheung Wan to Sai Wan, Winston has shown a canny knack for pitching up XXX in parts of the city where the underground culture coalesces – until gentrification forces it to move elsewhere. While XXX’s new location – less than 10 minutes on foot from Mong Kok, Prince Edward or Olympic MTR station – may not seem the centre of the universe to the average Hong Kong Island resident, Winston and his team have a differing perspective. “Central’s not central anymore,” he says with a knowing smile, regarding the state of affairs in Lan Kwai Fong. Meanwhile, the relatively hidden niche of the Tai Kok Tsui industrial area perfectly matches XXX’s intentionally gritty and arts-first style. “Let’s have some real talk – being close to ‘the pole’ [LKF], you make a play to the casual bar-hopping crowd. It’s nice to go to Kowloon where you don’t get that.”

This marks a full return to the origin of the XXX concept – house party vibes made possible by a BYOB drink policy, and full acceptance and support for all the creative arts. Whether it be comedy, film, literature, multimedia or photography, all have had their place and will continue to. A new community-minded addition for this most recent incarnation is a small recording studio, but regardless Winston promises the same high artistic standards, especially‘eclectic music, good music [and on a] good soundsystem.’

The first few events are tipped to be a soft launch for members only, but then it will be back to business as usual with established in-house nights Crew Love, Future Dancehall, KΞΞP IT $ƱRRΞ∆L and Wall of Sound, plus a myriad of other events that local promoters rely on the venue for hosting. Winston also takes time to highlight the infrequent happening of Hong Kong Babies, which focuses on all-local performers playing exclusively Cantonese music. He bluntly clarifies the mindset behind that, stating, “Some people see us as a foreigner place for foreigner people – it’s never meant to be that. We are meant to be for Hong Kong 2016.” He explains, “XXX has never been just a space… It’s a collection of aesthetic choices and values.”

Being ‘for Hong Kong 2016’ certainly sounds political, an area the venue has not shied away from through its Beautiful Sai Wan community group and, more recently, via its frequent and continuing support of the Umbrella Movement. Yet all of this, Winston argues, is about ‘building a foundation, like Clockenflap, Hidden Agenda, Heavy Hongkong and Cliché Records’. “We are all grinding, trying to stay even, but you have to have a real sense of heart,” he continues, in essence making a valid comparison with the hard won and qualified success the Umbrella Movement has achieved. 

This being Hong Kong, Winston readily acknowledges the question on everyone’s lips. Yes, even ‘if the money were the same, I’d rather be here’ in Tai Kok Tsui, he states with total assurance. There’re different meanings to success, he says, like whether people enjoy the space and how often the venue is used. It’s not really about profit. Winston speaks honestly about balancing his personal and professional goals, emphasizing that he values ‘the brand more than making money.’ Allowing for and promoting true creative freedom, he concludes, means he doesn’t have to ‘try and control [XXX] too much. It’s like a child, you can’t manage your child’s life’.

XXX Tai Kok Tsui. Address and event details to be revealed upon opening in February (date TBC).

Comments

0 comments