It’s a balmy seaside night, and the light of the full moon dances on the softly crashing waves. Up on a nearby street, a nightclub radiates with twisting hues of rose and blue. Walking on the shore, two lovers soak up the romance of the idyllic sights and sounds. Just as one leans in for a kiss, a monolithic wave crashes onto their shoes. Rather than let the intimacy of the occasion go to waste, the pair opts to ditch the beach for the promise of the club above.
It’s a nice little story and the sort of club-ready romance to which Peggy Gou’s runaway March 2019 hit “Starry Night” has provided a soundtrack thousands of times since its release. The South Korea-born, Berlin-based DJ and producer has spent the past few years rising to the top tier of modern house favorites among clubgoers. The lush production of her original material and broad mixing style have made her popular among the choosiest of electronic music tastemakers and the most rambunctious of dance-floor addicts. She’s made regular appearances at Miami’s Club Space and will return for a repeat performance alongside German techno maven Sven Väth this Friday, November 22.
Gou fell in love with the possibilities of dance music after returning to England — having spent her teens there to learn the language — to study fashion at the London College of Fashion. Her obsession with late-night discos eventually took precedence over course work, and when she failed her classes, her parents told her not to come back to her hometown of Incheon until she figured out life. She soon learned how to DJ, moved to Berlin, and began producing her own music on the software Ableton.
She made her recorded debut with the EP Art of War on Radio Slave’s label, Rekids. The intro, “Troop,” carried a sensual, starry-eyed quality that can be heard in Gou’s work to this day, while the b-side “In Sum” boomed with industrial precision. Thus, the yin and yang of Gou was forged.
She shot to international acclaim two years later with the release of her three-song EP, Once, on the record label Ninja Tune. Lead single “It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)” saw Gou pen and sing original lyrics in a husky tone. She chose her native Korean to honor her roots, and even with the language barrier, dance music fans around the world couldn’t help but sing along.
“I believe that a lot of Korean and K-pop artists, they want to be European,” Gou told the Guardian in August. “But there are so many beautiful things in Korea. And that’s also one thing that I always get touched by: both of my big ‘hits’ are not in English. When I see that crowd reaction, it’s like, they don’t even know how to sing these lyrics, and they still love it. But I remember, every time I found a record where I couldn’t understand the lyrics, like a Japanese record, it becomes somehow precious. I know that feeling.”
Gou built upon her breakthrough moment of the previous year with the release of the two-song EP Moment in April. The record, released through her independent label, Gudu Records, became a favorite on the strength of “Starry Night.” With the help of a moody, fashionable music video shot in South Korea, the song has racked up more than six million streams on Spotify and become a go-to weapon in the record arsenal of DJs the world over.
She recently shared her genre-bending contribution to the ongoing mix series DJ-Kicks. The June release saw Gou seamlessly blend left-field tunes from the likes of Kode9 and Aphex Twin with ’80s synth funk, minimal techno, and her own alluring originals. It’s a mind-blowing journey free of borders, and it makes for a sumptuous taste of what’s in store for Miamians on the Terrace at Club Space this Friday.