Lee Burridge is a DJ, producer, and record label owner who helped launch the underground club scene in Hong Kong during the early 1990s, and today plays at nightclubs across the world.
Renowned for his DJ sets that mix varieties of electronic dance music into the early hours of the morning, as well as for his antics behind the turntables in the DJ booth, Burridge was a member of England's Tyrant Soundsystem (along with DJs Craig Richards and Sasha) and has mixed albums for labels such as Global Underground, Hooj Choons and Balance.
Early Career (1985 to 1990)
Lee Burridge's DJ career began in the tiny tourist village of Eype in the county of Dorset on 26 December 1984, when he played for the first time at The New Inn, a bar owned and run by his parents.
With the help of his father, shortly thereafter Burridge started his own mobile DJ operation, "Cutz" and spent the next few years traveling the surrounding countryside playing weddings, birthday parties and even the occasional funeral (after party, not burial).
Working as a mobile DJ led to an opportunity at a local holiday resort. Soon after, Burridge began performing every weekend at the local town's nightclub where he played mostly chart music while also entertaining the crowd with his antics on the microphone.
Burridge's first true big break came when he landed a residency at an award-winning club called The Palace in Somerset, where he played weekly and was introduced to the art of mixing records by one of the club's other resident DJs, Wayne Rideout. It was also at The Palace during the summer of 1987 that a group of visitors turned Burridge on to London's emerging acid house sound which would shape his career from that point on.
Hong Kong (1991 to 1997)
In early 1991 Burridge was spotted by a visiting club owner from overseas who offered him a job abroad in the then British colony of Hong Kong.
Moving on his 22nd birthday, Burridge discovered an exotic city entirely devoid of a club scene. Burridge's Hong Kong stint started at a club called Joe Bananas during the hey day of the Asian economic miracle. He initially played to a mostly mainstream audience at his first Hong Kong job, where he earned a reputation for being a party DJ, hanging from the scaffolding ceiling of the club and mixing top 40 to a crowd of suits letting their hair down and eager to spend the easy come money of the time.
However, each night beginning at 5 am, Burridge would walk across the road to the Big Apple and would start playing house music for a late night crowd of bar workers, that carried on till more often than not mid afternoon, when the club closed.
These late night house sessions led to Burridge forging a friendship with two local bar managers from another club, called The Beach Hut, and the trio would eventually create a series of monthly Sunday night parties that become Hong Kong's first true rave.
The Beach Hut's simple set up, which included a raw sound system, smoke machine and strobe light, did not stop it from becoming a tremendous success. Thanks to Burridge's all night marathon sets, the Sunday night party quickly grew from 150 invitees into a roadblock of people eager to hear underground music.
Burridge would go on to hold the two main club residencies in the once-seedy Wan Chai district during the six years he which he resided in Hong Kong, at The Big Apple and Neptunes. He played an eclectic mix of dance music six nights a week to packed clubs until 8am most weeknights and the afternoons of the weekends. These parties went on to become some of the most popular nights in Hong Kong club scene and helped to establish Burridge's early DJ career.
One of Burridge's arguably biggest Hong Kong achievements, which he rarely mentions, was the establishment of Neptune's. Burridge and his friends at the time had left for Hadrin in Thailand during Christmas of 1996. Being people of leisure, thought nothing about whether their regular gigs would be available when they got back to Hong Kong, if they decided a few more weeks in Thailand was a good idea, which they ultimately ended up doing.
Upon returning to Hong Kong, the regular Big Apple gig had been given to someone else, and Burridge set about finding a new residency where he could spin underground music to the late night Hong Kong set. Eventually the now legendary Neptune's one offered him a late night spot. A residency that started after midnight, and finished whenever. At first it was grim, the first few weeks saw Lee playing to an empty dance floor and packing up his box by 6AM latest. And then one day, for no apparent reason, at about 2AM, the club filled up, people began walking in, by about 4 in the morning the club was throbbing and a new club and Hong Kong legend was born. One where mid afternoon closes were the norm taking over the mantle of Hong Kong's premier after hour's venue from The Big Apple.
It was also during his Hong Kong period, that Burridge ventured to Haad Rin, Thailand, and helped bring electronic dance music and DJing to the island. Arriving in February 1992 after hearing about the location from a group of travellers who passed through Hong Kong, Burridge's performances helped grow the parties from an informal gathering of drum circles around open fires on the beach into an unofficial rite of passage for clubbers which today attracts more than 10,000 people each month.
Burridge would continue to visit the island regularly until 1999, staying for stints of three months at a time to play parties held every week alongside local DJ A and another Haad Rin mainstay, Backyard Dave, who had also begun bringing dance music to the island.
By the mid 1990s, Burridge had established himself as the most well-known DJ in Hong Kong. He would join visiting DJs from the United Kingdom (U.K.) at huge rave parties in and around the city to complement his nightly sets in Wan Chai, often inviting the visiting DJs to come play at either the Big Apple or Neptunes after the parties were over.
These after parties led to his friendship with U.K. DJs Sasha and Craig Richards, who invited him to return and form the Tyrant Sound System.
Return to England and Tyrant (1998 to 2001)
Although Burridge's reputation in Hong Kong earned him gigs nearly every night in the city's top venues, he was relatively unknown in the UK upon his return.
According to Lee Burridge's PR "mythology", Richards—who was running several successful club nights in London, including Georgie and Malibu Stacey—invited Burridge to play at one of his parties, thus introducing him to the London crowd. However, in more detailed accounts, Burridge returned to London and struggled to develop a following, and consequently was considering returning to Hong Kong. As a favour, a promoter in Hong Kong flew him back to play a sold-out show with Sasha, and the exposure earned him a well-deserved international following.
The subsequent launch of Tyrant catapulted Burridge's career in the UK and globally.
As part of Tyrant, Burridge teamed up with Richards and Sasha to play regular monthly nights in London, first at a warehouse space and then the End nightclub, while also playing monthly at The Bomb in Nottingham. At the same time, Burridge began playing solo gigs at other leading British nightclubs, such as Cream, Golden and Ministry of Sound.
He mixed his first compilation for Hooj Choons, Deeper Shades Of Hooj 2 in just a single night.
In 1999, Burridge cracked DJ Magazine's prestigious annual Top 100 list for the first time, placing 33rd. That same year, Burridge also released his first solo mix album, Metropolis on Tide.
While continuing to carve out a career of his own, Burridge's work with the Tyrant project blossomed. Despite Sasha's production schedule causing him to miss several shows, Burridge and Richards continued to forge forward and grow a crowd of their own. When Sasha eventually decided to leave the project, the two decided to continue with the Tyrant nights and would go on to mix the highly acclaimed Tyrant mix compilation in 2000.
Also in 2000, Burridge and Richards began a Tyrant residency at the newly opened Fabric Nightclub in London, and helped build the club's sophisticated, hedonistic reputation while playing together each month until 2006.
In 2001 Burridge appeared on the cover of DJ Magazine and was asked to join an emerging group of young DJs for Global Underground's NuBreed series. Burridge's double disc NuBreed compilation, which featured a mixture of breakbeat, tech house and techno, helped to cement the DJ's mass appeal and popularity, and that same year he also moved into the top 30 in the DJ Magazine Poll.
Early 2000s (2002 to 2004)
Now fully established as one of the world's top DJs in 2002 following the successful NuBreed project, Burridge and Richards once again teamed up for another Tyrant album, No Shoes, No Cake. The compilation also featured Burridge's first single release, Lost and Found, on Fire recordings.
At the same time, the duo's monthly parties in London at Fabric had become amongst the most popular nights in the city while Burridge was voted as the 9th most popular DJ in the world by the DJ Magazine poll. By this time Burridge was also touring globally and playing in cities such as Sydney, Buenos Aires, New York, Singapore and Ibiza in addition to playing top U.K. festivals such as Creamfields, the Gatecrasher Summer Sound System, V Festival and Homelands.
In 2003 Burridge was again tapped by the Global Underground label to provide the second installment of the label's 24:7 series, mixing a two disc concept album based on the abstract opposites of 'day' and 'night.'
In 2004, Burridge began an annual series of Halloween parties with New York-based promotion company MADE Event, signifying his growing his appeal in the United States.
365 Project (2005 to 2006)
In early 2005, Burridge and Richards were invited by James Lavelle to remix the single "Eye for an Eye" by his U.N.K.L.E. project.
Later that year Burridge departed from London after nearly a decade and began an ambitious new project called 365. Following many years of global touring and one-off shows, Burridge developed the 365 project as a residency based tour where he would move to a city for a month or two at a time to play a series of parties in order to learn both the city and its crowds better.
Beginning in New York, Burridge spent the next two years taking the 365 concept to Ibiza, Florence, Buenos Aires, Sydney, New York, San Francisco, Denver and Hong Kong. In each city, he worked with local promoters to build a series of four or more parties while also setting aside time to work with local producers.
During the 365 project, Burridge kept a popular journal which was published online monthly by DJ Magazine describing the adventures he encountered and the humorous take he has on life on the road as a DJ.
That year Burridge also joined Sander Kleinenberg to mix half of This Is Everybody! On Tour, a more fan-friendly album than his previous endeavors and he began what would become an annual mainstay party at the Winter Music Conference in Miami, Florida, in conjunction with MADE Events, the Burridge Barrage.
In 2006, Burridge began another annual party at San Francisco's Love Parade, the LoveLee Party, and he launched his own record label, Almost Anonymous, to release the music produced by himself and local artists he collaborated with during the 365 project.
The label released collaborations between Burridge and Andy Page, Steve Porter and Dan F, the latter of which, Treat 'Em Mean, Keep 'Em Keen, appeared on Ewan Pearson's Fabric 35 album. However, the label suffered the same fate as many others in 2007, going under when its distributor and management companies went into receivership.
Burridge also visited and played at the Burning Man Festival for the first time in 2006, and would go on to describe the annual eight-day arts and musical gathering in Nevada as the best event he had been to.
Present Day (2007 to 2013)
2007 saw Burridge mix Balance: 012, the twelfth installment of the Balance series for Australia's EQ Recordings, joining DJs such as James Holden, Chris Fortier and Desyn Masiello. The three disc album, which received critical acclaim across the board, was nominated for "Compilation of the Year" at the PLUG Awards.
It also featured packaging which Burridge helped design. Burridge went on to spend the majority of the year touring in support of the album.
Currently, Burridge lives in New York. He continues to tour, playing at clubs and festivals across the globe and is managed by Joel Zimmerman of The William Morris Agency.
In addition, Burridge began a new series of concept parties based on his experiences at Burning Man recently. The parties, launched in San Francisco and New York, were called "GET WEIRD" and Burridge has since taken the concept to many other cities.
In 2011, Burridge began a new record label, All Day I Dream, dedicated to melodic, melancholy, dreamy house and techno music. Burridge and collaborators such as Matthew Dekay, Hoj, and Mike Khoury have been hosting outdoor daytime All Day I Dream parties in New York and Los Angeles, as well as other cities. Burridge's annual sunrise DJ sets on the Burning Man art car soundsystem Robot Heart are gaining a cult following, and stick mainly to the All Day I Dream aesthetic.
Awards and honors
DJ Magazine Top 100 Poll Rankings
"Compilation of the Year" nomination at the PLUG Awards.
1998: Deeper Shades Of Hooj: Volume Two (Hooj Choons)
2000: Tyrant with Craig Richards (Distinct'ive Breaks Records)
2001: Global Underground: Nubreed 005 (Boxed)
2001: Metropolis (Tide)
2002: No Shoes, No Cake with Craig Richards (Fabric, London)
2003: 24:7 (Boxed)
2005: This Is Everybody! On Tour (Ultra Records)
2007: Balance 012 (EQ Recordings)
2001: Lost & Found EP (Fire)
2006: Treat 'Em Mean, Keep 'Em Keen (Almost Anonymous)
2007: Do You Smoke Pot? (Almost Anonymous)
2007: Raw Dog (Almost Anonymous)
^ a b c d The DJ: More Than Just Sex, Drugs, and Vinyl, Mike Gehrig, ClubPlanet.com, September 2005
^ Resident Advisor Biography, ResidentAdvisor.com
^ William Morris Agency Biography, William Morris Agency, May 2008
^ a b About.com Interview, DJ Ron Slomowicz, About.com
^ a b Lee Burridge: From the Booth, Mike Gehrig & Lee Burridge, ClubPlanet.com, September 2006
^ CP's Epic Interview with Lee Burridge: Part 1, Mike Gehrig, ClubPlanet.com, November 2007
^ CP's Epic Interview with Lee Burridge: Part 2, Mike Gehrig, ClubPlanet.com, November 2007
Lee Burridge on Twitter
Lee Burridge on Myspace
Lee Burridge discography at Discogs
Lee Burridge discography at MusicBrainz
(2006) Lee Burridge Interview
Lee Burridge tracklisting archive
Lee Burridge @ Kudos Beach Romania
Leeki Tikki Boat with Lee Burridge, Winter Music Conference 2009
Lee Burridge rocks Movement 2008