Dear readers, for this 3rd edition of Rising Talent Around the World in January, Cambodge Mag returns to Paris to let you discover - or rediscover - a multi-talented character with an uncommon creative genius and an atypical life path: Franco-Khmer TONY S.KAY.
Entrepreneur by heart and founder of THE FAMILY SAUCE, today we turn to the regular DJ of MAMA SHELTERS venues in France and events such as DIOR BEAUTY ( to mention just a few).
When you were growing up in Paris, you lived with your family of six in a basement studio. What were the most memorable moments of that time?
The way we lived together, especially our shared beds, evokes nothing but fond memories and strong sibling bonds. Perhaps the only tricky part was looking in from the outside, since none of us had our own room.
When you were about 12, your mother's sudden absence forced you to go into foster care
My three older sisters were about ten years older than me, so they became my surrogate mothers, and we were in daily contact (especially by phone).
So, disconnected from your Asian environment, tell us about your noodle anecdote
I had this unconscious and probably intrinsic need to stay connected to my culture. Noodles, among other things, and even though I never had the opportunity to heat them up in a hostel, enabled me to make that connection... And to eat a little more to my heart's content.
In spite of the circumstances, you went on to obtain a BTS in management, but you held two jobs simultaneously in the restaurant business, and an idea came to you about outfits. Tell us about it!
From an early age, I helped out my sisters, who owned a restaurant. At the time, I was working in several different establishments at the same time, and the sight of waiters dressed in a variety of outfits gave me the idea of proposing standardized outfits. And when these didn't suit the restaurant owners, I suggested them directly to the staff.
After a brief stint in Amsterdam, you'll settle in Lyon. You'll buy a business. Tell us about this experience
In 2013, I took over an establishment then called LES COULISSES, with a partner. The place had previously been known as LIPS CAFÉ, an extremely controversial venue at the time, a fact I was unaware of at the time.
What events led to its success?
The takeover took place during an off-peak period, and lasted until the end of August. Then came an unexpected event: privatization by a customer for his birthday, with festivities in total opulence. Then the idea of immortalizing this incredible moment (with multiple photos on Facebook) was probably the trigger to breathe new life into this, until then, rather quiet place.
Subsequently, we set up regular events. Over the years, LES COULISSES also became the place to be for top sportsmen and women. It started with basketball players, including NBA stars, then footballers and other top athletes.
And in those four years, before the influencer phenomenon became what it is today, we built up a real team strategy based on our contacts.
Fame brings enemies, and you become a regular target of aggression. Five years later, you change direction. Tell us about it!
Following a number of robberies, which - among other things - led to tension within the team, I decided to move on. The need to recharge my batteries was palpable. It had become necessary for my well-being!
This is also the period when mixing becomes an outlet for you. How did this come about?
During this period of self-examination, my brother-in-law gave me a brief introduction to the disabled community. I realized how lucky I was not to be one, and as I explored new possibilities, I chose mix.
I had learned about this discipline from the DJ at my previous establishment (now part of the TRINIX group, which has over 200 million listens).
It was when he couldn't make it that I found myself improbably replacing him... and the passion was born!
And so the FAMILY SAUCE adventure was born. Tell us how the idea came around
We were in a period of confinement, and I was in charge of communications and media for a major catering group. During a discussion, I came up with the idea of creating a devil's sauce (made from chicken juice) to accompany the prepared chicken we were already supplying.
The idea not being accepted, I took the initiative of making it myself. Then a former COULISSES customer asked me to send it by post, so I did! The positive feedback was immediate, and I developed this new niche from home.
What types of sauces will you be offering, and who will be involved in the project?
Based on the sauces I usually use, such as oyster sauce, I've noticed that glutamate is an ingredient I don't stand very well. So I'm going to revisit our traditional sauces and come up with a different, healthier composition.
Then there will be competitions. What will they be? What will be the results?
I'll be taking part in the Championnat de France de Barbecue, which is just what I'm looking for: technical skill, but in a friendly, family atmosphere... I'll make it to the finals.
Then, as mix became an important part of your life, you started playing on an official basis. How did your first contract come about?
Working my way up in the mix world, I "targeted" the MAMA SHELTER establishments, whose musical DNA matched my own (hip hop, R&B and old school). I got a date, and my first performance was a success, so they started booking me on a regular basis.
What "mama shelters" have you played in since then?
Most of the ones in France!
We saw you at the DIOR BEAUTY events. How did that come?
Following one of their private events in a "Mama Shelter" where I was mixing that evening, they liked me and asked me to cover a number of other DIOR Beauty events.
What other well-known brands or events have you been called upon to cover?
Among others, Lululemon, Plaza Athénée, Food Society, Off Paris Seine, St Martins Lane in London, Peninsula, Novotel... or the Shark Club in Pukhet or the Sabay festival...
Then last year, you went on your first trip to Srok. How did you feel?
It was October 20, 2023... and the emotional shock was total. On the one hand, because of the modernity of Phnom Penh, and on the other, because of the fighting spirit of the Khmer people, their constant smiles and the kindness of their welcome in general.
Which places in particular made the biggest impression on you, and why?
Phnom Penh enchanted me, but Siem Reap remains my favorite.
During your stay, you will also have the opportunity to play there. Tell us about that experience!
From chance meetings with friends to opportunities, I found myself playing PONTOON (through Dara Sabay).
You're now a full-time DJ. What are your musical preferences?
Hip hop, R&B, Old school, Afro, Afro Caribbean
What would your favorite places be?
I can't think of any in particular, but taking part in festivals is something that appeals to me enormously. And let's be honest, being Asian can be a barrier, because we don't get the exposure we deserve.
How do you see yourself in three years' time?
Confidential for the moment. But from now on I want to concentrate mainly on my DJ career.
Interview by Chantha R (Françoise framboise)