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Watch this Vancouver DJ perform a set from a commandeered SkyTrain car (VIDEO)

'As successful as the livestreams out of the studio were, we felt like there was more we could do to capture the heart of Vancouver’s music scene'
Vancouver DJ K-OG  - SkyTrain Expo line set
In an effort to find a more unique performance space that also showcased the city of Vancouver, Koji Aiken, otherwise known as DJ K-OG, hopped aboard a SkyTrain car on a recent Sunday morning to film a virtual EDM performance.

When the coronavirus pandemic first forced musicians and entertainers to press pause on their projects just over a year ago, it also forced them to get innovative and embrace new technology in order to keep performing. 

As founder of a Vancouver-based music and events company called Kumo Promotions, Koji Aiken became one of many creatives who turned to online platforms in the early days of lockdown. Without events to promote, the Kumo team started running weekly livestreams out of Studio710, a multimedia studio in downtown Vancouver, in an effort to help highlight the city's EDM scene.

"The whole idea of the livestreams was to provide a platform for DJs who lost a lot of opportunity through COVID. We were there for a couple of months from October to February, but after that we kind of just realized that the online market, like Twitch and those kinds of services, was really oversaturated and what we were doing wasn't necessarily different," says Aiken.  

Now, a full year into the pandemic, B.C.'s current state of affairs is still encouraging artists like Aiken to push past their comfort zones and find even newer, more creative ways of sharing their art from a distance.

“As successful as the livestreams out of the studio were, we felt like there was more we could do to capture the heart of Vancouver’s music scene," the 23-year-old says, adding "We decided to really try and bump up our production and showcase the city and what the city has to offer. So we just thought, why not do something crazy? Like, why not do a DJ livestream set on an iconic Vancouver [location]?" 

For Aiken, who himself performs under the name DJ K-OG, that meant waking up extra early on a recent Sunday morning to stroll onto the SkyTrain's Expo Line—DJ equipment in tow—set up at the back of the train, pull on his headphones and film a nearly 30-minute EDM set. 

In the video, titled "City Sounds," a masked Aiken can be seen behind the decks, spinning for a mostly-empty SkyTrain car as it speeds along the tracks. The on-screen visuals flip between shots of Aiken and the picturesque views of the city as seen from the train, as Aiken works his way through a setlist packed with remixed classics like "Ms. Jackson" and "Lean On."

A project like this would obviously need to have been cleared with TransLink in advance, right? 

Wrong, says Aiken. 

"We didn't actually get permission or anything," he admits with a laugh. "We decided to go try to get in one of the first trains ... and tried to make sure that we weren't disturbing anyone, as much as possible." Considering the COVID-19 regulations still in place across the province, "Obviously we wouldn't want to do this that when there's a lot of people on," Aiken adds.  

Another measure Aiken and his crew took to avoid disturbing other passengers was pumping the music only through Aiken's headphones rather than amplifying it through a speaker. 

Despite the fact that Aiken was jamming out silent disco-style, in the back of a SkyTrain car with a full mixing board and a camera crew to music no one else could hear, "surprisingly we didn't get any comments or anything," he says. "There were a couple of people who went on and off the train, but they were minding their own business and assumed that this was, like, a staged thing with TransLink or something."

Looking ahead, Aiken says he and his co-creators are hoping to take the concept from land to sea. 

"The next step beyond this would be the SeaBus, but obviously that's going to be a little bit more difficult," he explains with a laugh. "I might actually have to reach out to TransLink to see if we can make that happen." 

Regardless of whether Aiken is able keep the concept rolling across various forms of public transit, "The whole purpose of this video is to really try and push other creatives in Vancouver to go beyond the living room and try new things, try new set locations and really push the boundaries of what can be done with live streaming," he says. 

"I really hope that the local people in Vancouver are able to kind of grab inspiration from this and start showcasing other aspects of the city [in their own work] as well."