Travel is an integral part of life for Dom Chung, a renowned London DJ and the Global Head of Music at Soho House. Whether he’s flying out to meetings, seeking out emerging talent at live performances or DJing himself, Chung is constantly on the move and connecting face-to-face with people remains at the heart of his career.
This season, the dedicated new travel-wear brand Émigré has tapped Dom as their Global Brand Ambassador as they launch in the UK. He holds a unique affinity with the brand, his often short and multi-faceted stays around the globe require a light but particular suitcase as he moves from in-person meetings with industry professionals, explores new environments and immerses himself in unfamiliar and diverse cultures.
The brand, founded by an international team of experts from The North Face, Ralph Lauren, Crafted Goods, and Lands’ End, is built from the combined experience of seasoned travellers with a shared vision that we should all be able to “Travel Sharp and Work Smart”. Branching out past typical weekend luggage and suitcases, Émigré presents a unique capsule wardrobe for avid travellers who centre functionality and the desire to move seamlessly between different cities, climates and events.
We chatted with Dom from his hotel room in Copenhagen, as he attended the annual Distortion festival, to discuss the global aspects of his role at Soho House, what he looks for in a travel wardrobe and the significance of a brand like Émigré in today’s evolving work environment. A match made in heaven, both Dom and Émigré sit at the intersection of emerging culture and global exploration. Here Dom discusses with us the importance of a global outlook and the diverse nature of his role finding and booking emerging talent around the world.
Sabrina Soormally: How did you get involved with Émigré?
Dom Chung: Actually through Mission PR, who kindly reached out to me through my socials. They sold me on the vision and I was happy to accept.
What space do you feel that the brand has filled in the market?
They’ve combined sharp and highly functional suits for the modern-day traveller which is perfect. In my mind, I can’t think of any other brands that are solely focused on business travel, and I think they’ve combined that element very well.
How would you describe Émigré’s brand ethos and why does it appeal to you personally?
I think they combine travelling sharp and working smart. Obviously, I like to do both of those things [laughs]. I think it speaks to me directly, I want to travel comfortably, I want to look good when I’m going, and I want to have ease of access when I’m picking stuff up and just going out the door. It really speaks to me personally.
How do music and travel intersect for you in your role as Global Head of Music at Soho House?
Well, I have a Global role, so I need a global outlook on what we offer as a business within Soho House. And I think the opportunity to get into these different scenes, different cultures, and really understand it and grasp that level is super important. On one basis we need a global outlook as a business, we want a global consistency, but then we want to pair that with a hyper-localised culture so we need to be there, we need to be seeing it, understanding what’s going on. And I think today is a great example of that, really going in and understanding what’s happening in Copenhagen with something like Distortion, brings that kind of local essence and flavour to what we do.
You work a lot with emerging talent, working on things like Soho Rising, how do you typically discover new artists and music?
Various channels really. Five years ago we went on a big journey to reposition Soho House as a tastemaker channel and really support emerging talent. I felt that was a lane we wanted to operate in, I think it gave us kudos in the market, it gave us longstanding relationships with the artists, and fortunately, I think we’ve been quite successful in that journey and been quite credible in who we’ve been programming. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy for that point, and now we’re coming up much more in A&R meetings and on managers’ and agents’ radars, so it’s a combination of people pitching to us but then us really relying on our own taste barometer and going out and understanding who we want to book. And just seeing what’s going on in the market, that level of acts, or industry, happens so quickly. When these artists are coming through you’ve really got to be on it constantly and I think when you do it enough you understand the rhythms around what’s going to happen, what’s making noise in the industry and what’s genuine rather than just noise for noise’s sake if that makes sense?
How do you maintain a suitcase for business travel? I know you need to stay professional for meetings but you also do a lot of travelling for DJing and watching acts performing.
How do I answer that? By being tidy and efficient [laughs], I pack everything down, and I travel quite light and with intent if that makes sense? I am efficient with my wardrobe and what’s going on with my daily routine because efficiency is key to how I approach things, I don’t want to be going on with anything other than hand luggage. I make sure I’m picking a few select premium pieces that work for me both day and night and for whatever I’m doing in between, whether that’s meetings, going to gigs or just hanging out.
How would you describe your personal style?
Oh, I’ve got to say that without sounding … [laughs], I like to wear comfortable pieces, and I like to feel like I’m dressing in a chic manner, comfortable and casual are probably the two words that spring to mind!
What are some of the standout pieces from the Émigré accessories and clothing that have become staples in your suitcase?
Definitely the tote, I’m loving the tote, I think it works really well with my day-to-day routine, I’m using it every day. And for me, the Oxford shirts, I feel like they’re classic pieces, they’re timeless, they go with a range of different stuff that really fit my day-to-day life, whether I’m being casual in the day, or in this case if I need something a bit smarter. And everyone loves a suit right? So the suits as well.
I had a look at your Spotify playlist for Émigré, can you tell us a bit about how you compiled it and what your intent behind the tracks was?
I just wanted it to go on a bit of a drifty journey, as how I would like to listen to a playlist when I’m travelling. Typically I like my playlists to soundtrack the day and have a certain temperature that maps out your kind of journey as it were. So I kept it very mellow and picked it up as the playlist along.
Obviously, you travel a lot and have a lot of meetings, why are face-to-face interactions and events such an integral part of your work?
I just think that meetings are meaningful, that kind of one-on-one interaction that you get is priceless really, whether that’s with new business operations or with our local team, it’s really important that we get in front of them and make proper human connections. To get that personality across which sometimes can be slightly misguided when you’re on a Zoom, you don’t always get the true spirit of someone. I just think it’s all about building personal connections, the reason that I’m able to do what I do, essentially I’m able to pick up the phone to anyone, call them and have that kind of connection where we move quickly, and that comes from personal relationships and you can only have that by being together with someone.
I think there’s a lot more weight in seeing a live act in person rather than just streaming videos.
100%, I think Covid taught us that right? I think despite the best intentions, everything was digital and everyone was trying to get behind that, but I think really you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Once all of that was stripped away – and not just live music, but any kind of creative culture or environment – you’re just really hungry for it.
What has been your most memorable or significant travel experience since taking on your role at Soho House?
Oh, that’s a good question. Probably the one that stands out is delivering Desert House in L.A., just because it was such an extreme new venture that the business went on. Going into such a flagship event like Coachella and delivering an off-site desert house in this crazy utopia of a space, and programming it with such volume was something that we were really proud of.
How do you define a good trip and how do you immerse yourself in new cultures and environments when you’re making such short trips?
I think it’s all about immersing yourself in the culture in any which way you can. This morning I was up at 7 am walking around the city because I think otherwise it’s such a wasted opportunity, it’s such a privilege to be able to travel with work or to be able to travel in any way. So whenever I go to a city I want to be able to understand visually what’s going on. I love getting a sense of what the local community are doing, what they look like, what they’re wearing, what the architecture’s like, and I think that then helps me understand what the city’s about so I think that’s super important.
Are there any trips that you have coming up this year that you’re particularly excited about?
My personal holidays [laugh], I’m going to Hydra which is going to be really nice, in Greece, I’m going to Majorca, I’ve just booked to go to Marseilles.
I’m very much looking forward to them! Work wise it’s kind of transient because they get booked all the time so it’s probably hard to give the full picture of them. I mean my personal holidays! I’m really looking forward to them.
Are there any emerging artists that you’re excited about at the moment?
God, loads. There are new artists coming through all the time. There’s an American artist called D4vd that’s getting a lot of international hype who I definitely think we should be keeping an eye on. There are so many I should really keep a shortlist ready! We book new music every week, there’s so much good stuff coming through. I think there’s never been a better time to be an emerging artist right now in terms of being able to get out in front of audiences and communicate with fans with artists using things like TikTok as a vehicle. So it’s a really exciting space and there’s so much of it.