Nightclub Zouk has been a fixture of Singapore nightlife since the early ’90s. Zouk has now relocated to Clarke Quay.
Zouk is a Singapore clubbing institution. In recent years it’s moved out of private hands and is owned and operated by Genting Hong Kong, an affiliate of Genting Singapore. It’s also moved sites and has been given a new lease on life.
Housed within Clarke Quay’s Cannery Block and spanning two floors, the new Zouk complex includes signature dance stages Zouk and Phuture, which stretch across 631sqm and 267sqm, respectively. In an exciting twist, though, the new home allows the two to merge to create one large superclub, which comes into play when the biggest events take place and the most popular artists perform.
The venues within the venue are separated by soundproofed operable double walls. As well as Zouk and Phuture, the new complex houses the recently launched restaurant and bar, Red Tail, and a fourth concept. Despite the new ownership, a number of historic elements remain intact at Zouk Singapore. Firstly, interior and concept designer, Phillips Connor of Independent Concepts — who has been involved with redevelopments of Zouk since the late ‘90s — was back on board. The concept of the new spaces revolves around the idea of evolution in the music scene and club culture, initially demonstrated by the overarching neo-industrial and futuristic aesthetic, inspired by the underground rave clubs and refurbished warehouses in New York and Berlin.
“Evolution is the theme and the overall concept of the design of this new space, so we wanted to play with the idea of a space that is dynamic and versatile. While its predecessor is known for four distinct yet independent outlets, the relocation has provided us with the opportunity to break down the barriers of standalone spaces to inject flexibility and coherence to the signature outlets without losing the essence of both Zouk and Phuture,” said Phillips.
MOTHERSHIP HAS LANDED
Mimicking the original venue, clubbers enter Zouk through a tunnel, the new one purposely lit and sculptured in a dramatic fashion to offer guests a glimpse of what lies ahead. The answer? The mothership (or UFO as it is also referred to) — a modular sculpture with a kinetic laser light system, based on a decagon configuration dressed with LED technology and narrow beam mini moving lights. The centrepiece is suspended above the dancefloor and was realised by Barcelona-based lighting design firm, LEDSCONTROL, with the idea of creating a sensational focal point that could bring about cosmic immersion of light and dance.
“We approached this project by constantly asking ourselves how can we create an icon for Zouk, how can we create a standout piece that will be representative of the club’s new home while retaining its identity,” said Rebeca Sanchez Pastor, Co-Founder and Director of LEDsCONTROL. “It was not an easy feat creating a centrepiece worthy of the unique identity that the club has amassed over the years. But when we did, the result was this out-of-this-world structure that I’m sure has never been done before. I am extremely excited to showcase this explosion of light that the UFO and mothership-like structure was made for, to all Zouk fans.”
Designed to be likened to a central mothership of lights, the structure is surrounded by eight perimeter pieces shaped like arrows that are intended to draw in the crowd. It features more than 120 light patterns across a 360º view, resulting in an infinite array of lighting combinations. “We liked the idea of creating a multi-narrow-beam forest that would give the sensation that you are the inside of an illuminated effect, surrounded by sculptural pieces in which the light is embedded,” Rebeca continued.
Miquel Clot, also Co-Founder and Director of LEDsCONTROL added: “The technology embedded in the sculptural pieces — the mothership and eight perimeter pieces — are based on digital LED strips and LED dots, so everything can run calmly and smoothly, if or when the moment requires. Along with the hardware, we have also developed a program that caters to different moods and music styles — something that can tell different stories during the night and is able to portray a multifaceted functionality for different events. Of course, we also liked the idea of a design that looks beautiful even when not functioning, hence the structural design of the mothership.”
A total of 850 metres of digital LED strip RGBW — which has individual control across every 8.5cm as a single pixel — is embedded in the central mothership structure that measures seven metres in diameter. While the eight perimeter pieces, each 4.5m by 5m features 3500 RGB pixel dots. These are controlled via Madrix LUNA 4/8/16 Art-Net nodes and Madrix software packages with their accompanying keys. “The patch in the Madrix system was very complex as the perimeter pieces are all not configured in the same way. We had to select pixel by pixel to create the shape in Madrix. In total, we have more than 120 DMX universes created just for the LEDs.”
Intelligent moving lights are also hidden in and around the mothership, these include: 32 ADJ Event Bar PROs — a four-head pinspot system distributed inside the structure and act as the main beams for the venue; as well as eight ADJ Asteroid 1200 spherical LED lights and 16 Robe miniPointes. Completing the line-up of moving lights are Clay Paky Alpha Beam 700s, Clay Paky Alpha Spot 300s, Elation ACL 360 Bars, Martin by Harman Rush MH8s, and Robe DL4s on the balcony perimeter.
An MA Lighting grandMA2 Light console is in place to control the intelligent lighting fixtures. Rebeca explained the reason for the choice: “As one of the top clubs in the world, Zouk Singapore is very active in bringing in the big names from the dance music scene, so we recommended using a lighting console features regularly on international riders. Of course, we also took into consideration that it was a console that could fulfil the needs of the venue.” A Chamsys MagicQ MQ100 Pro desk and a Chamsys MagicQ MQ60 console are also in place at Zouk. LEDsCONTROL was also responsible for the LED backdrop for the DJ booth. Crafted in organic fluid forms of concrete as a nod to Zouk’s heritage, the DJ console sits in the centre of the front stage and between three VIP seating pods, offering an overlooking view of the dancefloor. The central LED screen behind the DJ booth measures 4m by 3m with a pitch of 3.91mm and is flanked by three strips — each measuring 0.25m by 3m — which feature a halo effect to illuminate the brick wall that sits as the backdrop of the DJ console. There is a perimeter LED screen that runs around the venue below the balcony — on the second floor — and measures 50m by 1m and a pitch of 10mm. And a further three LEDs screen located at three of the five bars throughout the Zouk venue.
Rexx Lim furthered: “For the routing of the system, we used the Extron XTP Crosspoint system along with the Barco ImagePRO II video scaler that is installed into the system to support the requirements in today’s fast-moving visual technology landscape. For transmission and receiving of signals, we go through a twisted pair and fibreoptic I/O boards to deliver end-to-end capability for extending 4K video along with audio, control and Ethernet over a single cable.”
The Akai APC40 VJ console utilises Resolume Arena 5 to control content. “Live video can be captured through a Panasonic HD PTZ HE130 camera and fed through all screens across the club,” continued Rexx. “Scene previewing is carried out via a Datavideo TLM monitor.” A Green Hippo Hippotizer Amba has also been installed to support the different needs required for various events and this is done by having a capture card ready built in to allow for a mix between live feed and visual displays.
Additionally, 14 Martin by Harman Atomic 3000 LED strobes have been installed at the back of the DJ booth. Miquel commented: “We enjoyed the use of the Martin Atomic 3000 LEDs, which can be as powerful as the Atomic 3000 DMX, but the added RGB detail on the reflector make it very versatile and interesting in its display.”
Nowadays, not so many nightclub brands have the heritage that Zouk has, with more then two decades in the business. It has survived in what some would describe as an overcrowded nightlife scene in Singapore and now in its new home, it is wowing both the dedicated original fans of Zouk, as well as the new generation of clubbers.
Article re-printed with the kind permission of Mondo DR.
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Th audio comprises a re-installation of the original sound system custom created by the renowned, late audio engineer, Gary Stewart. Technical Manager at Zouk Singapore, Rexx Lim explained how they went about the move: “The brief in the new venue was to make it simple, minimise the chain of processing and reduce audio latency for the GSA system. The design process started one year before the move to Clarke Quay. The process included looking into cable quality, cable routing to optimise the performance, designing the signal processing, modelling of GSA loudspeaker placement from EASE by partnering with our appointed system integrator.”
On the dancefloor at Zouk, four GSA stacks have been reinstalled. Each stack comprises twin 1000W 18-inch subwoofers, a quad 3600W 15-inch cabinet, and twin acoustic lens HF/UHF midrange horn loaded with two coaxial neodymium compression drivers. Four GSA custom-built bullet tweeter arrays are also flown over the dancefloor.
With the move, the decision was made to upgrade the amplifiers to drive the stacks. Rexx and the team tested a number of different brands but selected Powersoft as the best for the job — nine X4 four-channel amplifiers. Rexx continued: “The Powersoft X Series has a warm, open sound with enormous power, and complements the custom GSA speaker system perfectly. It has really helped amp it up, allowing the loudspeaker system to perform better than ever.”
For live mixing capabilities, a DiGiCo SD11 has been installed. It was chosen for its excellent function to size ratio. It has all the features required to manage the live performances at Zouk and can be set up quickly and easily as needed, yet is compact enough to store when it’s not in use. “We also have an iPad remote app that allows us to connect to the console through a wireless system, so we can tweak the settings from anywhere within the venue,” said Rexx.
To complete the audio line-up, Rexx equipped the DJ booth with six L-Acoustics KARA loudspeakers and four L-Acoustics SB18 subwoofers to extend the low frequency, as well as a Lake LM26 processor and industry standard Pioneer CDJ-2000 Nexus 2 multiplayers and a DJM-900 Nexus 2 DJ mixer.