Growing up, holidays and travel were always happy memories for me - the warmth as you stepped off the plane, the Orangina inexplicably tasting better wherever you went, the overall sense of adventure and excitement. Leaving the countryside was always an adventure worth pursuing in my eyes.
I consider myself incredibly lucky that travel has been a defining aspect of my career from an early age. My DJing career took me all over the globe, from the far-flung corners of South America to the bustling cities of Asia and Europe, and I relished every moment of it. This was before the advent of social media, so being able to explore new cultures and environments in such an immersive way was an unforgettable, exhilarating experience that left my senses buzzing.
Now, fast forward to the present, and I'm lucky enough to have turned my passion for travel and people into a career, in a role where travel and connecting with people are central to what I do. As Global Head of Music, I act as the conduit between Soho House and the music industry. It’s my responsibility to always have my finger on the pulse and be a reliable source of information, which means constantly being on the move, attending meetings with industry contacts, checking out gigs, and travelling between Houses. It’s not just a job; it’s a way of life.
For me, relationships are key. It's all about who you know and how well you know them. That's why I place a huge emphasis on meeting my contacts in person. Sure, I could just send an email or make a call, but there's nothing quite like sitting down with someone, having a chat, and building a real connection. It's the old-school approach, but it works. When you have a social relationship with someone, getting things done becomes effortless. That's the power of a strong network.
I've always been fascinated by the idea of bringing people together and the mechanics behind it. That journey led me to run club nights in my teens and is still the driving force behind much of what I do today.
At the heart of our music vision is a passion for crafting unforgettable experiences for our members. We believe in combining the best of both worlds - global programming to provide a sense of consistency, but also a deep appreciation for local expertise and talent. We want to offer our regional Houses a chance to truly explore the culture and vibe of each city they call home, and we do that by finding the perfect balance between our global and local events. Seeing our members connect with the music and culture of a place is what makes it all worthwhile.
To truly understand the local culture, I need to physically see and feel it, and experience the real vibe of a city. I'm fortunate to have a plugged-in community to tap into, and there's never been a better time for intel sharing (so no excuses for a bad meal!). But no matter how convenient technology may be and how many Zoom meetings I can take, nothing beats the authenticity of one-on-one interaction and physically immersing myself in a city's culture to truly understand the lay of the land.
As I continue my journey, I am grateful for the opportunities to explore, connect, and make meaningful contributions to the world of music and travel.
- Dom Chung, Global Head of Music, Soho House
What role has travel played in your work?
Growing a network and community is intrinsic to my work and is central to everything that the wider business does. Globally, we obsess over our members and their experience, and for it to feel authentic and genuine when it comes to our live event programming, it's crucial that we understand each market deeply.
Travel has given me the contacts, experience and confidence to enable me to flourish in a global role in a fast-paced environment. It has also allowed me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world – which I love! I have been fortunate that travel has played a role in my career since my early twenties, initially through DJing, where I got to journey extensively through South America, Asia, and Europe to do gigs in far-flung locations. This was pre-social media, so the opportunity to experience different environments and cultures in that way was a sensory overload at the time. Nowadays, it gives me the ability to develop meaningful relationships in different regions so that we can navigate the nuances of each one effectively and plot out event opportunities around festivals, touring schedules, and local events.
How has your work been shaped by travel?
I have always been excited by the idea of travelling and experiencing different cultures through work. Being Head of Music for Soho House means I am always surrounded by genuine tastemakers and creatives in each market, and the community is always a huge source of inspiration for my life, both in and out of work. One of my favourite recent experiences was getting to go to Purim in Tel Aviv. The whole city comes alive for that date, and you can feel the energy on the streets – it's an incredible thing to witness.
Travelling solo (mostly!) means you get to explore and discover a city on your own terms. There has never been a better time to have information at your fingertips, and that sense of excitement and adventure helps you grow as an individual. My first port of call is to hit up some of my food contacts for the best places to check out. The likes of El Xampanyet for tapas in Barcelona, Racines in Paris, or Da Enzo in Rome are must-dos every time I'm there.
What has been your most enriching work travel experience?
Getting to see ideas we discuss come to life is always a rewarding experience. When we initiated the Soho Rising franchise, the idea was to give members direct access to the best emerging talent around while also allowing musicians a safe environment to travel internationally to test new markets. Our first European tour was with Arlo Parks, and seeing her journey from intimate 50-100 person gigs within the Houses to Mercury Prize winner and headline act in her own right was a great proof of the concept.
How much do you value in person connections?
For me, nothing beats a face-to-face meeting to establish meaningful relationships in the first instance, and then it's about being a genuine person and following through with what you say. Coming out of COVID, it was important to me to get out there and attend as many events as possible to allow myself the chance to meet the agents, managers and label reps in person, so we could reconnect and plan together.
My job is about bringing people together and experiencing one-off moments in a close and personal environment. I've always loved the idea of connecting people.
What role does personal interaction play in your work?
COVID and lockdown highlighted the need for physical interaction, on a number of levels. There are some really great digital platforms out there which have helped music grow in so many positive ways, but the ability to pull an audience together in a physical space will always be the best way to experience a show and connect with people.
Can the relationships you build through virtual channels ever be as strong as those you make 1:1?
Virtual meetings are a great way to maintain a relationship in an efficient way but can never replace human interaction for truly meaningful connections.
What does travelling well mean to you?
I value efficiency, comfort, and the opportunity to appreciate and explore a new city.
What do you need to travel well?
Understanding the local culture is key to building a global business. It's also where I pick up lots of inspiration on a personal level. So, it's vitally important that we submerge ourselves 100% to get the most out of it.
What impact does good/bad travel have on your productivity?
Good travel to me means I have made meaningful connections and created opportunities.
What do you look out for to elevate your travel experience?
Good local intel - I want to experience authenticity, and a comfortable bed, luckily that’s not an issue at Soho House!
How do you prepare for transitioning between different business and social environments?
Doing a job like mine means you’re never really “off”. I often go from our office base to show coverage, and the global time zones mean you need to be online 24/7. Thankfully for me, I love what I do, so mixing business and pleasure comes easily.
Dom took the time to curate and program a unique Spotify Playlist for Emigre, reflecting his love of the journey, the destination and everything in between.
Listen here: Dom Chung x Émigré Spotify Playlist