Peggy Fucking Gou: How The K-House Was Built

One day, she was at fashion school and fixated on design. The next, she was commanding dance floors in Soho and, soon enough, the world over.

But this isn’t a fairy-tale. Peggy Gou’s had to work for everything she’s built. As one of the most famous female DJs on the planet, we take our bucket hat off to her – she’s an inspiration to anyone who stays true to themselves.

So let’s look behind the 1 million Insta followers. Behind the acclaim and the sell-out sets. Back to when Peggy was like most of us: passionate, unassuming, and dancing into the sunrise.

Leaving a degree in the dust

Peggy was born in Incheon, South Korea, where she was wildly into K-pop and classical piano. When she was 14, she moved to England and fell in love with London. Four years later, she was chasing a fashion degree there. But every weekend – and most weeknights – Peggy began to party. It drew her to some of the capital’s hottest clubs, including Corsica Studios and Plastic People.

Although she loved galleries, catwalks and illustration, this was a new kind of art. She threw herself into the club scene wholeheartedly and actually failed her degree – the late nights caught up with her.

“My parents didn’t let me come back to Korea,” she told The Guardian, “because I failed, and they were like: ‘Do you know how much your course is? If you don’t pass, you’re not coming back’.”

Not that it mattered. She was already using her magnetism without quite knowing it.

Stepping up to the decks

One evening, Peggy was photographed behind the DJ booth at Soho’s Cirque le Soir. A friend on Facebook had taught her the basics, but she was almost clueless. Still, the club’s promoter got in touch. He asked if she’d like to do a set.

“Girl DJs weren’t common [then],” she’s said. “Maybe they wanted some fresh faces. I was so nervous for my first gig. In Korea, I never listened to house music – it was all EDM.”

The gig went well. Very well. In fact, she was inspired to apply for music school, but her extended Visa was rejected. So Peggy moved to Berlin and took up a job at a record store. She told her parents to give her a couple of years. If she couldn’t make it happen, she’d try something else.

Berlin’s nightlife wasn’t easy to break into either. As she’s said in the past, “I was always the outsider. The owner of that [record store] … When I’d talk about Berghain, he’d be like, ‘Why are you talking about Berghain?’”

Yet gig by gig, Peggy Gou’s profile rose. She played more venues and started to release tracks. In the beginning, she wore black like a lot of tech DJs. And then she was tired of trying to fit in. Out came the fashionista: leopard print, Miu Miu hats, electric blue dragon-print shirts. Her fans started to appear – the people who shout “Peggy fucking Gou!” today.

Earning her cult status

By 2016, she’d released four EPs. A year later, she played 200 shows. Peggy’s jetted between four cities in the same day. As Elle magazine noted, she’s immune to jetlag. And her crowds give her all the energy she needs. “Even my agent said to me: ‘Peggy, I’ve been partying for 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this’.”

Genre’s never been a trap for her either. Peggy’s as likely to swing from disco to deep house as she is to unleash some jaw-dropping techno. But it was really 2018’s track, ‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’, that cemented her status in global dance culture. She sings on it in her native Korean. Thousands of ravers sing it back to her. As the song spread, Peggy began to be taken more seriously than ever.

She’s now an ambassador for female DJing, while fashion label Off-White have been in touch to ask her for a personal clothing line. Far from being “the first Korean woman to play Berghain” – her original aim – she could be the first to be a household name in the 2020s.

There’s no telling what she’ll do next. “I have plans,” she says. “I don’t consider myself just a DJ – I think I can be more than that. I feel like I’ve found what I’m meant to do, and I want to do everything.”

We love that attitude. And we’re keen to see where else she ends up – or how you may follow her example. Read up on how to take your DJ career out of the bedroom and into the spotlight. If she can make it work, so can you.

Image via Joseph Okpako/WireImage