Hongkongers and the music industry are paying tribute to acclaimed, international DJ and producer Janette Slack, who passed away aged 42 on Sunday.

Janette Slack. Photo: Facebook.

She broke new ground for Asian and female DJs in a competitive, male-centric industry. The boss of the Slack Trax label and a composer, Janette was also a music teacher to young Hongkongers interested in mixing.

Hong Kong-born Janette cut her teeth at London’s Torture Garden in the early 2000s. After her residency at the famous fetish club, she returned to Hong Kong to play some of the top clubs, secret shows, warehouses and junk parties.

‘A true trailblazer’

“Janette was a true trailblazer for women in the electronic music scene – both in Hong Kong, throughout Asia and even in London – and she had an absolute passion for dance music and the scene in general,” said Adam Wright, an event promoter and DJ who worked with Janette over two decades. “While she was an exceptionally talented DJ and music producer, her friends will remember her best for her infectiously positive attitude, unfailing friendliness and her joyful, warm heart.”

“As happy as she appeared generally, she seemed happiest when sharing her love of music with her young DJ and music production students. It was inspiring how she was able to relate to these youngsters as equals and she took real pleasure in their achievements. They all really looked up to her – as we all did in some way.”

Janette Slack. Photo: Mherck Dela Cruz/kimrobinson & Ryan Dinham Photography.

Janette was the first female winner of London’s Denon DJousts contest, and also won the Armada European Female DJ competition. She collaborated with musical giants such as D. Ramirez, the Preset Warriors, Javone Prince, Kickflip, Fabian, Some DJ and MC Tuhin Chisti, and often appeared on the BBC and on Clockenflap radio.

On Tuesday, fans and friends paid tribute on social media, remembering her energetic, outgoing personality, her outlandish outfits, and her support for others in the industry. One friend, Nikki Davies, told HKFP that her friends were numbed by the news, and it left “a huge hole in our hearts and lives.”

In a Facebook post, her brother Trevor said she was the light and soul of the room: “As hard as this is for me to accept, or any one else for that matter, I know you are at peace.”

Wright added that the news was difficult to process: “Hong Kong has lost one of its brightest stars and right now it’s hard to imagine how the city will ever be quite the same. We are all in shock at the loss of this talented artist who inspired us all and enriched our lives, and our thoughts go out to her family in particular.”

If you were close to Janette, please contact us if you would like to share a few words or memories for an upcoming tribute on HKFP.

If you are experiencing negative feelings, please call: The Samaritans 2896 0000 (24-hour, multilingual), Suicide Prevention Centre 2382 0000 or the Social Welfare Department 2343 2255. The Hong Kong Society of Counselling and Psychology provides a WhatsApp hotline in English and Chinese: 6218 1084. See also: HKFP’s comprehensive guide to mental health services in Hong Kong.

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.