Dean Chew, label co-founder of Darker Than Wax, has established how far his sonic explorations can go — both with his label’s stunning output, and with his work under the moniker Funk B*stard.
Archaeology is his bi-monthly show for SGCR, where he shares bits and pieces from his little vinyl cave, playing all types of oddities from around the globe. It provides a peek into his intimidating collection of records, and it’s an outlet where you’ll find new obscure jams that not even the YouTube algorithms can feed you.
Before Dean heads back into the cave for another round of Archaeology, dig into the first episode and read all about the records and his music-discovering habits.
Tell us about some of the records from this session!
I went through a melange of sounds as usual, but I picked out three records in particular which are all recently discovered gems.
Roger Morrison - Pictures in My Mind
I have been obsessed with the UK street soul/kwaito crossover sounds of the late-80s/early-90s for a minute now and this one was a nice surprise. It’s not a hugely known record but an amazing one nonetheless. ‘Go Where The Music Takes You’ stands out for me - a groovy mid-tempo, kwaito-inspried house number with a huge dose of soul. Nothing better!
Claxic - Suzie Funk
A nugget I picked up from Red Point Record Warehouse at Kapo Factory. Red Point has consistently been my go-to source, and Mr Ong just seems to have an endless amount of music to feed me! But as with all left-field music, you really have to spend the time and dig deep.
This record was one of them — very little background info on this, but it’s a late-80s funked up synth pop gem, made by some tripped-out Italian cats with some drum machines and off-kilter vocals. To top it off, it’s a dollar bin jam!
Jun, Tomoko, Chiyo - Jun, Tomoko, Chiyo Vol. 2
Another random one that I snapped up at Treskul in Manila. The history of Japanese music is an incredibly diverse affair — from the 1920s “western-styled” songs to the most experimental jazz forms, it has constantly captivated me and a huge part of my collection comes from that amazing region.
This record came out in the early 70s, and it’s a classic representation of pop music that borrows from elements of min’yō, folk with a very subtle dash of funk. Lovers of the Minyo Crusaders vibe will definitely want to check this out — you can totally hear the musical connection!
In general, what do you look for when seeking out new tunes for your collection?
In general, I don’t really have any sort of rules or formulas when it comes to digging for music. I like the idea of discovering — of starting off in one direction and landing in a completely opposite or unexpected place. But most importantly, it has to have groove, and the weirder, the better. (laughs)
Did you find yourself discovering more tunes under quarantine?
Yes definitely! And it also allowed me the time and space to really listen through all my recent digs and record them as well! I think this whole period has been incredibly important for self-calibration — to slow down and come to terms more with your own being.
I must say I am quite blessed to receive a fair bit of new music through all the promos for my various radio shows, but at the same time, I am still constantly buying a lot of music online, especially on Bandcamp — there’s never been a more crucial time to support all the indie labels and artists out there. And with so much incredible music being put out now, there’s almost no excuse. (laughs)
For the more obscure sounds, I do rely heavily on the blogs. You will be surprised how strong the blog culture in music is — there are still plenty of dedicated music lovers out there who spend their time sharing rips, knowledge and insights online. You just have to make the effort, go deep and enjoy the process.
What other moves can we expect from you?
Obviously, the pandemic has greatly affected our live shows and stunted a few major collaborations that were supposed to happen last year. Thankfully, the lockdowns around the globe have also significantly increased our music sales. It has been a blessing in disguise, with a few of our DTW 12” releases almost selling out.
We are focusing purely on our releases now, with two of our homegrown heroes Kaye and Halal Sol working on their debut EPs on the label. We are also collaborating with Brooklyn Brewery on a rather interesting digital campaign, plus our upcoming 10-year anniversary… more on that later!