PORTRAIT CITY SERIES: DARKER THAN WAX
PORTRAIT CITY SERIES: SINGAPORE
Champ Magazine Issue #8
Portrait, Intro Text & Studio Visit by Marc Tan
Location: Darker Than Wax studio, Singapore
Tired of finding a way to release their own music and breaking into the international scene, creators Funk Bast*rd and Kaye founded the electronic label, Darker Than Wax in 2011.
Three years on, based in the tiny island-city of Singapore, Darker Than Wax is progressively growing to become a facilitator for the Asian electronic music scene. The collective of 6 members, holds a unique library of deep bass, and smooth beats, an overall laid-back vibe concentrating on hip-hop jazz, dub, house, funk, and soul, with their very first release being Cosa Nostra’s (collaboration between Funk Bast*rd and Kaye) first single, Let It Go. The label now has over thirty releases and houses names such as, Juno Akasawa, Midnight Runners, Lynd-oh, Milo Mills, Floyd Cheung, Obivon, and one of Ta-Ku’s earlier releases, KT. The label also hosts events in Singapore featuring members of the collective and other global artists.
With Darker Than Wax, ‘the music has been reduced to its most concentrated form.’
And they couldn’t have said it better themselves. We caught up with the guys to find out more…
What is the criteria for DTW curation of artists and musicians that join the label, or tracks released?
To be honest, there isn’t a specific criteria per se, as we rely heavily on our instincts and feelings when we search for an artist. The music that we curate on the label essentially has that rawness and groove, soaked in a whole lot of soul. It’s about diversity – that categories in music are irrelevant and what unites us together in the end is the energy.
What keeps you Singapore-based?
Well, Kaye and I (co-founders of the label) are born and bred here. Singapore, with its location also happens to be rather strategic in terms of planning regional / international shows, networks and so on. Things do happen pretty quickly here, and we do enjoy the intensity of it but more importantly, we both feel very strongly that DTW is essentially a cultural export of this little island.
DTW was founded by two, and now run by six.
What are the roles you each take on?
DTW core team comprises of six members. It was slightly unfortunate that they all can’t be present on that day for the shoot! Dean handles the main creative direction of the label, strategizes the releases with the artists and also handles the A & R. Kaye is the stronghold managing the back-end and technical aspects of the label, while Marco Weibel, Rah, William J and John Sideo Tan help out with the logistics, DTW events, PR and marketing side of DTW. A lot of our roles do cross-over as well, and we do think this is a healthy way of communicating and evolving together as a team. Most importantly, the team performs and DJs on a regular basis so we are constantly kept busy!
What was the biggest challenge for DTW?
The biggest initial challenge was convincing ourselves that we can actually create a movement that speaks to people.
But as with most things in life, if you do it with heart, honesty and passion, you will naturally arrive.
Other significant music / cultural / print influences for DTW visually / phonically:
Too many but just to name a few : Wax Poetics, Aterlier Olschinsky, Filip Dujardin,
AnOther, Disegno, Fact and the early period of The Face and I.D.
Lastly, have you seen the documentary Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton? My goodness it is incredible! It’s remarkable to see how Stones Throw grew through a genuine love and dedication to their music and artists. Is there a heavy influence on DTW from other labels?
Yes! Its an amazing documentary. Heartfelt and inspirational! It is a shining example of how a true independent movement can evolve and remain relevant yet esoteric at the same time. That approach reflects heavily on what we try to achieve at DTW as well, and we feel that it is extremely important to stay true to our musical roots and grow organically.
Currently working on:
We just released our first ever Vinyl compilation and it was a collaboration with our extended family label, Cascade Records based in Paris. We are also working on a possible DTW showcase in Brazil so that’s pretty exciting! There’s also an interesting bike collaboration with a new homegrown label called Coast Cycles, and we are working on a limited run of DTW bikes.
Ableton and Maschine with a selected range of hardware.
Currently listening to:
Taylor Mcferrin‘s new album on Brainfeeder. Sublime!
You can find Darker Than Wax, currently featured in our Issue #8 of CHAMP Magazine!