Diggers Directory: a mix & interview series that salutes the diggers, record enthusiasts and music lovers. For more in the series, browse through the archive.
If you think the best selectors are those adored by thousand, think again. After seeing Dea Barandana spinning at a Potato Head in Bali last year, Gilles Peterson claimed it was the set he’s seen in 10 years, making the enigmatic DJ a perfect choice for our Diggers Directory series. Indonesian born and currently based in Bali, where he’s a resident for Sun Down Circle alongside Phil Cooper and Jonny Nash, Dea’s rich and varied collection is reflected in a life well-travelled which has seen the man digging across the globe. We spoke to Dea about his life of vinyl and he’s also put together a 90 minute, vinyl only mix, recorded with us at the Radar Radio studios in London. After that session, we had a tête-à-tête with him and Phil Cooper, which you can listen to further down.
Catch Dea in London this Saturday alongside Kay Suzuki.
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
Not in this case, but my parents used to send me to a piano course when I was six so that was my first experience in music theory.
People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
Well, I’m always looking for underground music, most of them are coming from the 70s and early 80s. I guess you can only find that on vinyl, and also I like to own a physical copy of music on vinyl with the sleeve. It’s like collecting an art work.
Where do you store all your records and how do you file them?
At the moments I store most of my records at my parents in Jakarta, but when my studio is done I am going have my own listening space ☺
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
Belgium, France and Switzerland because Belgium used to be the central distribution of records in Europe and Switzerland as well so it’s endless. In France you have a mixed culture you can find stuff like the West Indies, Martinique, some African and Algerian.
Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?
I had a lot of friends that has playing a big role on building my music knowledge. A guy like Loud-e, Albion, Raphael Top Secret, Nial Kirk, Jeremy Spalecy and Danny from Psychmagik
DJs and producers often talk about a number of records that never leave their bag. Do you have any records like this?
I think I have this LP from Austria called Magic Mail. It’s a no brainer, everyone will love it. It’s been in my bag for 4 years.
Is there a record (or records), which you’ve wanted to own but cannot afford or find in print anymore?
Yes there is a few, just check on my Discogs wanted list haha.
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search for strange sounds together?
I prefer do it by myself so we won’t fight over a records.
Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting process, with some many different genres and formats. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?
I normally just check every record that’s for sale. It takes time but that’s how you’ll discover some great tracks. I’ve found that records store are quiet boring these days because of the Internet, so flea markets and records fair are the best place to go.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
Its been playing a big role, sometime I bought records just for the sleeve ☺
Thanks for recording this mix for us. Where and how did you record it and what was the idea behind it?
Weren’t you there when I recorded this mix haha? It was at Radar Radio down in Clerkenwell. I had no idea what I was gonna play, I just go freestyle.
We asked you to keep the tracklist secret (to get listeners to dig deep for their IDs!) but are there any standouts from the mix you’d like to shout out?
You can always mail me on email@example.com for id’s or you can find it on shazam haha
You were originally raised in Jakarta, but now based in Bali. How has living in those two places, informed your DJ style, and what is Indonesia’s music scene like at the moment?
To be honest apart from Potatohead there’s not many cool things going on, it’s pretty boring. When I used to live in Jakarta in the 90s there were a lot of raves and warehouse party but now there is no market for that, they’ve all gone for EDM.
You run a night called Through Gods Own Eyes with your friend Phat Phil. Can you tell us a bit about the night and the music we can expect to hear there?
We haven’t done it for a while but hopefully we will do it again soon. You always hear some eclectic sets from Phil and me, its always the 70s and 80s, old music!
Last year, Gilles Peterson proclaimed that your set in Bali at the Potato Head Club was the best he’s heard in 10 years. With such high praise for a respected figure, has this led to far more bookings across asia, Europe and the rest of the world?
I guess that’s the reason why I am in Europe at the moment. It’s because Gilles wanted me to play on his festival. Big thanks to him.
What other fellow collectors and DJ’s, past and present, continue to inspire you to keep keep digging and playing out?
Those guys I mention above (Loud-e and Albion) and you should check Albion’s mix series called Mixtura.
Finally, what are your plans for 2016 and beyond?
I am planning to do more live shows with a band and make more music.