DJ Dea

DJ Dea: 'when I moved to England my record collection went crazy'

We check in with cult producer DJ Dea, Gilles Peterson's fave DJ of the last decade and possessor of Indonesia's most enviable record collection

Written by
Justin McDonnell

The absurdly-named Potato Head Club is Bali's most happening beach bar, a creative fulcrum for Indonesia's best selectors, enviously located on a tropical stretch of golden sand.

Home to the legendary Sun Down Circle party - basically, a who's who of South East Asia's electronic tastemakers, the project has nurtured a global fan base, enticing big-name DJ’s like Mr Scruff, DJ Harvey and Giles Peterson to the Indian Ocean.

A big player in the Sun Down Circle collective, DJ Dea is one of the region’s hottest names right now. His freshly experimental productions are burning up dancefloors in Asia and way beyond, melding the obscure worlds of 70’s disco, psychedelic rock and tropical jazz into epically danceable journeys.

Last year, DJ Dea received the royal stamp of approval from Gilles Peterson. After hearing his set at Potato Head, Peterson said it was the best DJ session he'd witnessed in a decade, drenching praise on his record collection: ‘He's built an entire set around a sound that never sounded better to my ears, like the essence of Balearic on a private beach in 1978. That night I peeked into his record box while his back was turned (terrible etiquette I know) and only recognised one record!’

The Balearic vibes of the Potato Head Club and Dea’s party-starting sets aren’t a million miles away from Tisno, the spiritual home of the Garden Festival and this year’s Love International. The Sun Down Circle are stopping off as part of their worldwide tour: we check in with Dea to find out what's in store.

What started you off on your musical journey?

I was pretty much born into music – I grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia, with a family of musicians. My father’s a classical pianist, so I’ve been a classically trained pianist since I was a little kid – I remember studying compositions from the Romantic era. When I got to high school I started exploring different music, and then when I moved to England in 2003 my record collection went crazy: I started collecting disco, west indies, African records…

Where do you discover the crazily obscure stuff in your record box?

It comes naturally – I always keep my ears open to the people around me. Last weekend I was in France, and I met a guy in the flea market. He introduced me to all this old French music – so I’m always open, always finding references in unexpected places.

How would you describe your sound in just thee words?

Tropical, disco, euphoric.  

Gilles Peterson said you were the best thing he’d heard in 10 years, how do you feel about that?

Gilles is the ultimate authority, so to have his approval was an amazing blessing. And I’m so grateful to him for putting me on the Potatohead and Sundown Circle line-up: just being part of the worldwide festival is insane.

What does DJ Dea bring to a festival?

All I can offer is stuff that people probably won’t have heard before: I can’t wait to see the crowds dance to obscure music from the Seventies and Eighties on the Sundown Circle boat party. I want to transport people to places all over the world through the music.

… and what next?

There’s a lot more coming from me after the tour: I’m releasing my album later in the year – it’s basically a compilation of Indonesian music. For sure this tour is getting my sound out to a wider audience, and you’ll hear a lot more from me in future. 

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