Journals5 min read

Dea’s Rare Disco Gems

Potato Head Beach Club’s Resident DJ Dea Barandana has developed quite unconventional tastes when it comes to music. Here, Dea recounts six of his favourite tracks to play at Akademi, rare disco numbers by obscure artists from the ‘70s and ‘80s.

His father, a classically trained pianist, was supportive of Dea’s wish to study music in London where he embarked on a string of courses, including Audio Engineering, Composition and Sonic Arts. Since then, the Jakarta-born DJ and Producer has played in Japan, the UK, Indonesia and Sweden, among other places, amassing an eclectic record collection of thousands along the way.

He spends his time these days soundtracking the sunset at Potato Head Beach Club, curating the music selections for neighbouring outlet Katamama, and consulting on music matters for the international Potato Head Family.

Here, Dea recounts six of his favourite tracks to play at Akademi, rare disco numbers by obscure artists from the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Artist: Genius (24) Track: Bermylia Avenue Released: Late ‘70s, Argentina This, in fact all of these tracks, were flops back in the day. Having said that, I’m really into this kind of music from South America – not the usual merengue or carnival music, but electronic and funk. Again, there is a very political message here with the newsreader voice over, and again, we see a foreign artist trying to sound British or American to quite interesting and unusual effect.

Artist: Barbara Marchand Track: I Whisper, Roll Over Released: Late ‘70s, Italy I found this record when I was living in Sweden. The feminist party is really strong there – you can’t say things like ‘ladies first’ on a train or a bus. This track is feminist in a way, but I just think it’s very sweet and the lyrics are cute. I think she intended to create a song like Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams but it didn’t quite work out like that!

Artist: Delly Rollies Track: Licik Released: Late ‘70s, Indonesia This is a super rare, jazzy track by Delly Rollies, the keyboardist of one of Indonesia’s biggest rock bands (The Rollies). I love this track because he was using the vocoder (robot voice effect) way before everyone else was doing it. The effect came into fashion in the early ‘80s, and then again in the ‘90s when Daft Punk adapted it and made it popular again.

Interestingly, the lyrics of this are quite ambiguous. There seems to be some kind of political message, but because of the vocoder effect you can’t really hear what he’s saying. In fact, when you consider that this was released during the Suharto era, the words were probably masked deliberately.

Artist: Haruomi Hosono Track: Femme Fatale Released: Late ‘70s, Japan Hary Hosono is famous as part of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, a New Wave band, but this is one of his earlier pieces. This track is perfect for Katamama’s playlists as it’s very tropical with the bird noises in the background. It also has a weirdness to it though; you can hear Hary singing in Japanese in the background, but it’s as if he’s trying to sound Hawaiian.

Hosono himself is an eccentric, slightly controversial guy, but he is definitely one of the greatest composers working in Japan today. He explores every genre, from jazz to piano, and he was probably the first guy to play techno music back in 1984.

Artist: Livy Ekemezie Track: Classic Lover Released: Early ‘80s, Nigeria Livy Ekemezie was a rich college kid experimenting with making music in his home studio when he made this. His family were involved in Nigeria’s very big and very corrupt oil industry, so he had the money hire a proper Director to create this track.

You can hear that he tried to sing in English, but again, it’s kind of nonsensical. In any case, it’s cool and upbeat, so I tend to play it later on in the night, when it’s busy at Akademi.

A lot of collectors are after this LP; it’s selling for around $1400. Livy himself probably wants to forget about it though, as it really wasn’t popular at the time.

Artist: Yasuaki Shimizu Track: Anaconda Mon Amour Released: Mid ‘80s, Japan This is another hard-to-find track which I acquired recently when I was record shopping in a slightly dodgy, rundown area of Osaka. When this track was made, people had started building inexpensive, mini-studios in their own homes – Anaconda Mon Amour is product of that era. I like it as it’s quite experimental and goes beyond the dominant pop genre of the ‘80s. It’s kind of New Wave in style, but it must have been very futuristic to listen to when it was made.

About Akademi An open-air cocktail bar, lab and training centre inspired by time-honoured concoctions and the Indonesian essentials, arak and jamu.

Published on 20/11/2023 by Potato Head