San Francisco-based DJ and Dark Entries label head, Josh Cheon, joins us for the 18th edition of the Off The Record Mix Series.
For many, Dark Entries has become one of those ‘buy on sight’ record labels. Difficult to predict, and covering a lot of musical ground – from new wave and post-punk to experimental techno and oddball disco – there’s always one thing you know for certain when you see a new Dark Entries release hit the shelves; it’s going to be nothing short of spectacular.
Over the years, Dark Entries has officially re-issued and released many out-of-print and previously unreleased treasures by artists such as Patrick Cowley, Severed Heads, Zru Vogue, Lena Platonos, Umo Vogue and Richard Wahnfried, to name just a few. Aside from reinvigorating music from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, Dark Entries has also played host to a vast collection of contemporary club hits from the likes of Red Axes, Violet, Vin Sol and Photonz.
Throughout the course of Josh’s 1 hour and 9-minute-long recording, you’ll be treated to music from Orchestral Manouvres In The Dark, Cocteau Twins, Sepehr, Aaliyah, Penelope Trappes and more. It’s one hell of a journey! There’s an interview below too, where you can find out about Josh’s past, present and future plans for the label and how he’s been coping with life under lockdown, amongst other things. Enjoy!
Hey Josh, thanks for contributing towards our Mix Series. Can you tell us about your recording and what the idea was behind it…
Well, to be honest, I did not read the instructions correctly and recorded a dance mix and as I was uploading it I re-read your email and noticed you wanted a “home listening” mix to cater for everything else but dance. I was at my friends’ house and he had a playlist going while we ate pizza and “Hey Moon” by John Maus came on and I was like oh wow this is a mood. So I gathered songs that sonically flowed from my favorite ‘90s IDM remixes of St Etienne and Cocteau Twins to modern classics by Bezier, Penelope Trappes, and Violet.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background, perhaps where you grew up and what first got you interested in electronic music?
I grew up listening to whatever my dad had on the record player. He was a DJ for school dances as a teenager in the 1960s, so his Soul and R&B 45s collection was huge. My cousin Kara was a huge synthpop and new wave music collector and went to this goth club in New York City called The Bank. Soon I joined and when I wanted to know what song was playing, I would ask her rather than annoy the DJ. The next time I was record shopping I would have a list of songs from the Bank and try to find them.
Release wise, 2020 has been quite a year for your label, Dark Entries, with new releases, reissues and previously unreleased gems by such artists as Severed Heads, Patrick Cowley, Red Axes and more. Tell us a bit about Dark Entries and what it is that you look for in a release?
My original plan was to alternate contemporary releases with reissues consecutively. This was how the label started in 2009 with Eleven Pond then Death Domain then Second Decay. I soon realized I had a dearth of archival stuff, so I just kept going with the archival stuff. I like melody and rhythms but also abstract textures, I think I can go broad with releases as I haven’t pigeonholed myself too much to any one genre.
What’s your preferred method for finding new music – do you still enjoy digging around in dusty crates or do you prefer to buy online?
These days I search online, though when I am traveling I love visiting local record shops and digging through the bins.
What are some of your favourite new labels that have emerged throughout 2020?
Both miv and Piece of Work from Bezier, Shaytoon from Sepehr, SOS MUSIC from Maddy Maia and Tottie.
And what about these crazy lockdown times we’re facing today. What’s been keeping you going through it all?
Honestly the USPS and our customers. Thankfully our postal service never stopped and people continue to mail order so there are orders to pack every day. Also, I bike around San Francisco and try to find an isolated patch of sunny grass to read a book.
What can we expect to see from you and the label in 2021?
A deluxe 2xLP reissue of Sexual Harassment ‘I Need A Freak’ electro-funk from 1983, Clan of Xymox 1985 Peel Sessions, erotic House made by a teenage K. Alexi, and more.
Suzanne Doucet – Rising
Carol – So Low
Cyrnai – In Your House
John Maus – Hey Moon
Severed Heads – Traumat
Patrick Cowley – Mocking Bird Dream
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Annex
Metal – Point Vacancies
Saint Etienne – Who do you think you are (quex-rd)
Sepehr – Neophyte Delight
Sarah Brightman – Echo 4
Bézier – 觀夕平台
Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody? (Instrumental)
Julee Cruise – Into The Night
Penelope Trappes – Eel Drip
Cocteau Twins – Feet Like Fins [Recycled by Mark Clifford]
Violet – Never Leave