Cosa Nostra | Darker Than Wax
Cosa Nostra was formed approximately in 2004 by saxophonist/producer Kaye and DJ Funk Bast*rd. They have become a prominent part of the local music fabric and good luck to anyone who tries to pin any kind of labels on them as they are so diverse and obscure in the musical expression. The duo have recently started their own record label, Darker Than Wax and ActuallyMAG speaks to Kaye about it and along the way we discuss marmite, groupies and lounge act.
So I was reading the intro on your website and I quote “Like most good things in life, they take time to mature and age. With Darker Than Wax, the stock has been reduced to its most concentrated form.” This stock analogy reminds me of marmite or vegemite. Are you guys a fan of these spreads? It is an acquired taste, isn’t it?
Honestly that was the furthest thing from our minds when we were coming up with the descritopn! But yeah concentrates are always good. Get to the essence already. These days too much time is being wasted wading around in bright neon lights and hyped up brainless nights.
I started tagging along with Dean’s sister, being a groupie of sorts as early as 2004 while you guys still played at the now defunct Liquid Room and also had the luck of partying with you guys at Tuckshop. I must say your music has evolved a great deal. It has progressed from being a lounge act to something much edgier. Are you pleased with yourselves for making new grounds? Could you share with us some of the trials and tribulations you had to go through to get to your current state?
Ok first off, we never saw ourselves as a lounge act. It was the media perception of us and it annoyed us deeply. Just because there’s a sax player makes us a lounge act? What the f***? To me it was more a reflection of the Singaporean media and its terribly dated ideas than us actually being a lounge act. If anything, I’m just glad we shook off that tag, because we never, ever, looked at ourselves as a warm up act. We could (and can) rock floors anytime during the peak time – we just weren’t given the chance in the past. I think when we started organizing our own nights people started realizing that we could dish out a mean set. So all good now.
In your many years of collaborations, have you had any major creative disputes? If so, how did you resolve them? (Probably not fist fights, seeing how both of you have pretty hands)
As long as there are 2 people working together, there will always be differences in opinions. And you can’t get a more different working pair than the 2 of us. I don’t dig for new music as hard and understand the history of club music as Dean does, and Dean doesn’t understand music technology as I do. So sometimes I have no clue what he’s saying, and vice versa! But in a strange way, it works.
I guess it’s a matter of giving each other space and respect. Things will pan out eventually. It has to be a conscious effort, if not egos will come into the picture and f*** everything up.
Today we want to talk more about Darker Than Wax. Having your own music label – was that always the ultimate goal? Or is it something that grew very organically?
DTW was never really something we considered in the long term. It just happened for a number of reasons. The main reason being that we were getting really tired of all the lip service being paid to us by people, whether based in Singapore or internationally. We were always giving out our material to DJs whenever they came to play in Singapore, and to those we’ve never met but had contact with on the Internet. And we always got very positive feedback, with some big names playing out our tracks even. But after almost 10 years of not getting anywhere in spite of all that positivity and support, I guess we decided it was enough, and start taking things into our own hands. So we opened a very, very big can of worms called a label.
Where was the recording of your recent releases done?
Only one release so far has been from Singapore (Cosa Nostra – Let It Go feat. Miss MIC), and the vocals for that was recorded at a very old and good friend’s studio in Chinatown – Eastward Audio. Jason Tan was the engineer for that track, and he’s one of the most underrated engineer / producers in Singapore. Very prolific, but very unknown in the mainstream sense of the word.
I know that some of the releases on your label have gotten good feedback from the online music scene…With the digital music download portal, do you see vinyl being phased out completely? (Forgive my ignorance but are any of your releases on vinyl?)
Vinyl will never die. There will always be that niche market that will pay to own a record. Maybe it’s the smell of wax that got these folks addicted in the first place. It’s weird. In a sense it’s like vintage synths or cars. Horribly expensive to make, buy, and maintain, but hey, they’re all still around!
We’d love to release on vinyl one day, but Asia is not a good place for pressing vinyl. We’re actually in the midst of discussing with one of our contacts in Europe about the feasability of it all. So yeah, maybe one day in the future!
Tell us a bit more about the artistes you have under your label and finally please paint us an inspirational view of the future of Darker Than Wax. Get our juices going!
I don’t really like to give a run down on each of our artists because I don’t want to paint a picture in your head before you hear anything. Just know that every release that will be on our label must have that element, or essence of black music. Like our tagline for the last 10 years – it’s all about the s.o.u.l.
The future of DTW? To be the first thing people in Singapore think of when they want deep, soulful electronic club music. Which is actually the second step, and the easier one. The first step is to get Singaporeans to even give a s*** about deep, soulful music!
Staying relevant and prolific in the music industry is hard work. One has to have the talent, drive and passion to continually put out new stuff and push boundaries and ActuallyMAG thinks Cosa Nostra has these in spade and look forward to seeing Darker than Wax flourish.
– Jau Goh
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