Label feature and interview: a tribute to Deano Sounds and a decade of Cultures of Soul

Cultures of Soul has reissued music from the tropics of the Caribbean, as well as city pop of Japan, via South African bubblegum and the choicest American soul. Many, many DJs’ playlists and numerous classics for global music fans have been in one way or another often unearthed, canonised or curated expertly by this label. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, this Stateside label was founded in 2010 and celebrates its ten year anniversary this year. Label boss Deano Sounds is showing no signs of slowing down with a slew of recent releases. His latest is the self-titled Sparkle LP, one of the most expensive disco albums on the market.

World Treasures Music spoke to the main man behind Cultures of Soul about the label’s highlights, playing out, and what’s next for such a prolific and diverse label.

Deano Sounds

For Deano Sounds running the label and creating classic music is so rewarding: “Getting to see this music that was marginalised finally getting exposure and the credit that it deserves is why I do this.

“One example of this is Themba from the Space Cats. He was really excited when I really reached him that someone was interested in his music and when we took it from that point to putting out the record, there was one of the major newspapers in South Africa doing a front page story and video with him.”

The Space Cats reissue brings a supreme South African album to a wider audience – a key remit of the Cultures of Soul label, particularly in relation to South African music. A DJ Okapi compilation celebrated the bubblegum genre alongside other labels compiling kwaito and pantsula a few years ago, but Deano Sounds has continued to celebrate the more soulful side of the country’s musical heritage with another key reissue by legend Don Laka.

Celebrating the work of artists from the 1980s comes with its own challenges, but Deano Sounds is determined and focused: “They are all challenging at some point whether it’s struggling to find the original artist or negotiating a licensing fee that’s fair for the artist, as well as not putting us out of business, or trying to get the master to sound as best as possible, or getting the artwork just right.”

Another big release for the label is the reissue of Bro David, as well as an accompanying remix 12″. Anything original by the Belize artist would set you back a small fortune and this reissue is a prime selection by a cultured and renowned collector.

It is surprising that Deano Sounds is not more widely heard as a touring DJ, though the Boston scene where the label was founded, is a place where he can represent the label to dancers. “In America unlike in the UK and Europe there aren’t a lot of those cool music festivals offering DJ slots to DJs playing interesting vintage records such as Dimensions, Movin’ Festival, We Out Here Festival, etc,” he says. “But I did play at an outdoor party in a garden over the summer by a local party crew called Physical Culture. And we’re working on throwing some parties in some of Boston’s premier art museums.”

More is on the way from the label that has been especially prolific of late: “Don Laka’s excellent early solo LP I Wanna Be Myself has hit stores now. We’re also working on another volume of South African Disco music,” Deano Sounds reports. “And we’ve got a really special album called The Sound of the San Francisco Christian Center coming out in the spring. This album took us three years of hard work to be able to put out.”

 

Here are a selection of some of the defining moments for the label, selected by World Treasures Music:

This South African smasher came during a wave of South African kwaito, bubblegum and pantsula resissues. The Gerd Janson mix made this a club weapon for a range of DJs:

A defining compilation of music from the Caribbean was Tropical Disco Hustle, the label gave many listeners their first exposure to Trinidad groups such as Wild Fire. Disco specialist Al Kent also pops up on re-edit duty.

Evans Pyramid was the alias of Andre Evans, a Boston based session player who rightfully found global recognition among soul and disco fans after the Cultures of Soul reissue.

Obscure city pop from Japan is also an area of specialism for the label and among some more familiar collectors’ cuts, Deano Sounds is still committed to obscure and unheard gems:

Brazilian boogie was curated so well on this compilation from 2015 and collected the best from icons from the country, including Marcos Valle, Robson Robson, Jorge Ben, Cassiano, Banda Black Rio and of course…the mighty Tim Maia.

The Mighty Shadow is one of Trinidad’s most famous music stars. This track has had the reissue treatment from a range of labels, but the dub and the fantastic Keep On Wailing were reissued thanks to Deano Sounds.

For more visit Cultures Of Soul.

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