Of course one of the biggest inspirations behind the label is the cuisine that it’s named after. Going to eat dim sum with family will always be one of my favourite things to do; what I love about it is not just the variety of delicious food it offers, but the values it embodies and the messages it symbolises. One of these is definitely ‘togetherness’, as dim sum always brings people, friends and families closer via the enjoyment of food. Also, ‘timelessness’. Dim sum is over 2,500 years old; many generations before me have enjoyed it, and many generations after me will still be eating these same dishes. This really stimulates me to hopefully create work that can be as timeless as the cuisine. I really cannot wait to have dim sum again.
I always say if there was a place that represented DimSum as a brand it would be Hong Kong. The East-West Hybridity might make it seem like there are two opposing forces of influence, but I think fusion is a better way of thinking about it. Both my parents being in Hong Kong has meant occasional visits to the fragrant harbour over the years, including a one year stint a few years back. Every single time I go I feel a new level of appreciation, maybe because I’m growing older. I don’t think I can use words to really describe how I feel when I go there except it has definitely shaped the artistic direction of the brand in some way.
This was our first ever output, a mix by my friend Wie. Since then, the time has gone incredibly fast and the ride has been amazing so far and though looking back is something I don’t do too often, it is nice to, from time to time. Looking at past work helps me see how the brand has evolved and how I have evolved with it, and at the same time it reminds me to stay humble because at one point I’d just started out. (And anyway, I always feel I’m still starting.) This picture reminds me that it’s OK not to have all the answers but by focusing on quality you can make stunning things happen and open new doors.
I always feel I’m still starting
I get so much from bouncing around new ideas with friends. Those sessions where sometimes the best ideas come and other times you get nothing done, but you still have a fun time. This process is a way to get inspired and build stronger connections, and having a strong and talented network of creative people working in all kinds of mediums is something I will never take for granted.
One of my biggest wins in 2020 was crossing paths with the Greek philosophy of stoicism. During lockdown I picked up a book that had been sitting on my shelf left untouched for a few years, The Daily Stoic, by Ryan Holiday. It was life-changing to say the least, and one of the concepts that has impacted me the most so far is ‘amor fati’ or ‘the love of fate’. In short, this is a mindset that involves embracing and loving every moment, and making the best out of anything bad that happens. It’s really changed how I view obstacles, and helped me turn that into fuel to be better.
Whether it’s going on YouTube, Discogs or Pinterest, the process of digging is another way for me to get inspired. Each of these platforms have helped open the doors to different mediums and let me discover new things very easily, and perhaps most importantly I feel they have helped keep our artistic direction as versatile as it can be. For music that means discovering all sorts of genres and appreciating all kinds of music, I personally can jump from a steppy UK Garage mix to tuning in to my dad’s playlist of 1980s Cantonese tracks. With art it’s about appreciating the different styles of various artists. Through constantly digging for new art I was able to work with new people, get a taste for their style and at the same time fuse ideas too.
STRAIGHT FLAVOURS MIX SERIES VOL.3
One of my favourite projects that’s been ongoing since DimSumRecords started is our mix series. I listen to a lot of mixes on a daily basis and I always feel that mixes mean more than just putting out a mix from a DJ; they’re about giving a DJ a platform to tell a story musically. Now in its third season, our Straight Flavours series definitely represented a turning point for the brand.
The main artwork is done by Rhys Smitti, a friend who I first met at university. Since then he has helped execute my ideas for artwork, and I’m very glad to have stuck with Rhys as we have been able to develop a long term creative collaboration. For our latest artwork I wanted to take the opportunity to tell a more personal story, and the final result reflects what I have been doing over the last three years; pulling things together from my childhood to hopefully inspire that curiosity in someone else.
CHINATOWN RECORD STORE – MIX SERIES
This is a project I worked on a couple months back, for another new mix series. I chose this one because it reflects how my thought processes developed at the time, and it also puts my love of storytelling at the core. In this world I imagined a record store full of music from all genres, and the story itself really tied to my interest in stoicism, and the idea of people turning obstacles into fuel to improve themselves. It was really about piecing things together in a right way which required deep research and thought. Though I’ll admit the process was mind boggling, I’ve been grateful to work with some incredible people on it.
A T-shirt is another way for me to tell stories
International Dumplings is inspired by some key themes over the last three years of DimSum; connecting, working and learning with people around the world. Apart from travelling, collaborating with people from different countries has enabled us to learn in a deeper way about their culture and unique point of views.
Especially with this last year where travel was limited due to the pandemic, we have been blessed to have a powerful tool, the internet, to still bounce ideas together and keep things moving.
MEDIUMS OF EXPRESSION
T-shirts have always been one of my favourite mediums of expression for multiple reasons. When designing a T-shirt there is one key question I always ask: “What positive message can I convey?” In my eyes a T-shirt is another way for me to tell stories. Where the music we put out won’t necessarily suit everyone’s tastes, I still want to be able to use another channel to show people what we’re about. Personally I just love the process, from conceptualising, designing to holding the finished tee. It’s an experience I always gain value from and I hope everyone who wears the T-shirts feel the same way too!
Read More: Process: Dohee Kwon