Daniel Mitchell found something magical in Indonesia. He left his life as co-founder of the influential East London fashion boutique LN-CC behind and moved to the tropical Indonesian island years ago—trading city life and rainy days for rice paddies and palm trees. Part of the move had to do with his family—his wife is Indonesian—but it was a never-ending sense of wonder over what the country had to offer that kept him here.
"Here in Bali the original Balinese culture is just breath taking," he told VICE Indonesia. "The dance, trance and spiritual connective energy here is just undeniable and very special. Indonesia is a very magical and mysterious place. There's no other place with this kind of energy in the world. It's just incredible."
Mitchell is now the creative director for Potato Head Family, the creative company behind Jakarta's Three Buns, Bali's Katamana hotel, and Singapore's Potato Head Folk. VICE Indonesia's Mo Morris reached out to Mitchell to talk about island life, preserving Indonesian culture, and pushing things forward with Mitchell's record label Island of the Gods.
VICE: You've been doing Sun Down Circle at Potato Head Beach Club for a little while now. What was the inspiration behind the monthly event?
Daniel Mitchell: Yeah, not long after I moved to Bali, I started to work as the creative director of the Potato Head Family. I was lucky enough to meet Ronald Akili, the founder and CEO who is a very inspiring cat and who gave me the freedom to bring in cultural projects—one being Sun Down Circle (SDC).
Bali has changed a lot. A few years ago, it was harder to hear good music on the island. In terms of dance music, or whatever you want to call it, there wasn't much aside from what Potato Head was doing.
With SDC we had jazz legend Roy Ayers live, local gamelan ensembles, Mezcal ensembles with Thomas Bullock and local Denpasar kids, DJ legends like Harvey and so on. There have been some great parties looking back.
I heard whispers you're working on a club project with DJ Harvey. I've known him for many years and knowing his infectious personality, he must be a joy to work with. Can you tell us a bit more?
We are working on a project with DJ Harvey, but all will be revealed soon. It's very exciting to be working with him. He has inspired a generation and is one of the last remaining figures that embodies the spirit of early club culture. And in the day of every Tom, Dick, and Harry being a DJ, he stands out as someone with true personality, authentic expression, and one of the few people who can take you on a great musical journey.
Do you think music has any impact on culture or even politics anymore? Lennon created a movement beyond music. Can you ever see that happening again in our lifetime? Or is it just endless Ed Sheeran clones?
Music will always have a big impact in culture as it's the universal language that connects all people beyond the realms of social conditioning. It will always connect and bring people together when it's really needed. The universe is one giant vibration. Music is the deepest connection we can get to what is actually going on out there. Also look at cymatics and you will see some fascinating findings on the connectivity of vibration and what effect is has on us humans. It's powerful stuff.
I think there will always be creators who inspire movements of change and remind people what life's really about: love, not war, generosity, not greed, and creativity, not destruction. When the universe needs it, it will spit out another Lennon to try to restore balance. It's no coincidence the universe or gods create these special characters who can transcend the times and bring people together.
How do you feel about the awful self-promotion in social media within dance music? The mystery seemed to die many years ago. Is this down to modern-day insecurity, or is it just a general trend of the times?
Well, I think it's just the era we live in. We're all the marketing directors of our own lives now. It's good that it gives kids a platform to get themselves out there and not be at the mercy of money-grabbing leeches like old-school record labels or whatever.
I don't think the mystery is gone. It's actually increased in some cases as I'm seeing more and more amazing stuff that isn't being broadcast on social media. The next wave of kids coming through now are not even on social media. They are creating a micro-tribe community in which they are creating stuff on a different level and sharing knowledge, ideas, and concepts in a completely different way that has ever been seen before.
Also, it's really not cool being on Instagram and Facebook when your both your grandma and great-grandma are all on there—which is where it's at now.
Daniel Mitchell's Island of the Gods is playing VICE Indonesia's launch party at Potato Head Beach Club on Saturday, 1 July, with DJ Harvey, Zatua, and Dea. The party continues on Sunday, 2 July, with Trevor Jackson, Senyawa, Pleasure, and Seabass.