Jeff Chen - Dhammiko & The Poet’s Attic

I first met Jeff in 2011, it wouldn’t be until 2 years (almost to the day) later that we would work together. This performance and many others held at local food market’s! When solo he perform’s under the name Dhammiko & the Poet’s Attic.

Jeff also does a lot of group and collaborative work. These are performed under the name Salmagundi. He describes “Salmagundi means, the mess. Well, at least for me that’s what it means; apparently it’s also a middle-eastern dish containing eggs-but yeah…”

Salmagundi style & sound? “Generally pretty mellow, I guess, with a love for interweaving, dreamy melodic lines, layered instruments, and personal lyrics. At least, that’s what I usually hear in my head when a song starts taking shape. More often than not though, all I’ve got is an acoustic guitar and my voice, so that’s how the first recordings normally appear-minimal.”

Jeff has spent the last two years roaming the world. With his backpack & guitar he has explored the U.S, Europe & is now currently in India. This exploration has “opened up a fair amount of space to write and allow ideas to sit and slowly ripen; can safely say there’s a lot of new material that I’m dying to record properly.”

His most recent track “Was” was written in Corsica and then recorded in London at Bardo land (he thanks Deividas for the studio time). You can listen to it here.

Jeff Chen - Parnell Farmer’s Market 2014

New Lynn Night Markets 2013

In 2015 he banded together with a bunch of likeminded individuals to create & record an EP, a series of events followed suit. Jeff tells me the story “We came together as a band in 2015 for the first Earthbeat Festival (NZ) to play a set.

I fondly recall kicking it with some dope musicians in rehearsals and on stage: black-eye Lewis (Garden Burger), Anthony Browne (Sugar the mofo) and Marcel de Villiers, afterwards we actually got a chance to get into a proper studio to record an EP thanks to our homies Anthony muirhead (Oxford Nash) and Tapu Henderson.

A few solid overnight sessions and many long hours went into our first band EP, while we are all working at the same time. I would rock up to a 10 hour shift at my cafe the next day like a zombie (needing coffee). Anyway, we got it all down a day before I left for my travels and were all pretty exhausted, but stoked.

I boosted overseas and a couple months in, I get a devastating email that the hard-drive on which all the recordings are has been stolen. Bro.

We’re all pretty cool about it though and life goes on, I mean after all we wrote the songs so it’s not like they’re gone forever. But nonetheless…
Fast forward a few months, and another email arrives saying the hard-drive has been recovered-boom! And uh well yeah it’s 2017 now but yo, we promise the EP will surface some day!”

Music is an extension of Jeff’s being, I see it whenever I’m around him. In all the years I think I’v only ever once been in his company where an instrument hasn’t been played. When I listen to his music its like I’m listening to him; his mind & soul. He writes, preforms and publishes his music at his own pace. All the rules musicians seem to put on themselves don’t apply, they seem like unnecessary restrictions.


Want to read the other NZMM article’s click here.

For gigs in your area check out Under The Radars Gig Guide Here.

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