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A chat with Vandelay Radio's Dare Balogun about his journey into wine

I first met Dare on a politics trip to Kraków in Poland, coming up to 7 years ago now (how time flies...). We both sat in opposite isle seats, both with headphones in. Casually, we asked each other what was blaring out one another's headphones, it turned out we were both listening to Fatima Yamaha. What are the odds?! We spent most of the trip exchanging tunes and thoughts, bumping into one another a few years later in London - turns out, Dare worked next door to FOLIE where I was Head Sommelier.

Dare had been a supporter of Cépage since its inception, so I was keen to incorporate some kind of musical element to some events we were planning, utilising Dare's mystical DJ skills in the process. Savile Row seemed appropriate, as our brief was to add a bit of life to the street during our week long pop up in November. Safe to say, it went down a storm. Dare's uncanny ability to read a room, understand the vibe and select tracks based on that is something we absolutely loved. I asked him a few questions about his passion for wine, and music!

Photo Credit: Ed Dalimore @59Vines

Harry: Which wine got you into wine? Dare: PATRICK BOUJU X ACTION BRONSON, A LA NATURAL ROUGE 2016. I had drank wine casually before but not really cared for what I was drinking - but then after binge watching F** That’s Delicious, I ordered a few bottles and the rest is history.

What is Vandelay? The ethos, the backstory, the style of music? Vandelay Radio is an online independent radio station born in Swansea, Wales, streaming worldwide. We started it out of boredom and a major lack of musical diversity where we were and quickly evolved when we realized that the scene’s biggest problem was and still is people’s egos.

Our ethos is simple - don’t take anything too seriously. This approach means we have freedom to not only have an opinion, but to express it how we deem fit, without fear of reprimand or reproach. Music is full of sycophancy, people that constantly say yes for the fear of hearing no. Individuality is what we want to continue to showcase, and our roster allows for diversity of thought and music, so expect to hear everything when tuning in.

Where can we catch Vandelay play live, or hear the music? Our sounds are best enjoyed through our website, and Spotify playlists are designed for offline listening. We hold residencies at Peckham Audio and Next Door Records, and are constantly expanding so keep watching this space.

Who are your main musical inspirations? I listen to far too much music to have main inspirations - I’m inspired by everything I listen to, with a soft spot for Talib Kweli, Fela Kuti, Bonobo and of course, the queen, Sade.

Have you discovered the ultimate playlist or question that goes alongside a particular bottle? The Vandelay Radio Selects, of course.

Where is your favourite musical hang in London? There’s no other spot quite like Next Door Records - dear friends of the station with an amazing wine selection alongside killer records - quite literally my dream. We also get to do our Good Music Club there, which is always a swell time.

We often see you in the kitchen on the socials, do you have any favourite recipes you enjoy cooking, and any wines you like to pair accordingly? Yeah we currently have a Vandelay Radio Test Kitchen where we mess about and come up with recipes to share with listeners and subscribers through our irregular newsletter, Vandezine!

I love making pasta - drank with an easy accessible red. Nothing crazy really.

White, red or rosé? RED. I cannot reiterate this enough. Whether you’re enjoying dinner with friends or would like a quick nightcap before bed, vins rouge is always there for you.

Rosé I’ll drink during the summer, but I cannot stand white wine. People always say to me oh you haven’t tried a good white that’s why, but in my honest opinion, it’s swill and people who prefer it are pedestrians and deserve a good dressing down. I could spend hours ranting about this, but I’ve found it’s best just to judge internally.

Have you tried much English wine? What’re your opinions of it? When I buy English (very rarely), I only drink Tillingham. If you can get your hand on a bottle then R 2019 is perhaps the juiciest bit of vin you’ll have - designed to be drunk in a sunny park with pals. Nothing quite like it, not in England, not in the world. I’m far too traditional to explore other English wines, just because French is best but I’ve found myself being pleasantly surprised by a few recommendations.

Do you lean towards Old World or New World bottles? Old world for me, there’s just more expertise and tradition. You have centuries of wine making and the terroir is full of history. Plus I have a massive bias against wines made in the US. A travesty!

What album should we put on after reading this?

Uptown Funk Empire - The Empire Strikes Back

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