#24: Andrew Chen (3sixteen)
3sixteen's Andrew Chen on UK Jazz, Amaro, Sci Fi Horror, Black-owned Coffee Roasters, and more
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked cool person Andrew Chen to come on Perfectly Imperfect & spread the hot rec wealth.
17 years ago Andrew co-founded the legendary denim (and more) brand, 3sixteen, with Johan Lam— if you were ever on the selvedge denim wave, they’re a household name. He’s an incredibly kind dude with a breadth of experience and a commitment to the craft that’s endlessly inspirational to us. We’re psyched he’s here to share some recs with y’all.
Without further ado
Hi everyone, I’m Andrew. I live and work in NYC, and like many of you, found out about Perfectly Imperfect through the TF cord. I’ve been enjoying reading all the recs throughout the past few months and was flattered to be asked to give mine. Here we go.
There is something very special going on in the UK jazz scene right now. Several years ago I started catching wind of various emerging talents through Gilles Peterson’s BBC radio shows and his record label Brownswood Recordings. One artist that is on an absolute tear right now is tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia; she put out an excellent EP, “Nubya’s 5ive”, a few years ago so I was super stoked to see her put a full length out this fall. “Source” effortlessly blends dub, reggae and Caribbean rhythms into her unique sound. Listen to the album, and then watch her perform a few tracks with her backing band on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert.
“El Hoyo,” a sci-fi horror film by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, debuted in late 2019 at film festivals but because I’m not cultured, I don’t find out about films like these until they hit Netflix. I watched it earlier in the year in quarantine but revisited it again recently. The premise is simple: people are imprisoned in a large Brutalist structure where they are separated into hundreds of floors. A platform of food is lowered down and each floor may eat to its heart’s content for a short time before it descends further for the lower levels to eat the leftovers. I’m not saying the message is anything deep, but the idea of learning to share what we have with others seems to ring even truer in today’s climate. The cinematography is great and the vibe reminds me a bit of Cube.
My boy David gifted me a bottle of Forthave’s amaro for my birthday a year or two ago and since then, I always have two bottles on deck: one at the office and one at home. For those who haven’t had amaro before, I suppose it’s a bit of an acquired taste. I grew up taking this Chinese herbal cough syrup called Pei Pa Koa and amaro reminds me a lot of it: herby, minty, and super soothing with notes of honey and cinnamon. I like to drink it over a cube of ice after dinner to settle the stomach, but as I write this in the late afternoon I kinda feel like having one now so I will.
🔨 👟 Goods & Services
I found out about Goods & Services through my LA team. One day I saw they were all gramming a spot that did crazy custom resoles on shoes and I asked them where it was - turns out it’s right around the corner from our LA headquarters. I hit up the owner, Rory, to have him do up a pair of AF1’s on a Christy sole and he did not disappoint.
My partner at 3sixteen, Johan, started an incense company together with his wife a few years ago and it really changed my perspective on what incense could be. I was so accustomed to the super cheap and piercing smell that comes with bodega Nag Champa that I had no idea that premium incense could smell so much richer and complex. These are a godsend for when you’re stuck working from home for months at a time. My favorites are Knoll, Savannah and Velo but I haven’t been mad at any of the other ones that I’ve tried.
It pains me when people give trash coffee recs - I know that taste is subjective, but a good roast profile that really shows off the flavor of a bean is not. If you are into cigarette-like coffee that’s cool but I’d rather just smoke a dart at that point. I got put onto Portrait, a Black-owned roaster in Atlanta, by my friend and longtime 3sixteen photographer Ray Spears and throughout the summer I’ve been buying bags for me for the homies. I’m not usually one for blends but their Barry is stellar, it’s super bright and fruity and is delicious as a cold brew too. The Uganda Rwenzori slaps too.
Check out his recent Five Fits feature on Esquire