The Observatory interview 10 tracks keiji haino
Photo credit Henzy David

Ever since their fiery 2016 opus August is the cruellest, The Observatory have gone through an evolution in both sound and line-up.

What remains is their ever-present ethos — pushing past expectations set upon them, resulting in an electrifying body of work that defies the stagnant “art rock” category.

Now comprising of Cheryl Ong on drums, along with Yuen Chee Wai and Dharma Shan on guitars and electronics, the three-piece have since ventured down the path of collaborations — beginning with Norweigian experimentalists MoE, along a split with prolific psych-rock outfit Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O..

The latter featured a recording of a concert where the band, in their last major concert, performed with a chorus of 30 young guitarists, conjuring an effect that they’ve described as “layering tiny tremoloes to create emotional earthquakes”.

It’s not an overstatement to say that their latest document dwarves that statement in sheer volume alone.

Authority is Alive captured the band during a surprise performance last year with avant-garde soothsayer Keiji Haino, whose ferociously prolific and boundary-pushing output has kept his cult-like following on their toes since the 1980s.

Within the first few minutes of the recording, the splintered potency of Haino’s poetry collides swiftly with the band’s improvisational approach. It makes for an intense listen — if otherwise bordering on inaccessible, if you find yourself stepping into this immediately after a propulsive rock album like August is the cruellest.

This edition of 10 Tracks not only captures the present earworms of the three-piece — they also freely exchange thoughts about performing with Haino, unravelling the power of free improv and Mandopop, and their current activities (they are, indeed, working on a new album).

Pore through their picks below and listen in to our conversation with them.



Kate Bush – ‘Mother Stands For Comfort’

Dharma: There was a period I was listening to just Kate Bush, almost nothing else.

Once during this period, I travelled to KL to play some gigs and visit my grandma. It was a much longer journey than usual due to rain and traffic. When I finally arrived at my grandma’s, she was sleeping on the couch in the living room. I sat on the floor beside her, just watching her, and this song just played in my head, lyrics and all, bringing back much memories spent with her. It truly was comfort just being beside her.

She passed away in July this year. I was not able to pay my last respects.


FKA twigs – ‘sad day’

Dharma: Suddenly in an FKA Twigs mood this week. Can’t say I like all her songs but this song especially stimulates my “Kate Bush receptors”.


Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band – ‘Peon’

Dharma: Initially, it can seem like “anyhow whack” but on closer listens this is an amazing gem. I always wonder how the Captain composed this. I don’t think he plays guitar. Lick My Decals Off, Baby is a very essential album besides Trout Mask Replica.


Lim Giong – ‘A Pure Person’

Chee Wai: Lately, the stuff I am reading has prompted me to revisit an era that played a significant role in forming my views of the world, the mid-90’s to early 2000’s. I am reminded of an era of the neon flush, a kind of decadence, self awareness and of course a lot of cyberpunk material from that time.

But this track — taken from the wonderful and unforgettable opening sequence of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Millennium Mambo — served to be a soundtrack for my own interrogation of the city for a long period of time. Soundtracks played quite a big part for me.


Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden – ‘Cinema Paradiso (Main Theme)’

Chee Wai: I have been so familiar with this melody for decades. From since I was in my teens, this melody segued in and out as a soundtrack for growing up. But it took me a long time before I actually watched the film.

And I must insist for anyone who has not watched it, to not watch the director’s cut. Ennio Morricone’s melodies have an innate ability to touch one deep inside. The immensely talented Pat Metheny’s playing is sublime in this rendition, to say the least.


Faye Wong – ‘等等’

Chee Wai: Close friends who know me will probably know that I listen to Mandopop from time to time.

For me, while there is challenging music that I voraciously listen to all the time to open up my mind, there is also music that allows me to seek some kind of simplicity. Mandopop, amongst others, falls into that latter category.

This track was from her 2001 album where she collaborated with Tanya Chua for the first time, which resulted in a Leslie Low-esque folk song on waiting, longing and the etcetera. And with the lyrics of wordsmith 林夕 (Lin Xi), it’s hard to go wrong.

If there is space, I would also recommend Stefanie Sun.


King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – ‘Gamma Knife’

Cheryl: I’ve been listening to these two albums: Nonagon Infinity and Flying Microtonal Banana. They’ve been on repeat for the past week, so it’s been real hard trying to pick one song from the albums!

I love the energy of Nonagon Infinity, microtonal melodies over driving post-punk drum beats. I’m just in awe at the speed of their releases considering the fact that each album has something different to offer. Mad skillz.

Another pick would be the track ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’ from the album of the same name.


Dewa Alit – ‘Ameriki’

Cheryl: This is a composition that grows after every listen due to its intricacies. The displacement of the rhythms on the flute with regards to the percussion or vice versa is really amazing.

I have a lot of questions about how he composed this and how it was translated into a score. We are usually so used to listening to songs done based on a Western construct that listening to a piece like that really opens up one’s ears to what other types of music exist out there and what music can be.


Tzusing – ‘日出東方 唯我不敗’

Cheryl: I’ve been revisiting this older album of his after listening to his mix for Resident Advisor. If I could choose a mix, it would definitely be that. It’s hard to find a DJ who can seamlessly transcend so many genres in one mix while keeping it danceable.

Truth be told, a friend and I were kind of dissecting this song to try and see how he produces music, but I’m pretty sure we haven’t hacked it yet. Looking forward to hearing his new release on PAN.


Oren Ambarchi, Mark Fell, Will Guthrie & Sam Shalabi – ‘Oglon Day 1’

The band: We have been listening to this — collectively and individually — quite a bit since it was released last year.

It was said that the piece was not entirely composed and all the musicians met for the first time together when they headed for the studio. What resulted was a piece of rhythmic genius that traverses krautrock, techno and minimalist composition.

Chee Wai would play it in his car occasionally when we drive to places. Silence will immediately descend upon us, as we collectively listen deeply and marvel at the complexities and nuances of the piece.


Authority is Alive is now available via Ujikaji Records.

RAH MZA Analog Vault Singapore Community Radio
Photo credit Soul Jazz Records (left), RAH (right)

Now that we’ve shared some personal anecdotes forged at the record store, as told by musicians, we thought to ask some of our cratedigging local DJs about their own.

It’s no secret that DJs have been the ones keeping record stores and vinyl alive all this while — even before a vinyl resurgence of any sort, DJs from underground scenes were the ones still holding fort with piles of 12” singles and new discoveries with every visit.

RAH and MZA, both record store fiends themselves, share their own unforgettable experiences in different record stores — from finding a deeper appreciation for culturally-embedded samples to nabbing a long-elusive record.

Watch RAH, MZA, and Darren Dubwise perform at The Analog Vault’s fifth anniversary here.


RAH

Ok first of all, lemme just say that I don’t think there’s a record (yet) that eludes me – I recall really wanting Lata Ramsar’s The Greatest Name That Lives, and that’s still the only thing on my Discogs want list. And still so expensive.

I’m quite the lazy digger and would only really buy stuff when I’m travelling. Visiting record shops is always a trip, and something I always look forward to when travelling.

So two special moments that come to mind — the first was in Rotterdam’s Demonfuzz Records, highly recommended by Dutch friends (“it’s Madlib’s favourite record shop!”).

I really like Rotterdam, and this record shop is amazing — I must’ve spent hours there — picking out stuff, putting them back, chatting to the guys about stuff. Anyway, there’s this one record I got, it’s a Soul Jazz Brazilian comp, called Tropicalia. It’s a double LP and I was like “Ok, dope, am def getting this.”

Fast forward to a week later I was in Berlin and listening to the Tropicalia record and Jorge Ben’s “Take It Easy, My Brother Charles” comes on, and I’m like whaaaaaaat this is the OG sample from Drumagick’s “Easy Boom” — which I also have on vinyl, also a comp “Gilles Peterson WW2”, and how I discovered the track (great Brazilian D&B).

I think just being on a great holiday and listening to a Brazilian record in a hipster Airbnb in Berlin just elevated the experience for me.

The same week, still in Berlin, I went to another record store, a friend Nip who runs Potatoheadz Records (really good label, check it out) brought me there — I forgot what it’s called.

So looking through their 45s and was over the moon when I found Tilahun Gessesse’s Lanchi Biye on Philophon, another great OG sample from K’naan’s America feat Mos Def & Chali 2na. Two OG samples in one trip! I was ecstatic. Nobody could take me down. Invincible.


MZA

The record that had eluded me for a while was Alfa Mist’s Antiphon, a modern UK jazz classic, if I have to say.

I was close to picking up the second pressing in 2017 but hesitated somehow — ended up never getting that close again till one day in 2019, midday scrolling through Instagram and I happened upon The Analog Vault’s account posting it as a new arrival.

Immediately, I texted Nick asking to hold it and promptly headed to the store after work to pick it up. Victory in my hands, finally.

Record stores mean the world to me — from being just an emo The Smiths-loving poly student collecting records at Vinylicious Records till eventually working in the store. Eight years on since that fateful first shift as a record store clerk and I’m still in music retail pushing music culture.

There is truly nothing better than opening a new record or seeing a customer enjoy one of your recommendations. It’ll be a sad day if the only “record store” left was Amazon so I urge everyone to support your favourite independent record stores today.

.gif Intriguant Hanging Up The Moon The Analog Vault
Photo credit .gif

Hang around a record store for a while and you’d hear enough people groaning about prices — or catch some sneaking a pic of a record to look up on Amazon later.

We’re not skeptics of online bargains, and there are undeniable merits to the convenience of mail. On the other hand, the realms within a physical store, with a curated space specially made for conversations, are simply hard to match.

But instead of fine-tuning our argument, we thought to talk to some musicians about their own priceless stories forged at various record stores, before coming together this Saturday to celebrate one of our own local vinyl establishments.

Their tales span the globe, but Sean Lam of Hanging Up The Moon summarizes the shared sentiment nicely: “We also need brick and mortar stores because music appreciation shouldn’t just be a passive experience. It should be a communal experience.”

From hunting an elusive record, to picking up favourite new music on tour, here’s what .gif, Intriguant and Hanging Up The Moon have to say about memories made at the humble record store.


INTRIGUANT

The one record that eluded me for a long time was Delegation’s ‘Oh Honey’ on 7”.

It’s my all-time favourite soul track and I wanted it on vinyl. I had been looking for it everywhere for quite some time — asked many record stores and no one carried it.

When I was in Tokyo, I saw an event called Captain Vinyl which was run by DJ Muro, happening at the basement club Contact. It was a soul-funk music night — good vibes all around and it was packed on a Tuesday night.

There was an area in the club where a couple of guys set out tables and were selling their records — just like a mini record flea market — in the club. That’s where I found the 7”. The whole experience of finding that record brings back so many good times in Tokyo.


.gif

Din: I found these while .gif was on our UK tour in 2018. We had an extra day in Hastings and decided to explore the shophouses by the beachside.

We randomly found this record store — I don’t even know what it’s called. I really didn’t want to buy anything because I already had too much gear to carry on our tour.

I decided to anyway — against my better judgment — and came away with these really cool finds. No ragrets.

Photo provided by Din.

Weish: I remember discovering Sunset Rollercoaster at The Waiting Room in Taiwan, before they got famous!

.gif was on tour there and in the care of the coolest and most hospitable guy, Dan, who runs a dope live house called Revolver Taipei. He brought us to Waiting Room to hang out and listen to Taiwanese music and I just recall being so happy. Taiwan’s indie scene has some legit cool stuff.


Hanging Up The Moon

Sean Lam: If I were to pick one, it would be the compilation album A Secret History by The Divine Comedy that (if I recall correctly) I bought from the long-defunct HMV at Heeren.

This “record”, like most of my collection, was on CD, as this was in the 1990s and vinyl records had yet to make a comeback.

It’s special because while I have gone through many phases and genres of music, this particular record is one that I still listen to every now and then.

I know I’m showing my age here (laughs) but listening to it also reminds me of my younger carefree days. I clearly remember listening to this album at the testing booth with my girlfriend, now wife and mother of my child. We both agreed it was awesome and bought it there and then.

Like most music lovers, I have fond memories of record stores growing up.

There were the local independents like DaDa Records and Sembawang Music that were crucial to local musicians as they were key distribution points, as well as global giants Tower Records and HMV that brought a unique shopping experience and entertained many restless youths over countless weekends. Unfortunately, none of them are around anymore.

Thankfully, because of the vinyl resurgence since 2010, there’s now a growing number of new record shops in town. From a musician standpoint, record stores are an indispensable part of the local music ecosystem, even though there’s a lot going on digitally these days.

Just like how music is making a comeback in physical format, we also need brick and mortar stores because music appreciation shouldn’t just be a passive experience. It should be a communal experience.


The Analog Vault will be celebrating its 5th anniversary this Saturday, 10th October with live performances by Hanging Up The Moon, Intriguant, and .gif.

The event will be streamed on Singapore Community Radio at 3pm. More information can be found here.

Intriguant Spirits album interview
Photo credit Matin Latif

As his sophomore album Kindred came out to the world last December, Intriguant had already established Uploading, a platform serving an underserved beat community — a place the musician once started from.

By roping in producers who have staked their claim on Soundcloud but have yet to hone their live craft, unifying them under one beat night — not unlike LA’s Low End Theory — Uploading has since become a retreat for emerging talent, and a treat for discerning ears.

The night has asserted itself amidst the diverse terrain of Singaporean dance music, and has continued online since the sudden standstill that the nightlife industry now faces.

Kindred is, in some ways, Intriguant’s own version of club music — beats permeating its crowded spaces with pervasive tone and atmosphere. That concept is flipped in Spirits, where propulsive four to the floor rhythms dominate an uninhabited dancefloor.

We speak to Intriguant about his upcoming album — which is out November 20th — pressing it on vinyl with TAV Records, working with familiar faces, and how Spirits ties itself to Kindred (if pairing the titles together doesn’t give it away already).



Hi Intriguant! How was the production process for Spirits like?

Thanks for having me! Currently, I find myself in a headspace where I’m inspired by the club sounds of dark basements and spaces but what interested me was what happens when these spaces are not in use and vacant in the day. Somehow, it carries a certain energy in the space and I feel that it transcends a vibe that is equivalent to a crowded venue.

In Spirits, I have been expanding on the four to the floor sound as well as experimenting with other genres of music. It’s definitely refreshing to try different things and learn new techniques along the way.

With the relatively quick turnaround between this album and last year’s Kindred, were any of the ideas present in Spirits explored in those sessions? 

Spirits is unofficially part two of Kindred, hence the title. But I didn’t want to promote it that way because I believe that each body of work tells its own stories and evokes different emotions.

Kindred is inspired by the journey and process of going into an underground space. But Spirits brings you into the space — allowing you to be in an empty venue, to experience and absorb these energies.

Credit: Matin Latif

Kindred is inspired by the journey and process of going into an underground space.

But Spirits brings you into the space — allowing you to be in an empty venue, to experience and absorb these energies.”

Juan Yong’s artwork looks incredible! Tell us how it was put together.

Juan Yong is definitely one visual artist in Singapore to keep a lookout for. His ideas and skills to bring both Kindred and Spirits to life were impeccable.

With Spirits, we were looking at how we wanted to create the scenario of how spaces and venues are like when it’s not used and as seen in the day. Somehow, there is a certain energy that you can feel and how we can make it relatable.

In the artwork, we wanted to give it some context to the space — given it looked like the interior of a shophouse, where most underground parties and events happen in Singapore. It is kind of a tribute to these venues. You can already think of a few names.

We’re also seeing some featured artists again — tell us about working with HYU and Fzpz and how they got to fit within the larger scope of Spirits.

It was refreshing to work with featured artists again, especially when the production process has changed to a more dancefloor/four to the floor concept.

It was great to see Hyu do her own thing and being an artist in her own right. She was the first musician that I played alongside with me and believed in the music.

It was funny how “Wind” came about — I was very curious about how the Korean language has inspired dance music in recent times and, to me, it always has a percussive element to it. We started jamming and vibing over a beat and that was how “Wind” came about.

Working with Fzpz was so smooth and it was crazy to see how fast he could come up with ideas. Fzpz is definitely one of the most talented producers in Asia and beyond. I’m definitely looking forward to working with him again.

And not forgetting the homie, Calvin aka CJP aka Feston for always putting his touch on the guitar for the track “Hours”.

Spirits is coming out on vinyl through TAV Records, and this isn’t your first time pressing on the format. Tell us more about it!

Yes, I never expected this opportunity to happen again. Vinyl has always had a special place for me. As a vinyl collector and DJ, I have vinyl records that remind me of a certain time in my life when I first heard them. Some records are special for how they have inspired my musical taste and knowledge.

To have my own music to the vinyl format, it’s a humbling experience. Nothing beats enjoying music in its physical form.

How was the process this time around, with TAV involved?

First of all, I just want to say thank you to TAV for believing in the music. I am very grateful that they are taking this leap of faith with me on this album, and big ups to Leon and Nick for being on the PR and marketing side for Spirits. They have been instrumental throughout the whole process.

There have been reports of delays from vinyl pressing plants around the world. Did that affect your plans on getting Spirits out?

Yes, I have heard about those delays. Now that there’s COVID happening, I was extra worried about that. We started planning out the production for vinyl around June/July so that gave us a lead time of 3-4 months to make sure we got the artwork and masters.

To speed up the process, we got James from Phantom Limb, who is based in the UK, to have a check on the test presses of the record. In our current timeline, I feel that we are lucky that there were no delays yet and the vinyl records will come in time.

Credit: Matin Latif

What is something you’ve learned about pressing vinyl?

From knowing the pressing weight — whether you’d like it to be 140-160g or a heavyweight 180g — to the type of sleeves and colour/print for the record.

Another lesson is the physical distribution of your product. [For debut album Recluse] I received the boxes of sealed vinyl records, and it hit me that the real work started then. How am I going to see all these records? So I went door to door to many record stores in Singapore. Even when I was travelling, I brought my records with me and went to stores to sell to them. I’m glad that those records are now sold out.

Uploading Now is your way of pushing new music from the region under the current circumstances. What captures your attention about a certain artist before deciding to bring them aboard?

Uploading is a platform that allowed me to play the role of a curator/programmer for an event. I started Uploading because I have been seeing so many producers and artists coming up and releasing music but there wasn’t much of a platform for them to perform.

For me, I’m always looking out for electronic music producers/beatmakers/artists that have an eclectic sound. With Uploading Now, I have gotten back a few familiar faces who will be playing some new music, as well as new artists that I have come across over the years.


Spirits will be out November 20th via TAV Records. Pre-order the album on vinyl here.

Intriguant will perform at The Analog Vault 5th Anniversary with .gif and Hanging Up The Moon on Saturday, October 10th. The event will be streamed on Singapore Community Radio at 3pm. More information can be found here.

The next edition of Uploading Now will take place on October 28th.

NIKI Moonchild interview Singapore Community Radio
Photo credit Brittany Nguyen (88rising)

“I think I’ve learned a lot about myself as an artist. Mainly that, I really appreciate versatility and I don’t believe in genres anymore.”

NIKI sets the tone in our interview with an unwavering belief, molded after years being known as an R&B upstart out of Jakarta. Evolving into a self-assured artist in 2020, the release of Moonchild makes her case if you’re not convinced yet.

Now based in Los Angeles, NIKI has thrown down the gauntlet within, and beyond, the versatile 88rising roster.

A concise 10-track album, divided into three distinct segments, Moonchild is a sprawling display of the 21-year-old firing on all cylinders — a rare case for any artist making their full-fledged debut.

In our conversation, we touch upon the album’s production process, planning ahead for Coachella, her admiration for Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift, and how TikTok allows her to connect with fans back home. Listen below.

Special thanks to 88rising for arranging this interview.

Stream NIKI’s Moonchild below.

The Analog Vault Interview Sharon Seet Esplanade Singapore
Photo credit Hafizh Rizqi Laksmana (left) / The Analog Vault (right)

A name like The Analog Vault suggests an obscured zone of the rarest records, hidden to many and attainable to few.

In the game of vinyl records, where arbitrary prices of early pressings can limit the access of certain records to a distinct class of collectors (read: ludicrously rich ones), that may not be completely surprising.

However, it would be a supreme misjudgment of The Analog Vault. Since 2015, the store has served as a reliable refuge for a repository of vinyl records — spanning the worlds of jazz, soul, indie rock, hip-hop, electronic music, among other specialized genres.

While the store has had Nick Bong and Leon Wan holding fort as the store’s main faces and store managers — and hosts of our Analog Club podcast (previously AV Club) — the store’s genesis is owed to the ambitions of Sharon Seet, who established the store five years ago at a cozy unit, which now faces its current, much larger location.

Working in the finance industry by day, Seet first forged her love for the format while living in London during her early 20s.

“While I was meant to be focused on studying and working, most of my time was instead spent immersing in the amazing music scene and vinyl collecting culture,” she says, “particularly at the record stores where I learnt so much about different kinds of music.”

The Analog Vault Singapore Community Radio

Having spent time in London with its particularly rich culture of record stores, steeped in decades of iconic music, Seet carried those memories back home — gradually nursing the idea of opening a store in Singapore that captures that same exuberance she felt flipping through endless racks of records. It was with Eugene Ow Yong, owner of Vinylicious Records, who contacted her about pursuing such a venture together.

A long-standing customer of his store, she seized the opportunity to try her hand at curation, zeroing in on the kind of music she adored. “I agreed to work with Eugene on starting The Analog Vault on the premise that I could forge it to become an establishment championing jazz, hip hop, soul, electronic, and world music,” she says.

As Sharon has continued to run the store without Eugene — “[he’s] no longer part of TAV, but we remain close friends till today!” — the selection offered at The Analog Vault has only grown to include more styles of music, with a substantial section dedicated to obscure Japanese titles.

At the root of the store’s curation, however, is an undying appreciation for jazz music.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to the casual customer entering its confines — boxsets of John Coltrane and Kamasi Washington albums are proudly displayed behind the counters, along with recent arrivals of the long-overdue Black Jazz Records reissues sitting comfortably on nearby shelves.

Bar Martha Tokyo The Analog Vault
Photo credit Sharon Seet

“Apart from financial sustainability, I also personally measure success for TAV in terms of customer happiness, employee meaningfulness, and how TAV can support, contribute to, and help grow the music ecosystem in Singapore.”

Sharon Seet, on running The Analog Vault all this while.

“While I enjoy music across a broad range of genres (and languages!), I have forged the deepest connection with the jazz genre particularly,” Seet says. She attributes it to a chance encounter listening to the 1963 self-titled album by Coltrane and Johnny Hartman on vinyl.

“It was a transcendental experience for me — listening to Hartman’s sexy baritone voice set against Coltrane’s poignant saxophone, in pure analog delight. I had stumbled onto one of the greatest albums in the jazz canon,” she recounts. “That experience alone had me hooked onto jazz and vinyl, and it is a love affair that has continued to this day.”

The album continues to be revered as a high point in the saxophonist’s career. But it also served as a gateway for Seet into a vast, almost unceasingly creative world of music that she considers “akin to a complex and engaging piece of intellectual artwork.”

The genre has also blossomed in recent years, thanks to an outpouring of newer musicians from concentrated scenes in the US, UK, Japan and Australia.

The store regularly brings in titles from these artists, including new releases by Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids, Nubya Garcia, Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange, Irreversible Entanglements, and even Jazz Sabbath, a tongue-in-cheek jazz project attempting the cavernous canon of Black Sabbath’s music.

As such, there have been several mainstay record labels that Sharon relies on for the kind of vinyl that belongs in TAV. Legacy names like Blue Note, Impulse!, Verve, Riverside, ECM Records, Columbia, Analogue Productions, along with newer ones like Brownswood Recordings, Mr. Bongo, International Anthem, 22a, Strut Records, !K7 are mainstays in the store’s catalogue.

Sourcing records from Europe, Japan, and the US, Seet makes it a priority to constantly devour new music through “record label websites, music review websites, Instagram pages, online vinyl stores, and Discogs”.

Reviews, sometimes found on Discogs, have been crucial to decide if an album’s vinyl pressing is adequate enough to be stocked in her store. The website maintains a database of over seven million vinyl records listed, each title armed with a comments section for users to pour effusive or critical reviews onto. “Good quality vinyl pressings are key,” she maintains.

Honing her analytical skills from years of collecting vinyl — and subsequently running The Analog Vault — led her, Nick, and Leon to establish TAV Records, an independent record label focusing on local and regional artists.

Beginning with the vinyl pressing of Fauxe’s Ikhlas, a collection of hip-hop beats playfully recontextualizing samples of old Singaporean and Malaysian music, it’s an extension of Seet’s mission to solidify the store as “one of Asia’s leading proponents of analog music culture and fine music.”

Just this year, amidst the perpetual pandemic, the label has put out .gif’s Hail Nothing in April, and are now preparing the release of Intriguant’s third album, Spirits.

While record sales of these titles have been made primarily through the store, Seet has used this outlet with Nick and Leon to build out a network of worldwide distribution, although that has proven to be no easy task. “Increasing our distribution continues to be a focus and challenge for us,” she admits.

Intriguant Spirits vinyl mock-up Singapore Community Radio

The vinyl mock-up for Intriguant’s Spirits, which will be released on vinyl on November 20th.

The pandemic has been a considerable obstacle for the vinyl record industry — the annual Record Store Day holiday, where exclusive titles are pressed in limited quantities for ravenous customers, accommodated social distancing measures by splitting its list of releases into three consecutive monthly release dates.

Record pressing plants have faced temporary shutdowns, and the obfuscation clouding the fate of the US postal service has made future imports uncertain.

The Analog Vault, like many stores, have taken to selling their titles online to feed and nurture demand — their debut podcast episode, which you can stream below, explains further.

All of this, coupled with the uncertainty that comes with any independent business selling a niche product, results in a venture some would consider risky. For Sharon, she has her sights fixed on the long-term.

“Apart from financial sustainability, I also personally measure success for TAV in terms of customer happiness, employee meaningfulness, and how TAV can support, contribute to, and help grow the music ecosystem in Singapore,” she explains.

Like how The Analog Vault was shaped by her vivid memories of London record stores, her plans for TAV beyond 2020 is inspired by another cherished analog destination of hers: Japanese jazz kissaten, enduring old-school hideouts where music lovers congregate for listening sessions and fine alcohol. The ongoing photography project Tokyo Jazz Joints documents this domestic phenomenon in all its classy glory.

Ideally, what would this space look like? She imagines it “flanked by superlative audiophile analog systems, amazing whiskies, and a space for live jazz performances”. It is still a dream — made all the more distant with existing nightlife restrictions — but the lasting work of The Analog Vault makes a convincing case that there’s always room for spaces like these in Singapore.

Even if that New Yorker cartoon can ring true for some, it’s the memories and stories made around these slabs of wax that make the “expense and inconvenience” worth it.


The Analog Vault will be celebrating its 5th anniversary this Saturday, 10th October with live performances by Hanging Up The Moon, Intriguant, and .gif.

The event will be streamed on Singapore Community Radio at 3pm. More information can be found here.

10 Tracks Fzpz Singapore Community Radio
Photo credit Fzpz

If you’ve paid attention to the Singaporean beat underground over the past few years, the name Fzpz would be familiar — even if you still struggle to pronounce his name (phonetically, it’s pretty straightforward: eff-zee-pee-zee).

The producer, real name Jarren Lim, has dutifully put out releases over the past few years — however, you’d find most activity on his modest Soundcloud page than anywhere else.

2018 was a significant milestone for him, as he teamed up with electronic music label Darker Than Wax for his EP Hidden Personas, which saw him delve deeper into his hip-hop roots. 2019 was a year in which Lim quietly dropped individual tracks sporadically, along with a “name-your-price” release on Bandcamp titled fourfour, a nod to the EP’s pervasive direction towards classic house music.

In 2020, Fzpz has taken the greater leap to release his debut album, titled Death Signs. Inspired by slow-burning R&B jams from nocturnal radio playlists, rather than the boom bap sound he’s made his name with, Death Signs is an accomplished piece of work that displays Fzpz’s versatility in full force.

On this episode of 10 Tracks, we spoke to him about putting the album together, its impressive list of collaborators, and the songs on his playlist that might have influenced his current sonic trajectory.

Listen to the podcast below and check out what he has to say about each track.

Fzpz – ‘Love and Resent’

Fzpz: This was the most personal work I’ve done to date until Death Signs. Heavily influenced by R&B elements from the late 80s and stealing a cheeky bass lick from Mike Porcaro, Toto’s bassist — I tried exploring chord qualities and progression that could steer the song into a brighter mood as it progressed.

Oftrt – ‘Takeout’

I’ve been listening to tons of local music for the past year and Oftrt is one of the latest producers I’ve been rinsing. Oftrt challenges the soundscapes time and time again in his tracks.

The first time I watched him live was at Intriguant’s Uploading event and he is, by far, my favourite local producer to date for the past year. He takes dub to the next level in this track, ‘Takeout’.

Tim De Cotta – ‘Lying Eyes’

His latest single, ‘Lying Eyes’, has got me in the disco boogie vibe and NAztyKeys totally slays it in the solos for this one. I’ve been a long-time fan of TAJ and L.A.B. , both oozing of Soul and R&B which he is part of. I’m a sucker for the synthesizers and jabbing basslines. I’ll also be doing a remix of it soon!

.gif – ‘LET’S GO’

Probably the most unique sounding duo of Singapore, in my opinion. They’re taking the electronic genre with stride and I loved every moment of HAIL NOTHING. Their live presence is a must-catch, coupled with Weish’s mesmerizing vocal looping and Din’s abstract tones.

‘LET’S GO’ is also accompanied by a music video which I adore, directed by VadBibes. He directed the MV of the remix I did for Charlie Lim’s ‘Better Dead Than A Damsel‘.

YRFN, Khally – ‘Tek It Slo’

Part of Allure Records, all tracks from the label are bangers. These guys make me reinstate my faith in the next generation’s drive for Singapore’s music. Most, if not all, tracks are produced by Danish, and this one’s modern take on baile funk was refreshing. I’ve been listening to a ton from these guys and I’ve got to say Khally is one to look out for.

Gema – ‘Tek It Slo (feat. MickeyLEANO)’

Sensual cuts from Jema. A sequel of his first album, Sextape II keeps up with time with Jema’s hush storytelling. I’ve always been a fan of his eclectic take on electronic music.

I played a little guitar in the intro track of the album as well. It was so raw when I doodled and he just took it. That’s what I vibe with when collaborating — everything going right, and not overthinking things.

Fauxe – ‘To the Moon’

Fauxe was the very first beatmaker I came across in 2013-2014 who was extremely proactive in pushing the beat scene.

He dug me up from the Bandcamp days and was very much like an elder brother to me. His latest endeavour, Altruism, celebrates collaboration and the live ensemble aspect of his music. This one, in particular, is my favourite of the album.

Flying Lotus – ‘Coronus, The Terminator’

Been listening to You’re Dead! a ton recently. I really can’t believe it’s been 5 years. My friend Go Yama ended off his 365 project with ‘Never Catch Me’ — a project where he records a short clip of music-making, guitar shredding, and the likes.

Needless to say, Flylo has been such an inspiration to me and to all beatmakers from all styles I’m sure. The entire Low End Theory and Brainfeeder scene has been such an influence in my music as well.

Intriguant – ‘Turn (feat. Charlie Lim)’

Recluse is probably my favourite album so far from Intriguant. In this one, the well-accompanied arrangements, coupled with Charlie Lim’s strong songwriting and docile instrumentation, are always something I go back to.

He’s got so many great artists on Recluse as well. I’ve also been listening to his latest album Kindred, which is much heavier and just goes to show how versatile he is.

Cravism – ‘white lights’

The epitome of lush jazz and lofi beats presently in Singapore, Cravis is one of the beatmakers I listen to when in my chill mode. I love the changes in particular from this track and the smooth and out of sight licks. I also managed to catch his set with Maya Diegel last year at Uploading as well. Excellent chill beats from the two to unwind to.

10 Tracks Fzpz Singapore Community Radio
Photo credit Fzpz

If you’ve paid attention to the Singaporean beat underground over the past few years, the name Fzpz would be familiar — even if you still struggle to pronounce his name (phonetically, it’s pretty straightforward: eff-zee-pee-zee).

The producer, real name Jarren Lim, has dutifully put out releases over the past few years — however, you’d find most activity on his modest Soundcloud page than anywhere else.

2018 was a significant milestone for him, as he teamed up with electronic music label Darker Than Wax for his EP Hidden Personas, which saw him delve deeper into his hip-hop roots. 2019 was a year in which Lim quietly dropped individual tracks sporadically, along with a “name-your-price” release on Bandcamp titled fourfour, a nod to the EP’s pervasive direction towards classic house music.

In 2020, Fzpz has taken the greater leap to release his debut album, titled Death Signs. Inspired by slow-burning R&B jams from nocturnal radio playlists, rather than the boom bap sound he’s made his name with, Death Signs is an accomplished piece of work that displays Fzpz’s versatility in full force.

On this episode of 10 Tracks, we spoke to him about putting the album together, its impressive list of collaborators, and the songs on his playlist that might have influenced his current sonic trajectory.

Listen to the podcast below and check out what he has to say about each track.



Erkin Koray – ‘Yağmur’

Safuan:It was sometime in 2014. We were at my place trying to figure out how we could do NADA musically to accompany the visual art piece we were exhibiting. This was one of the first tracks I pulled out.

I then played Gonjasufi’s ‘Kobwebz’ and explained to Rizman how we could adopt such a sampling technique and he can just sing over it. It was the start of it all, I guess. After that, we started picking out old songs from Southeast Asia and fleshed out 4-5 songs within weeks.


The Swallows – ‘La Obe’

Rizman: It’s the ‘60s in Singapore, at the height of Pop Yeh-Yeh. These guys were playing songs in Baweanese and this particular one hit the charts in Germany. True story!

The NADA world is built on fabricated history and mythologies. We are like pranksters who are constantly pulling the audience’s legs with our ideas and creations. But the fact that The Swallows actually existed and left their mark globally with their own brand of hedonistic sounds, it’s mind-blowing.


Sir Richard Bishop – ‘Solenzara‘

Safuan: Personally, the musical lens of NADA would not have been possible without the mention of either Richard Bishop, Alan Bishop, or the band they used to be in, Sun City Girls.

Eclectic is one of the most overused and abused terms in music and music journalism these days. Whenever I’m going through periods of self-doubt, I will just go back to any of their works. Through their works, they have also taught me how to appropriate the music of others with respect while pushing the envelope to make it your own.

It’s always a delicate balance, especially when it involves the historical culture and heritage which are not ours, i.e. sampling a Thai song or adopting an Ethiopian musical scale.


Alleycats – ‘Suara Kekasih‘

Rizman: This is a perfect example of what used to be a guilty pleasure but then became a staple to listen to after we started NADA. Once, we were in a dressing room and for some weird reason, a transistor radio was blaring one of the Malay channels.

This song came on, we started singing along and discussing how musically rich the track is. It was one of those moments of realization that cemented the idea for us to rely on our own idiosyncratic thoughts or gut feel for whatever we are doing.


Guess What – ‘Al Khawarizmi‘

Safuan: With NADA, it’s always important to have a specific imagined world in mind whenever we are creating or performing. Guess What is one band I look up to when it comes to this methodology.

This song is from an album of the same name where they paid homage to Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, a Persian polymath from the 8th century who produced influential works in mathematics, astronomy, and geography. Through the album, they painted their own magical world just via music, of what it could have been during Al Khawarizmi’s time.

They did the same thing on an earlier album. This time, it was a musical portrait for Yuri Gagarin, the Russian astronaut who was the first human to journey into outer space.


Dengue Fever – ‘Ethanopium‘

Rizman: Mulatu Astatke and Ethiopian jazz, music from a faraway place, yet it sounds like home. There’s just something about it, especially this version by Dengue Fever, an American band that does Cambodian rock covering an Ethiopian piece. The idea of global mish mashing or cultural clashing is always fascinating. Whenever we run out of ideas, the first thing we go to is “what if we combine ________ with ________”.

Safuan: This song was also featured in a Jim Jarmusch film, Broken Flowers. The deep, dark, and absurd worlds he’s created through his films is another source of inspiration for us.


The Stoned Revivals – ‘Stardust Galaticka‘

Rizman: We are fans and friends of the band so we are probably biased when it comes to this. The 90s were our formative years when it comes to experiencing music — going to gigs, buying demo tapes, the full works of exploring music pre-internet.

Though we only met slightly later, with NADA forming a couple of decades after, it won’t do any justice if we didn’t include a Singapore-made track from back then. And this is something special from such a great album.

Safuan: It’s the least celebrated song which deserves more attention (‘Venus with Braces’ too). The guys made do without their signature jangling guitars, experimented with electronics, and kept it minimal.


Sote – ‘Brass Tacks‘

Safuan: The past year or so, especially when the pandemic started, I grew tired of recreating nostalgic sounds or just the idea of nostalgia in general. I wanted to look ahead instead of immersing myself in the past, now more than ever when the future is so uncertain.

I started thinking about how we can create a NADA world that is undeniably futuristic but still strongly echoes a sense of a cultural past. While searching for points of reference, I came across the works of Sote, one of Iran’s foremost experimental composers and sound artists.

The way he blends Persian music with electronics opened new doors for me. It’s definitely a trajectory we want to pursue right now.


Y-DRA – ‘Koplotronika‘

Safuan: We have always kept our ears close to the sounds coming out from the thriving scene in Yogyakarta. This Y-DRA output by Yennu Ariendra is something I can’t stop listening to the past year.

He managed to twist the happy celebratory sounds of the masses that are dangdut koplo into something dark, brutal, and still danceable (somehow).

Gems like this serve as a constant reminder to us on how malleable music or genres can be. It’s really up to our imagination to where we want to bring it to.


Sharifah Aini – ‘Kudaku Lari‘

Rizman: It’s only fair to end this with a crowd favourite. It’s the only song we’ve actually sampled in this list. ‘Kudaku Lari’ is an ecstatic number that can take you places.

For us, we like to have random conversations which involves concocting unbelievable scenarios where the Malay music world collides with the realms of our other music influences.

When we decided to sample this, we fantasized about a version that can be played at the infamous Studio 54 in New York and how it replaced Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ as the anthem for the era.

Safuan: Basically, this is how NADA works behind the scenes. Instinctively we just rely on the cultural references we share and grew up with, use them as shorthands to communicate ideas between ourselves, have a good laugh about it, and then we get to work.


10 Tracks Fzpz Singapore Community Radio
Photo credit Fzpz

If you’ve paid attention to the Singaporean beat underground over the past few years, the name Fzpz would be familiar — even if you still struggle to pronounce his name (phonetically, it’s pretty straightforward: eff-zee-pee-zee).

The producer, real name Jarren Lim, has dutifully put out releases over the past few years — however, you’d find most activity on his modest Soundcloud page than anywhere else.

2018 was a significant milestone for him, as he teamed up with electronic music label Darker Than Wax for his EP Hidden Personas, which saw him delve deeper into his hip-hop roots. 2019 was a year in which Lim quietly dropped individual tracks sporadically, along with a “name-your-price” release on Bandcamp titled fourfour, a nod to the EP’s pervasive direction towards classic house music.

In 2020, Fzpz has taken the greater leap to release his debut album, titled Death Signs. Inspired by slow-burning R&B jams from nocturnal radio playlists, rather than the boom bap sound he’s made his name with, Death Signs is an accomplished piece of work that displays Fzpz’s versatility in full force.

On this episode of 10 Tracks, we spoke to him about putting the album together, its impressive list of collaborators, and the songs on his playlist that might have influenced his current sonic trajectory.

Listen to the podcast below and check out what he has to say about each track.

“We strongly believe that art and music go hand-in-hand,” Slimy Oddity tells us in an email interview. “two of the highest forms of human creativity/expressions. We are always constantly trying to sniff out opportunities to work with bands we love!”

This isn’t their first music-related venture. Last year, they designed the artwork for Shye’s catchy single Impatient. This collaboration with Khruangbin was borne out of mutual affection for each other’s work, despite being half the world away.

“If I had to describe how Khruangbin’s music makes me feel in a nutshell, it would be pure good vibrations, love and light!” Slimy Oddity explains further.

“Especially given the dire times the world is in right now, I think it’s crucial and important to balance out the darkness with hope and light. We try to spread messages of love and wisdom in every piece of artwork, reminding people of our true spiritual nature.”

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May you one day meet the person who looks into your eyes and sees the entire universe looking back. The one who sees you beyond all the matrixes and shellings of society's inprint and conditioning; beyond all the hurt and trauma you've inherited and accumulated. The one who truly sees you for your true nature, the very essence which you are. The one who sees themselves looking back at them. Soul to Soul, Awareness to Awareness, Consciousness to Consciousness ❤️❤️❤️

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Fzpz – ‘Love and Resent’

Fzpz: This was the most personal work I’ve done to date until Death Signs. Heavily influenced by R&B elements from the late 80s and stealing a cheeky bass lick from Mike Porcaro, Toto’s bassist — I tried exploring chord qualities and progression that could steer the song into a brighter mood as it progressed.

10 Tracks Fzpz Singapore Community Radio
Photo credit Fzpz

If you’ve paid attention to the Singaporean beat underground over the past few years, the name Fzpz would be familiar — even if you still struggle to pronounce his name (phonetically, it’s pretty straightforward: eff-zee-pee-zee).

The producer, real name Jarren Lim, has dutifully put out releases over the past few years — however, you’d find most activity on his modest Soundcloud page than anywhere else.

2018 was a significant milestone for him, as he teamed up with electronic music label Darker Than Wax for his EP Hidden Personas, which saw him delve deeper into his hip-hop roots. 2019 was a year in which Lim quietly dropped individual tracks sporadically, along with a “name-your-price” release on Bandcamp titled fourfour, a nod to the EP’s pervasive direction towards classic house music.

In 2020, Fzpz has taken the greater leap to release his debut album, titled Death Signs. Inspired by slow-burning R&B jams from nocturnal radio playlists, rather than the boom bap sound he’s made his name with, Death Signs is an accomplished piece of work that displays Fzpz’s versatility in full force.

On this episode of 10 Tracks, we spoke to him about putting the album together, its impressive list of collaborators, and the songs on his playlist that might have influenced his current sonic trajectory.

Listen to the podcast below and check out what he has to say about each track.

Fzpz – ‘Love and Resent’

Fzpz: This was the most personal work I’ve done to date until Death Signs. Heavily influenced by R&B elements from the late 80s and stealing a cheeky bass lick from Mike Porcaro, Toto’s bassist — I tried exploring chord qualities and progression that could steer the song into a brighter mood as it progressed.