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.
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.
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.
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.
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.