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.
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.
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.
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.