There are many different motivations for Vinyl collectors out there from the purist who believes vinyl LPs reign above all, the librarian who loves archiving and finding the rarest, the casual who collects records every now and then or the musical conductor, aka the DJ who finds joy in presenting their valuable finds. Everything comes from the sheer love of music, and Ichiro (aka Itch) is all of the above in our opinion.
The motivation to do what they do as vinyl collectors give the musical journey a sort of focus, allowing one to learn from the chosen path. It can be broad, it can be zoned in or even both, no matter what there's always something to take away! So let's dig into the mind of collector DJ Itch and see where this mystical motivation comes from and leads to.
Hi Itch! Thank you for doing this interview, could we start off with just a little bit about yourself?
Hi Analog Vault, thank you for asking me for this interview. I’m Itch, a DJ and a vinyl collector, and have been actively collecting vinyls inspired by the passion for “local exotic funk a-go-go” music from the ’60s to early ’80s in Singapore, Nusantara, and around the region. The music genres I’ve been collecting are A-Go-Go, Hala-Hala, Melayu-Indo grooves, Chinese Disco, Pop Yeh Yeh, Asian City-pop, and so on. My DJ set specializes in Asian sound and exotic music introducing forgotten local music gems from the past to modern listeners, and brings back nostalgic vibes for old-timers. My vinyl collection journey started from early 2017 when I visit Red Point Record Warehouse to purchase some second-hand Jazz or relaxing music vinyls. But, the owner recommended me to listen to locally produced funky music, and when I listened to it first, it was quite an addictive exotic funky tune that I haven’t heard before. From that day, my digging journey of local gems has started.
* Treasure Hunting with an Itch - Photo Credit Rizman Putra
Yes! we have always noticed your great collection of rare South-east Asian titles from attending some of your gigs! Could you expand a little more about this particular interest and what is your motivation behind this research initiative?
My interest came from after knowing about a Golden Era of Music scene back in 60s/70s Singapore. For many years, I’ve been listening to many kinds of music, and always enjoyed listening to Jazz or Motown soul music in 70s, but I didn’t know much about the same era music scene in Singapore. This curiosity motivated me to start listening to those music from online or YouTube. The vinyl collection of South-East Asian vinyls started when my DJ friend from Japan, Yohei Hasegawa, introduced me to vintage record shop in Singapore, which also helped me to open my journey of digging “local exotic funk a-go-go” vinyl records!
*Recent finds of SEA titles by Itch
1. Saloma - Entah Di-Mana EP
*Recent finds of SEA titles by Itch
2. Mahani Mohd & Jopie - 1000th Ku Nantikan
With that in mind, how do you go about choosing which ones go into your record bag and which ones remain when digging for SEA titles? Is there a particular mood or sound that you usually look for?
Choosing vinyl is the most difficult part. When you start digging, I just look through the shelves randomly and check any title I’ve been searching for. If I find it, those will straight go into my record bag! If not, I sometimes ask the shop owner for any recommendation or new stock, then search from that stack. But my budget is limited on one visit, so I just select those which can be used in the DJ event. The interesting part of digging is to find the dope groove music from the cheaper second-hand records! I try not to buy the expensive one. When I go digging, I just focus on the music produced in 60s to 80s from around the region which can be used on my DJ mix. Recently, I’ve been listening to soul and funk music from Malaysia in 70s, and there many wonderful covers and original songs.
We are also curious as to how you would organize them in your own personal space. Would it be by the era, style, mood, or region?? It's always nice to have a system in place for easier navigation especially for a DJ like yourself.
Never knew that my record collection can become so big in three years, and its always problematic to organize these records in my space. Currently I organize by its region (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japanese, others), then after that will put those in alphabetical order or its musical style. Otherwise, it’s difficult to remember where I put the vinyls. But, usually I always keep my favorite vinyls in my DJ bag, so I can listen to it anytime!
Apart from that, we also realized your love for Japanese City-pop and Funk, where you also have your very own night called “NightCap”. Could you tell us a bit about what the style means to you and maybe one of your favorite City-pop albums for a much-suggested listening.
Yes, “Nightcap”, my monthly night at White Label Records, is a good platform to introduce some of my favorite Japanese City-pop music mixed with Malay Funk or Nanyang Chinese Disco. Am happy that this monthly event turned one in February! As an Asian rare groove DJ, and as a Japanese, I wanted to share some of my Japanese rare groove music collection (Japanese Funk & Japanese city-pop). Some funk and boogie music produced in Japan have great vibes! Tatsuro Yamashita’s “Sparkle” (included in the LP album ‘For You’) and Miki Matsubara’s “Stay With Me” (EP) have been played every time at “Nightcap”, and always happy to see the audience singing together! My favorite City-pop albums will be Tatsuro Yamashita’s “SPACY”, Ruriko Ohgami’s “Typhoon Lady”, Taeko Ohnuki’s “Sunshower”, and so on…
We are always fascinated with collectors who purposefully dig for old records that are super rare to find, it's almost like a treasure hunt. Could you share a little about your focus on your musical journey recently? Is there a DJ / Collector / or ethos that you are inspired by? Maybe one or two rare records that you’ve been wanting to find as well.
Yes, digging vinyls especially the old ones are like treasure hunt! Recently, I’ve been focused on more Malay and Singapore soul and funk from 70s and 80s; Ahmad Nawab, Uji Rashid, Rahimah Rahim, Sharifah Aini, Anita Sarawak, Carefree, Flybaits, etc). Their music has wonderful soul, groove, and boogie with a bit of exoticness, and they can blend well with Japanese City-pop at my events.
I was first inspired by NADA, a sound duo comprised by Safuan Johari and Rizman Putra, who reinterpret Malaysian traditional music with modern technology. I learned a lot about 60s to 80s Malaysian music from them and inspired me to DJ. Then, I always get inspired by music selection by my favourite DJs, Iramamama, Vinylheavy, Tiko Disko, Yuichi Kishino, Hibiki Tokiwa, Yohei Hasegawa, etc.. Their music help expand my music knowledge about Asian music!
To end it off, We would like to say that you are one of the rare music lovers out there with such a sincere and genuine approach. Each record probably brings its own memories and experience back to you. Could you maybe tell us what do these records mean to you at the end of the day and how does it gel into your everyday life?
From these vintage records, each record has its own music culture history and these music brings back the vibes from those era into our daily life. Besides the music, the design or fashion from those era can be seen from the vinyl record, which is interesting part of the vinyl digging experience! Singapore has developed and changed very fast, but through the vinyl record I still can see how Singapore was before. Each vinyl has its own history and story.
A mix by DJ Itch for our Mix series - Providing an all Vinyl mix, picking flavours from the South-East Asian Region, songs and melodies that are nostalgic to all of us here.
- The End -
Thank you Itch for taking your time off and shining some light onto some of these musical gems. By doing this interview it has inspired us to always keep the musical search going! So much to learn from the past and so much to look forward to at the same time. Hopefully through reading this, it will inspire you to go on your own musical search and continue to keep your curious nature alive. Keep the fire burning :)
You can find out more about DJ Itch aka Ichiro via the mediums below! Please also check out his weekly mix that he has been doing during the Circuit Break era called "Stay Home Singapura". We Highly recommend to put them on for some time travels and spot on vibes.