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AV Mix Series - Zai

AV Mix Series - Zai
Coming in real hot on our 20th entry to the series is up and comer Zai - just coming out of his student days and ready to groove on as soon as the gates drop. He's recorded a vinyl-only mix, packed tight with classic cuts strung together with turntablism flair! Press play for a solid hour of optimistic, personal music from this young deejay, and scroll down for the interview.



Thanks so much for doing this mix for us! How’ve you been these days?

I'm doing good! I'm currently doing my final term at university and I'll be graduating in August, I can't wait :D

 

So how did you wind up getting interested in music, records and DJ-ing?

I’m not sure how to answer the music part! I guess in general, I just like listening to music and exploring new genres, I don’t really know why. There’s also different reasons for each kind of music I’m into. Now I’m mostly into funk, disco, soul, R&B, hip hop, house; I guess DJ mixes are the main reason why I started listening to those genres. On the other hand I find myself in a vintage Chinese pop mood sometimes, influenced by the kind of music my parents like to listen to, music I hear in old folks’ homes… It’s really all over the place and it’s hard to summarise how I got interested in music.

I started DJing in 2016; I saved up my NS allowance and bought a DJ controller that I learnt to DJ on. In university I joined the DJ club and practised on the shared turntable set up with digital vinyl / DVS. I did gigs on campus, at sports venues, some bars/restaurants, some corporate events.

I bought my first record in 2017, Daft Punk's Homework (a repress that I found in a Popular store). It was an impulse buy, I didn't have turntables at the time but I just thought it would be dope to have and hopefully listen to on a turntable someday. Also I happened to be wearing a T-shirt that day with the Daft Punk logo (in the Homework style)! You can hear this record played at the end of my mix (Around The World - the one song from Homework everyone knows!)

Collecting records only became a thing for me after I met an expat who was trying to sell his records before he returned to New Zealand. I bought a few records from him; when he couldn't sell the rest of his records in time, he gave me the rest for free (shoutout to Chris, I didn't get your last name, but I am eternally grateful!). I started to practice with those records and getting the hang of DJing with vinyl. This drew me into a kind of vicious cycle haha! DJing on vinyl made me want to buy more records, made me want to do more vinyl mixes, made me want to buy even more records… You always want to play a new record! (These days I’m trying to exercise more self-restraint and not go broke…)

 

You’re pretty active on Instagram, with great snippets of your cuts, juggles and mini routines. What draws you to this form of DJ-ing?

Thank you for the kind words! I must admit that I still have tons of room for improvement and I’m constantly trying to get better or to learn new techniques. I see each post on my Instagram as a sort of diary entry for my progress as a DJ.

A lot of DJs have influenced my style of DJing, but probably none as much as the goat DJ Koco. I was thoroughly mind-blown by his Boiler Room set. I’d never witnessed so much sorcery in a single full-length, live DJ set - all 45s, lightning fast mixing, crazy tricks, so many rare grooves. Mixes like Koco’s Boiler Room allow me to discover tons of new music, which I love, and the icing on the cake for me is when DJs flex their skills on the decks. It’s something that streaming can’t deliver, I guess – coherent mixes that balance top selection and skills, and DJs have this balance (Koco, Skratch Bastid, Fonki Cheff, just to name a few) are the DJs I am most inspired by.

 


What struck us about you is your penchant for that classic funk/soul/disco/hip hop avenue that emerged from the 70s onwards. Cant think of many young cats in Singapore as immersed and
dedicated as you at your craft right now, could you tell us what draws you to these grooves?

I haven’t been into these genres for very long; I mostly started listening after I listened to DJ Koco’s Boiler Room. I guess I got hooked by the funk! Music like this makes me want to dance the most. I also find the historical contexts of these genres fascinating, how these genres were so influential on later types of popular music that emerged.

 


What do you look for when you go out buying records?

I’m mainly looking to expand my library of tunes. I don’t usually look for the nicest sleeve or the “Near Mints” – just records that are clean and play well and are significant in my journey of music discovery.

I’ve recently begun to collect 7” vinyl. A big reason is because of the inspiration I get from all the wicked 45 slingers out there, but they’re also a lot more practical because they’re way more portable than LPs. I also use a set of low-torque turntables at home that don’t allow me to scratch on 12” records well (still working on it) but the smaller, lighter 45s are perfectly fine.

I also want to support local by buying local releases – in particular, releases that I can see myself spinning in a DJ set, releases from producers/artists/labels I personally know, or records that are otherwise important in our local music history. Fauxe’s Ikhlas, Arrested Development’s Don’t Fight Your Demons (released by Singaporean label Mosta Records), Halal Sol’s latest EP Dijamin, are some examples of such releases.


Did you have a context in mind when recording this mix? (Also, was it done on vinyl? if so, tell us why you decided to go that way!)

It’s a vinyl-only mix; I wanted to challenge myself and do a vinyl-only mis that encompassed several genres that I am currently into. Each record on the mix has its own story behind how I came to discover it and add it to my crates. To highlight some of the more important records played:

  • The first track is Arrested Development’s The Same People SKYY HIGH 305, Kuf Knotz & Christine Elise. This is from Arrested Development’s Don’t Fight Your Demons – released by local label Mosta Records. To have a local label on a the latest release from a Grammy-winning hip-hop group is massive. The record is loaded with politically-conscious, thought provoking tracks. Also it’s coloured (yellow and brown) and it just looks so good.
  • Around 46 minutes in: Fauxe’s Hati, from his album Ikhlas. The first record I bought from TAV. What an eclectic blend of sounds from the Malaysian music scene. I was lucky enough to be able to meet Fauxe at a show before the pandemic and get the record autographed! So that makes this record super special.

  • Around 56 minutes in: Aquanote’s True Love (Mig’s Petalpusher Love Dub) & Erykah Badu’s Next Lifetime (Deluxe Pusher Vocal Mix)

These are from Chris’s collection. I didn’t choose to buy these initially but they were part of the remainder that he left me as a gift before he left for NZ (thank you Chris!) These record have been used a lot during my early practice sessions.

  • The last track: Daft Punk – Around The World

From a repress of Daft Punk’s Homework – the very first record I ever bought, impulsively! For a year or so I had no access to a turntable so I just looked at it in admiration. In uni I spent a good amount of time practicing with it, when it was basically my entire record collection.

I learnt a lot while recording this mix! It allowed me to get more familiar with my records and their mixing points, and with the process of planning a mix that would showcase a diversity of genres. It’s not a perfect mix and it’s got several mistakes / missed opportunities but I feel it’s a good record of my journey thus far. Hopefully the next mix will outdo this one.


Thanks for being a part of our mix series! Any parting words?

Thank you very much for having me on the mix series! I’m really humbled to be featured alongside many other notable local DJs!

Label of the month - Tidal Waves Music

Label of the month - Tidal Waves Music

Tidal Waves Music is a Belgium based record label that focuses on releasing gems that might have been under the radar within the vinyl community with no limitations of style and genre. Their first reissue was Nina Simone's A Rare Evening -  an intimate recording of Nina's live performance in Europe, which pretty much sets the tone for the label, unique and daring in its approach. Thanks to labels like Tidal Waves, gems are being excavated and with their small limited run and top notch quality control, it helps to give the music a chance for discovery once again.

Our first encounter with the label was the reissue of The Jimmy Castor Bunch - It's Just Begun, an exclusive release for RSD 2018, a delightful reissue to bring back to light - funky and contagious in its groove. With that said, you would have probably seen Tidal Waves swimming in our Funk / Soul / Soul Jazz section - they sure know how to choose what's groovy and bring it out for a surf. This is our attempt  at showcasing some of the LPs you might have missed while digging at the Vault!

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1. The Jimmy Castor Bunch - It's Just Begun

1970's  - It's Just Begun - a DJ favourite and sampled by some key players in the scene. Grandmaster Flash, Jungle brothers, Ice-T, De La Soul, Mos Def and many many more! A distinctive mix of Funk, Disco, Breaks, Pop Hooks, Social Commentary and a Gonzo Comedy feel. The groove on this LP is on another level, with the bass player (Doug Gibson) keeping it tight throughout. An absolute must to check out if you're interested in the roots of 70's funk.




2. The Real ShooBeeDoo - Reminiscing



Reggie Fields aka The Real ShooBeeDoo is well known in the Detroit jazz scene, having played and worked with the likes of Pharoah Sanders and Sun Ra, while also known as a close associate of the Afro-centric TRIBE label and artist collective.

You might be familiar with titles such as Phil Ranelin’s “The Time Is Now!” and Ranelin & Harrison’s masterpiece “A Message From The Tribe”; well, Reggie has left his marks on these albums! We’re huge fans of these albums here at the vault, and we cannot recommend these enough – especially if you’re on that soul jazz / spiritual tip. “Reminiscing” first came into fruition on Wendell Harrison’s imprint WENHA in 1981 and is now lovingly reissued by Tidal Waves Music on deluxe 180g vinyl, limited to 500 copies.

The lineup on this record includes Billy McCoy (Pharoah Sanders) on piano, Tani Tabbal (Roscoe Mitchell, Sun Ra) on percussion, Allan Barnes (Nina Simone, Bootsy Collins, Gill Scott Heron) on saxophone, and Wendell Harrison (Tribe) himself on tenor saxophone and vocals.




3. The Nineteenth Whole - Smiln'



An organ funk groove classic at its best!

Recorded in 1972 by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder at the Indianapolis Club of their namesake, it’s a sparkly collage of Funk, Soul, Rock and Jazz fusion packed with all the right ingredients for a get down.

Fronted by Billy Wooten’s vibes, Cornell Dupree’s guitar and Buddy Caldwell’s percussion, the five lengthy soul-jazz pieces contain some of the best licks you’ll hear. Constant shifts in grooves drive the emotional ride along, keeping you hooked where it matters.

The interconnectedness of these scenes become apparent when you look up jazz legend Grant Green’s involvement with the group – members of The Nineteenth Whole were recruited by the guitarist as his rhythm section for live dates in Indianapolis. Originally released in 1972 on Eastbound Records, this is a special piece of Indy funk history lovingly brought to circulation again thanks to Tidal Waves Music. Released on 180g deluxe vinyl, limited to 500 copies.




4. Pharoah Sanders - Moon Child | Timeless Records | 1990 

First official reissue of this rare 1989 French session with the legendary Pharoah Sanders. On this album, Sanders provides a more traditional tone to the album mixed with mystical New Age vocals and astrological references. It might still be considered as an acquired taste when it comes to the sound of "Jazz" but no one has done it the way Pharoah has done it - extremely unique and experimental which makes it all the more a special listening experience to explore. 

It features an all-star line-up consisting of Stafford James (Sun Ra) on bass, William Henderson (Roy Ayers) on piano and Eddie Moore (Sonny Rollins) on drums. The overall sound is reminiscent of the days of "The Creator Has a Master Plan", cosmic in nature and spiritual in its own way. Pharoah Sanders is one of the few greats that we are lucky to have around in the music realm, providing an endless stream of soul and promoting the spirit of exploration - this album is a perfect example of his uniqueness and an invitation to check out his huge discography.




5. Tony Newton - Mysticism & Romance 



Drawing upon his rich past of immersion in the Detroit blues circuit, as well as his vision for the future, the cosmic bass player had truly broken ground on this highly intriguing album. This is the first ever vinyl reissue of Tony Newton’s solo debut from 1978.

Tony Newton is no stranger to the circuit, though. He started playing bass at a very young age with legends like John Lee Hooker and T-Bone Walker. He eventually became the touring bassist with Smokey Robinson and the Miracles on the famed 1965 European ‘Motown Review’ tour, and within two years, became the Miracles’ musical director.

P-funk-esque bass grooves and fusion jazz-rock lay the foundation for spacious synths and unusual instruments to dance around, driving forward a message of universal participation in the great symphony of life; of creativity and harmony, an invitation to tune in and discover our divine awareness. Once again, Tidal Waves has excavated an absolute gem of a record from 70’s Detroit.

 

Browse our Tidal Waves Music catalogue here.

Selects' Series - See You At One

Selects' Series - See You At One

You have probably seen their stickers lying around the store and have been wondering who See You At One (Aka SYAO) is - They are a local collective with strong ties with the music and skate culture, focusing their energy on the spirit of creation, whether be it through producing clothes, uploading videos or feeding the experiential internet source with fresh ideas. During these times, SYAO has also been supporting the local community by showcasing different creatives on their social media platforms and also releasing a monthly mix called Frequency, where they get artists, producers, and DJs to curate a musical story every month! 

Here are some of the mixes we've been diggin' 

 

In this edition of Select's, we decided to hit up the elusive people from See You At One to pick out 6 titles from our Online Catalog that is sure to nourish your curious palette. The picks highlight some of the forgotten gems at the vault ranging from Doom, Spiritual Jazz, New-wave Funk, and Leftfield Electronica, truly representing their musical mood as a collective. All picks here are hypnotic in some way and we suggest taking the time to zone into each album at your own pace :) Check it out!

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Grupo Controle Digital - A festa e nossa


“Don’t you want music you could just boogie to? This is it. Never found the lyrics to the songs but they sound kinda sinister despite the feel-good tunes… Also, the guys in the band were called Billy Jaguar and Gel Valiery. After Valiery died, Jaguar became a priest, making gospel music.”

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Foodman - Moriyama

“You’ll need earphones/headphones for this because if your ears like tickling, this is the trippy record for you. Each sound has so much clarity, panning in and out of your left and right speakers. Every song is a sonic version of an M.C. Escher illusion…you just don’t know where a track is headed until it springs on you! ”

Truly Hypnotic!!

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Patrick Cowley - Mechanical Fantasy Box

“A lot of songs on the album were previously unreleased. It’s similar to the Foodman album in that it tickles your ears but has a ‘reflective’ quality to it thanks to the synths. The journal that came with the release is also worth a read, which Cowley describes as “graphic accounts of one man’s sex life”.

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Gas - Zauberberg

“The album sounds as if Voigt recorded a party his neighbors were having, and he’s doing that from his bedroom because he wasn’t invited. The reverb makes it so hypnotic that the recording sounds better than the actual party. If Wagner and Schoenberg went to the clubs in late 90s Germany, this is probably what they would come up with—and indeed some of the music samples their work.”

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Scattered Purgatory — Lost Ethnography of the Miscanthus Ocean

“It’s brooding, progressive, intoxicating drone/noise territory—and the beautiful album cover pretty much illustrates the content quite accurately. It’s like a soundtrack to a death march heading towards the peak of a mountain... appropriate given the situation of the world.”

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Alice Coltrane — Transcendence

“The way she plays the harp on this record is out of this world! Or, ahem, transcendent (you can hear her plucking the shit out of the strings at some point). It’s amazing harmonic stuff and although the arrangements aren’t as grand as it was in her previous albums it’s a solid record. When you’re in need of spiritual rejuvenation, have a listen.”

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*Also please check out their latest thread offerings via their webpage! They are doing free local deliveries so don't miss out on some crisp clothing

Follow See You At One: 

Top 5 Essential Records at the Vault - Latin America | January 2020

Top 5 Essential Records at the Vault - Latin America | January 2020

Artist: Arthur Verocai

Album: Self-Titled | 1972

This reissue: Mr. Bongo | 2016

Filed under as Bossanova, Samba, Jazz, Funk, Breaks and Psychedelic Rock, listeners here can expect a 29 minute long LP of unique song arrangements and interesting sonic timbres. Madlib described it as an album he could listen to every day for the rest of his life and we won’t disagree with that. Funky, Jazzy and free yet intimate and soulful, a journey through different emotions. An essential record for all of you starting their journey on Brazilian music.

Available here

Artist: Omara Portuondo

Album: Self Titled | 2000

This reissue: World Circuit | 2019

Portuondo, who is one of Cuba’s most acclaimed artist released her self-titled album in 2000. A true classic in songwriting which features many traditional musical styles, from son to guajira to bolero. On top of that, Portuondo’s voice is close to near perfection, evoking a sense of nostalgia, which instantly teleports the listener to her homeland. Nicknamed “The Fiancee of Feelings ”, this is one of our top recommendations at the vault – true vibes here! 

Available here

Artist: Caetano Veloso

Album: Transa | 1972

This reissue: Elemental Music | 2018

Transa is the fourth album by Brazilian artist Caetano Veloso, originally released in 1972 by Polygram. Recorded during his exile in London - the LP sounds like 70s electric rock fused with that Brazilian feel - strong percussive elements, berimbau sounds and his own Viola playing. Some songs were sung in English and some in Portuguese, all presenting a melancholic vibe with his strong yearning voice paired with beautiful chord changes and dynamic song structures. Sounds ahead of its time! Highly recommend this album.

Available here



Artist: Carioca & Devas

Album: Misterios De Amazonia | 1980

This reissue: Altercats | 2019

This 1980s Brazilian psych-folk LP reissued by Altercat records is a true gem. Drawing inspiration from the folklore of the Amazon and Brazil’s northeastern regions, the songs are an introspective journey into the living Amazon expressed through a spiritual touch of strong rhythmic percussions and melodies. 

Available here

Artist: Werther

Album: Self-titled | 1970

This reissue: Altercats | 2019

Reissue of 1970’s best-kept Bossa Nova Secret, Werther courtesy of Altercat Records once again. 12 tracks that evoke such an intimate and personal feel supported by subtle musical arrangements. Classic at times - the subtle strums of the guitar and the blowing of the flute paired with raw and honest vocals, makes this one of our top LPs currently at the vault. Can’t get any more real than this! Definitely, a must-listen, underrated piece.

Available here

Outin 017 - Itch & Vinylheavy | Selector Special

Outin 017 - Itch & Vinylheavy | Selector Special

It was a wax-only affair at the Vault' for our 17th edition of OutIn with guest selectors Itch and Vinylheavy 

A truly excellent pairing! Both are champions of sounds from our region, each with a deep knowledge of the music and a collection to match. 

Check out their episode of Diggin' here:



AV Mix Series

The 10th Edition for our mix series is brought to you by Ichiro aka Itch - Providing an all Vinyl mix, picking flavours from the South-East Asian Region, songs and melodies that are nostalgic to all of us here. Keep it locked in for the next hour as Itch makes you bounce, smile and dance, check it out!