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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!

Selects' Series - Ice Cream Sundays

Selects' Series - Ice Cream Sundays

We've got something here at the vault for everyone, but sometimes it's hard to find something that truly resonates with you amongst everything else on display! In this series, we ask some of our friends from our local music community to pick out titles from our catalogue that speak to them. 

Ice Cream Sundays is a pop up party collective dedicated to serving up outdoor parties centred around community, music, fun in the sun and (of course), ice cream. Featured here are Meltem and Daniel from the crew, each picking out three titles from our current catalogue that spell out their vibe. Their selects cover a range of tasteful LPs, from silky, downtempo pop and cloudy jazz to energetic afrobeat and flashes of hip hop. Overall, an uplifting and tasteful bunch of records that reflects the bubbling energy of their parties and overall outlook on life. Check it! 


Meltem's picks:

Khruangbin & Leon Bridges - Texas Sun



"Psych-funk meets soul. The perfect record for lazy afternoons at home, beer in hand with the breeze gently rustling the curtains. Ahh I feel relaxed orredi." - Meltem




Solange - When I Get Home



"19 tracks of energising bliss. A mix of interludes, intermissions, and impromptu narratives - ya gotta listen to this one from start to finish." - Meltem




Mildlife - Phase



"This record sounds like stepping off a cloud into a hazy daydream." - Meltem




Daniel's picks:

Antibalas - Where the Gods are in Peace



"Classic Afrobeat with a fresh twist. Makes you miss the energy of live gigs even more than we already do." - Daniel




30/70 - Elevate



"Shades of Hiatus Kaiyote in 30/70’s music. Infectious, funky, jazzy numbers with soulful vocals that provide the perfect accompaniment to a sunny weekend afternoon." - Daniel




Kassa Overall - I Think I’m Good



"Jazz/hip-hop fusion with plenty of experimentation. Definitely tests the ears at times but a fascinating record!" - Daniel



Follow Ice Cream Sundays:
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More on Ice Cream Sundays: https://www.lifeinarpeggio.com/blog/ice-cream-sundays-day-parties-singapore

The Analog Vault - Top 10 picks of 2019

The Analog Vault - Top 10 picks of 2019
Here are some of our top picks of 2019! It was very difficult to narrow it down to just 10 but we managed to pick some based on what was popular amongst you guys who have supported the vault over this year. We added more tunes to our Spotify playlist so that some of these titles don't get missed out but here are our 10 picks, in no particular order! 
*A big shout out to all who came through and spent the year with us listening and discovering music together
1. VA - Pacific Breeze (Japanese City Pop, AOR, Boogie 1976-1986)

One of those compilations that you won’t want to skip a single song. A very good introductory to the world of Japanese City Pop and one of our best sellers here at the Vault. With its eye-striking cover painting done by Tokyo based artist Hiroshi Nagai, we’ve seen many head turners and questions asked purely based on its illustration. Many key City Pop players on here, from Taeko Ohnuki and Minako Yoshida, as well as cult favorites Hitomi Tohyama and Hiroshi Sato. The music ranges from the playful emotions of City pop, its Machine like – Computer funk groove, right down to that distinct nostalgia which we all love from time to time. If City Pop is your thing, this compilation won’t disappoint!

2. Meitei - Kwaidan

Released on vinyl by local imprint Evening Chants, Meitei’s Kwaidan is a weird and wonderful journey into the spooky world of Kwaidan – a style of Japanese ghost stories. Using intricate sound collage as form, the lost Japanese mood is presented in a contemporary spin on this exceptional LP.  

3. Fauxe - Ikhlas

Our first release as a label! This wonderful beats album by local producer Fauxe was initially released on cassette in 2018, and we absolutely had to release it on vinyl. Fauxes exploration of the KL music scene is a story expressed through samples of traditional Malaysia music with Hip Hop as its vehicle. Inspired by an eight-month stay in Malaysia, this LP is a true modern ode to the sonic legacy of the country. Likewise, we are inspired by the man's love for music of all sorts and his Ikhlas (sincere) creativity.

4. Various Artist - Hydeout Productions - First Collection

A compilation album, the first of 2 released by Nujabes Hydeout Productions Label. Previously on CD, these beautiful songs have made their way onto wax for the first time. Featuring some major players such as Funky DL, Apani B-Fly Emcee and Shing02 paired with the iconic beats of the late Nujabes. Not much has to be said but this compilation helps to show how far his music has reached out, breaking boundaries and forming a unique vibe truly known to Nujabes. With his classic style of sampling and his known swing, the music here presents a colorful, wavering and watery flow that brings moods of both melancholy and beauty. 

5. Bombay S Jayashri - Shravanam

Time Capsule has knocked it out of the park with their fourth release, presenting the transcendental work of intimately spiritual Indian classical music by celebrated vocalist and composer Bombay S Jayashri. The drone of the tambura, intricate percussion and meditative chanting make up its deep musical landscape, truly engulfing any room this is played in; deservedly due to the incredible production. An incredible release by Time Capsule that will touch anyone with a spiritual charge.

6. Keith Jarrett - The Melody At Night

This LP is on rotation at the store most of the time as it fits the vibe of the store perfectly! If you have visited our store in the last 3 months, you probably would have heard it. Melancholic and beautiful from start to end with the solo piano work of Keith Jarrett, this LP is perfect for an after-work listen or just before you head to bed! First time on Vinyl from the good people of ECM Label, we highly recommend it for all music lovers and vinyl collectors :)  Perfect album to sum up the end of 2019.

7. Mort Garson - Mother Earth's Plantasia

First official reissue of this plantastic masterpiece made up of beautifully synthesized arrangements for flora and fauna. Surely one of the most popular reissues of 2019 with its iconic artwork along with some lovely melodies packed in here. It comes with a very creative seed paper download card - plant it and watch it sprout :) “Warm earth music for plants and the people that love them” – all melodies were created on the Moog, orchestrated by Mort Garson leading the instrument to speak a charming and subtle language. If you haven’t listened to this, we ought you to! Truly putting the synth in photosynthesis is the right tag line!

8. Sampa The Great - The Return

Melbourne artist Sampa The Great here with her debut album The Return. Truly unique rhythmic flow throughout with top productions and water like rhymes. Some key collaborations here as well such as Silent Jay, Jon Wayne and London Jazz collective Steam Down, giving it that extra flavor. Listening to it in its entirety is key here, with each tune touching different styles yet moving seamlessly as it progresses. Surely a must-listen for all hip hop heads and RNB lovers looking for that fresh sound. 

9. Resavoir - Resavoir

Chicago collective Resavoir with their first full-length album providing a very refreshing take on Modern / Contemporary Jazz. It features a suite of elegantly orchestrated jazz instrumentals filled with samples and interesting electronic textures. Loads of rhythmic styles on this one as well with that breakbeat, hip hop, house, and soul-jazz type rhythm. If you’re looking for something fresh sounding, Resavoir is a perfect LP to sum up that cross between Modern Jazz, Electronic and Ambient music.

10. The Comet Is Coming - Trust In The Lifeforce of The Deep Mystery

Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery is the second studio album by the English group, The Comet Is Coming. With Shabakka Hutchings leading the group with his high paced out style of playing the saxophone / Bass clarinet paired with lush electronic elements and a tightly pocketed drum groove – All the right elements for an interesting listen, definitely one of the freshest sounds in 2019, contributing to the ever-growing sound of the UK Jazz scene.

Catch you guys in 2020, Peace! 

Outin 016 - Fauxe & Halal Sol

Outin 016 - Fauxe & Halal Sol

Outin 016 - Fauxe 

In-store live performance by Fauxe, playing through some of his original tracks, keeping the emotions high, the melodies lush and the drums heavy. If you've missed out the performance, here is your chance to check it! Keep it locked in for the next hour!

Outin 016 - Halal Sol

In Store live performance with Halal Sol for our Outin Series. Halal Sol keeping the transitions smooth and making your feet move. Have a listen!

AV Mix Series 

Here is AV 009 from Producer / Artist - Fauxe, presenting an all Vinyl mix for your listening pleasure. With multiple releases under his belt, Fauxe has continued to pursue the idea of Freeform with his music, which is also evident with this mix he cooked up for us! Sit down, plug your ear phones and have a listen :)

Next up for our AV008 mix series we have local producer / artist Halal Sol, part of the Darker Than Wax community, pushing the sound of Deep House and Dance Music here in Singapore. A smooth mix cooked up by the man himself, keeping you locked in for the next 45 mins, check it!