The 16th entry to our mix series is brought to you by Isa Ong, the man behind the stunning Claude Glass debut on Syndicate late last year - Isekai. His contributions to local music have reached far and wide via his long running, deep involvement in bands like Amateur Takes Control, sub:shaman and Pleasantry. In this mixtape, Claude Glass takes us through an intense 45 minutes of pure rage rave, throwing conventions out the window and screaming straight into your soul. You aren't doing this right if you're not squirming inside. Scroll down for the interview.
Thanks for doing this for us! Big honour. You said this was your first mixtape - how'd you go about approaching this?
Thanks for having me! I had so much fun putting this together, especially since it was my first ever mixtape. It was a pretty daunting task too (even though it’s only 45 minutes).
I suppose I approached it to similar to how I’d usually go about planning a live set for one of my bands – it’s always been a mixture of sustaining the audience’s attention, creating a narrative through the tracklist, and having enough peaks and troughs for listeners to cling on to. Since I’m not a DJ, this was pretty much the only exercise I could tap into as far as creating a mixtape.
For this one in particular, all I knew was that I wanted it to sound bold, powerful and had some very in-your-face moments. I’ve come to realize that I’ve always gravitated towards percussion-heavy tracks and rhythmic/groove-oriented ones – even across indie pop, experimental rock and pop. I wanted to present a set of tracks that I felt married that rhythmic-centric approach with a manic, crazed and almost absurd edge to it.
Was there much of a difference for you between piecing together a mixtape and say, choosing material for your 10 Tracks feature on Singapore Community Radio?
It was really different for me, actually. It definitely felt easier doing up a track-by-track playlist like the one I did for SGCR, as I didn’t have to worry as much about the literal transitions between songs.
This is of course coming from a non-DJ haha, so I’m going to sound noob, but I found myself thinking a lot more about the elements that comprised the intro and outro of songs, as it really allowed me to create some contrast between songs, as far as transitions go. I think that contrast helps create drama and/or tension (hopefully). Similar to songwriting and arranging, to me, it’s always about how sections work relative to each other, and that I suppose, creates flow and prevents monotony.
Overall this feels like an even deeper dive into the world of Isekai - there's that feeling of being helplessly thrust into situations beyond your control that sticks out to us. It tells a pretty intense story - could you speak a little about the narrative you chose to go with here?
Thanks for giving the EP a listen! Really appreciate that! You’re absolutely right about how its connection to Isekai - I had a similar feeling putting this together too, although I would’ve loved throwing in some older schmaltzy jazz vocal tracks, but they were just too difficult for me to include in the mix.
I’d say the mix’s (and Isekai’s) narrative relates quite closely to what I had mentioned before about contrast and tension. I just wanted to create something that felt manic and unpredictable yet beautiful all at the same time. I think it’s about capturing that feeling of being taken on a ride, with all its twists and turns, and how there’s a certain joy in embracing that ride for all that it is.
The ebb and flow of the whole mix is erratic, but also relentlessly strong and steady at the same time. How'd you go about making your selections and how did you decide where they'd live in the mix?
Any closing words?
It was really fun putting it together! I’d definitely love to learn some other ways of doing this rather than that caveman Ableton Live method I showed you haha.
• (0:00 - 2:44) Machine Girl - This Is Your Face on Dogs
• (2:44 - 4:36) Show Me the Body, Moor Mother - Everything Hate (here)
• (4:36 - 7:48) Zach Hill - The Primitives Talk
• (7:48 - 10:23) Jigga - Nitya
• (10:23 - 14:12) 33EMYBW - Adam Bank
• (14:12 - 18:06) Ecko Bazz - Nightmare song
• (18:06 - 20:30) Arca - Rip the Slit
• (20:30 - 22:37) Giant Swan - 55 Year Old Daughter
• (22:37 - 23:35) Ian Chang - Swarm
• (23:35 - 25:58) Lightning Bolt - The Metal East
• (25:58 - 28:18) Dos Monos - Mammoth vs. Dos Monos
• (28:18 - 31:42) Jockstrap - Robert
• (31:42 - 34:59) Loraine James, Le3 bLACK - London Ting // Dark As Fuck
• (34:59 - 37:17) Amnesia Scanner - AS Chaos (feat. Pan Daijing)
• (37:17 - 39:54) Deli Girls, Leech - loaded gun
• (39:54 - 41:48) Hudson Mohawke - Spruce Illest
Listen to Isekai: