Monday, April 21, 2014

Back to the future: Celebrating Record Store Day in Malaysia

Back to the future: Celebrating Record Store Day in Malaysia

Need a vinyl-hunting adventure? Just swing over to these independent record stores in the Klang Valley.

New independent record stores opening up in Klang Valley suburbs. A new breed of vinyl-loving fans getting hooked on record-hunting. Young and old music fans crate-digging side-by-side at these stores.

To round if off, there’s the Record Store Day (RSD) 2014 celebrations, which takes place today, thrown into the mix.

It’s not a dream. Don’t rub your eyes. It’s true. The Malaysian masses are waking up to vinyl. Here’s a phenomenon that mirrors the current renaissance of vinyl abroad. Even closer to home, there has been a buzz of new record stores in Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok catering to this demand for vinyl.

In Malaysia, it looks like this niche market is finally starting to go places with the arrival of independent record stores, like Hard Graft Records, Teenage Head Records, Tandang Store and the recent Ruby Music Centre/Cool Record Shop collaboration. More new players are reportedly on the way with brick and mortar stores. The vinyl-hunting map now stretches from Subang Jaya to Petaling Jaya in Selangor and all the way to Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur.
There is also an imminent upgrade for one of the more established crate-digging haunts in the country.

“The noise you hear about vinyl is real, and the excitement for the format is contagious,” said Joe Rozario, 65, the owner of the Joe’s MAC (Music, Art & Collectible) store in Amcorp Mall in PJ. 

“I don’t think you have to convince people about the romance of a physical product. People are in deep love with this format. This is a long-lasting relationship,” he added.
Joe’s MAC, which started as a flea market stall at Amcorp Mall back in 2003, has emerged as a recognised vinyl destination in Malaysia. A recent mention in British experimental music magazine Wire in March has upped its global profile as a record store boasting rare Asian LPs.

It is not an exaggeration that Joe’s MAC, which is home to more than 11,000 pre-loved/new records, has become a first-stop for many newbie collectors as well as a meeting point for veteran vinyl enthusiasts. He expects a healthy record-hunting crowd today at his store to celebrate international Record Store Day 2014. There will be bargains galore (the 2-for-1 deals) through the weekend but Rozario reckons: “every day is a good day to buy records.”
Rozario says it’s great to have younger music fans on board, too. He put the whole trend into perspective: “We still have our regulars from the old days, but the walk-ins have increased, too. Now you find younger fans at Joe’s MAC. They come in with their smartphones at the ready, as they check the LP pricings on (marketplace guide) Discogs.

"Some just come to Instagram the vinyl. Hey, no problem! As long as people are talking and sharing the news about Joe’s MAC.”
Nick Mun, owner of Hard Graft Records, an independent vinyl store in Petaling Jaya in Selangor.
For the record: ‘When the idea of opening an independent record store came about, I wanted it to only sell vinyl. Proper racks. Proper browsing. Something for music fans,’ says Nick Mun, owner of Hard Graft Records in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

This business, or “labour of love” as Rozario claims, is about to get a bigger home soon.
“In August, we’re moving to a bigger shoplot right across from where we are located right now. The floor space is huge (4,000 sq ft/371.6sq m) and that means more vinyl and more elbow room,” said Rozario, who revealed that classic rock, pop and Chinese LPs have been regular sellers at his store.

Rozario added, his store, which mostly sells vintage LPs, shifts an estimated 12,000 pieces of vinyl a year. Rozario’s vinyl selling philosophy is simple – just give the masses a comfortable space to browse for LPs and always be on hand to talk to them.

“A bit of knowledge-sharing goes a long way. I talk to vinyl collectors about rock music from my era and in return, I also get to learn about newer bands.”

Rozario has also seen local music tastes getting more sophisticated and plans to ramp up the diversity at his new and improved store.
“No doubt, there is constant demand for classic artistes (Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix). But we’re getting more requests. Some customers ask if we carry Serge Gainsbourg LPs, others come looking for classic soul LPs. Three months ago, we also received a shipment of 2,000 classical records. That supply has nearly finished.
“We’ve also sold a few Sonic Youth deluxe box set reissues ... well, you wouldn’t think Joe’s

MAC is the kind of store to attract alternative music fans, would you? But we do!”
The jovial gentleman, while adjusting his trademark beret, definitely is looking forward to one of his biggest years in the vinyl selling business when his shop moves.

More than a decade ago, Rozario was a one-man-show business. Today, he hires runners in the United States, Australia, Britain, Singapore and Germany to supply LPs. There is also a Joe’s MAC branch in Central Market in Kuala Lumpur. If Rozario is an established name in the
homegrown vinyl community, then look out for the new players, too.
Hard Graft Records, which started from home two years ago in Kuala Lumpur, relied heavily on word-of-mouth to gain a following.
The crew - (from left) Wan Hazril, Alak Idle and Sanan Anuar - behind Tandang Store in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. Apart from DIY releases, punk LPs and underground titles, the record store has also begun to embrace reggae, dub and indie LPs.
The crew — (from left) Wan Hazril, Alak Idle and Sanan Anuar — behind Tandang Store in Kuala Lumpur. Apart from DIY releases, punk LPs and underground titles, the record store has also begun to embrace dub reggae and indie LPs.

“The main focus for Hard Graft is to bring in new LP releases that are not readily available here. I used to hand deliver the records to customers by meeting them in MidValley Megamall or the Bangsar area. It was a cash-on-delivery thing,” said Nick Mun, the owner of Hard Graft Records, who finally realised his dream of running an independent store.

Hard Graft Records opened its doors in Petaling Jaya last December. Tucked on the first floor of an office building in the PJ New Town area (near Tong Woh Medical Hall), the store welcomes customers with rows of new releases on the racks and also classic rock reissues on the walls.

Now, with the store opened, Mun, in his early 40s, joked that he no longer has to deal with the back-breaking work of carting heavy vinyl boxes to gigs or vinyl-only parties, where he used to sell direct to music fans. A change in fortunes has bestowed him a comfortable couch and a sound system at his store for customers to take in the music.

“It’s good to have a proper place, because with a store, I can put up more records and people can come over to browse and hang out,” he added.

On the day of this interview, Mun received a steady stream of regulars who also brought their friends over to the store.

“They say that music fans don’t bother about record stores any longer. I beg to differ. I think people still do care,” he argued.

“The challenge is to let the masses know they can get new releases on vinyl here. That awareness needs to be heightened.”

For this year’s RSD, Hard Graft Records will be having a vinyl listening party and live in-store bands.
Cheah Mun Kit (right), the main man who operates the Cool Record Shop, which shares a shoplot with the neighbourhood vinyl haunt Ruby Music Centre, owned by Tham Peng Kee (left), in Petaling Jaya in Selangor.
Cheah Mun Kit (right), the main man behind the Cool Record Shop, which shares a shoplot with the neighbourhood vinyl haunt Ruby Music Centre, owned by Tham Peng Kee, in Petaling Jaya in Selangor

Mun has already stocked up well for his customers with classic rock, alternative music, punk, indie and metal LPs. Contemporary new releases from Mogwai, Arctic Monkeys, Ghost and Chvrches catch the eye at this store, while LP reissues from Ramones, Fugazi and Slayer provide finger-itching temptation for record-hunters out there.

For publicity, Hard Graft’s Facebook page has more than 3,000 followers, which goes a long way in directing traffic to his store.

Over at the newly-opened Teenage Head Records in the SS14 neighbourhood of Subang Jaya, Selangor, the feelgood buzz for vinyl can already be felt before you enter the shop. A few tables are lined up outside the store, with vinyl hunters sipping coffee (available at the store), while chatting and unwrapping their newly-purchased records.

The store, which is operated by Mohd Radzi, 37, has a true “mom and pop” record store vibe. After quitting their day jobs, Radzi and his wife Linda decided to take the plunge and start a record store with a youthful exuberance. A giant Sonic Youth poster on the wall gives music fans a clue on the “indie/alternative” slant here.

The range of vinyl records – new releases and second-hand – reflects the owners’ personal tastes. If anything, Teenage Head Records (named after Singapore indie band The Oddfellows’ debut album) can easily be regarded as the local version of Championship Vinyl (the store from the cult movie High Fidelity).

“We’re definitely looking to add to the vinyl fun. We only started this month, so, give us time to get the balance right. That said, I’m sure we can get some people excited over the vintage My Bloody Valentine EPs and Morrissey LPs,” said the affable Radzi, who also goes the extra mile to clean each and every pre-loved record that can be purchased at Teenage Head Records.
“It’s extra counter service! You always want to go home with a record that is ready rock. Actually, it also gives me time to have a conversation with the customer. That way, I can find out what else I can bring in to Teenage Head to improve the store,” he added with a smile.

Radzi has fortunately gotten his RSD 2014 releases sorted out in time. He has also invited a bunch of local musicians to play an acoustic show (11am onwards, today) in his store.
For those seeking out underground metal, obscure punk and dub reggae LPs, then a dash to the Tandang Store in Kampung Baru Ampang, Kuala Lumpur is a must.

“Since we opened this trading space last October, we have been selling lots of hardcore/punk LPs as well as many different styles of metal music, be it doom, death metal or grindcore,” said Wan Hazril, 32, who is one of the hands-on partners in the store’s operations.

“We have also started to carry some dub reggae, pysch rock, blues, indie and jazz LPs. Many kids don’t really associate these LPs with the punk/hardcore/metal stuff. But at Tandang, we are trying to change mindsets. You might like doom metal, but we can recommend some experimental jazz that is equally interesting. We think it’s really important to introduce music when you have the opportunity, and with a record store, you can build a connection with the people who come through the door,” he added.

Elsewhere, there’s an inspired collaboration between Ruby Music Centre and Cool Record Shop in Petaling Jaya. Ruby Music Centre, which opened in 1972, is still being run by Tham Peng Kee, who has defied the odds and kept his neighbourhood store going with surplus vinyl stock from warehouses and closed down record stores nationwide.
“Maybe this is the oldest vinyl shop in the country. I don’t know, I just enjoy doing what I do ... selling records,” said Tham, 68, who proudly claims that his “new old stock” selections have attracted crate-diggers from Europe and South-East Asia.

“I have loads of Chinese records from the 1970s and there are many unopened boxes of disco-era LPs and pop/funk records. All unplayed. Where do I get my stock from, you ask? Of course, I can’t tell you. It’s a trade secret,” he said with a laugh.

These days, Ruby Music Centre shares floor space with Cool Record Shop, which is run by Cheah Mun Kit, 55. This two-in-one shoplot arrangement works out to be a treat for record hunters. Ruby Music has the surplus LP bargains while Cool Record Shop, which opened last August, is slowly drawing the masses in with its range of mainstream jazz, pop, Chinese and audiophile quality LPs.

“The good news is, we also have a stash of limited edition Record Store Day titles. Some REM, The Doors, Green Day ... the list looks good. Just come over (today), we’ll be more than happy to show you around both our ‘stores’. This vinyl revival has also made it possible for music fans to shop in a real vintage record store like Ruby Music Centre. Who would have thought that this would be happening in 2014,” declared an amused Cheah.

> More info on Joe’s MAC (Music, Art & Collectibles), Hard Graft Records, Tandang Store and Teenage Head Records can be found on Facebook. Ruby Music Centre/Cool Record Shop is located at 26, Jalan 21/19, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

pop pop channel episode # 2

pop pop 視頻:訪問《達人組》歌手羅家豪關於即將來臨的《無與麟比:譚詠麟致敬音樂會》

pop pop channel episode #2: interview with TAT lead singer, kaho about upcoming "a tribute to alan tam"

Thursday, March 13, 2014

花樣年華第二部 [in the mood for love part 2]

in our efforts to groom the 2nd generation of pop pop singers, we have scouted high and low for potential singers who could fit into the mould of pop pop.

serena chong of 2v1g proves to be a revelation with her beautiful voice, which has won the approval of pop pop fans, especially those who come to support our live shows.

now we have may mow, another potential star in the making. may mow is a popular singer in the corporate entertainment circuit. the inclusion of her into our team augurs well as may has a very husky and bassy voice that's vastly diffferent from the pristine clarity of winnie ho and serena chong. to make it even sweeter, may is a looker and a beauty that pleases the ears as well as the eyes.

so, both of these rising stars would be featured in our music festival in a reprise of 2012 "in the mood for love" concert, which was then starred by lydia chew and zyan.

this time, instead of bentley auditorium, we will have it a smaller venue of no black tie.

also, the repertoire will be slightly different this time to include more upbeat numbers. serena and may will also be singing a couple of numbers from nat king cole, as captured in the movie and the original sound track.  

it is gonna be an aural and visual feast, we promise. 

date; 17th and 18th june 2014
venue: no black tie.
booking: to be announced soon.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

全新達人組 [the new TaT trio]

introducing the new member of the TaT trio, Kaho. (far left in pix)

kaho is a veteran singer who specilizes in cantopop. despite his young age of 32, kaho started listening to music at early age, under the influences of his dad and his uncles. he is especially fond of samuel hui, the cantopop grand daddy. it is unbelievable for someone at 32 to like sam hui as most sam hui fans would be in their late 40s of 50s now.

apart from his good manly voice, kaho has a charismatic presence on stage, making him instantly likeable to the audience.

we first spotted him in a tribute concert he did for sam hui late last year. we knew he was the one we needed much for TaT trio to complement worm lee and yeh foong, the two other jokers in the trio.

the upcoming tribute to alan tam has us in great anticipation as each of the three member has a strong character on his own.

if you are a fan of alan tam, you owe it to yourself to come to this gig at NBT on 7th and 8th of may!       

as usual with TaT gigs, we expect the two nights to be fully packed.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

2014 將發的專輯 [2014 releases]

LP dream comes true for pop pop

so we thought bloom is gonna be our swan song... but then luck plays its wicked twist, things take a turn for the better and we are back with not one, but two new releases.

first off, rather than sounding like a boy who cries wolf, this time we are serious in producing an LP. yes, an LP, in times where LP is on the rise and everything else (including iTunes) is going down. yes, online streaming rules among the kids but we don't think it is gonna be forever as it doesn't do justice to the music labels and musicians. some musicians reportedly get cheques from music streaming companies for a miserable few cents only even their songs have been streamed over 10,000 times. we leave that story for another day.

so, which album we are gonna release in LP format? we will keep mum for the moment. please bear with us....

next up, the long-awaited 2v1g 3rd album. we are finally inspired to do the 3rd album, and this time, song selections seem to be a breeze, as we have been "accumulating" good songs for the past 3 years!

so, there you go, 2 new releases in a year. can't believe that we can do it.

but, yes, we are doing it.

in style.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

pop pop 音樂節 [pop pop music festival]

come join in the excitement of pop pop music festival!

there are many music festivals around but one that we like most, must be kota kinabalu jazz festival. this year is another must-go as the committee is bringing back indonesian trumpet superstar, rio sidik. rio brought the house down with his stellar performance two years ago, the memories were still vivid. we can't wait to go kk again in june 13-14!

so, why not we have our own festival since we have various acts with different following?

with such inspiration, we have decided to do it in 3 consecutive months, instead of 3 consecutive days, as the audience may suffer from exhaustion.

here's our 3 main acts:

may 7th and 8th: TaT trio "a tribute to alan tam" @NBT
《達人組》 勁歌金曲之《無與麟比》

june 18th and 19th: "In the mood for love" @ NBT, serena chong and may mow
《花樣年華》 張盈慧 & 毛媚

mid july: 2V1G "Trilogy: The final Chapter" @TLC (theatre lounge cafe)
2V1G 《第三部曲:完結篇》

we will be introducing two new singers. more on them in future posts!

we urge those closet fans to come out from their closet and support this festival. really, what can beat live music? don't just sit at home and listen to CDs only la.

ticketing and reservation will be annouced soon.

stay tuned for more news on the individual act! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

《無與麟比》音樂會 [alam tam tribute]

yes, the music continues with our cantopop trio, TaT. TaT trio has a new member this time, someone who is good on vocals and full of charisma. As you know, TaT is supposed to be good voices and high on entertainment values, the addition of this new member will further strengthen the amazing trio.

after covering leslie cheung, danny chan, jacky cheung, it is finally alan tam's turn. also, this is what our fans wanted for a long time. 

coincidentally, the real mccoy, alan tam and his cohort, hacken lee, would be touring malaysia in may, which is one month after our gig. so the TaT trio will be some sort of a warm-up to alan tam fans.

there are so many songs to choose from, we are spoilt for choice. rest assured, after the arrangement by tay cher siang, the songs would sound refreshingly different and yet remaining as palatable as the original.  

we expect a crazy cantopop party, no less.

tentative dates: 8th and 9th may 2014

venue: No black tie
cover charge: RM60

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

那一晚 [the night that was: jazzy CNY]

someone commented since we have done so many successful showcases, why can't we expand our supporter base to fill a big venue, a much bigger venue that NBT. this is an interesting point that we need to enlighten many of you.

 first, watching live shows is an inherent lifestyle, a habitual way to seeking entertainment. if you don't have the habit, you would never be a regular concert goer. you may go once or twice only in a year or worse still, in many years. of course, we are not talking about those teenagers stalking their idols and are willing to pay for the sky to watch them live. we are talking about real mature concert goers who go for the music and substance. this is but a tiny minority of population in malaysia.

it is not easy to grow this fanbase. people have too many choices nowadays. look at the event calendar every week, or the humongous amount of events hosted by ticketing agents like redtix, ticketpro and even genting. people are spoilt for choice.

our brand of entertainment is niche, we cater to a niche market. and NBT is the perfect venue for niche music cos the risks are low, as we don't need to worry about rental of sound and light (which is exorbitant), hiring of sound engineer, musical instruments and best still, it has a ready crowd.

so,NBT will continue to be our venue of choice for 2014. nothing comes close to offering the best stage, ambience and appreciative crowd.   

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2V1G sings 98.8 program theme song

thanks to 98.8 famed chinese DJ, PM wang, 2v1g gets to sing the theme song of his program, for the entire month of january 2014!

PM wang achors the popular nightly program, starting at 10pm every night, and he chooses different singers/musicians to sing the theme song, which is written by him.

credit goes to roger wang for the arrangement and winnie and serena for the superb harmony.

what a great way to kick start 2014!