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Saiful Idris: Buro 24/7 Singapore Playlist #175

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Text: Saiful Idris


Former frontman of The Great Spy Experiment, Saiful Idris, returns as a dance music producer, sharing the music that has inspired his change in course

I am known primarily as the singer and guitarist for the now-defunct indie-rock band, The Great Spy Experiment. What many might not know is that for a good number of years before the band, I was an aspiring DJ. In 2000, I left for London to pursue my undergraduate studies. Within a week of getting there, I bought my first set of turntables and mixer. Despite a complete lack of knowledge of the art form, I proceeded to teach myself to mix through sheer will and blind persistence, and eventually went on to play a bunch of small parties and venues in and around London. One of my happiest memories from that part of my life was organising a series of nights called "Summer Daze" at a local bar. I had two music student friends accompanying me on the percussions and saxophone as I DJ-ed. The music of that night is the starting point for this playlist.

I continued to DJ for a while when I came back to Singapore, but eventually, I decided to focus my creative efforts on the band. Having lost touch with dance music for close to a decade and trying to reacquaint with it now, I find myself overcome by the sheer enormity of it all. As I begin my journey as a dance music producer, I do find myself constantly looking back to the sounds that inspired me when I first got into dance music back in the late 1990s. Dance music has evolved significantly since, as it should, but there was something about what was happening then that was really quite magical  music that was built on a desire to move both the body and soul.

'Elements of Life' was the first ever vinyl record I bought. It was my first of subsequently very many visits to the Black Market Records shop in London and the song that was playing just as I stepped in. I fell for it and bought it immediately. I only just found out that the shop closed down in 2015 after 27 years so I am feeling particularly nostalgic at the moment. It's rare that you find a dance track where the melancholy cuts right through you, probably because dance music is by nature, designed to lift the spirit. 'Dead End Thrills' was a much more recent find, and I can't get enough of Tim Digby-Bell's Yorke-esque vocals.

Rulers of the Deep (how awesome is that name?) are one of my favourite production duos. Their remix may be a lesser known version of the house classic, 'Finally' but it's typical of their chunky, percussive sound and a genuine personal favourite. I've always enjoyed a great keyboard solo and the keys on 'It's Over Now' are a particular delight. Slow and breezy funk at its finest.

Lazy Dog was a weekly Sunday afternoon party at the Notting Hill Arts Club helmed by Ben Watt and Jay Hannan. The queue was always at least a couple of hours long, so I used to record a quick mix on my recordable mini-disc player and listen to it while in line. The music and balmy summer vibe within, typified by Watt's 'Pop a Cap in Yo' Ass', definitely made the long wait worthwhile.

Saiful Idris is a songwriter, musician and dance music producer. His new single, 'Real Love', is available now on all good digital music platforms. 

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