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Where to buy vinyl in Singapore

Where to buy vinyl in Singapore

Sound of music

Text: Megan Koh


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What's in a local vinyl shop? Check out the best vinyl stores in Singapore to pick up a crate or chat with sound hounds

RETROCRATES
RetroCrates began as an online shop by husband-and-wife team Dennis and Celia-Ann Tay (who grew up on the tunes of Bee Gees, Barry White and The Carpenters) and has since expanded to have its own physical space in Joo Chiat in 2016.

If you listen to...
Rock, pop, jazz, metal, evergreen, classic and soundtracks. The shop is a hybrid space of old records and new releases that are added to the collection every week. Jazz lovers will delight in The Jazz Loft, a new extension to the store dedicated to the jazz catalogue.

And also like...
A range of turntables, speaker systems and amps. RetroCrate's intimate shophouse is also a venue for acoustic sets. Homegrown singer-songwriter Charlie Lim launched his Time/Space record in the store followed with an exclusive acoustic session shared with 50 of his fans.

The store's most prized possession is...
"An autographed copy of George Michael's Faith and the 1977 Japanese pressed promo album of John Coltrane's Blue Train," said Tay. "Promo albums with white labels are a rare commodity as it's considered to have better sound quality as it was pressed first as compared to the publicly released ones," she added.

Don't leave without...
John Coltrane's Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album and Oasis' (What's The Story) Morning Glory. "Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album has charted in the top 20 of the UK charts, making it the oldest original recording to chart. It shows the gaining popularity of jazz into mainstream music which is the current trend. Besides, it's an amazing album," said Tay. "(What's The Story) Morning Glory" is the best British album ever and is a must-have in everyone's library of records. With sublime instrumentation and chorus, Oasis just ruled the world with this album," added the self-professed Oasis' fan.

RetroCrates, 448A Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427661.

HEAR RECORDS
Founded in 2013 by Nick Tan, Hear Records has been credited as one of the world's best record shops by Vinyl Factory UK among other venerations. The orange-walled shop houses a wide range of records grounded by taste, passion and a good cause.

If you listen to...
Latest albums and classic reissues. Vinyl shipments arrive every week and are nicknamed the "weekly fresh" with Tan sharing the pictures of the sleeves on social media. For the sentimental, shipments of some 3,000 preloved vinyl records reach the store every month.

And also like...
Live performances. Local acts including the likes of homegrown artistes The Observatory, Riot in Magenta, Hanging Up the Moon and Piblokto have graced the venue with their sets. Giving back to society with music, Hear Records sells local indie albums and donates all profits to charity in their programme 'Support Local Support Charity'. They are also the local distributor of Music Hall turntables and electronics.

The store's most prized possession is...
Everything. "Everything is a prized possession. Worth is not measured by monetary value but rather how much you loved an album. The shittiest band will still have their supporters and a band's worst album will also have people loving them," said Tan.

Don't leave without...
Continuing with his music-for-all philosophy, Tan leaves this choice for every customer. "Music talks to different people. Vinyl records are a great medium but worthless without the music on it," said Tan.

Hear Records at #01-39 Burlington Square 175 Bencoolen Street, Singapore 189651.
Hear Records at Chinatown, Blk 5 Banda Street, #01-98, Singapore 050005.

CHOICE CUTS GOODS + COFFEE
Tirso Garcia and Andee Reyes (better known as Matteblacc DJ's JNR & Drem) expanded their work in music by setting up Choice Cuts in Joo Chiat in 2017. Garcia and Reyes built the store's own furniture, brew the coffee and select the music to create a space that's uniquely their own.

If you listen to...
'80s to '90s hip hop music. Reyes personally handles the curation process and works with an unbridled passion. "He practically spends all of his free time researching and listening to what's hot off the press or being re-issued by our distributors and favourite labels," said Garcia.

And also like...
Live DJ sets. The new Friday selector set invites DJs to play an hourly jam weekly. Housing tunes that are the perfect accompaniment to food (a menu of matcha lattes and double cheese pepperoni pizzas), the cafe cum record store pulses to the beats of Funk B*stard from Darker Than Wax, DJ Itch from Tokyo, Orio from FatFish Familia and IRAMAMAMA from Jakarta. Choice Cuts is also the perfect place to shop for DJ accessories, portable turntables and collaboration tees.

The store's most prized possession is...
"Pedro, our prickly pear cactus mascot," said Garcia. When asked to name a selling price for Pedro, Garcia cheekily adds, "he's family, so I guess he's priceless".

Don't leave without...
"Kamasi Washington's latest album, Heaven & Earth, which is a 4 x EP plus a hidden 7" EP. Highly sought after and we have it in limited supply. Since he's coming to Singapore on 23 August, it might be a good thing to cop it and try to get it signed by the man himself!" said Garcia.

Choice Cuts Goods + Coffee, 451 Joo Chiat Road. #01-07. Katong Point, Singapore 427664.

THE ANALOG VAULT
The Analog Vault is a three-year-old shop founded by Eugene Ow Young and Sharon Seet in 2015. While she's also from the finance industry, curator and co-founder Seet juggles her day job with her passion-project. The Analog Vault promotes vinyl records, indie artistes and a love for music.

If you listen to...
Jazz, hip-hop, electronic, modern/experimental classical, and World music. 30 to 50 new titles are added monthly across the genres. "Apart from bringing in titles by highly-regarded artists or from established labels in the respective genres, we are also focused on selecting well-crafted albums by emerging or underrated artists, which we believe should be introduced to a wider music audience," said Seet.

And also like...
In-store live performances that introduce budding artists from all music styles. Previous editions were graced by Hanging Up The Moon, Sobs, Semut Semut, Specific Islander, as well as DJs/producers Intriguant, Ramesh, Darker Than Wax, Ponzi, and Kiri. "We tend to invite musicians and DJs who are pushing new sounds and concepts, and aim to provide a music and broadcasting avenue for their creativity and artistic expressions," said Seet. The store also sells turntables from Audio-Technica and music books.

The store's most prized possession is...
"We have a Bill Evans 11-album box set released by the US-based audiophile label Analogue Productions that retails for just above a thousand dollars. Bill Evans is considered to be one of the best jazz pianists and composers of all time, and this box set includes his highly acclaimed albums Waltz for Debby, Sunday At The Village Vanguard, Moonbeams, amongst others, cut in 45 RPM audiophile quality," said Seet.

Don't leave without
"Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, often referred to as the definitive jazz album," said Seet. "Miles Davis was one of the greatest jazz trumpeters and composers, and another hallmark of this album was that accompanying Miles were other jazz legends — Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly on piano, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley on saxophone. The musicality, artistry and improvisation on this album is just pure genius at work," she added.

The Analog Vault, #02-13, Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039802.

MOSTA RECORDS LP.
Previously working as a freelance audio editor, samplist, sound designer and field recordist, Azri Ali opened Mosta Records LP with his wife, Afidah A Manaf in 2016.  They were inspired by Third Man Records, a label and record store owned by Grammy winner Jack White to "introduce to the general public music that they might not even consider listening".

If you listen to...
Popular tracks that span across genres. They specialise in bringing direct titles from record labels including heavyweights, Third Man Records, Waxwork Records, Mondo Records, Death Waltz Records, Jump Up Records and Fat Possum Records.

And also like...
To see more concerts and exhibitions. The record store will soon be expanded to include a space next door. The venue called The BlueWhiteRoom By Mosta Records will hold mini concerts, exhibitions and showcases of local talent. The store also sells CDs, cassettes, Audio Technica Turntables and other merchandise like tote bags, slip mats for turntables and t-shirts.

The store's most prized possession is...
"An album by John Lennon with Yoko Ono , Two Virgins, where they are naked on the cover. A first pressing copy. I can't really put a price on that. And recently a 2002 The White Stripes limited concert poster. Again, I can't really put a price on that," said Azri.

Don't leave without...
"Dhafer Youseff's Diwan Of Beauty And Odd album. The oud virtuoso is an unbelievable talent. I discovered it two years ago. His Arabic sensibilities combined with jazz just sit right. It is just beautiful music, a joy to your aural pleasure. This Tunisian born artist last year won The Dutch Edison Award for Jazz/World Music for this album," said Azri.

Mosta Records LP. 3 Coleman Street, #02-21, Peninsula Shopping Centre, Singapore 179804.

SURFACE NOISE
Surface Noise was set up in 2016 by Zafran Mohd, Suhayl Agoes Djaja and Hasib Khan, the founders of 4490 Records, Canopus Distro and Azadghei Records respectively. Reputed as a solid addition to the scene with their curation of indie titles, the store is refreshing with their familiarity of underground music.

If you listen to...
Local and regional indie records. The strong selection is added with new titles every week. "I've been distributing and releasing local independent bands in my bedroom since 2012," said Suhayl. Headed by a team of three men with their own vinyl records shops, the selection is a strong mix of tasteful and promising releases.

And also like...
Cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, band apparel and punk zines. Apart from selling merchandise, the store also recently hosted their own 2nd year anniversary with a DJ party. The shop was also the venue for Canopus Distro's 5th anniversary acoustic set with performances from Weish, FXTRT, KC Meals, Quite Quiet, Bravepaper and Travelog.

The store's most prized possession is...
"The Blue Hearts - Single Records Box Set going for $380," said Suhayl.

Don't leave without...
"Any local punk release. Have a good listen, remember the lyrics, empathise, appreciate the artwork, go to their show, make friends, listen to the other bands in the bill, buy releases of those other bands, repeat," said Suhayl. "Optionally, but a strongly suggestive following step is to start your own band. And that is another much fulfilling process altogether," he adds.

Surface Noise, Textile Centre, 200 Jalan Sultan #04-16, Singapore 199018.

CURATED RECORDS
Tremon Lim is the guy behind the one-man operation, Curated Records. Housing 2,000 records from mainstream hits to small indie releases, the store is packed to the brim in an atmosphere thick with the thrill to discover new music.

If you listen to...
Pop, electronic, folk and rock n' roll. "Our curating process is simply getting to know as much of music as possible, and to streamline our findings before introducing it to customers. We're always attentive to their music tastes," said Lim.

And also like...
Vinyl accessories that complement the care of record players and vinyl collections. The shop also sells CDs of artistes who are not available on vinyl. While events are not held frequently at the store, Curated Records is looking to bring in more local acts to perform in their space.

The store's most prized possession is...
"Zircon Lounge & Chris Ho's Regal Vigor LP, we have yet to put a price on that," said Lim.

Don't leave without...
"It's All Here Somewhere by Hanging Up The Moon," said Lim.

Curated Records, 55 Tiong Bahru Road, #01-53, Singapore 160055.

WHITE LABEL RECORDS & BAR
The guys behind the vinyl records marketplayce #vinyloftheday and internet radio platform Singapore Community Radio bring a new addition to the scene with White Records & Bar. Officially launching in September, Kurt Loy and Darren Tan will introduce the store to be a space of good music, drinks and people.

If you listen to...
Adventurous tunes. "The team will always strike a balance between mainstream music and obscure music. It's always our priority to introduce good or interesting music which are lacking in the current market," said Loy. With expectations to bring in weekly shipments of records, the curation process will be an adventurous one to introduce interesting music to new audiences.

And like...
Cassettes, merchandise, and live performances from local artistes. There will also be workshops, talks and guests-in-store as they continue with their daily operations for the internet radio. White Label Records & Bar knows the experience is not complete without winding down and serves coffee and craft beer in its premises.

The store's most prized possession is...
While refusing to spill the beans on the most prized possession, "it's up to the customers to find out," teased Loy.

Don't leave without...
"Everything in the store because everything is well-curated!" said Loy.

White Label Records & Bar, address to be updated in September.

VINYL KAKIS
Founded in 2016, Cherilyn Tan left her job and invested $40,000 to set up Vinyl Kakis. From being one of the youngest players in the niche industry, Vinyl Kakis has grown to be sought after for its unique titles and infectious music-loving energy.

If you listen to...

Rock, pop, metal, jazz, experimental, noise, ambient, punk/hardcore, world and soundtrack/score. "Based on the requests and observations made over time, we introduced Japanese music that spans across different time periods from the traditional such as Min'yō Folk Music to instruments like Taiko, Shamisen and Sanshin used in mainland Honshu and Okinawa respectively," said Tan. New records are added every 2 months while preloved records are refreshed fortnightly.

And also like...
Accessories like turntables, cartridges, styli, analogue cleaning products. The shop also offers their own Vinyl Nessie cleaning service. An avid supporter of the local music scene, the shop's catalogue delights in selling the work of homegrown artistes.

The store's most prized possession is...
"That is a tough question to answer. It's akin to asking me, which record should i save first in a fire," said Tan.

Don't leave without...
An open mind. "Frankly speaking, as a Record Store owner and collector, keeping an open mind is key to allowing a music lover to experience/embrace the wide-ranging musical genres available today. I believe every vinyl deserves its day and that everyone has their own discerning musical palate acquired in a personal manner and memorable way. Of course, if visitors can leave with something from our shop, we are most satisfied. If not, we will do our best to offer them a better selection upon their next visit," said Tan.

Vinyl Kakis, 5 Coleman Street, #B1-28, Excelsior Shopping Centre, Singapore 179805.

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