Music lovers don’t need to be reminded that April 22 is Record Store Day (RSD) – an annual celebration of independent record store culture and the special role these shops play in their communities. Conceived in 2007, it has gained traction around the world and today, there are RSD participating retailers on every continent except Antarctica. Local music lovers – and vinyl collectors – can look forward to these highlights.
Connect with fellow music lovers and collectors
ONE of Singapore's most popular record stores Hear will be paying tribute to local vinyl collectors by profiling 12 of them in a special online documentary series. Hosted on Hear Records' Instagram and Facebook platforms, its launch has been timed to coincide with Record Store Day (RSD) 2017 and will run in weekly installments until May 31.
Titled Larger Than Life: See.Hear.Feel, it is a collaboration between the lifestyle music retailer and electronics giant Canon.
It features a series of intimate portraits captured by photo editor Tan Shung Sin - who is better known as Song, works part-time at Hear, and was part of the now-defunct indie band The Great Spy Experiment - on Canon's new EOS M6 mirrorless camera.
Those who frequent local indie record stores will recognise a couple of familiar faces like polytechnic lecturer and long-time heavy metal fan Foo Say Keong as well as the ex-Vinylicious Records co-founder Teo Chee Keong but the series also aims to show a diverse range of local collectors.
"A lot of people tend to think people who buy vinyls fit a certain demographic - namely male and middle-aged - but that is far from the truth," says Hear Records' owner Nick Tan. "There are actually collectors from all races, ages and sexes so we showcase everybody from a female to a secondary school student."
But more importantly, Mr Tan says Larger Than Life: See.Hear.Feel is not intended as a show of one-upmanship. Instead, it is meant as a showcase of how music shapes people's lives.
"Music elicits emotions," he adds. "Through this little project, we hope to showcase the 'larger-than-life' stories of vinyl collectors through photography; you'll 'see' lives inspired by music through these pictures, you 'hear' the music naturally and we hope we leave you 'feeling' inspired."
The initial plan is to start with 12 collectors and see how the response goes but he hopes it will be popular enough for it to keep going until RSD 2018. Two new personalities will be unveiled each week.
Mr Tan also feels the partnership between Hear and Canon is a natural one: "Music captures moments like how photographs capture memories - both work on the emotional sides of us as human beings."
As with previous years, Hear will not be stocking exclusive RSD releases because he believes RSD should be "an everyday celebration" instead of just an annual affair.
Mr Tan founded the flagship shop in Burlington Square in 2013 before expanding to a second branch in Chinatown last year.
Hear has been named one of the world's best record shops by British music and arts enterprise The Vinyl Factory and stocks new releases as well as used titles sourced from Japan.
The latter has become so popular that 2,000 pre-loved vinyls will be released on Saturday across both outlets, ensuring hours of crate digging. There will also be a 10 per cent discount on new titles from Friday to Sunday.
A limited edition T-shirt, featuring the sleeveface - where an album cover is held over someone to make him or her look like part of the artwork - antics of Hear Chinatown's manager Robin Chua (aka Deejay KiDG) will be given free with every S$50 purchase.
- For more info, check hearrecords.com.sg
Get your hands on rare vinyl releases
SINCE 2013, Vinylicious Records has been the go-to venue on every Record Store Day (RSD), for local collectors to get their hands on limited edition releases.
This year will be no different as the shop, which was originally at Parklane Shopping Mall before it relocated to Peninsular Shopping Centre about a year ago, preps itself for the crowd on Saturday. "The numbers are definitely rising - we had about 350 people last year, compared to about 150 when we did the first one in 2013," says owner Eugene Ow Yong.
But with Vinylicious' sister shop The Analog Vault at Esplanade also participating in RSD, he is expecting a bigger overall turnout.
Both outlets are must-visits for the full RSD experience as they will stock about 100 different exclusive releases each. Highlights at The Analog Vault, which specialises in classical, jazz, electronic dance music and hip hop include more affordable reissues of long out-of-print titles and other curios. "Late rapper The Notorious B.I.G.'s first posthumous album Born Again (1999) will be available again," reveals Mr Ow Yong. "It's a quintessential hip hop record and one that is very hard to find."
The late Jamaican reggae legend Peter Tosh's seminal album Legalise It (1976) will also be reissued in Rastafarian red, gold and green vinyl to mark its 40th anniversary. Not only that, it features a scratch-and-sniff weed-scented inner sleeve. "It's just a smell, don't worry, no real weed was involved in its making but that still makes this a pretty interesting release," Mr Ow Yong shares. Closer to home, he recommends Guitars of the Golden Triangle - a double LP compilation with raw garage rock, psychedelia, folk, blues, and country music from Burma in the 1970s and the 1980s - as it's not every day that RSD has an Asian release.
Titles at Vinylicious which is known for carrying contemporary pop, rock, indie and soundtracks, alongside rare used titles include holy grails for fans of pop icons like David Bowie and Madonna. The former's Bowpromo is a single-sided album box set featuring alternate mixes of tracks from his Hunky Dory (1971) era. "This album is extremely hard to find because it was for promotion only (given to radio deejays and music journalists) so we're talking about thousands of dollars if one ever pops up for sale because I have never even seen it happening," Mr Ow Yong says.
Local Madonna fans can also look forward to laying their hands on Dance Mix (1985), a four-track EP that was originally made only for the South American market and is getting a global release for the first time for RSD 2017. "It's difficult to find a mint copy so this is a good chance to finally get to own it," notes Mr Ow Yong, who predicts another sought-after title would be the Space Jam (1996) original soundtrack that will come on blue and black stardust speckled vinyl.
Shoppers who spend S$200 at either outlets will get a limited edition official RSD T-shirt, with two designs to choose from. One mimics the typography of popular Netflix drama Stranger Things, while the other spoofs the design of the Sriracha sauce label.
Vinylicious will also be offering 10 per cent off new titles and 30 to 70 per cent off used titles, while The Analog Vault will hold a 15 per cent storewide discount. Exclusive RSD releases are excluded from the special offer and to make sure everybody gets a piece of the action, each customer is only allowed to purchase one copy of each title.
Prices will start from S$15 for a seven-inch copy of The Smiths' The Boy with the Thorn in his Side to S$95 for Bowie's Bowpromo and S$125 for Just Say 50, a four-LP box set featuring tracks from artistes like Madonna, Talking Heads, The Ramones, Depeche Mode and more who were signed to the Sire label.
Crate dig with fur kids
LAST year's Record Store Day (RSD) was not a particularly memorable one for Tremon Lim, owner of Curated Records at Tiong Bahru. About a week before the event, his 12-year-old Yorkshire Terrier Jasper passed away unexpectedly. In memory of the latter, 100 per cent of the day's takings on Saturday will be donated to the SPCA.
The idea came to Mr Lim after he asked himself if there was any way he could make RSD a bit more unique and meaningful: "It's easy to get caught up in the commercial side of things with all that hype so I asked myself if there was something else I could do instead."
Blaming himself for possibly neglecting Jasper while trying to establish his business, Mr Lim decided it was time to make things right this RSD: "I think business has more or less stabilised for me now so I can afford to run this donation drive. Also, I think people connect emotionally with music the same way they do with their pets so I thought it would be quite meaningful for me to do this."
Curated Records will also be holding a sale and giving away vinyl frames and crates to add to the festivities on Saturday and Sunday.
Customers can even crate dig with their fur kids if they want. "People tend to leave their pets outside when they come here but I don't mind them coming in at all," adds Mr Lim.
- For more info, check curatedrecords.com