Analog Vault, one of our favourite curators of discerning vinyl in Singapore is also the second home of Nick Bong & Leon Wan. Besides being friendly faces behind the counter there, they are also accomplished DJs and producers. We spoke to them about their musical journey and their recent choice tunes.
What got you started on DJ-ing with records?
Nick: Actually it was this job here at the vault! I do more of a selector style thing with Leon as The Analog Vault Selectors, representing the shop at events.
Leon: I guess seeing people and friends who have a nice collection of records really inspired me to dig for music that way, not necessarily to DJ with records. The process of finding music and seeing the artwork that comes with it makes it very fun!
What are the 3 records that you would bring with you for your next gig?
Nick: It depends on the gig. I’m still a rookie so I’m in the process of figuring out which records are my sure-fire ‘get out of jail free’ ones, favourites for different situations, and so on. Always learning! I do my best to always bring different music to each time.
Leon: Same, it really depends on the gig but recent grabs would be, Potatoheadz Vol. 3, Takayuki Shiraishi - Missing Link & Boards of Canada - Peel Sessions.
Of all the venues you’ve played at, which is your favourite?
Nick: I like them all for different reasons. HQ is great for exploring club sounds. Outdoor venues like Kult Café/Yard or Deck are fun for playing more funky material, especially in the daytime. Record stores like ours are great for going anywhere you please – in a more intimate setting. I like playing one-off events though, at places that aren’t usually venues! Enter: Ice Cream Sundays ;)
Leon: I’ve only played at a few spots and each venue has its own flavor. No favourites here but it depends on the mood, for club music HQ is the one and for other types of moods, outdoor venues are great - Haw Par Villa via the ICS (Ice Cream Sundays) crew or the Kult crew. It also depends on the collective putting on the night! We have a great memory at Intermission Bar when we threw a party and all our friends came.
Any tips for people aspiring to DJ with records?
Nick: I am not quite there still, so I don’t feel qualified to give any advice. I haven’t done a full DJ set with a full crowd wanting to dance, armed only with and a pair of turntables, so I can’t really say much! I’ve jumped on at a party here and there, and all I know is that it’s essential to know your records very well. I think it’s the same principles no matter what format you have in front of you. What’s the story and how are we gonna get there?
Leon: I am still learning as well especially with beat matching or learning which sounds go well with each other. It requires a certain amount of focus with your listening and knowing your records always helps with a good mix.
"...all I know is that it’s essential to know your records very well. I think it’s the same principles no matter what format you have in front of you. What’s the story and how are we gonna get there?"
Nick: a friend gave me a Tribe Called Quest – People’s Instinctive Travels. I think I went to one of those pop-up market things the next day and picked up a copy of Ahmad Jamal – Chamber Music of the New Jazz.
What is the most valuable record in your collection?
Nick: I don’t know. I rip out the price tags as soon as I buy the records and forget about the monetary value of it. Right now though the most valuable one to me is John Coltrane – Kulu Se Mama. Not cause of the price but because I had a moment with it recently. My most valuable record will always change but this is it right now.
Leon: I don’t have a most valuable record as well! Each one has its own value and meaning to me, bringing back memories of moments and people. Still would rate Barry Biggs – Wide Awake In A Dream and as a memorable one.
Nick: All of them! I don’t have that many anyway.
Leon: I would also keep most of them or give some away as gifts!
What are the current top 3 records in your rotation?
Nick: This is always changing! It also depends on work really. On frequent rotation at the vault currently is Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan’s Epistrophy, Yazz Ahmed’s Polyhymnia and Nujabes’ Modal Soul.
Leon: Currently I've been enjoying some of the new records coming into the store. Ben Tankard reissued by Time Capsule is good, Meitei - Kwaidan via Evening Chants and Ulla - Tumbling Towards A Wall
Nick: I truly cannot remember this. I have always listened to lots of music over and over again.
Leon: Yes I can't remember this! But the first few tracks I played on record would possibly be a Hip Hop title or a borrowed record from a friend, Max Graef, J Dilla, Madlib...?
What is a song that would define the teenage you?
Nick: Ramones – Bonzo Goes to Bitburg. I remember watching School of Rock, I must have been around 14? This song came on during a montage where there was a chart of all the bands on the blackboard, I used to pause the movie and check out a different band every time.
Leon: All the emo bands and local bands!!
What is one song lyric that has inspired you?
Nick: I don’t know, I’m not huge on lyrics actually!
Leon: Hmm I can't remember much from the top of my head, but I guess right now would be "life is a gas."
Best song to turn up loud?
Nick: Brian Eno – 1/1
Leon: P Ramlee - Getaran Jiwa
A song people wouldn’t expect you to like?
Listen to their Spotify Playlist here: