At home with DJ ITCH

DJ Itch, long time Japanese transplant to Singapore, is well known for his deep dives into South East Asian rare grooves, Japanese city pop, and other sonic treasures from our region and beyond. We had a chat with him about the joys of vinyl and the dusty gems he’s unearthed in his aural explorations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Introduce yourself

Hello, my name is Itch. I’m a DJ based in Singapore, a sound selector and a vinyl collector. I love to explore and discover “local exotic funk a-go-go” music from the ’60s to early ’80s Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and around the region; such as A-Go-Go or Hala-Hala, Malay funk-soul, Chinese disco, Pop Yeh Yeh, Indo-groove, Asian city pop, and other groovy Asian music gems.

 

What got you started on DJ-ing with vinyls?

 

I had been collecting Asian rare groove vinyls which can’t be found online. So, I thought it would be nice to introduce these locally forgotten groovy gems on my DJ mix sets for the modern listeners and brings back nostalgic vibes for the old-timers.

 

What are the 3 records that you would bring with you for your next gig?

“Mempersembahkan.....” by Flybaits

“Kebebasan III” by Carefree

“For You” by Tatsuro Yamashita

 

 

Of all the venues you’ve played at, which is your favourite?

‘White Label Records Bar’ is one of my favorite venue in Singapore. It’s a cozy bar space where many music lovers gather with good drinks, and where I have my regular monthly City Pop and Asian Boogie music event. Also, ‘fono’ in Kuala Lumpur & ‘The Bar’ in Taipei are my favorite space to DJ with good vibes and wonderful music listeners there!

 

 Any tips for people aspiring to DJ with vinyls?

As a vinyl DJ, I think music choice is important and select the music you enjoy! Do visit a vinyl record shop, then spend more time digging and listening to the records you’re interested, and you’ll definitely find the music you can groove with!

 

What was the first vinyl record that you bought?

The first vinyl I bought was during my high school days in Tokyo. I remember that one of my first vinyl records collection started with “Ill Communication” by Beastie Boys and “No Sound Is Too Taboo” by United Future Organization. Both albums helped me a lot to broaden my music interest and influenced my music exploration until now.

 

What is the most valuable record in your collection?

The valuable records will be the two EP records with an autograph from my favorite legendary singers in Singapore, Kamaliah Latiff and Rahimah Rahim. I was very happy to meet and talk to them in person. These records are my treasures!

 

 

 

"As a vinyl DJ, I think music choice is important and select the music you enjoy! Do visit a vinyl record shop, then spend more time digging and listening to the records you’re interested, and you’ll definitely find the music you can groove with!"

 

 

 

 

What is one record that you would keep forever?

It will be the record by The Stylers, with a song “Beef Kway Teow” included. When I discovered this exotic funky song with entertaining lyrics (although I don’t understand Hokkien, my friends keep laughing when I played this), it motivated me to dig more local rare groove music and a good opportunity to DJ using these forgotten funky tunes. Then I started to collect The Stylers albums and other legendary local bands from the golden era and around the region. This memorable record will be kept forever in my vinyl collection!

 

What are the current top 3 records in your rotation?

Here are listed top 3 records, which you can listen in the Spotify Playlist below too.

“Sani” from the album [Kali Terakhir Ku Lihat Wajah Mu] by Uji Rashid.

“Ratu Danca” from the album [Kebebasan III] by Carefree.

“Stay With Me” by Miki Matsubara

 

What was the first track you played on repeat?

I used to visit the neighborhood library and borrow The Beatles CDs and enjoyed listening to them on my junior high days. Even now, it’s always fun discovering Malay or Chinese cover version of The Beatles song, such as “Obladi-Oblada” or “Let it Be”.

 

What is a song that would define the teenage you?

During my teenage years, I frequently visit CD shops on weekends and listen to all sorts of music what interested me (Brit-pop, Brazilian music, Soul, Acid Jazz, etc.).   If I were to choose a song, it will be “Technova” by Towa Tei, which brings back the memories listening to this album many times with my portable CD player on the train ride going to school.

 

What is one song lyric that has inspired you?

“Music is a world within itself with a language we all understand”

from ‘Sir Duke’ by Stevie Wonder.

 

 

Best song to turn up loud?

“Sparkle” by Tatsuro Yamashita, the best tune to bring up the crowd! This intro of funky guitar and horn sections is the best!

 A song people wouldn’t expect you to like?

Not only Asian Funk or Soul music, but I also love listening to ambient folk or minimal piano music too. Ichiko Aoba, I love listening to her ethereal ambient folk music created with her beautiful voice and an acoustic guitar. Akira Kosemura, his ambient piano works are minimal and melodious. These are kind of music, I listen at home.

 

 

 

Listen to his Spotify Playlist here