For the

Post Digital Is Physical

vinyl vinylcover

In a post information scarcity era where every bit of culture – pop or arcane – is available digitally, especially music, the increasing number of vinyl collectors is incongruent with technological progress. Vinyl records are actually the one medium music labels are seeking to publish more of due to the demand it’s currently generating among consumers. It’s an interesting paradox, one that we see in layers; the vinyl collector as antiquated hobbyist, the vinyl collector as nostalgic DJ, and the vinyl collector as gen-X music lover. All three categories are personified by the kind of record stores you can find in the bubbling urban culture cesspool that is Klang Valley – so decided to play subculture academic (an armchair one at least) and sought for vinyl-selling music shops here in order to extrapolate something. Our research yielded the pieces presented, and that ‘something’ is a very simple constant each store owner suggested, but of course, that’s for you to read and postulate yourself.

Mohd Radzi


the Causeway

Our neighbours across the Causeway always seem to one up us on things, with the vinyl boom over in Singapore shrooming up before it spread over to us here in Malaysia. Luckily for the Malaysian scene, Mohd Radzi grew disenchanted with what he was doing down south and decided to spread the love over here on the fertile grounds of Subang Jaya. Together with his collection of classic reads and vinyls carefully collected, curated and cared for over the years, the former revenue executive made the move to Klang Valley to set up shop with his wife and daughter.

The bright yellow signboard above the storefront stands out among the numerous bak kut teh eateries and motorcycle dealerships along the main streets of SS14, and contrary to its name, isn’t just for teenagers. Radzi’s passion for music shines through his store, packed to the gills with stacks of records ranging from the obvious must-haves for everyone up to the latest, freshly minted discs for your perusal. With much of the stock coming from his personal collection, found Aretha Franklin and The Clash sharing space on a shelf along with a blue vinyl or two, something that you’re unlikely to find almost anywhere else locally. “At the end of the day, the dream would be to spread the enthusiasm that a few of us have for what might seem to be an outdated format of music to the masses, and this is where it begins,” says Radzi.

Bringing the spirit of Record Store Day to Malaysia is also high on Radzi’s list. He’s got plans to get several exclusive releases direct from the States as well as some performers from around town and Singapore for the special occasion. “It’s something that has definitely increased the exposure and awareness of vinyl to the masses, and while a lot of it is concentrated across the sea, I don’t see why we shouldn’t try to start up a culture here. Over there, you’ve got lines of people queuing up to get a look in on the stores, and hopefully that will happen over here someday, somehow.”

With plans to open up on Saturday 5 April (by the time you read this piece, it might just be opened for business), Radzi intends to make the dedicated concept store one unlike any other. So hop on over to the store and have a cup of coffee while admiring your latest purchase, listening to the tunes of a live acoustic performer or two when you’re free. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a man as passionate about vinyls as this man who’s ever ready to chew the fat with you about your scavenged collection of used LPs and 45s, and JUICE thinks he’s made the right choice to plant his feet on Malaysian soil.

Cheah Mun Kit



With the emergence of the digital age, most would say that the time of vinyl is dead. But with the unexpected rise of young’uns in their endless crusade to become ever more distinguished from the ‘mainstream’, the appreciation for anything old or analogue started to increase again. But is it just an ephemeral resurgence, a fad, or a catalyst giving life back to the near outmoded subculture? Such is the worry of Cheah Mun Kit, operator of Cool Record Shop in SEA Park, PJ. A truly old school guy with a shop that matches his biological antiquity, this is definitely the man to talk to when it comes to the obsolescence of physical media.

“When I first joined the vinyl industry in ’87, it was just at the turning point as CDs were coming out. Record stores started disappearing while the cassettes are still there in the middle, then towards the ‘90s, vinyl in Malaysia was practically gone,” said Cheah. He added that the bigger companies were beginning to notice that sales were dropping, which led to dealers becoming sceptical. CDs and cassette tapes were still selling, but vinyls only at a limited quantity, mostly for promotional purposes. But Cheah believed that there were still people out there with huge collections who just wouldn’t throw it all away.

Fortunately the advent of the internet catalysed the industry as specialty websites catering to vinyl collections emerged, and although seemingly dead, he explained the scene was kept alive by the audiophiles and hi-fi enthusiasts. “These people, for them, the sound of vinyl is different. It is warmer and not the same as a digital sound from the CD, which is more metallic,“ elaborated Cheah. With prospects into keeping things going, the hopeful Cheah tirelessly sourced from wherever he could. “We would get it mostly from Hong Kong, the US or Japan, but only specific requests because it was expensive due to the fact that only the US, the UK, Japan, and Germany have vinyl factories now.”

It was in the late ‘90s that Malaysia experienced her own vinyl renaissance. “Word spread among the community and friends, we started to build a clientele base that was slowly expanding,” recounted Cheah. Then a decade later when the duties on vinyl records were removed in 2007, it aided a lot in helping the scene burgeon. Naturally, record companies started to slowly produce them again. Regardless of whether vinyls saw a revival, Cheah said no matter how the scene was like, it was the passion that kept him going: ”I’m a collector myself, what makes vinyl special is, well you’ll have to listen to it yourself, on a good turntable, that is (laughs).”

When asked about what he personally thought brought vinyl back, Cheah slanted his head downwards slightly and despite the gesture, said something cynically optimistic, if there is such a thing. “The younger people now are beginning to discover vinyl, and they like it because of the sound, but I don’t think I’m that correct, I would say a lot of them buy because it’s more like a collectable,” he explained. If it’s something unique from their favourite artistes and bands, they would collect every damn record – or so he claimed: “I know people who are crazy fans of Dépêche Mode… the Japan version, buy! The A-track, buy!” Lessening the jaded view, the geriatric collector posited tangibility as the main reason of vinyl’s popularity now. While everybody is downloading their music, a vinyl record is something you can’t download.

26, Jalan 21/19, SEA Park 
46300 Petaling Jaya 
T: 03 7874 0585 

Nick Mun



Rumours of the death of the record store have been grossly exaggerated. In fact, we’re experiencing a renaissance of sorts in terms of vinyl purveyors in the heart of the country; a resurgence that convinced one of the foremost connoisseurs of the Malaysian record store to esta­­­blish a brick and mortar outlet to allow his booming online business to grow and find a place to call home. With many Malaysians starting to dabble into collecting records of yore, and finding it difficult to purchase newer releases, Nick Mun decided that the time was ripe to open a store in the newer half of Petaling Jaya towards the end of last year to cater to the interests of local enthusiasts.

Stepping into the relatively sparse and minimalistic interior of Hard Graft, the spaces between the racks embodied a sense of organisation and cultured decorum that sparked the inner vinyl-chomping beast inside us to take a proper looksee around the much-varied collection that Nick stocks. “It’s nothing complicated. In a nutshell, Hard Graft is primarily about making new releases and classic reissues available in Malaysia,” he tells us matter-of-factly. The store doesn’t just cater to the older market with vintage reissues, as Nick also curates the best of newer LPs available in the market and brings them over to Malaysia for comparably lower prices in contrast with some of the larger stores around the area. Being a proud metalhead with tastes ranging from the esoteric to the darker reaches of the genre, Nick also ensures that there is something for everyone in his collection at the shop.

While the main demographic of those entering his store mostly still encompasses the slightly more matured crowd, Nick remains optimistic that the younger market will soon catch the vinyl bug. Despite the high entry costs associated with owning, maintaining, and enjoying a proper LP collection, he feels that the sentimental value associated with owning a piece of history so tangible, as compared to wirelessly importing digital content direct into grey storage bricks, will allow the record industry to exist tangentially with other mediums of music.

“There’s nothing wrong with purchasing an iPod and storing your music in it to listen to it on the go, for the sake of convenience. But at the end of the day, nothing beats the feeling of coming home and putting on a record to sit back and enjoy. To those who’ve experienced it, digital doesn’t even come close, and it’s something that everyone needs to do at least once in their lifetime.”

He’s not wrong. For the first time last year, the vinyl medium was the only one to experience an upturn in terms of growth, with digital downloads simultaneously decreasing. Will more people find an excuse to drop a needle on their favourite records? We certainly hope so, and Hard Graft is a great place to begin doing just that.

Bryan Burger



Everybody wants to be a DJ. Be it for the true love of driving a crowd wild with your mixes, or the fame, or the promised ladies. But the harsh truth is, it’s not that hard being a DJ now. Of course we’re not saying everyone can be a DJ (we are not deadmau5…), although admittedly compared to the days when vinyl was a prerequisite requirement for DJing, things are much easier today. It only makes sense then for us to talk to Bryan Burger, of Excessive Records fame, about vinyls and old school DJing.

Bryan Burger, a DJ himself, has been operating Excessive Records since 1999, focusing mainly on DJ gears, music for DJs, as well as running several club nights and events. He also operates Royal DJ Academy, a school for people to learn the trade. “I have been dealing with vinyl records since 1996 where back then I was working in a local club supply record shop as a store manager,” he explained to us how he got into the game before continuing that, “… to me, towards the late ‘90s, the record game never really died, it just got more and more expensive. It was still being manufactured overseas but yes it did go down as people moved more towards using CDs and USBs to DJ instead.” To wit, even he did.

Yet, despite the convenience of modern media, the good thing about spinning with vinyl is the analogue sound that it provides: “It’s loud and clear, it really gives a different quality.” Using a vinyl to spin offers the DJ more feel as the sensation of touching the vinyl is different. You almost feel the music, the beat, and the rhythm. Spinning on a vinyl, without any displays and BPM info, you can’t cheat as everything has to be done manually. Bryan, perhaps reminiscing of the past, said that there was satisfaction to be gained when DJing with vinyls next to a crowd. “It’s the ooohs and aaahs that get me,” he said. Beyond the technicality of the DJ world though, he’s attracted to vinyl due to the covers. ”Some artistes look for street artists and fashion designers to help design the cover, making it a valuable collectable while others have opted for black plastic vinyl instead, picture pieces printed on it making it really cool,” said Bryan.

We were curious as to why vinyl usage waned off in the noughties, and Bryan offered an alternative explanation to the clichéd ‘convenience’ and ‘easiness’ of digital storage. He claimed that younger DJs often time play for free or lower pay just to get their name out. With the prices now, they simply can’t afford to spin on vinyl. “A vinyl record probably has about 10 songs. That said, DJs seldom buy LPs, they buy singles that have 2, 3 songs and will cost you RM50 and above. Also, when performing, you’ll have to carry the whole bag, which has hundreds of pieces, to a club and it is heavy,” he added, finally validating the aforementioned oft-repeated reasoning. It’s also hard to DJ with vinyl because most clubs just don’t have the player. “Pen drives and CDs are much more convenient! Plus with the new DJ time code technology that uses an empty vinyl to control music from the laptop, it still keeps things alive in a way.”

“But honestly? The mp3 and USB stick culture is killing vinyl.”

Fortunately, the younger generation are beginning to pick up on vinyl again. “A lot of new artistes are coming out with new vinyls and reissues, plus the hipsters are starting to enjoy the whole vinyl subculture, which is why in our academy all our students must learn how to play vinyl,” Brian sternly asserted. Elitism or not, he demands that they learn the history and culture – they have to realise that it’s not just about downloading music and playing it, you got to know proper music and have skills. Still, he’s aware that no one can force the youngsters to play vinyl, although from his point of view, music is akin to fashion and design whereby everything moves in a cycle. It is just a matter of time before technology creates a hybrid: “Old school things will combine with new school things and create something new.”