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Yum Cha Chats with Que Sakamoto: A vinyl junkie's guide to esoteric record shopping in Asia

Asia's lesser known record stores are where the real gems are at

  • Que Sakamoto
  • 12 April 2020

There are a few prerequisites to being eclectic as an artist, and more so, being really good at it, and Que Sakamoto has nailed them all. The Japanese export has been honing his craft with a style of sound that has become synonymous with his name — he can seamlessly drift from jazzy, quirky slow techno to dark and esoteric disco, blending influences of traditional folk music that he collects on his constant travels. For this week’s Yum Cha Chats, Que shares his favourite spots to dig for rare vinyl in the Far East.

Bangkok, Thailand
Tonchabab Record Shop

"A great record shop usually has an amazing person behind it. Sua is the owner at Tonchabab, and he’s always offering me recommendations from his unique collection. The shop carries a rare variety of Molam, Thai funk, jazz and city pop. I can spend a crazy amount of time in this small store going through both vinyl and cassette tapes, especially when Sua brings out the second-hand stuff."

Bandung, Indonesia
DU 68

"Like my favourite spot in Bangkok, this second-hand store also includes a friendly owner and staff package, who are always helpful, and extremely knowledgeable about the goods they carry. DU 68 is located in Bandung, Indonesia, the capital of West Java. It's a cheap and cheerful shop, filled with movies and music on all sorts of formats, from VCD and DVDs to cassette tapes and records. I love going through the tape here, and I have found some really rare and 'ravey' classic tapes."

​Bangkok, Thailand
REC. Vinyl Records and Café

"Sadly, this place no longer exists after recently closing in 2019, but it was a place that had a lot of impact for me. It was a concept store and coffee shop, with a basement style cafe, that was located near the famous Chatuchak weekend market. I'd start with coffee (they brewed fresh beans from Chiang Mai), and then I'd head down to browse through records and cassettes, and sometimes check out the second-hand clothes — I mostly bought a lot of 80s stuff on cassette from REC., including Thai funk and soft rock. The guy who managed the store was also a resident DJ at one of my favorite music joints in Bangkok, Studio Lam. I loved the variety of 'world' music that they used to keep; I hope they come back. But until then, check out Studio Lam's adjoining record shop and Paradise Bangkok affiliate ZudRangMa Records."

Seoul, Korea
Pastel Records

"This place has a lot of history, and it's also very specialised in terms of the music they carry. The owner of the shop has a special taste for the softer side of music, and with a strong focus on Korean roots, from rare groove, ambient, soul and disco. I'm still learning a lot about Korean music, so this shop has really helped me discover some great stuff. The owner always has recommendations and often talks to me about the history and culture of Korean music, it's similar to Japanese music but with a 'Korean vibe' — I find it really fascinating."

Jakarta, Indonesia
Blok M Square B

"There isn't just one shop here; there's a whole basement at this mall filled with music stores. I can easily pass a few hours in each store at Blok M because all the store owners are very friendly and they always know how to recommend truly rare and great records. There are probably four or five stores in the basement floor that carry what I like on vinyl and cassettes, plus tonnes of second-hand stuff. I've come across everything from psychedelic rock to rare groove, Java gamelan sounds, modern jazz and so much more — I honestly can't wait to go back here."

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