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Mixmag Asia Radio: Leland invites us into his eclectic headpsace

The 28-year old Singaporean selector constructs a fluid, genre-bending mix

  • Charles Budd
  • 31 May 2023
Mixmag Asia Radio: Leland invites us into his eclectic headpsace

Leland’s musical journey was kickstarted in Naarm through a career that revolved around music and arts journalism. His next phase was to continue from that foundation in Singapore where he was quickly reminded that as a selector, his perspective mattered — refusing to be pigeon-holed, or boxed into any musical archetype, 28-year old Leland has quickly grown to be formidable selector, standing out as a fresh face amongst the existing heavyweight spinners in the Garden City.

In a short span of time, he’s been supporting some of the city’s prime events and the international and regional artists being brought over including Prins Thomas,, Munir, Shubostar, Acid Sister, Zombies in Miami and youANDme. You’ll also find him on regular shifts at some of Singapore’s finest establishments such as Headquarters, Tuff Club, Rumours Beach Club, Offtrack, Blackout Agency Asia’s parties and several others as a selector, indulger, and student.

We’re thrilled to have the young gun perspective and energy of Singapore’s Leland Tan.

For the future wellness of your sonic palette, we encourage you to hit play below.

Where are you based and how did you get there?

I’m currently based in Singapore, born and raised here, but I’ve only just relocated back two years ago from living in Australia for about half a decade.

What’s your favourite thing about the music scene there?

I’d say our people are pretty tight-knit and we’re a tiny island altogether, which means it’s always easy to hop from place to place chasing a sound and everyone’s a familiar face regardless. More recently though there’s a way stronger appetite than before for DIY band shows, ragtag electronic parties, and particularly its underground and leftfield shades, which have been pretty wild to come back to. Gotta also love going prata hunting after gigs.

In five words, what do your DJ sets sound like?

This hugely depends on my frame of mind at the time but I’d say crunchy but fluid, groove and grit, and a ‘haha’ for good measure and occasional dupes.

And in three words, how would you describe yourself?

Frantically enjoying, you?

What recent trends in music have you been paying attention to? Have you caught onto them?

The one that maybe stands out is AI-generated tracks/sampling/stems, which hasn’t caught on in the mainstream as much as generative illustrations and their counterpart but scares me whenever I think about how powerful that could get when wielded by producers and how messy that must be IP-wise since that conversation has mainly revolved around visual graphics in recent times. I’ve only come across a few instances like Jukebox and haven’t deep-dived myself but I’m firmly an observer here.

Are there any producers and DJs in Asia that have recently caught your attention?

Matthew ‘MZA’ Sekiya who is part of Yen Disco Soundsystem of Singapore and Japan is someone I’ve been rediscovering recently, been following them for years. He has a hefty catalogue of productions and a deep collection that spans jazz, jungle, breakbeat, drum'n'bass and many more that up till recently I had not fully delved into on his shows.

I’ve also been a huge admirer of Indonesia’s Dita and have caught her a couple of times in different countries now, her deep digs are always excellent and her sets always pull through with some good nostalgia and celebration.

Dexter Colt (whose track 'Off The Brons' is in the mix) has made some upcoming heaters that I’ve played a few times on dancefloors, his entire EP is for me equal parts hypnotic-soothing as it is bullet, and his selections on radio and when I’ve seen him live also follow suit, key in for that release.

Beyond recent, so many others like Takky and May (of Acid Sister), Melati ESP, Yusuke Yamamoto, Yetpet, Mari Martinez, the list goes on.

Describe one prediction you have about dance music in a post-pandemic world that’s being driven by new technologies.

Producing and shipping records has always been a persistent issue even pre-pandemic, and streaming is firmly here to stay, so not necessarily a prediction but a strong wish is for emerging tech to alleviate some of the bottlenecks and supply chain issues if that’s even feasible.

Tell us about the inspiration behind this mix - what drove your thoughts and emotions, and how did you curate your selection?

I approach each mix quite differently, and for this one, there were several records I’d picked up recently that have been on repeat that I used as the anchors, and then subsequently built it around those. Some others have been with me for a while longer. As with most mixes, I enjoy featuring a range of sounds but I try to let it flow and breathe as and when but still layer around. I dig the thrill of the actual mixing and translating that into listening. What headspace I’m in does bleed into my selections and the first quarter of this mix probably exemplifies that, with a slight haze and meandering.

What equipment did you record this mix on?

My home set-up now is a pair of Pioneer XDJ1000 and a Xone 23 mixer, as well as a Vestax turntable that I use to mix/digitise my records, then a field recorder to record the whole thing.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen happening from the DJ booth?

A Mona Lisa with her tongue out. Someone also tried to climb atop some subs that were maybe a metre and a half tall once, not exactly weird but just don’t.

Where can we hear you playing next?

I’ll be playing next month at Headquarters (Upstairs), as well as several pop-up parties and regular digs around the island.

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