Every week we ask a creative, artisan, or musician to share what music gets them going from dawn to dusk. This week, Robin Chua, Adrian Wee's DJ partner at EATMEPOPTART, describes his favourite mood lifters for the day.
EATMEPOPTART celebrated its 13th anniversary the past weekend to tremendous success, from a huge turnout to good vibes, and most importantly, party-appropriate tunes. A little bird told us that the birthday set includes S Club and Florence & The Machine—very unorthodox but on brand with the social audio maestro.
In addition to last week's conversation with weelikeme, we also managed to powwow with Robin Chua (KiDG), the other resident DJ of EATMEPOPTART, too.
ESQ: Firstly, congrats on EATMEPOPTART’s 13th anniversary! I would like to know how has EMPT grown with its community and able to stay relevant but true to its identity?
Robin Chua: Rock music, in general, seemed to have taken quite a backseat these days, so it’s challenging trying to maintain that vibrant EMPT vibe. Still, I’d think we’ve managed to balance between the indie throwback sounds from the past two decades with selected new music from recent years. We just have to keep on digging deeper by checking out newer acts that embody that EMPT spirit. Surprisingly, some of the new ones we like come from our own country!
ESQ: Tell us more on the theme ‘Hard Luck Club’ and what it means to you?
Robin Chua: Hard work + a bit of luck = a great club nite. Hahahaha. 13 is usually associated with a lack of luck so it’s a play on words. But on the contrary, we have been very blessed to be where we are now and having such a great audience. The EMPT crowd is the best folks to DJ to.
ESQ: It’s rare for DJs to spin underrated indie music. What made you want to profile off-kilter tunes that deserve to be recognised?
Robin Chua: Sharing music has always been fun. It’s that communal feeling when you know a certain kind of sound unites us together. We love our indie tunes, and to know and find like-minded folks sharing that same love propels us to want to showcase new music we’ve discovered. It’s kind of like sharing food haha, like “hey man there’s this really dope new nasi lemak stall you gotta check out that’s trending…”
ESQ: Tell us a unique or memorable music moment that happened earlier this year.
Robin Chua: We recently turned our subsidiary Electric Feel nights into something where we purely play music from the 80’s. That went down amazingly. It’s amazing to see how the kids know and love their 80’s tunes, when most of them weren’t even born yet when these songs were first released. Some of the kids even brought their parents to our Electric Feel parties, which was really special to see both kids and parents partying at the same place.
ESQ: What’s next for EATMEPOPTART and which artist(s) are on your radar for 2019?
Robin Chua: We hope to incorporate live acts into our events, which hopefully will come to pass. I think the Singapore music scene is bubbling more these days, and we wish to see more recognition and appreciation for homegrown acts, bands like Sobs, Coming Up Roses, Subsonic Eye. Even Jasmine Sokko is now gaining quite a good amount of attention in China as we speak. So yeah, we wish 2019 would be the year when local music gets huge both locally and internationally.
ESQ: Name a song that best represents EATMEPOPTART.
Robin Chua: This is probably one of the toughest questions ever! It’s like asking who’s your favourite child! I’d hate for it to be limiting, but if push comes to shove, I would say it’s 'Mr. Brightside' by The Killers. I feel both musically and lyrically, that song pretty much sums up the vibe of an EMPT night, people coming out of their cages and letting themselves go.
"Nothing like some ambient & soft electronics to help me ease out of bed for my mornings."
1. ‘Radiant City'—Harold Budd & Robin Guthrie
"According to my Spotify Wrapped for this year, this is my most-played track, which is true since it's in a few of my playlists for my mornings."
2. ‘The Chapel’—Ishnel Ensemble
"From the sweet brooding synths building up to the beats, this one is a good track to get me out of bed."
3. ‘Street Fighter Mas’—Kamasi Washington
"There's something very hopeful about this track to start your day with. Maybe it's the backing vocals sounding gospel-like blending in nicely with the jazz vibes."
"Music tends to take a background position during the day for me if I'm working, so usually the sounds are more driving yet mellow, or even groovy and funky, without sounding too engaging to the head."
1. 'No Place’—Rüfüs Du Sol
"Very nice tune to work with, with catchy melodies and a driving groove."
2. ‘Don't You Know I'm In A Band’—Confidence Man
"Something groovy and hilarious. This one gets me going through the afternoons."
3. 'Telltale Signs'—Sobs
"One of the best tunes out in 2018 by homegrown talents, Sobs! Love how hazy and swoon-like this is."
"The music I play for my nights tend to be like what I'd play for my mornings, except that it's darker and more sensual in the tone. And usually, I'd leave my playlist of ambient drones on while I'm sleeping."
1. ‘I Love Music’—Lord Echo (feat. Lisa Tomlins)
"Almost everything by Lord Echo is up my alley musically, and this one's perfect to kickstart my evenings."
2. 'Angels’—The xx
"Pretty much a classic track now by this London trio. Most of their songs are perfect for the night."
"‘Taken off their Pygmalion album, a lot of the shoegaze fans don't like this phase of Slowdive. But I like how the band progressed beyond that and did something this sparse and experimental."