Lifestyle

Spin the black circle: Hong Kong’s love affair with vinyl

Spin the black circle: Hong Kong’s love affair with vinyl
Even though there are stores in Hong Kong dedicated to selling music on wax, the pop-up concept provides a mixed bag of surprises. Photo: AFP
Published: 2:55 PM, September 12, 2017
Updated: 10:59 PM, September 12, 2017

HONG KONG — Collectors and music fans gathered at a pop-up store last Thursday (Sept 7) to hunt for dusty old vinyl albums in Hong Kong where the format’s warm sounds continue to gain new fans.

Even though there are stores in the city dedicated to selling music on wax, the pop-up concept provides a mixed bag of surprises.

It brings together independent sellers who haul different crates of records for sale each time, so one never knows what gems could be unearthed.

Organised by Nick Langford, a teacher and vinyl aficionado, the monthly pop-up affair is seeing a growing base of customers — from vinyl veterans to those curious to make the leap from digital to analogue.

Langford and others in the scene tell AFP there was a burgeoning local record business in the 1960s and 1970s with many Hong Kong bands influenced by western rock and releasing records.

Those records as well as vinyl from the 1980s, widely regarded as the golden age of Canotopop, are well sought after.

Many major western bands had their vinyl copies pressed in Hong Kong but they are usually considered less superior to pressings elsewhere.

“All of the big bands would have had their records pressed here (in Hong Kong) but the pressing quality was poor. So, a Pink Floyd copy of The Wall pressed here in Hong Kong would trade in a big discount to a nice Japanese pressed copy, for instance,” says Langford.

Overcrowded Hong Kong where rental rates are among the highest in the world can be challenging for collectors and new independent vinyl sellers.

Some sellers rely on the pop-up store to showcase their eclectic music, but mostly prefer to look for punters online. But an addiction to good quality audio can sometimes over ride obstacles.

“I have more than a thousand records at home and I’m just living in a small flat, it’s less than 400 square feet, so my wife is complaining,” said Sum Lam, as he bought a few more records to add to his expanding personal collection.

Vinyl’s renaissance is well-documented and globally the format has soared to levels not seen since the 1980s.

It has been a rare source of growth in the long-beleaguered music industry alongside — although at a much smaller scale than — streaming. AFP