“With CDs or songs, you download them from the internet and just drift off to continue to do what you’re doing. Vinyls really make you listen,” says Nick Langford.
We’re big fans of all sorts of music at Honeycombers Hong Kong, from shoegaze to electronic bands like The Bilinda Butchers, Mount Kimbie and Sleep Party People. Although the shop is now closed in Hong Kong, in its heyday Vintage Vinyl HK was known for its diverse range of records – which covered everything from Cantopop to North American rock, folk, industrial music, and Japanese hip hop. It was the perfect hang-out spot for indie kids, music obsessors and collectors to spend their Saturday afternoons. We interviewed the organiser and founder of Vintage Vinyl HK Nick Langford to find out more about his love for LPs.
Interview with Nick Langford from Vintage Vinyl HK
Hi, Nick. Thanks for chatting with us. Can you tell us more about the monthly vinyl record sale that you organised?
I bought my first collection of vinyls from my brother’s wife in Vancouver. They had these records that they didn’t know what to do with, so I said: “I’ll pay you back,” and brought 10,000 records to Hong Kong. We then rented the premises on Elgin Street, called Culture Club Gallery, and I invited a lot of sellers in Hong Kong to come along and bring their records to sell. The sale transformed from a couple of hours on a Thursday night, to four hours on a Saturday afternoon. It was popular with people of all-ages, and people from across the cultural spectrum including locals, expats, young and old. We also changed the venue to Frank’s on Wyndham.
What did you do apart from managing the record sale?
I was in education. And I used to be in finance, so I’d been transitioning out of that into more meaningful stuff. I worked for a charity called PLK and I worked here in Causeway Bay in the children’s home, and a school in Tai Wai. I taught English, as well as science and critical thinking.
We didn’t see record sales happening in Hong Kong very often, so how were the events received?
We’d turn up at 2.45pm as we opened at 3pm, and there’d be people queuing up trying to dig through the boxes in the streets. That’s what the whole spirit was about. I couldn’t say it was hugely commercial for me, but it was just such a nice thing to do. Finding all these old records and gradually meeting new people; it was crazy.
Vintage Vinyl HK had really been getting its name out there. Where did you see this heading?
Clockenflap in 2015 was the first time I went out into the big wild world. I made great friends and started a nice network. We began looking at music type projects, and we worked on an Italian jazz project in terms of actually producing a record.
And then maybe starting a store! Ideally what I wanted was a social space. If you got everything right, the commercial side would come to you – that’s what I believed. I wasn’t here trying to squeeze the last dollar out of every tray. I wanted to create a community around this fine, real touchy feely thing.
What was the first vinyl that you ever bought?
When I was 11 years old, my first 7” record was Pretty Vacant by the Sex Pistols; picture sleeve, very nice. My parents weren’t particularly happy, as you could imagine, but the Sex Pistols were the hype of the punk rock scene in 1976. From then on, I just bought records when I could afford it, which was not very often.
What did you think about the vinyl scene in Hong Kong?
I thought it was very exciting. It took me a while to get into the local scene, as it really was driven by the locals. But it’s super fun. The individuals involved were very passionate big collators. Most, if not all, serious collectors just rented cheap storage, and they just kept on buying. Classical was really big here, but for me, that’s just something I wasn’t able to touch. Jazz was getting bigger, although it’s mostly mainstream; with avant garde, abstract, and free improvisation jazz, they didn’t get quite as much of an audience here.
For fans of shoegaze or post-punk type of music, jazz sometimes felt a little sensual. Could you tell me why you enjoy listening to jazz music?
For jazz, I like the really crazy shit, it’s surprising, engaging, trying to work out what’s going on, which instrument was talking to which instrument in this improvisation. I like particular instruments, including bass, baritone, saxophone, and double bass. That sort of end of the spectrum really gets me going.
Where did you usually get your vinyls or check out gigs in Hong Kong?
The one thing I’ve got through the record stuff though is finding out about live music in Hong Kong! This place in Aberdeen called The Empty Gallery, I’d tried to go to everything they do, it’s just crazy stuff. Peter Brötzmann, he was one of the top instrument players in the world. I sat in the front row and the whole thing was so visceral. You could see the veins popping out of his neck and his forehead. It was just amazing! There was also a little venue just a few doors down White Noise Records, SAAL in Kwun Tong, and Salon 10 in Central. They all had some interesting stuff going on.
Do you have any favourite local bands?
Teenage Riot, A New World If You Can Take It, Prune Deer, and Blood Wine Or Honey.
What albums do you listen to?
I listen to a Japanese punk rock band called The Mods, and a Southern America jazz rock psych band called Bethlehem Asylum. Also, I bought a record by Hong Kong experimental electronic pop band called No One Remains Virgin, and their record was called Life Fucks Everyone.
Though now relocated to Edinburgh, you can still stay updated with Vintage Vinyl.