The return of vinyl records

Free listening section for the public, the store comes with a free reading section too.

Bandat Record Store, intrinsic to its name, is placed at the heart of Kuching’s preserved touristic area, Carpenter Street. 

To put it in another way, Bandat felt more like a home than a store, catering to the public’s ears with the providence of a vintage format twist, vinyl, which livens the 145-year-old street with various genres of music.

New Sarawak Tribune was welcomed by the three founders of the store — Jeremy Batin (J), 32, Hubert Ron (Timun), and Max Biondi (Bondi), 34. They said that vintage formats are making their return to the ears of Sarawakians, regardless of the young and old generations. 

Bondi, talking about Bandat, said, “Pakei lepak-lepak jak”. The Sarawakian common saying or in English was “just a place for hanging out. 

How it all started

Timun posing at their ‘food not bombs’ banner, a communal work in providing food for the needy.

It all began in 2015, while Bondi was studying in Malacca. He began collecting underground band cassettes and compact discs, influenced by the culture of his friends there. 

 “To my surprise, the vinyl scene in Malaysia, specifically Sarawak, is slowly but steadily growing, and it’s already becoming a community hobby.

 “We were moved and inspired by the vinyl movement in other countries, and we wanted to create a place where people could go to find both underground and mainstream physical formatted music.

 “I was opening booths and selling my merchandise at local gigs before the store opened, and it was exhausting to carry all the vinyl around; mobility was an issue because an average vinyl weighs 180g. 

“So, why don’t we come together and make Bandat a reality? That is where the concept for Bandat Record Storearose,” said the Multimedia University graduate.

According to Bondi, there are several types of vinyl buyers, including collectors of one-of-a-kind, limited-edition first editions of their favourite bands.

“Some people want to collect it because it has a high resell value because rare first-press vinyl is hard to come by and in high demand, while others simply want to listen to a particular band or -artist,” he said.

He also said that, aside from rare records, more common records can be obtained easily through social media platforms.

“The sentiment of owning a physical copy is something to be proud of” he pointed out.

When asked regarding local band production, J said, “We also collect and sell local band music, and we want to contribute to the growth of our community.” 

According to him, the store has received physical copies of local bands from Kuching, Sibu, Miri, and Bintulu so far.

“We understand that local bands have day jobs as well and that by having such a store, we can assist them in marketing and selling their products,” J said.

Helping the local scenes

Bondi posing with the vinyl in the background.

According to J, the store is still on the lookout for more local bands while also assisting them in the production of physical copies.

Furthermore, he said that because Bandat is in a touristic locale, tour guides have been bringing tourists to their shops.

“The location is ideal, and tourists stop by to share their common interests with us and to share their experiences, which we greatly appreciate,” he said happily.

He thanked the public for their support, saying that the store has drawn people from all walks of life, ages, and genres. 

“We used to have to make appointments during the Movement Restriction period to avoid contact, but now that the endemic phase is over, we can see elders, teenagers, and even young children with their parents coming in.

We want Bandat to be welcoming to people from all walks of life, and the store wants to maintain an open mindset because music encompasses a wide range of genres,” he explained.

Timun said that the store also produces music for Sarawak’s local bands.

“This is what sets us apart from other vintage shops — we can turn your band’s music into physical formats, and that is what makes Bandat so special. The Bandat record store will be the first of its kind, serving as a community hub and giving back to the community,” he said. 

 He also said that they will assist in the distribution of band copies throughout Malaysia, as well as internationally to Indonesia.
 “This is how labels can work together by promoting the physical format of their local bands all over the world. In another way, local music may reach organisers, and they may be fortunate enough to be invited to any tours or gigs,” he said.

 He said that they want to assist in any way possible in the growth of Sarawak’s local music scene. He also mentioned that vinyl has a cult following and that listeners who appreciate the quality of physical copies are known as Audiophiles.

J with a few of Bandat’s precious posters that came with the vinyl.

 A vinyl piece worth RM500 to RM1,000

“Some people are willing to spend money on valuable presses, such as the one owned by the late senior P Ramlee, because seven-inch vinyl is difficult to come by in the market, it can cost anywhere from RM500 to RM1,000 per piece.

 “As a result, vinyl is a valuable artefact that requires special attention; if exposed to too much heat or is handled roughly, it will expand and break,” Timun said. 

When asked what differentiates digital and hard copy audio quality, he explained that digital audios are compressed and tend to lose the instrument’s quality, whereas vinyl provides a richer experience for listeners.

 The trio also reveals that Bandat Recording Studio will soon be expanding into a web store to reach out to more listeners and collectors.

 The store welcomes walk-ins and encourages visitors to take advantage of free readings and open records by various artists and bands.

 They are located at No 57, Carpenter Street, 93000, Kuching, Sarawak. The public can visit their Facebook page at Bandat Record Store or Instagram at bandat.recordstore.

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