Old School Cool: Design Lecturer With A Passion For Vinyl Records

This officer’s passion for music keeps him ahead of the game when teaching design.

In this digital day and age, with myriad music tracks available at a tap or a click of the mouse, most people no longer buy music in a physical format.

Yet, Foo Say Keong, a Communication Design lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic, still prefers hunting down music in the form of vinyl records (also known as LPs).

Say Keong owns more than 1,000 vinyl titles. A few times a month, he goes crate digging – sifting through stacks of LPs in record stores for rare and special titles.

“[T]he fun thing about crate digging is you let the title ‘look’ for you rather than [you] go looking for the title,” says the 39-year-old. “[You get] more surprises this way.”

It is a bonus whenever he finds any heavy metal titles, since the genre is his favourite. The music enthusiast will also make an effort to buy vinyl versions of recently released albums.

He even goes abroad to expand his collection, dedicating a day during vacations to vinyl-hunt: once, he brought home 51 records from Spain and another time, 30 from New York.

Say Keong’s passion for music started back in his childhood, when he amassed cassettes and CDs – he still has 2,000 of those CDs with him – before catching the LP bug eight years ago.

“When you hold on to a piece of vinyl, it’s so different,” he says. “There’s a feeling to it, and the sound quality is also better [than digital music].”

Keeping up with music by collecting physical recordings helps to “keep design alive” in his mind, since many visual elements associated with music – the art on album sleeves and concert posters – expose him to a wide variety of designs and their latest trends.

“Design is always changing. If I don’t keep up, I’ll just look like [an] old fart,” he says, on what motivates him to stay ahead of trends. He also has a collection of more than 20 skateboards with quirky designs, such as Andy Warhol prints.

Say Keong might prefer old-school records, but he’s far from old-fashioned. His extensive knowledge of music and skateboarding skills help him connect with his students. He performs tricks on his students’ skateboards, chats about music with them after school and sometimes even lets them hitch a ride to music gigs.

“It’s easier to teach after you have this kind of respect from them,” he says.

    Nov 26, 2014
    Tay Qiao Wei
    John Heng
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