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PLAYING IT BY EAR: A revolving collection of about 800 titles on vinyl or CD formats can be found at Ladylord, the brainchild of film and television commercials director Wilson Yip and his girlfriend Angela Choy.

Groove to your own music

There are no arguments over what gets played as music bonds the crowd at Singapore's first BYO-music bar-bistro, Ladylord.
Apr 3, 2015 5:50 AM

NOBODY ever complains about the music at Ladylord, a new bar-bistro off Portsdown Road. After all, its unique playlist is curated by the customers themselves who are encouraged by owner, Wilson Yip, to bring and spin their own vinyl or CD.

Even if they don't, there might just be one that will tickle their fancy from the revolving collection of about 800 titles on both formats which he leaves there for the public to browse. That, incidentally, amounts to less than half of the 40-year-old film and television commercials director's private collection at home.

Opened in late December last year by Mr Yip and his girlfriend, Angela Choy, Ladylord is the first cafe of its kind in Singapore where the customer has full say over what music gets spun.

It's also Yip's way of encouraging people to listen to music the old-fashioned way - on physical formats and on a proper hi-fi sound system - not with MP3s blasting from their mobile phones.

Unsurprisingly, the more popular format by far is vinyl, which some of Ladylord's younger patrons have never seen before or have any experience handling.

"Most of them don't even touch the CDs despite the CD collection boasting a more diverse range of titles," says Yip.

The concept of running a BYO-music bar-bistro struck the couple during a weekend jaunt to local hi-fi haven, The Adelphi, last year.

Ms Choy, whose background is in F&B, felt inspired by the cosy showrooms and the pair decided they should start their own unique drinking place where music lovers can bond over good food and music at the same time.

The result is Ladylord, a homely 851 sqm space invitingly decked out to resemble the living room of a record collector. The name, incidentally, is a playful take on the lao ban niang (female boss) role Ms Choy plays because she runs the operation there 24/7 while Mr Yip pops by to help in the evenings after work.

"We complement each other - she cooks everything while I'm more of the music person," he says.

Mingling with his customers has also exposed Mr Yip, a lifelong music fan, to new bands and broadened the genres he tunes in to. "I used to tell people I listen to everything except bluegrass and rap but that has changed since," he shares.

Despite the very democratic play-what-you-want rule, so far there hasn't been any incidents or arguments over the music.

"Everybody is quite considerate and people usually wait for a song or album to finish before they change it to something else; so far nobody has had their heads smashed with a glass," he jests.

On the contrary, the music has become the glue that bonds the crowd though Mr Yip jokingly admits the alcohol could possibly play a part in things too.

But it's not just the tunes that are a hit with Ladylord's regulars - so is the food on the bar bites menu, especially the Black Beauty set which is Ms Choy's recipe and comprises fried fish cakes, chicken wings and sotong balls coated with charcoal powder.

Though the indie genre is a general favourite with the crowd, Mr Yip stresses there are no restrictions on what can or cannot be played at Ladylord.

"I had a customer who brought a heavy metal record but she was cautious and was a little worried it might be too loud; but I told her it's okay, though I might say no to death metal - unless there's nobody around," he laughs, "Over here, we play things by ear."