Real Talk w/ Roger Bong #AlohaGotSoul

Roger-Bong-Soul-Time-In-Hawaii-Photo-by-John-Hook (1)

Talk about the many creative stages that went into the eventual completion of Soul Time In Hawaii.
I started talking with Cedric Bardawil of Weekends West last year in August. We wanted to do a t-shirt inspired by Hawaiian soul, which went hand-in-hand with a mix of local music. Here in Honolulu, I listened to a lot of Hawaiian records over and over, tried to feel out which tracks would fit the Weekends West brand, and then over the course of a few weeks got the tracklist in order. Out in London, Cedric went through a number of design ideas and revisions, t-shirt test printings, and getting the word out to other UK-based DJs in his network.

What aspects of the “Soul” of Hawaii are you most interested in?
Rediscovery. I feel like our current generation isn’t fully aware of the local soul music scene from back in the day. A lot of that music hasn’t really been passed on to us—Kalapana and C&K for sure, but other music has been forgotten. What interests me is there’s always something new to discover from the 70s and 80s. And the quality of soul music from here is unique, it’s got a sound of innocence and tropical vibes you don’t find anywhere else.

You may know the answer to this or possibly have a theory as to why Hawaii Soul Music hasn’t been preserved. What’s your take? Could it be because the mainland influence exists so strongly in the genre?

There have been pockets here and there of people documenting soul music of Hawaii in the past decade—like the Cool Hawaii reissue label in Japan or the Hawaii A-Go-Go book from a record collector in Iowa—but no single definitive resource for Hawaiian soul music. I wouldn’t say that Aloha Got Soul is that definitive resource yet, there’s so much more information out there that needs to be captured, but I’m hoping it’ll be considered the definitive destination for local soul music someday.


Is there a radio station that caters to local soul music?

At the moment no local radio station caters specifically to Hawaiian soul, but as the keyboardist for Kalapana once put it, you can hear “The Hurt” in your local Foodland anytime.

What are your favorite places on the island to dig?

Jelly’s, Hungry Ear, and thrift stores are my go-to’s for digging.

You enter your favorite digging location, what are some of the first things you do/”examine” on a record before you consider buying it?

First thing that catches my eye is cover art, then I’ll look at the details like which label it’s on, who was involved in making the record—musicians, producers, composers, engineers—and finally the condition of the record. If a record is totally beat but I know it doesn’t pop up often, I’ll probably get it. But if I’m going to find another copy at some point, I might leave it behind.

As far as the hobby of collecting is concerned. What did you collect as a kid?

Growing up I used to collect Magic cards, Pogs, coins and later on in my childhood sports cards. The day I decided to give up collecting Magic cards I literally gave it all up for free to my friends.

How do you store/protect your record collection?

In plastic sleeves whenever possible—which reminds me, I need to order more soon. It’s a bit of a pain when I take the records out to a gig, but I want to preserve the album as best I can.

You pick up a record that is crap. Do you simply add it to the collection or do you find value in all the records you purchase?

I don’t have a desire to own every record I see, I don’t want to become a hoarder. I won’t keep a record if it’s junk, musically or condition-wise, I only keep what’s valuable to me. At the moment, my collection consists of mostly Hawaiian music plus some jazz, funk and soul. Every record I purchase I buy because I enjoy it. There are some local records I don’t enjoy listening to so much, but it’s historical value is enough for me to keep it around. Other than that, I try to keep my record collection pared down to what I really want.

The place where you store your records catches on fire, what are some records or genres of records you would probably grab first?

There’s probably a dozen or so local records I would definitely grab if I had to save just a few in a desperate situation. But it depends on the situation, because my life’s more valuable than those records!

What is some basic etiquette most diggers follow.

I feel like the idea if what a ‘digger’ is has evolved over time. Initially a digger would have to find everything on their own and keep that knowledge to themselves, especially if they were breaking records as a DJ or samples as a producer. But nowadays I feel like diggers have a greater resposibility to share their knowledge with others instead of keeping it to themselves. Why? Probably because the music we dig up deserves to live on with as many people as possible, and besides it’s bound to pop up on the internet at some point (haha!). Look at The Diggers Union, their radio show is called “Enjoy and Be Educated” because the music they dig up is meant to be enjoyed by others, and they want to pass on a tradition of sound and art that might otherwise be lost if we don’t share our knowledge with one another. But going back to the original question: don’t hound a digger to tell you about a record—let them tell you about it when they’re ready.

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