Q&A: DJ Adrian Wee Looks Back on 12 Years of Poptart

With the 12th anniversary of the indie night looming, ZYRUP spoke to Eatmepoptart’s head honcho.
Adrian Wee Poptart Interview 12 Anniversary Do You Remember the First Time
Photo: Eatmepoptart

With an unapologetic mix of genres like Britpop, Indie Rock and Synthpop and a devil-may-care attitude, premier indie club night Eatmepoptart (commonly referred to simply as ‘Poptart’, a la the famous snack) has found its niche with the indie subculture crowd — even within an infamously fast-changing industry.

Since its launch in 2004 by DJs Adrian Wee (weelikeme) and Robin Chua (KiDG), Poptart has grown to become of one of the longest-running club nights in Singapore.

Poptart will celebrate the milestone on Dec 16 at the Esplanade Annexe Studio with Do You Remember The First Time?, an event featuring weelikeme and KiDG, alongside other guest DJs and local bands including Supersect and Sobs.

We speak to DJ Adrian Wee on his journey with Eatmepoptart so far.

ZYRUP: What’s it like for you emotionally, heading into the 12th anniversary of Eatmepoptart?
DJ Adrian Wee: Right now, I am filled with a lot of stress, worry and the occasional panic attacks – planning the event, pimping the tickets, and working out the logistics – all the shit we have to do before the event.

The rare times when I’m not in worry mode, I feel grateful and pretty much elated with the fact that after all these years, we’re still a decent party.

The anniversary party is named ‘Do You Remember The First Time?’ – do you remember your first Poptart experience?
The exact details might be a bit hazy, but I do have a general idea of how it panned out. The first party was in October 2004, at a lesbian club called Mad Monks. The crowd that came was made up of our friends and their friends. We played a selection of Britpop, Grunge, Alt Rock and New Wave – it wasn’t the wildest party but more like a house party with friends, loved ones and one or two oddballs.

Take us back to the early days. How did Eatmepoptart first start?
The whole thing was probably [sparked] by how tired we were with the clubs at that time.

People were getting quite serious with their music and that was a problem for me. I just wanted to have a great night out with good music and company and have a little silly dance. It seemed simple enough, but there just wasn’t an outlet for that. So you could say we started Eatmepoptart so we could have a space and that outlet for us to party.

So one night, at a gathering at a friend’s house, someone put on a playlist of nostalgic indie, rock, punk and Britpop from the 90’s, and then eureka! That set off a series of bright ideas, and a month later, we launched a night based on that house party.

At the start, everything was very DIY. We didn’t have social media then to spread the word, and instead were hitting cool shops in town to drop off photocopied flyers and hang up posters.

How we grew was pretty much through word-of-mouth. After three or so events, we got the attention from media and scenesters, and we were drawing crowds of more than 500 at Mad Monks.

What is it like to see people respond so well to Eatmepoptart?
Part relief, part overjoyed, part we-should-celebrate-by-drinking-10-tequila-shots-each. After that, full regret.

Did you expect yourself to be doing this for 12 years?
Haha. Twelve years actually passed so quickly with a blink of an eye. Since the beginning, I hardly think or have a plan about how long we’re gonna do this for. However, in hindsight, 12 years is a fucking long lifespan for a club night. Having said that, we were always conscious of not burning out, and evolving to appeal to the new generations.

How many more years do you see yourself doing Eatmepoptart?
I really don’t know. Eatmepoptart will probably carry on as long as I am standing, and we still draw a crowd. Or maybe if/when the next generation of DJs take over, they can go on for another few more decades; and during the 40th anniversary party, I’ll be pulling shapes on my leather-studded wheelchair, tucked in a corner drinking a bottle of whiskey.

Photo: Eatmepoptart

In what ways has the ‘scene’/crowd changed over the years?
Eatmepoptart has always existed outside of conventional clubbing and parties. For most times, the booking opportunities would rely a lot of the club’s willingness to be adventurous to explore their programming and ‘try something different’.

It did feel that things were easier at the start, as we did have a few so-called ‘underground’ outlets who pretty much served the alternative communities. We’re definitely in a more challenging situation now, and this is down to pretty much to the EDM culture – where the focus of the clubs is to sell ridiculous amounts of expensive drinks to crowds who like to flaunt them. This whole culture is the antithesis of everything we try to represent, and more often than not, we will not be involved in those places. If the priority of the outlet is to sell the silly-priced tables, it’s directly relative to really bad music, smut marketing, and very little intellect.

On the same note, how has Eatmepoptart evolved over the years?
We did start out with a playlist of music we connected with when growing up. However as the years passed, the new crowd experienced music from a later era, so we made a conscious effort to evolve our music so they can relate. Technically, we have learnt a lot over the years, and progressed from a ‘selecta’ DJing style to putting more effort in mixing and giving the night a proper flow.

Is there one song that you will never play?
Sometimes we play cheesy stuff a little fun and fuck with the crowd. But despite that, I can quite safely say you won’t be hearing ‘Despacito’ or anything by Chainsmokers at Eatmepoptart. Ever.

What about a song that is a must-have for your sets?
‘Mr Brightside’ is a standout track that has stood the test of time. It was released the same year we started Poptart, and it drives the dancefloor just as crazy as it did when we first dropped it in 2004.

12 years is a long, long time. You must have seen a lot go down at the parties. Are you able to share some of the juicier stories?
Haha whatever happens at Eatmepoptart stays at Eatmepoptart….

Actually it hasn’t been as decadent rock ‘n’ roll as we’d like, but I can say that often during the early years, at some point of the night, I’d be topless, hanging from a ceiling fixture and screaming along to Arcade Fire.

Last question. Tease us a little – what can we expect from you for #poptart12?
I’m really looking forward to the performances by Supersect and Sobs, as well as the DJs. To top it off, the event is hosted by the Queen of Funny, Preetipls. I believe we have put together a killer concoction for a great night and a perfect climax to a fruitful year.

Adrian Wee Poptart Interview 12 Anniversary Do You Remember the First Time
Photo: Eatmepoptart

Tickets to ‘Do You Remember The First Time?’ can be purchased here. For more information, visit Eatmepoptart’s website and Facebook page.