School of Thought

Interview by Charlene Chan
Portrait of Javier & Joshua by Jovian Lim
Photographs courtesy of Camp Kilo Charcoal Club & Grain Traders

The best ideas rarely come fully-formed and ready to be executed. Some remain as fleeting thoughts, others are thrown out into the open for critique, but fail to materialise. A select few, though, with a period of deliberation and planning, turn into tangible projects that take on a life of their own, rallying communities around themselves. Javier, who co-founded Series of Intentions (SOI) with Joshua and YC, would know: having thought of SOI more than a decade before it began, he’s perhaps most familiar with the fluid nature of ideas and how best to build upon them.

In 2016 alone, the team kept busy with Camp Kilo Charcoal Club, an easy weekend BBQ joint; their second branch of Grain Traders, which offers wholesome meal options for busy individuals; and the much-anticipated re-opening of Kilo Lounge. Yet the team is not quite ready to slow down for now—we catch Javier and Joshua amidst their busy schedules to find out what else they have in store for us in the coming year.

Camp Kilo 4

Camp Kilo Charcoal Club

Congrats on the re-opening of Kilo Lounge! You were also busy last year with Camp Kilo and Grain Traders—how has the response been and what do you hope to achieve with Kilo Lounge’s new space?

Javier (JP): Thank you! People have really embraced the return of Kilo Lounge, and we couldn’t be more thankful. With Kilo Lounge, beyond music, we hope to be able to bring back our original programming: we used to host something called Kilo Dialogues, where we’ve had speakers or panelists come by and speak about topics ranging all the way from local architecture to the supernatural. We’ve also held stand-up comedy nights, yoga sessions, interactive art performances, fashion shows and product launches in the space. The old lounge was a multi-purpose platform for all different kinds of talent, and that’s definitely something we want to bring to the new lounge.

Joshua (JA): I’ve had people come up to me and tell me that they don’t really go out anymore since the old Kilo Lounge closed, so to be able to finally bring that back has been amazing. We had an incredible turnout at Kilo Lounge during our soft launch weekends even before we officially opened, so we’re hoping to be able to keep that up and keep people coming. It’s been great seeing some old, familiar faces and also welcoming new ones as well.

The ultimate goal is to have Kilo Lounge become an institution in the Southeast Asian music industry, a place that gets international artists coming down to the region, and also a place for them to meet with and collaborate with local artists as well. We’ve been very deliberate in our lineup of acts to always have a mix of local talent and Singapore- based DJs alongside international names; it’s about giving these DJs a platform and putting Singapore’s music on the world map.

Grain Traders

Grain Traders at 100am & Capita Green

JP: Responses for Grain Traders and Camp Kilo have been great. People tell me they can finally bring their family down [to Grain Traders] on weekends, and this gives us a great opportunity to push ourselves—we’re thinking about brunch options, even.

JA: I think we were able to build a following among people who came to the first outlet. It’s refreshing to see people support a concept like Grain Traders—it speaks a lot about how people are wanting to eat healthier.

JP: We designed Camp Kilo to serve as an escape from everyday life; we wanted it to be a place ideal for a slow weekend with a beer in hand, laid back music and a platter of food. We’ve got families coming down to hang out, and people kicking back with friends.

JA: There were initial concerns about how people would respond to the idea of a no-frills, weekend BBQ concept. But the response has been overwhelming and a bit of a surprise, actually. Thankfully people dig it!

Can you explain how Kilo fits into the SOI narrative?

JP: Kilo falls under the SOI group, which includes Camp Kilo and Grain Traders. It has informed the way we run our other ventures— we’re about creating shared experiences, and communicating with people through whatever we do. Whether it’s an amazing meal with friends or an evening of dialogue sessions, we hope people connect with each other and our brand. Ultimately, I’ve always wanted Kilo to be a platform.

JA: Kilo has been the place of birth for inspiration, ideas, and direction. At first glance it would look like we’re an F&B group, because our restaurants form the platform that breathes life into SOI, but our intentions extend further than that—we organize events such as our After Dark pop-ups, After Dawn Block Party, Kilo Dialogues, and Kilo Laughs. SOI is involved in every element of conceptualization, from interior and graphic design, to menu creation, operation standards, and marketing and management.

Read more in The U Press N˚14 (Singapore edition).