Photo Essay

Infree Records: connecting through music in Mong Kok

By Chen Zhouyi

February 2024

The owner of Infree Records in Mong Kok, Soni Yasaratne, said that he so named the store because he wants people to feel free to come and listen to the music they like.

Infree Records, a music store in Mong Kok selling vinyl records, CDs, cassettes and turntables, is a place people go not only to buy music but also form relationships 

Owner of the record store, Soni Yasaratne, is a former guitarist in a band and loves heavy metal music. After he quit playing, he opened the record store to focus on for heavy metal music. Today the store stocks all kinds of music from jazz and soul to rock and pop.

The reason for the name “Infree,” Yasaratne says, is that he wants customers to feel free to come into the store and pick out the music they want.

“You have the freedom to come, and you can leave whenever you want,” Yasaratne said. “But remember we are all connected by a red line of faith; there is a soul connection between each person.

 “You are free to choose the music you want. You don’t have to listen to metal. Metal is about the heart and is from the soul and thinking, which really matters.”

Customers from all over the world come to rummage through the records, find their favorites and meet Yasaratne. 

Metal, rock, jazz, pop…Infree Record sells many kinds of music in many formats. 

Some customers said they usually spend more than half an hour carefully browsing through each vinyl record in search of their favorite.

 Yasaratne will play records that customers select on the store’s audio system.

Infree Records also sells turntables.

A customer sings along with the music playing over the store speakers. 

Ada from Nanjing said she made time to visit this record store on her trip. “I heard from my friend that there are a lot of records here and I want to help her see if there are any records she wants,” she said.

“Wow, this is my favorite. Oh my god!” Ada exclaimed. Ada took many pictures of  the stock at Infree Records.

A couple from Changsha stopped by Infree Records, flipping through the vinyl and CDs one by one. They said they had never seen so many records in one store.
Despite being a fan of heavy metal music, Yasaratne has an entire wall of Taylor Swift records. “I want to inspire people through Taylor’s story,” he says. “Unlike others, Taylor stands up for women to get where she is today, and that’s an amazing thing.”
Iris, who came from Macau specifically to buy Taylor Swift albums, said, “She is my favorite singer, and she gives me a lot of encouragement when I’m lost.”

The store is loaded with Yasaratne’s other passions. Having lived in Japan, he enjoys Spy Family and Lonely Rock, and the characters from these anime can be found in many corners of the store.

Store owner Soni Yasaratne talks to two customers. Yasaratne speaks with everyone who visits thestore on topics ranging from the story of the record to thier life experiences. Some customers say that’s one of the reasons they choose to visit the store: they like the sense of connection.

Yasaratne takes a photo of a customer with her CD purchase. He posts all the photos on social media. He refers to each customer as an “amazing soul.” “I’ve met people from all over the country at this store,” he says as he opens a map and points to each place. “And with the people who patronize the record store, we build a relationship, and it’s an amazing thing.”