“I’m at that age now where I don’t want to go out clubbing and have shout to friends over the top of whatever current top 20 the DJ is playing. I don’t want to listen to a playlist on the way to work or a mix CD whilst I catch up on my emails. Music has become a sacred ritual. I want to sit down, I want to relax, and I want to enjoy an album the way the artist intended; from start to finish with the focus solely on it. And it’s all because of vinyl.”
“More and more often I find myself getting home from work and settling down for the evening with a drink in hand and a shiny slab of wax on my turntable. I don’t even bother to turn the TV on. I just listen. And it’s such an amazing sensation.
You really do pay more attention to music when you’re listening on vinyl, there’s just something about it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m listening for the point where I have to flip the disc or subconsciously I feel obliged to because I spent that little bit extra on an album you could have easily spent less on for a download or CD, but I love it.
I love the precision and care I take when flipping that disc between “True Affection” and “The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt.” I love putting down the needle and hearing that quiet hiss before the opening track of the score to Paranorman. I love the subtle cracks and pops on the emotional break on Ryan Adams’ “Come Pick Me Up.” Hell, I love the way the gloriously oversized artwork starts to look after that second rum and coke.
“Vinyl was always mythical for me. My parents were those types that allowed their vinyl to float up to the attic to make way for CDs. That’s not to say they didn’t appreciate the records anymore. Perhaps at a time they may have been purists but their records didn’t stand the test of time, tucked away in storage with a myriad of other memories.”
“My first experience of vinyl was when I was about 12 or 13. Some sort of spring clean granted me access to the loft storage and I found myself rummaging through two big leather cases full of 12” LPs. My parents mostly listened to pop music so there was plenty of Michael Jackson, Hall and Oates, and Elton John. I remember being drawn to a Blondie album. It was Parallel Lines. The monochrome stripes seemed to be grabbing my attention (to this day I’m still drawn to monochrome artwork).
I ran my fingers along the grooves of the record, trying to sense where the sound came from. It speaks volumes that my first contact with vinyl wasn’t aural but physical. A huge part of the appeal is how calming it can be to interact with it.
“My first record shop experience was on my 8th birthday. My godmother used to give me double my age in cash each year—that year I was cash rich with £16 in my pocket and I knew exactly how I was going to spend it.”
“Earlier in the week I had heard an American band on Capital FM (then London’s biggest station)—that band was called the Goo Goo Dolls and the song in question was of course their seminal hit “Iris.” I remember being struck by the acoustic guitars and the vocal. I needed to have this song in my life.
So off I went with my mum to my local HMV (a chain of record shops here in the UK with an iconic logo of a dog sitting next to a gramophone—His Master’s Voice—sadly HMVs cease to exist now). Without really knowing what I was doing I just said to the nearest shop assistant that I was looking for the Goo Goo Dolls. “Singles or albums?” “I have £16?—albums.”
“I don’t think I realised exactly what vinyl would mean to people when I was growing up.”
“My parents and older brother both had large collections and I would play about with them like they were toys. Inevitably at some point I would experience the wrath of my Dad or brother when they came home to find their vinyl collections scattered around. “Pfft, they’re only records,” would be my stock answer, which is a bit hypocritical considering I would now spill blood if anyone ruined my music collection.
I spent a lot of time raking through record drawers and cases picking out albums I hadn’t listened to, and I always remember the feeling of finding something new and wanting to repeat it over and over; a habit which I still have to this day. I can get quite obsessive when I hear an album I like for the first time and will play it to death for weeks without listening to anything else. Radiohead’s OK Computer, Jeff Buckley’s Grace, Takk by Sigur Ros and The National’s High Violet have all got this treatment over the years.
“One of my father’s first jobs out of high school was at a legendary rock club in New Orleans called The Warehouse. Bands showed up early to sound check, and it was my dad’s job to take them out on the town until show time. He’s full of great stories about shooting pool with Bruce Springsteen, teaching Cat Stevens to throw a frisbee, crazy stuff like that. My dad’s not a big talker so it’s taken me all my life to wrench these stories out of him; I was 31 before I ever heard he toured with Bruce Springsteen.”
“Growing up, there were unspoken but visible divisions in our family’s record collection—bands we celebrated endlessly whose records we played on repeat, and then over in a dark creepy corner there were a few records we just weren’t really…..”encouraged” to put on. Eventually I figured out this pile was kinda like a graveyard of asshole musicians, a stack of bands who’d been unsavory toward my very sweet father back when he worked at The Warehouse. It was a silent lesson my dad taught me, but a strong one: the music you put into your ears should be made by good people and good people only, with something important to say.
Having two parents from New Orleans, you’re destined to be raised on some classic RnB and zydeco—lots of NOLA names like Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, Buckwheat Zydeco—these were all on heavy rotation at the house. Other blues records like Bessie Smith “The Empress” were prominent in the collection. In the mid ’90s, my mom wrote her dissertation on racism against Algerian immigrants in France and how it was shaping french hip hop—she’d go to France and bring home a bunch of french hip hop records for me. I specifically remember a double LP soundtrack to the film Ma 6-T Va Cracker—that opened me up to political hip hop as a young person, and has stuck with me since.
“This is a love letter.”
“My stack of very first records, which I bought at Reckless Records on Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park Chicago was a mix of Velvet Underground classics (White Light White Heat and The Velvet Underground and Nico—the latter suggested by a friend…I have since fallen in love with Nico in her own right), The Shins’ Chutes Too Narrow (I might have gotten Oh Inverted World on the second trip), some Neil Young (After the Gold Rush included), and random picks from the dollar box selected based on the merit or weirdness of their cover art.
I had just gotten my first record player: a turntable from the ’80s, bought for 50 bucks off a friend in an old warehouse where he helped out at a magazine and record label. That turntable didn’t last forever—of course. I eventually got a more ‘reliable,’ newer player—unable to find parts for the first one and not being able to live without vinyl for very long. I do still miss the sound and weight of that older turntable and dream of investing in a vintage one again soon.
Going wayy back, I definitely liked The Sound of Music, The Care Bears, and The Chipmunks on vinyl when I was little and had my own little kid record player that also played Sesame Street. My mom, a Suzuki piano teacher, also played Suzuki ear-training pieces for us on vinyl (which I still have).
“Growing up in Miami, one of my first experiences listening to music was with my mom’s vinyl collection from Cuba. Music was always playing in our house and I can still vividly remember how excited I would get when she would go to turn on the record player. For some reason, the energy was never like that when the radio turned on or we put on a CD, but the minute that ebony needle lifted, you’d think Christmas came early.”
“One of my all-time favorite vinyl records at the time was The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night. I loved the feel of the old cardboard in my hands, looking at the artwork and of course, singing along, as I knew every song by heart. I also sang my little heart out with frequency to another favorite, Whitney Houston’s self-titled album, which was the record that led me to fall in love with that golden voice. We listened to all kinds of music in our house, anything from Celia & Johnny to Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
My two sisters and I played violin in a youth orchestra at one point. I will never forget this one conductor we had named Alice Ayala, who undoubtedly changed my life and the way I saw music. All the musicians were gathered for orchestra rehearsal and she took out an old vinyl recording of Smetana’s “The Moldau.” She had us close our eyes, let our imagination run wild and visualize what was happening in the music and then draw what we saw. As a little girl, I was so moved by this experience, as it was my first encounter connecting imagery to sound and emotion.
“I did most of my growing up in a small southern town. Spanish moss hung from hundred year old trees and folklore was far from fiction. My mom was an elementary school teacher. The little building where she taught was across the way from my high school. A massive field separated the two institutions and I would walk across it everyday on my way home. In those days, I was a complete skate rat that loved rock ‘n’ roll and punk. My taste for music hadn’t yet expanded past my elementary view of what ‘good’ was.”
“One afternoon when I was crossing the field, I saw a whole bunch of black shattered plastic everywhere. I wasn’t one of those hip kids whose parents were super into vinyl, so this was my first introduction. Apparently some rednecks had been out in the field the night before using records to skeet shoot. All of them were destroyed but one. The singular wax platter covered in mud revealed itself to me as Miles Davis and Horns. I had no idea who this Miles Davis was but I put the record in my backpack nonetheless.
The next day I asked around to all my friends to see who had a record player. One of my friend’s said their parents had one sitting in the attic and for $20 it was mine. I got the record player and miraculously Miles Davis begun to play. “Tasty Pudding” leaked into my room, popping and cracking its way into my heart. So thus began my love affair with vinyl and the magical way it was presented to me.
The sky is beginning to look like purple eye shadow smudged into orange glitter. The Vinyl District stands out in the warm night’s air awaiting the limousine sent to collect them by The Hate Eighties. When it arrives the driver oozes courtesy with every move. Bowing politely after, she opens the door.
“Wait,” TVD says, “They do know that this is just a first date question about vinyl. That they didn’t have to imagine some big scenario to go with it, yeah?”
“Why yes, they did.” The driver answers, “but the bosses thought it would be a great opportunity to show you around the world of The Hate Eighties while they discuss their experiences with vinyl.”
With a shrug of their shoulders TVD gets into the limousine which pulls out into the night and into the forests of The Hate Eighties’ twisted imagination.
Soon the recognisable streets are replaced with the strange shanty homes of call centre towns gone feral on the far outskirts of London. A few towering and dilapidated skyscrapers stand as black monoliths on the horizon. Burning braziers on the rooftops light up figures celebrating the end of another eighteen hour day of hard graft. Suddenly rocks clatter against the windscreen.
“Don’t worry,” the driver assures TVD. “The glass is very strong.”
“Why are they attacking us?” TVD asks.
“Brand loyalty runs deep down here. This is an Avsaknad area and this car is a Walton Xi Huang Spirit Stretch.”
“I first fell in love with vinyl in high school when I started producing beats.”
“I bought a really cheap turntable and was recording samples into an early version of Acid. I eventually saved up and bought a MPC 2000xl and a Technics 1200. I would go to local stores around Cleveland and pick through all the old vinyl looking for certain time periods or producers and anything weird/cool looking.
My favorite stuff at that time were soul producers like Gamble & Huff with the big horn and string arrangements, so if I saw their name and a date of ’69–’72 for example, I knew I had to have it. I developed a really close relationship with vinyl as a hip hop producer and constant crate digging. It was my favorite pastime.