Author Archives: Special to TVD

*repeat repeat,
The TVD First Date

“It would be really cool of me to say I grew up listening to vinyl records, that my parents played ‘The White Album’ while I was in the womb, and that I was always inspired by Brian Wilson since my prepubescence. The truth is not that. I grew up in Gilbert, Arizona to parents who fed me a steady diet of Sugar Ray, DC Talk, and AC/DC. It was a very confusing musical upbringing, but it eventually forced me to seek out on my own the music I wanted to get excited about and in turn appreciate those artists even more.”

“I don’t even remember why, but my mother bought me a record player for Christmas when I was 16. I didn’t even ask for a record player. I think I asked for an ipod. Regardless, I knew that the thrift store down the street from my house had 25 cent vinyl records. Because this was a city that did not have a sprawling music scene, the first four records I bought were Michael Jackson’s Thriller, ELO’s A New World Record, Waylon Jennings’ Dreaming My Dreams, and Johnny Cash’s Destination Victoria Station for a whopping buck. I eventually bought Nat King Cole’s Songs for Two in Love to impress a date.

Kristyn and I decided to go all out and buy one of those big ’60s record consoles a few years back. It was the first time I ever heard how amazing vinyl records actually sound. Whenever we go to the record store, she likes to go through the 25 cent bin and pick out all the ’60s records, heavily weighted with Neil Sedaka albums. We honest to god don’t need any more Neil Sedaka records. I also like to surprise her with her favorite new artists on vinyl. Most recently we’ve grabbed, The Vaccines’ English Graffiti, Cage the Elephant’s Tell Me I’m Pretty, and Andy Shauf’s The Party.

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Andrew McKeag,
The TVD First Date

“The first record I remember buying was Boston’s self-titled debut, purchased at The Source Record & Tapes in Cedar Mill, OR in 1978 or so. At least I think that’s what the store was called—it’d disappeared by the early 80s.”

“The babysitter brought his copy over one night and I thought it was the most badass thing I’d ever heard at 8 years old. At the time, the album had already been out for a while, but he’d just seen them live and I had a ton of questions about what a ‘real rock concert’ was like. I remember him telling me, ‘Well, just stick your head in front of this speaker…’ after which he proceeded to totally crank the volume and my head exploded with the ripping guitars of ‘Smokin’.’

I had to have my own copy, so within a few days I’d gathered enough allowance money and spare change to buy one. I still remember the smell of that store—a combination of new cellophane, incense, and whatever the employees were probably smoking in the back room.

The artwork and the liner notes on LPs were like a little mystery that you could never solve—the less info provided, the more intriguing it was to try to sort out! I was never a stoner, but I had lots of friends who’d sit around and clean their pot on gatefold records. We’d all check out the artwork and liner notes for hours, wondering what the band was thinking about with each detail.

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Sunset Neon,
The TVD First Date

“The first record I remember hearing as a kid was the soundtrack to Top Gun. I know that my mom had other records because I remember seeing them stacked up, but the only one that blares out in memory is that Top Gun soundtrack. I’d run around the living room like a little madman and couldn’t believe it could possible to be any more hyped than rocketing off the couch to “Danger Zone.” (I was 100% correct, too. Try it now. Loggins compels you.)”

“I was super into aviation and any form of airplane dogfights as a kid, so not only did the movie get watched over and over, the soundtrack would hit the turntable at every opportunity. I didn’t fully have an appreciation of how special vinyl was at that point because it was just the main way that I knew you listened to music at home, versus the cassettes for traveling and my grandparents car with an 8-track of the Oak Ridge Boys permanently lodged in it (which is fine…”Elvira” rules).

After moving around a bit, my mom no longer had the record player or the vinyl. I was still into playing cassette tapes on my little Walkman until they died (and making my own tapes of stuff off the radio, or holding a Radio Shack mic up to the TV to record parts of soundtracks I liked).

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Manika,
The TVD First Date

“Living in a digital world, I’m still a sucker and lover of physical record stores. I have hundreds of records, lined up alphabetically in two dedicated record cabinets. I’m the same way with books, I love the feeling of holding the physical product in my hands.”

“I grew up listening to Michael Jackson, Alanis Morissette, P!nk, Snoop Dogg, Britney Spears, Janet Jackson. When I was 17 years-old Frank DiLeo (Michael Jackson’s long-time manager) discovered me through some competitions and some videos of my music I had posted online. I was so nervous to meet him, especially since I grew up listening to Michael Jackson. He flew down to Las Vegas to meet with me and decided to come out of retirement to manage ‘one last big act!’

I feel like I have two very different personalities—there’s the Manika who is very outgoing, who loves to perform on stage, and goes to award shows. And there’s the Manika who likes to just sit at home in her PJs and listen to records all day. I feel like the songwriter Manika is the latter, whereas the performer Manika is the first.

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AUTOBAHN,
The TVD First Date

“As a young child I remember the record cabinet looming over me like a tall skyscraper. A plethora of 12” vinyl stacked in alphabetical order ran through the walnut cased rack. I’d push each record in just enough so they all lined up, then nudge them out so I could do it all again.”

“Even at this early age I knew not to fuck up these records. I’d happily carve my name into the family mantelware or use the single paned front door as target practice for free kicks, but I stayed clear of those records. They had some importance, some mysterious being, which gravitated me toward them when the turntable spun. My earliest memory of music will have come from that turntable, the first time I ever listened to Bob Dylan, the first time I ever listened to the Sex Pistols, and last time I ever listened to Pink Floyd.

The day came when I could finally just reach the summit of the cabinet, leading to the impossible task of choosing a record to play. I’d deliberate for half an hour trying to decide which Frankie Goes to Hollywood album to put on. Spend another half an hour working out which side I had to play first. Listen to the first couple of songs at the wrong speed, before final getting that ‘Maha-hiya, Guess what’s happening now?’ at the start of ‘Relax.’ YES I’d made it, what a banger.

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Skrizzly Adams,
The TVD First Date
and Video Premiere,
“Tipping Point”

“‘Tipping Point’ is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written, especially considering I was the grand prize winner of the International Songwriting Competition with it. The song is about the incredibly frustrating yet simultaneously inspiring moment when you realize something in your life is coming to an end. With the video, we aimed to capture that emotion and tell a story that reflected the lyrics in as cinematic a fashion as possible.”

“Vinyl, to me, signifies ‘the album’ as an art form. For me, vinyl has always embodied the concept that when listening to an album, you aren’t just listening to a collection of songs, but something greater. A statement is being made; you are adding one and one and one and somehow getting five. Listening through an album is a journey divided by carefully placed intermissions (side flips), and when you get to the end, you feel like you’ve achieved something. The physical vinyl and its packaging is your badge of honor.

When I was a kid just getting into and quickly becoming obsessed by music, that was how I experienced vinyl. I am grateful to have lived in a house filled with great records. My mother had an enormous Neil Young collection that I completely wore out. Neil was absolutely one of the greats. He put out a lot of content and honestly missed just as much as he hit, but when he hit, he tapped into something magical.

I remember listening to Harvest for the first time and not only being blown away by every song on the album, but being confused and amazed at the same time as to how an album could have such a perfect dichotomy. Half the project was a rootsy, in-studio folk album and the other half was Neil accompanied by the grandeur of a symphony orchestra. It made no sense, yet complete sense at the same time.

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Nick Heyward,
The TVD First Date

“The new record, Woodland Echoes, I made for vinyl. That was the main thing, to make it an album. This is my first album that came out on vinyl since, well, the late ‘80s probably.”

“Even though it was made in my spare room, it’s a record, so I planed it like a record. I compiled it like, Side A, Side B, six tracks, six tracks, and there’s a story. So I thought, OK, and I made an album.

The concept of an album hasn’t gone away at all. I think people misunderstood. They thought when vinyl wasn’t selling they mistook it for the album going away. It’s a bit like thinking if books aren’t selling, then the novel is obsolete. It’s not. The stories are always going to be there. People will need—I will need—stories in that way.

The album concept is always there. I was brought up on albums, so I think albums. So even through the time of CDs, it was still an album, really. It just wasn’t vinyl—even if I wanted it to be vinyl. I didn’t like the plastic thing—I wanted it to be vinyl.

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Band of Skulls,
The TVD First Date & Premiere, “The Times They Are A-Changin'”

“My first introduction to music was my family’s record collection. It was like a whole new world opened up, and suddenly I was part of this club.”

“My Dad had a lot of blues records by American artists like B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf, alongside The Rolling Stones, Peter Green, Eric Clapton, and John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers. Wild wild sounds for a young kid from a small village, and I loved it all. My mum had a lot of singer/songwriters in her collection like Bob Dylan, Carole King, Serge Gainsbourg, and Jane Birkin.

And then my aunt and uncle used to play ’50s rock and roll records like Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard and Elvis with lots of dancing round the house. And I’ll always remember them playing me Bonnie Raitt and Michelle Shocked for the first time and thinking I want to do that.

I worked in a record shop for a while and discovered so many artists, a lot of dub and reggae, jazz, hip hop, soul and funk, The Cramps, Billie Holiday, Tom Waits—all of my wages went on records. When we are on tour I always try to hunt out the local record shops and have a dig. It’s a love affair that will go on and on.”
Emma Richardson

“I was a hand me down kid despite being the eldest, never the receiver of the latest must have gadgets. I seemed to get things just as they became obsolete. One of the upsides of this were the old hi-fi separates and records making it out of the living room and into my teenage bedroom.”

“After working out that old records play on both sides, I quickly devoured my Dad’s late ’70s collection. “Spiral Scratch” by the Buzzcocks with Howard Devoto, Q: Are We Not men? A: We Are Devo by Devo, and Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True, all being early influences on me. After that, garages of 45s made it to my deck and a love of The Beatles’ b-sides and Kinks singles were blasting from suburbia for a couple of summers.

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The Soft White Sixties,
The TVD First Date

“The physical nature of vinyl has always had a transportive effect on me. Maybe it’s the extra steps in the listening process—flipping a few switches, unsheathing the record, lifting the needle—that seem to always place vinyl records in a specific time and place in my mind, but the effect is unmatched by any other listening format.”

“I can’t help but picture certain records existing only on vinyl in a particular environment. The torn and frayed edges of my parents’ copy of American Beauty propped up against a bookcase in my childhood living room, the cardboard box of All Things Must Pass that encases three of my all time favorite platters, even the shrink-wrap melted to the outside of my copy of De Stijl that got left in a car too long in the Sacramento heat; this is how these records exist in my mind.

Audio-quality debates aside, the inherent physicality of a vinyl record permanently imprints an image in my mind of the space where I’m hearing it. Years could go by before the same record is listened to again, but once the sounds crackle and hiss their way through the speakers, it teleports me like some kind of lysergic residue. The dark wood grain finish on my parents’ vintage Sansui speakers blasting Electric Warrior is just as relative as the opening slapback groove of “Mambo Sun.” The first chords of “Lost In The Light” off Bahamas’ Barchords come with the smell of saltwater after my fiancé dropped the needle on that daily at a friend’s house in Hawaii for a week straight.

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Gollay, The TVD First Date and Video Premiere, “Built For Love”

“My first experience with vinyl records was through my parents’ hifi system growing up—classic rock and pop like the Beatles in all their various forms, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Cyndi Lauper. My dad used to put Stray Cats’ Built for Speed on while I rollerbladed laps around our unfinished basement.”

“The first vinyl I bought for myself wasn’t until college in the mid 2000s, when the format started to come back into vogue and it became increasingly common to find new 7” singles and LPs at merch tables. I picked up a copy of Midlake’s Trials of Van Occupanther at Recycled Books in Denton, Texas, where the band hails from. It endures as one of my favorite full-length records.

In that vein, as I cultivate a modest collection, I tend to “reserve” vinyl for my most beloved albums and artists: Miriam Makeba’s Pata Pata, St. Vincent’s Strange Mercy, Owen Pallett’s Heartland, Neko Case’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, J Dilla’s Donuts. Pouncing on reissues I hear about online makes it easy to zero in on what I’m looking for, but picking my way through the vinyl sections of any shop I come across satisfies the searching-for-hidden treasure impulse.

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