“I actually didn’t truly discover the beauty of vinyl till I was about 21 years old when I found my mother’s childhood record collection in the basement of my grandma’s house.”
I grew up with cassette tapes and whatnot but when I found that collection, it changed the way I listened to music forever. The first record of hers I played was the Woodstock performance and was obviously blown away. I dusted off every vinyl she had and took them home with me and a new sound was born in my ears.
Now when I’m home, my passion for the classics grows and grows every day ’cause I put ‘em on at night by the fireplace and play ‘em thru my Gramophone.
“I met Josh in 2006 when we were both 22 years old. We had a lot in common, including the fact that we were both aspiring musicians who hadn’t really accomplished much yet in terms of meaningful musical output. We formed Mariage Blanc in 2007 and it seems almost surreal to me that the last seven and a half years have passed by so quickly.”
“Anybody who has ever been in a serious band at any point can tell you that it’s not unlike most of the other relationships people experience in the different realms of their lives: you bask in some pretty amazing times and endure some pretty low times, as well. Members come and go over the years, weaving in and out of your life. Dynamics change and so do the people involved. I can say without any hesitation that my involvement in this band over the years has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life, coming second only to my relationships with my fiancee, family, and friends.
A lot happens between your early 20s and 30s. During our time as a band, I’ve watched myself and my bandmates grow dramatically as both musicians and people. Invariably, this growth is accompanied by change. We came face to face with one of these changes when Josh and his fiancee made the decision to move from our native Pittsburgh to San Francisco last summer. It was a scary time for us. Josh and I have always had an understanding that we would continue this band until one of us is ready to stop, and while we were both fairly certain that the move wouldn’t mean the demise of the band, it was obvious that everybody (including myself) was nervous about the logistics of it all. Some friends and family were supportive about it; others seemed to doubt the likelihood of continuing a band under such circumstances.
For us, though, the bottom line was clear. We weren’t ready to stop, so we weren’t going to.
“The first records I remember holding in my hands were Canned Wheat by The Guess Who and Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica by The Ronettes. Growing up, I was constantly exposed to classic rock and girl groups of the ’50s and ’60s, thanks to my dad’s eclectic record collection. With Motown melodies and classic rock guitar riffs filling my brain, I knew from an early age what I loved about music and what I wanted to carry over into my own songs.”
“I’ve always admired the straight forward love songs of the ’50s and ’60s, and the melodies and harmonies used to tell the stories. I think our first single, “Last Forever,” is my take on blending my classic rock roots with my love for the sugary melodies and sentiments of ’50s and ’60s pop.
Diana Ross and The Supremes’ Let The Sunshine In… I’ll admit, I was first drawn in by the cover art (I’m a sucker for pretty packaging and labels), but once the needle touched down, I was hooked. I still have that record in a box under my bed today.
“When I was a kid I used to have a Fisher Price record player. I remember buying a Michael Jackson record at Toys R Us that came with a studded white glove.”
“Soon after I got really into the House Party movies and started taking my dad’s records and trying to figure out how to scratch. Instead, I just literally scratched everything. I used to forcibly play Queen records in reverse to try to discover secret demonic messages.
Then when I was about 15, there was a record store called The Beat Hotel in Berkley, Michigan that hosted punk and ska shows. It was really pretty much a ska record store. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t exist anymore.
“The worst record player money could buy changed my life.”
“I was given my Fisher-Price record player sometime around the age of five, and somehow never received the bulletin that it could be used to listen to music. Instead, I was content to listen to my Batman album several thousand times (a scintillating caper in which Batman slowed his heart-rate down just enough to fool a diabolical scientist into believing he was dead).
If I wanted to listen to music, all I had to do was leave my bedroom, make my way downstairs, and sure enough beautiful sounds would be wafting through the house—my parents had an extensive vinyl collection, and on any given night you could depend on the living room speakers to be pumping out a comforting mix of classical music, Broadway show tunes, and ’60s rock-and-roll.
By the time I was half-way through elementary school, good ol’ Fishy was collecting dust. Yet, in a telling display of what would prove to be a lifelong habit of resisting even the most minor change in my environment, I could never bring myself to banish him to the shadowy depths of my closet. He sat above my bedroom radiator for years, nestled between a stack of Hardy Boys detective novels…waiting.
“The record shop experience is still one of my favorite things about vinyl. Aside from the fact that I often discover great music I would otherwise never stumble upon, I really enjoy talking to the staff. I think it’s really important that there’s a place that exists where you can go and talk and mix with people who share your own passion for the music and medium. I think that also opens you up to a lot more than you would have found on your own.”
“At home in New York I usually like to visit Halcyon. Its main focus is House and Techno and other electronic music so if you’re looking for a large variety of soul records and jazz or hip hop and rock, you might want to visit something like A-1, but otherwise, Halcyon has a really amazing selection of music and they’re always playing great stuff when I’m there.
Traveling, I always try to run into a few record shops before a gig and usually find a few records to play. In Europe its really great because so many records don’t end up making it to the States and ordering via Discogs can get really expensive because of shipping. London has a few great stores and on my most recent trip to play a gig at Fabric, I visited BM and Phonica, which are both great record shops and a short walk from each other but feel quite different from one another.
“When I started out as a young teenager experimenting with records, my cousin, at that time, lived in Miami and introduced me into the world of vinylism.“
I say vinylism, as for me, it has a religious feel to it. You walk into a vinyl shop with the high hopes of finding something you’ve been looking for and it’s almost like opening gifts on Christmas day—every vinyl you look at is a step closer to the one you been searching for. There are not many things in the world that can excite me more then that. There is still some vinyl out there that I’m searching for and I don’t just wanna go online and get them…it’s like cheating. You wanna find it yourself in a obscure indie record store after going through 12 stores and almost giving up hope. The chase is makes it what it is, I guess!
As a kid, my father had a vast record collection and I used to be able to sit for hours and look at the artworks. There is something magical about it, when the cover matches the music. For me, it’s an art form itself. Over the last years, its nice to see more and more artists understanding the visual concept of music. With the right artwork, you can explain what the record sounds like without even having to listen to it.
“It was the summer after I graduated high school. I had my own car (1986 Mercedes I-90 E, basically a tin can) and three months of freedom before I moved to a different town to start college. I loved browsing through the local record stores and even if I didn’t buy anything, just the atmosphere inspired me.”
“That summer I returned to Luna Records on College Ave. in South Broad Ripple, or SoBro, looking for something to listen to while I cruised Indianapolis in my car (windows down of course because it didn’t have air conditioning). I bought Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ album Here on a whim and it became the soundtrack of my summer. I memorized all the words and I still consider “All Wash Out” to be in my Top 10 of fav songs ever. I’ve played that CD probably a hundred times since buying it and loved every second.
The great thing about CDs is that they’re accessible and familiar. I was born in 1994 so I grew up listening to my parents’ CDs and remember bringing the boombox outside to listen while we ran around in the yard or played in the sprinkler. It wasn’t until later that I was introduced to vinyl. My dad had a record player that we used sometimes to listen to Credence Clearwater Revival or Sgt. Pepper, among others. To me it seemed like listening to vinyl was more special than a CD or cassette tape.
“In 1969, in Montreal, my father purchased a Lenco L75 turntable and a Sony Amp (STR 6050). Sound quality has always been of the upmost importance to my Dad, whether he was at one of my shows critiquing the sound-man, or choosing the best speakers or headphones for listening to music. The turntable was set up in the living room of my childhood home in Calgary and my Dad more than likely told me not to touch it. Both of us vaguely remember a time when I was around four that he showed me how to play a record but it turned into a scratchy noisy experience and that was the end of that!”
“While my Dad was the sound quality expert, my mom had the music collection. Nancy Sinatra records, The Jackson Five’s ABC, a favourite was Elton John’s 2 record set of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. On my mom’s particular copy, the song “Bennie And The Jets” had a certain point where it would skip because the record was scratched—I still think of when I listen to the song.
One of my favourite memories is of a show I played where a fan brought a gift for me and it was a gorgeous vinyl record of Judy Garland’s Collectors Items. I don’t have a record player so I still have yet to listen to it, but it’s one of my most treasured gifts!
“I’m alphabetizing my record collection.”
“This means monopolizing the living room floor with stacks laid out in a chaotic miniature skyline, the urban planning of a madwoman. A bowl of popcorn, handwritten sticky labels and a Sharpie populate the streets of this makeshift megalopolis. Sweet men chatting on the sofa tip-toe through my record heaps when making trips to the kitchen for more snacks. It feels familiar, ritualistic, and focused… all that vinyl embodies for me.
This reorganization is shaping up to be a long night. Would filing by genre be the superior formula? Too late now. I’ve painted myself into a corner, stranded in the middle of a township I rashly built in the spent embers of a Friday dusk. Taking each album into my hands, I consider its origin. Time capsules like these recall the vanities of adolescence, the giddiness of long-lost intoxications and the creak of derailed lust. They reanimate ideas hidden away in storage.