Author Archives: Special to TVD

Maria Rae,
The TVD First Date

“Having grown up on CDs with no family records to inherit, my love for vinyl sparked in my late teens, when I moved to London from Greece. I found myself digging through record stores in Soho, in awe of the amount of different music available to purchase, and so I was hooked on discovery. I spent my early years exploring my parents’ CD collection, creating my own amalgamations of what I considered to be the best mixtapes ever made… ignorance is bliss!”

“I grew up with a love for the likes of Tracy Chapman, Nina Simone, Toni Braxton, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys, Ms Lauryn Hill, and Mary J. Blige who would blare out of my parents’ speakers on a daily basis. The common denominator for a lot of my favourite childhood music was clearly female singers playing the piano. I learned the piano from the age of 7, leading me into a career of songwriting and singing—and I can only thank all the amazing female voices I heard everyday, giving me the confidence to pursue writing and performing music myself.

When I first arrived in London, I remember going to see James Blake live one night and needing to buy something at the end of the gig as a memento. The way the sound traveled through the venue, especially that of the piano, gave me chills and I needed something to remember that feeling with. I distinctly recall looking at the vinyl at the merch stand and the excitement of taking it home for its first spin—this purchase marked the beginning of my vinyl journey.

My record player came shortly after, and I immediately became obsessed with the way the mechanism works, going back and forth to Soho, adding a new record or two each time I got paid. The needle fascinated me and to this day, I sit in awe of the way the sound is created, the way it travels through the air, and the texture of the sound we hear. Whenever I come back from a gig, it’s with vinyl in hand. I will stick it on as soon as I’m home and relive the magic.

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Marchelle Bradanini,
The TVD First Date

“In the modern arms race to reduce music to its most easily digestible digital form, there is something so defiant and downright radical about vinyl. Having an artist demand your time and attention for the length of an entire LP seems revolutionary in 2020. And yet even with our ever-dwindling attention spans, there is still something in our core which desires that deeper, magical and transformative connection.”

“Music has always been my lifeblood and the well I return to when nothing else makes sense. I’ve spent countless late nights alone with my records listening to the understated brilliance of Karen Dalton, Bobbie Gentry, Lucinda Williams, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, Nina Simone, Julie London, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Howlin’ Wolf to name a few of my greatest hits. My relationships with these records is so personal and intimate. It’s like visiting an old friend that has some insight into the universe I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of.

When I think about the first time I heard Nebraska or Highway 61 Revisited or Lead Belly or Aretha on vinyl, it’s basically the equivalent of BC / AD. They altered the course of my life and thinking and fundamentally challenged and changed my worldview.

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Lauren Lakis,
The TVD First Date

“Analog has always ruled my heart, versus its respective digital counterpart. Give me an old hardbound book over a kindle, 35mm film and polaroid snaps, and the warmth of a tape machine or record player any day.”

“Having been raised on tapes and CDs, my introduction to vinyl records came later in life, around the time I was writing my first album. I grew up first listening to my mother’s CDs: Natalie Merchant, Matthew Sweet, Boys II Men, and the entire Cranberries discography played on repeat in our Baltimore home. She was pretty hip to the ’90s music scene and was a big fan of the short-lived Lilith Fair.

Naturally, my first CDs were gifted to me from her boyfriend’s mother; Fiona Apple’s Tidal and Garbage’s debut self-titled album. I imagine she walked into a Sam Goody store and asked what the kids were into these days, and I’m so grateful they handed her those albums! I still listen to them today, and they certainly continue to influence my songwriting.

When I was a teenager in Baltimore City, we had this amazing music store called Sound Garden, where my friends and I would go every Friday night. We would save up our money all week just to spend it on iced chai lattes and used CDs, to hold us over until the following weekend.

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The Godfathers’
Peter Coyne,
The TVD First Date

“I grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s in a large, working class Irish family in south London—10 kids plus Mum and Dad—and there was fabulous music coming out of every room and shiny black vinyl 45s, EPs, and LPs everywhere in our noisy house.”

“My sisters loved great pop music like The Beatles, Stones, soul and reggae and my older brothers ‘digged’ ‘heavier’ stuff…Dylan, Cream, Hendrix, and there was always plenty of traditional Irish music, rock & roll and Johnny Cash around. I was fascinated by vinyl as a child and studied the labels for more information and noticed the same RGM Productions credit on 3 great records—‘Telstar’ The Tornadoes, ‘Johnny Remember Me’ John Leyton, and ‘Have I The Right’ The Honeycombs.

I later on discovered that RGM meant Robert George Meek, the true name of sonic genius, maverick producer Joe Meek. I guess even at an early age I was attracted to outsiders. Psychedelic pop like ‘Strawberry Fields Forever,’ Traffic’s ‘Hole In My Shoe,’ and ‘Lazy Sunday’ Small Faces caught my attention—there’s a dreamy innocence that kids love and it still has the power to take you to an alternate universe. Glam rock was the omnipresent soundtrack to my teenage years and Roxy Music’s debut ‘Virginia Plain’ the very first 45 I ever bought.

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Parcels,
The TVD First Date
and Vinyl Giveaway

“A dusty Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in my grandfather’s basement is my clear first memory of a vinyl. The cover had somehow retained its brilliant colour, unlike the many books and photographs surrounding it which had all faded into the same sepia tone. It felt giant and majestic and certainly the most valuable thing I could imagine being down there at the time (although looking back I now realise it was most likely his vintage recorder collection). It sounded wobbly and tinnier than the version I had on iTunes but I’m pretty sure the hi-fi hadn’t been switched on in years and I was still very impressed that any sound at all came out of this weird disk.”

“There’s been a few nice ‘band-ey’ moments I can recall sitting with the boys and some records. I doubt they’ll remember but I definitely had a lyrical revelation moment with Pat and Noah in early high school reading the words to ‘Suzanne’ while it spun slowly on the all-in-one stereo unit in Pat’s room. Then a few years ago, all of us piled in around Jules’ Berlin apartment and laughed at the silly but undeniably tight vibratos on ‘Minute by Minute’ while we talked about making our first album, each of us picturing the vinyl it would eventually be pressed on. Even when it’s in the background, music on vinyl holds a presence in the room that’s real and tangible. A polite little guy sitting in the corner, slinking around, filling the air with warm fluffy tones.

Maybe it was just me, but I feel like growing up in our country shire didn’t expose us to much vinyl outside our parents’ collections. There was one guy just called the ‘vinyl junkie’ who used to come to town maybe once a year and rent out a hall to sell off his giant collection. Maybe he was the only true vinyl junkie in Australia at the time, and he was a big deal because he imported them all on trips to the US. I remember watching a pretty dorky guy there while he dug through a crate. He had this method that looked like he was doing a doggy paddle through the stack, and he’d clear a hundred records in a minute! He only needed a half second glance at each cover to determine their value to him. The records were pretty expensive there, and I didn’t really get the hype yet.

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Katherine Abbott,
The TVD First Date

“My life wouldn’t have been much without CDs, cassettes, and vinyl! It would have been pretty empty. I’ve sought solace and comfort in records over and over and I think there’s been music playing during most of the memorable or most powerful times of my life.”

“One of the things I love about vinyl is the visual aspect. It’s two for the price of one; a good square foot of beautiful artwork or a photograph plus the music. A friend and I discovered an LA band called Valley Queen fairly recently fronted by lead singer Natalie Carol, she just released a B side single on vinyl called “Red Light and Bad Astrology” and the vinyl artwork is very evocative of sixties and seventies psychedelic artwork. I feel they’ve created a time capsule through the vinyl with the momentum of the current time partnered with a note of psychedelic nostalgia. The fullness of the sound on vinyl compliments this record perfectly.

I remember discovering Shine Eyed Mister Zen by Kelly Jo Phelps—someone must have left his record at my house or something as I don’t remember buying it, but I was bowled over when I put it on. The album conjures up images of trees, dusty trails, wind, mountains and rain for me, and it’s one of those records that makes me itch to pick up an instrument and create upon hearing it. The record and all of Phelps work to me has a purifying effect when I listen to him. Music like Phelps feels like an old friend you trust and you can rely on to pick you up.

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Josh Kelley,
The TVD First Date

“I was 23 and living in the Beachwood Canyon area of Los Angeles when I was first truly introduced to the sonic beauty of vinyl records.”

“Beachwood Canyon is an area not only famous for the Hollywood sign but also for its Sunday brunch-time garage sales. I was walking down those windy roads one Sunday when I happened on a driveway with a basket that said vinyl records $3 each—I immediately started thumbing through when I came across the record Whipped Cream & Other Delights by Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass Band.

I have to be honest—at first, I only purchased the record because the album cover art was so striking, sexy and beautiful—but when I dropped the needle on that bad boy I was transported to a place musically that I’ve never been. The grooves, the brass, and the overall feel of it inspired so many new songs for me and my career. Still to this day, 17 years later, we play the album for cocktail hour or pool parties. There’s vibe for days that record—thank you, Herb Alpert. On a side note—what’s also cool is that I found out a month later that my next-door neighbor in Beachwood was Herb Alpert’s son!

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Blesson Roy,
The TVD First Date

“Vinyl records are the first tactile objects that I can remember connecting with on a spiritual, cerebral, and physical level simultaneously.”

“Music reproduced from vinyl records being played at floor rumbling volumes are the most distinct memories I have of childhood. My entire family collected records and played records. My Dad was a HiFi enthusiast, and I spent many hours with him as a small boy in late ’70s in audiophile stereo demo rooms absorbing analog frequencies coming from vinyl records.

Once a week, we took a family trip to the record store and we could pick any 45 RPM we wanted, I remember my first 45, it was “I Believe In Music” by Mac Davis. I didn’t know the song, but the title was an affirmation of my deeply held belief that music was the most important thing on Earth!

My siblings were collecting Rock and Pop records, my parents were spinning Jazz, Blues, and Pop from bygone eras that held magic and mystery, and still do. By the time I was in my early teens I had an extensive record collection of ’60s and and ’70s Rock that included all the usual suspects, Doors, Stones, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin and a few edgier records my brother turned me on to, like Velvet Underground, Neil Young, Iggy Pop and Bowie.

These records prepped me for my next phase, when in the ’80s new records became the center of my teenage universe. Punk, Post-Punk, Synth-Pop, new music, new records, and a music revolution that elevated the vinyl record back to the level of fine art. The trips to Hollywood and Westwood to the iconic records stores in Los Angeles in the ’80s and ’90s were thrilling!

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Waiting for Smith,
The TVD First Date

How one year in bed got me listening to 70 years of music.

“A few years ago I had an accident that changed my life and propelled me into music. I spent a year in bed recovering from a broken back and in that time I learned to play the guitar, read a lot of great books, watched a lot of good films and did physio every day to teach me how to walk again.

Eight months in, I’d built up enough strength to go into our local town for my physio. A new record shop had opened around the same time and I’d also just come across my mum’s old collection of vinyl. I had the player all set up at home and began listening to full-length albums, rediscovering my love for Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Nick Drake, The Band, The Allman Brothers, Chet Atkins & Jerry Reed, Allen Toussaint, and Curtis Mayfield. I listened to everything from the smooth jazz piano of Oscar Peterson to the high-energy punk rock of the Ramones—and I loved it all.

Vince (the owner of the shop in town) and I became very friendly as I’d be going in at least once a week and walking out with something new, often several records. I spent hours leafing through the old cover art of the Blue Note jazz stuff like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, and John Coltrane, or the old blues guys like BB King, Big Bill Broonzy, Professor Longhair, and Muddy Waters.

The cover art alone produced powerful emotions and then listening to the music made me feel like I was back there hearing it all for the first time. When I’d stop browsing, Vince would look up at me and know it was time to show me something new.  He’d play me Lightin’ Hopkins or Elmore James all the way through to The Clash.

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Michael Bernard Fitzgerald,
The TVD First Date

“I was a late bloomer when it came to vinyl.”

“My parents had a fairly large vinyl collection, but their medium of choice was CD so that ended up being the most accessible music in the house growing up. I didn’t realize how different vinyl was until I’d moved out. In fact, I had already been making music for some time when I finally had my first taste of acetate.

The first record I really sunk my teeth into was a newer Paul Simon release—my girlfriend at the time and I had come into owning her family’s old record player, amp and speakers. A band mate had given me So Beautiful or So What for my birthday and it was my first foray into listening to music, one side at a time. I instantly loved that it was the activity, it wasn’t something that you just put on in the background. For 20 minutes at a time you were captive to this warm sound and spinning record. No fast forward, no skipping songs.

From there it was Springsteen, Bob Segar, Tom Petty and then in 2016 I had to opportunity to press my music on vinyl for the first time. I loved that experience too, listening to the master, the test pressings and then having this amazing physical copy of the record—felt like an accomplishment. We pressed 500 numbered and signed copies on that first run. Will be pressing my upcoming release Love Valley in the same way, and I’m looking forward to my first listen of that in October.

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Satin Nickel,
The TVD First Date

“No joke, I have none other than The Doors to thank for opening the door to the world of vinyl for me.”

“Actually, I should first throw a quick shout out to the video game Need for Speed Underground 2 and its killer soundtrack. Around the age of 10, I would spend countless hours virtually swerving through city streets, mostly to fast-paced songs by bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Rise Against. There was one track, however, that would always make me slow to a cruise. Snoop Dogg and producer Fredwreck collaborated on an exclusive remix of “Riders on the Storm” by The Doors that combined new verses with Jim Morrison’s original chorus over a hip hop beat. I just could not get enough of Snoop’s sly rhymes and the Lizard King’s haunting voice complementing one another as I coasted along in my decked out Audi TT.

Anyway, let’s get to what any of that has to do with vinyl. Cut to a few years later, just before 8th grade. While away at summer camp, I took a writing class taught by one of the “cool” counselors, who was willing to bend some rules. The camp higher-ups stressed that since we were guests on a college campus, we were not to touch anything professors left behind in the facilities. However, upon entering his classroom, Cool Counselor noticed a turntable with a stack of records beside it. He couldn’t resist plugging it in and letting us kids put on music during a free writing session.

This practice became a staple of the class. When it was finally my turn to have a look at the album options, my eyes immediately met those of Jim Morrison gazing through a mop of curls. He had his arms stretched out wide from a shirtless, skeletal torso and his head cocked slightly to the side as if to say, “Want some?” What he was offering was The Best of The Doors and I thought, “Alright, man, let’s see what you got!” I quickly flipped to the back cover hoping to find “Riders on the Storm” on the tracklist as I’d never heard the original version. And there it was; disc 2, side 1, track 4. I had to hear it.

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Lovechild,
The TVD First Date

“Growing up in a family of artists and musicians, vinyl records were always around. Some of my first memories listening to music are from my grandparents’ living room, hearing Bach and Beethoven on vinyl. My granddad had a long career as a violist in the NY Philharmonic, so he took his audio quality seriously and had a big, fancy record player in his apartment.”

“Unfortunately for me, rock and roll wasn’t really allowed in my grandparents’ home. So ironically enough, I didn’t truly get into the vinyl that I love most until I was a teenager and inherited a clunky old turntable from that same grandmother (love you, Rae!). I also inherited several bucketloads of my parents’ records from the ’70s, which I promptly wore in and wore out. Lots of Stones, Beatles, Dylan, Derek & the Dominoes, Joni Mitchell, the Grateful Dead, Hendrix, all my favorite stuff.

I vividly recall destroying a lot of record albums the summer after my freshman year at Oberlin College, around the same time I wrote the first words and chords of “Hats Off.” And it wasn’t that I destroyed my records for lack of love, but rather, I tore those damn records up. Really wore down each of my parents’ copies of Layla, a Europe ‘72, Are You Experienced. Every day that summer, I’d wake up in my childhood bedroom, start smoking a shit ton of weed, turn on my guitar amp, put a record on, play along and try to learn. I never took great care of those records, and I still regret bringing my mom’s copy of the White Album to an ex’s house a while ago (it never got back to me). But it was a great environment to absorb music, and those classic records will always live in my heart.

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The Know,
The TVD First Date

“Vinyl, it’s cumbersome, it’s expensive, it breaks easily, it cracks and pops. If it was a new format just launching it would be a tough sell, but it’s now apparently set to outsell CDs for the first time since the mid ’80s.”

“When the CD was released I was around ten and was impossibly excited by this futuristic slab of metal—music played by lasers. Who wouldn’t be? At one point more people owned Brothers in Arms on CD than actually owned CD players, that’s how excited we all were.

Before CDs, my only real experience of building a music collection was, once in a while, spending my allowance on the 99p ex-jukebox 45s they kept on a rack by the magazines in my local convenience store. Of course, I had no idea what any of these songs were. I would go home with Kylie Minogue one week, Jackie Wilson the next. In some ways this was the precursor to experiments later in life where I would buy second hand records from bargain bins based only on the way the sleeve looked or the name and hope I hit gold. More often than not I did.

So, CDs came along and temporarily rendered vinyl obsolete, but twenty years later when I packed up and left the UK for the US, my CDs went to charity. My record collection is still being held on to for me by a close friend a decade later until such a time as I figure out how to get it to me here.

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Rachael Sage,
The TVD First Date

“My love of vinyl started when I was really little, and as I look back on those early memories now, I can’t help but feel closer to my parents and my sister, because it was music from their collections that found its way to my impressionable ears (which otherwise would have only been listening to cassettes). My fascination with recorded music began in our basement with my sister, who put on Marlo Thomas’ Free To Be You And Me. I was too young to reach the piano pedals, but it wasn’t long before I played every song on it by ear on the piano – albeit with one finger – and announced very boldly to my folks that I was “going to make up songs too.”

“Some of my earliest memories are my dad doing his best to educate me and my sister by listening to his beloved collection of 45s featuring everything from The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and “Yesterday” to Richie Valens’ “La Bamba”, to Carole King’s “Natural Woman.” When he drove us to school or to friends’ houses, he was usually tuned in to the oldies station (CBS FM) and they would be playing the Top 100 from the ’50s or the ’60s and he would always tell us what songs he had proudly kept in his collection, advising me to study certain artists whose music he fervently expressed had changed the social landscape.

From Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” to Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” to The Temptations’ “Papa Was A Rolling Stone,” if it had been a major hit before I was born, it seemed like I could find the single in my Dad’s incredible collection. Ironically, my Dad can barely carry a tune and doesn’t play an instrument – but he sure had impeccable taste in music!

Likewise, my Mom exposed me to some very influential artists through her extremely eclectic album collection. She seemed to gravitate toward anything with beautiful melodies or a lively, energetic theatricality, whether it was classical music, Cole Porter, Liza Minnelli, Andy Gibb (my first celebrity crush), Dave Brubeck, Barbra Streisand, or the soundtrack to Oklahoma. My Mom’s vinyl record collection was also my first exposure to folk, and while I didn’t necessarily gravitate toward it initially, it’s interesting how all these years later I count her Judy Collins, James Taylor, and Peter, Paul & Mary records as among my favorite recordings as an adult.

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Ben de la Cour,
The TVD First Date

“Growing up in Brooklyn, music was always playing in our household. My earliest childhood memory was hearing Jimi Hendrix for the first time—I distinctly remembering my mom telling me she had something I needed to listen to.”

“I remember her walking over to our old stereo and loading the CD. I remember the sound of the disc spinning. And from that first second of the first bars of “All Along the Watchtower,” my little child-mind was blown into smithereens in a way that I’ve still since not come back from. I saw in technicolor for the first time. Nothing would be the same.

We also listened to a lot of Dylan, The Everly Brothers, Captain Beefheart, Bob Marley, Van Morrison, The Doors, Little Feat, The Rolling Stones, Queen, and The Band and Jackson Browne. Then I got into my teens and discovered bands like Black Sabbath, Nirvana, Slayer, and The New York Dolls as well as Nick Cave, Townes Van Zandt, Tom Waits and Warren Zevon. I feel that my melodic sensibilities were probably more informed by the first phase, while my lyrics and guitar playing were more influenced by the latter. Or maybe it’s the other way round. What does it matter anyway—music saved my life. Or maybe it’s the other way round there too.

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