Author Archives: Special to TVD

Fiona Harte,
The TVD First Date

“I asked for a record player for Christmas when I was about 18 years old. My parents laughed at the idea of buying one because they, along with a lot of my older relatives, had owned one but to my disbelief, threw them out thinking they would never use them again what with it being the digital age. My mother kindly bought me one and I forgave them for their sins.”

“The first record I bought was a classic—Joni Mitchell Blue. Even the cover excited me. I just loved the idea of listening to an album that I adored so much but in a different way. I listened to it in my Dublin apartment, so often that I woke from my sleep singing different tracks from it. I then started to search for more records to add to my collection. The next purchase was The Best Of Joan Baez which I picked up at George’s Market in Belfast.

To be honest, I haven’t ventured too far away from the folk world of vinyl—I got a bit addicted to listening to that genre of music in that way. My favourite album to date is Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison. The audience to me adds so much to that recording and hearing it on vinyl is a really special experience, it captures the mood of the show so effortlessly.

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Grace Gillespie,
The TVD First Date

“A collection of vinyl is particularly interesting because as much as you will have supplied the bulk of the records, there are always additions that have been left behind by a sibling, an old boyfriend, a friend who came round to listen to the new Hendrix and then got so high he forgot to take it home.”

“I grew up with my Dad’s collection. But, in that collection there were records belonging to his sister, old friends, and of course my mum… and her friend or ex or even her dad. A digital library is so personal, perhaps too personal, it has lost the social aspect that vinyl demands. You don’t accidentally leave an album in someone’s Spotify library. You only add exactly what you want to hear. And if, by some horrible twist of fate you find your boyfriend has managed to save a load of music onto your downloads and then leaves you for your colleague—you can just quickly un-save it and never have to think about them or their questionable taste every again.

But, you wouldn’t chuck out someone’s vinyl. You might listen to it with your new boyfriend and laugh at it (and them) but you wouldn’t bin it—unless it’s the Surfing Bird record and then you must smash it with a sledgehammer in the garden and hide the evidence from Peter. Generally an album you hate or mildly dislike or just simply don’t remember buying just goes to the back of the pile. As time passes you collect more and you keep the past. In my digital library I delete the past with disgust quite regularly. And it’s a shame.

Back to my dad’s collection. I grew up in the middle of nowhere and thankfully managed to not get too affected by some of my primary school friends listening to The Spice Girls or Britney, genius as they arguably are. I listened to what my parents listened to for a really long time, and to be honest I listen to those same artists still. I remember the covers of the records that I really liked as a child: Hot Rats by Zappa is particularly vivid I think because the cover is somewhat scary. The Sgt. Pepper’s cover is of course iconic but I liked it because I saw it as a kind of Where’s Wally?. Dylan’s Desire is also very clear still—it’s a beautiful image and a magical album and I liked it as a child because it had lots of references to children and family and also had a song on it that was (nearly) my mum’s name.

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Ellen Starski,
The TVD First Date

I was a little girl sitting on the yellowish shag carpet that decorated floors across America in the ’80s. Too young to read I picked my albums via cover designs and knew which album was the Eurythmics because of the RCA label with the little white dog, head cocked to the side staring into the Victrola.”

“This is where my love of vinyl began, and man did I wear that record out. Thinking back on it, I must have been 3 or 4 years old pulling out vinyl and placing it carefully on the player. That’s wild. You know how we are so careful placing the needle down to vinyl… Well, I guess I had that technique down pretty early.

I love the memories that come along with buying vinyl. I vividly remember scouring antique stores in Pennsylvania with my parents and finding Neil Young’s first album, and Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. These albums in particular helped shape me during a transitional part of my life when I was trying to understand who I was, and how I would become the artist I am today.

Now here I am getting ready to release my first vinyl record with the test press arriving any day! Back in those earlier years, I never would have imagined this moment could actually happen. The resurgence of vinyl is a beautiful thing. The entire process has been enlightening from the music creation to the album artwork which was painted and designed by Patrick Dennis.

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Anastasia Minster,
The TVD First Date

“I grew up in Russia and my parents had an old record player in our little apartment on the outskirts of Moscow. Vinyl was very popular back then and I remember listening to fairy tales and audio books when I was very little, perhaps 4 or 5.”

“I was absolutely absorbed in the sound and I could sit in my room for hours with my eyes closed, picturing the characters and building magical landscapes in my head. When I was about 7 years old, my parents gave me the first “serious” record, Swan Lake by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. I was absolutely mesmerized by the music and I could feel it very strongly: it was dramatic, intense but also incredibly beautiful and tender. This was the beginning of my love for Russian classical music which influenced my own music deeply.

There was a little record store in the basement of the building we lived in and my dad would take me there almost every week to pick up something new. By the time I was 10 I had an impressive vinyl collection, mostly Russian classical music and popular singers-songwriters. When I was 11-12 years old, I became interested in foreign bands. Records made abroad were still not easy to find in Russia of the ’90s, but you could get them from someone who had the luxury to travel internationally. I remember my friend’s dad bringing Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack on vinyl from one of his business trips. It was such a treasure!

Now, a few words about my absolute favourite records. The ones that came later and shaped my taste in music, inspired me and influenced my own songs sonically and musically. The first one I’d like to mention is Secrets of the Beehive by David Sylvian. I do like many others by David, Japan and Rain Tree Crow but I think this one is very special. I find it so perfect on so many levels and the more I listen to it, the more beauty I discover. This record helped shape my own sound and I even sent it to my musicians as a reference when we were working on the new album.

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Belle and the Dragon,
The TVD First Date

“Hearing a vinyl album, even just holding one in my hands, instantly evokes the deep nostalgia of an Indian kid who, always feeling like an outsider, finally had someone (or something) to hang out with.”

“In the small living room of my childhood home in Holland, Texas, my parents kept a record player tucked in the corner where I would hear Elvis Presley covering Christmas songs or Dolly Parton confess that she (with her dirty feet) may not be worthy to walk on the Golden Streets Of Glory.

At 5 or 6 years old, I would sit and watch albums spin on the turntable, and if no one else was around I would change the speed and run the records backwards, fascinated by the whole thing. I felt like we only had a few albums growing up, but I remember that turntable always spinning, even if it was Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, and Kenny Rogers on repeat. We had a few records that told bedtime stories, too, but thanks to my mom, Dolly Parton’s Golden Streets Of Glory is imprinted onto my heart.

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Jett Kwong,
The TVD First date

“My first record was a clear, limited edition of David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. From there I began building my small collection with my favorite artists. “

“With music, and any media for that matter, there’s something lovely about experiencing it with intention. Choosing a record to put on has a different feeling than streaming endless songs. In a world where we are bombarded by noise and screens all the time, playing records is such a tactile, meditative experience.

Some of my favorites records are ones from Patsy Cline, Nat King Cole, Cyndi Lauper, and the Carpenters, with a few random Chinese, Vietnamese, and Turkish records from the ’60s – ’80s I’ve discovered through the years. I don’t have a huge collection and it’s much more curated to my favorites.

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Matt Wilson,
The TVD First Date

“I grew up in the days when vinyl was the only high-fidelity music delivery system. So, I had a few albums with me when I struck out from our family homestead in the suburbs of Minneapolis. I picked up a few more records along the way before a basement flood ruined my album covers and also destroyed my very uncomfortable futon. Sad about the records. Sweet relief regarding that bed. I threw a party where I provided crayons and blank white LP jackets so that guests could help me replace my album art. But my record collection was never the same. The age of digital music set in and I became a CD guy.”

“I was a working musician at that point and from time to time I found myself in record company offices. Those visits always led to an invitation for me to poke my head into a bin of promotional CDs and just grab what I wanted. Pretty soon I had rows of these silvery wonders, and I was living that compact disc lifestyle, trying not to break jewel cases, keeping my discs in wallets, and not really knowing where anything was.

During this period when my music listening was devolving into a data storage issue, I was simultaneously noticing how the process of making music was changing, too. I found myself spending less time touching a guitar, and more time moving a mouse around, pointing at shapes. Everything besides singing and playing was starting to feel complicated.

Our collective fascinations with musical styles seem to follow a cyclical pattern. A simple idea emerges suddenly from some great new DIY-style group. Once we all realize we like it, imitations appear. Expert musicians begin to crowd in and create awesome variations on the original idea. The songs become more shiny and more wonderful. And just as we all start to get sick of the original idea, some new DIY-style band appears with a shocking new sound. The world turns its head in that direction and pattern begins again. In my mind this cycle is like a sawtooth wave. A slow ramping up of awesomeness and complexity and then a sudden catastrophic drop off to the simplicity of some garagey new sound.

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Villages,
The TVD First Date

“My first experience with vinyl was an important one.”

“When I was in junior high, my uncle lent me The Beatles’ 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 compilations on vinyl. This was the first time I’d obsessed over records, sitting in front of my dad’s stereo with a pair of headphones. It didn’t hurt my first vinyl experience was also my first Beatles experience.

Once I left home for university I started buying vinyl. We have some great shops in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Select Sounds, Taz Records, and Obsolete are shops we visit frequently.

We stream music just as much as anyone and purchase vinyl when we really love a record. Streaming is just the test drive for us.

I think the current era we’re living in is incredible. We have easy access to almost everything. It can be overwhelming, but our tastes have broadened so much in the last 5 years since streaming took over. It beats the days of file sharing. I still have a pirated digital copy of David Bowie’s Lodger that has a Backstreet Boys song randomly tossed on.

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Memory Cult,
The TVD First Date

“My family moved from Detroit to the west coast when I was 12. We moved around a lot growing up, so by the time we made it to Sacramento, I didn’t have a lot of friends and I was quite well read yet introverted little kid.”

“My single mother created a lot of opportunities for me but had three other children much younger than me to care for, so I ended up doing a lot of “me” time. Naturally, in 1997 with nothing else to do, I turned to MTV and rock music magazines to search for a way to fill my brain. By 14, with my meager allowance doing chores and yard work, I had amassed a few shoe boxes of cassettes and a few CDs. It wasn’t much looking back but I knew every lyric, drum hit, bass line and layer of my small, strong collection.

I hadn’t yet been to a proper record store and I didn’t really care at the time. That drastically changed when I first purchased Space Oddity by David Bowie. That record became my whole life—I would play it endlessly all summer in my room. I must have ruined that album for my mom.

We shared a house with my uncle who had a giant vinyl collection. I was usually at school when he worked but he would play records on the weekends and jam on his drum kit in the garage. One day I heard the familiar finger picking of “Letters to Hermione.” Being a lovesick hormonal teenager I would listen to that song and imagine I was Bowie…forlorn and serenading my lost love.

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MARNEY,
The TVD First Date

“Since I am a child of the ’90s, I grew up with CDs and wasn’t really introduced to vinyl until I was about 10 years old.”

“My dad is really into prog rock and I remember rummaging through his record collection and finding artists like Genesis and Yes. With artists like those, there’s so much emphasis on creativity and artwork, and with vinyl you can actually see it and pay attention to it. Music is so much more than just the songs, it’s all of the art and imagery that goes along with it and vinyl really allows you to appreciate those things.

I grew up on bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Led Zeppelin. Something I have always loved about all of them is their insane album artwork, so I have grown quite the collection of vinyl from bands from the ’70s and ’80s.

As my music taste has evolved and expanded, I have traded my denim cut-off vest for a nice button up and cardigan. The harder stuff will always be a part of who I am, but now I prefer to dabble in ’90s music and my favorite current artists. Nothing like Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? on a record player to instantly make any ’90s kid want a Lunchable and a Skip-It.

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Carter Van Pelt,
The TVD First Date

“My mom used to place a stool near the base of our Zenith console stereo so I could peer over the edge and watch 7-inch 45s on the dropstack changer. Something fascinated me about the 45s, their size and feel. A teenage obsession with The Police led me to reggae—Steel Pulse, Bob Marley, Burning Spear, and Augustus Pablo, but LPs and CDs provided my only access to this alluring but cultural distant music.”

“Fast forward ten years to my first trip to Jamaica in 1996 when I met a Belmont, Westmoreland area soundman named KD. At KD’s, I came to understand the importance of the 7-inch single in the Jamaican context, the soundsystem, the sheer amount of recorded music, and the concept of ‘music like dirt,’ when he winged a slightly cracked Israel Vibration 45 into the ocean.

KD sold me records from his collection of tens of thousands of 45s. From that trip, singles quickly became the focus of my interest, as Jamaican music was so clearly built around singles made for dances.

Jamaican 45s are a strange fetish to be sure, but there is something about those 7-inch artifacts—not just the seasoned sound, but the typesetting, in many cases the hand drawn labels, the inherent artfulness of offset printing—that makes the world of Jamaican 45s all-consuming. Even if the records are blank, they usually have variegated stains from the climate: rain, tropical storms, hurricanes, or just humidity that make them unique.

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Chris Maxwell,
The TVD First Date

“When I think about the importance of records in my life, I see black vinyl signposts at some of the most important crossroads.”

“The first being my uncle Steve’s bedroom in my grandparents’ house is Morrilton, Arkansas. My mom and I lived next door to my grandparents. She was a single working mom so I spent a lot of time next door with Mamaw and Papaw. Boredom figured heavily into my routine. My Uncle Steve was a young uncle and played organ in a local band.

When he wasn’t around I would sneak into his room and flick the long switch on his massive Pioneer stereo. The light glowed bluish-green and a miniature party would begin. One of the records that stands out in my mind is the Cheech & Chong record Los Cochinos. I would put that record on and start working my way through my Uncles’s Playboys he had hidden in his closet.

This was pre-masturbation so I would just flit through, curious about the female form while the sound of Cheech & Chong inhaling deeply on cartoon sized joints played in the background. No one had really explained sex and drugs to me but from what I could tell from the die cut cover that revealed pot hidden in the door when you opened it and the way Steve’s Playboys were buried in the closet, sex and drugs were suppose to be naughty fun—I was all in.

The first record I bought was with lawn-mowing money around the age of nine. It was a K-Tel record called Believe In Music, 22 original hits by the original artists. The album opens up with “Brandy” by Looking Glass. The other songs that still rank high in the songs-that-age-well category are “Maggie May,” “Hold Your Head High” and “Backstabbers.” I did suffer, however, from not one but two Donny Osmond songs.

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Kat Hamilton,
The TVD First Date

“My parents gave me their record collection when I was 15. It had loads of classic albums—Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Blondie, The Rolling Stones etc. That’s when I found Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.That album changed my world.”

“It rotated my entire identity off axis and aligned me in a new reality. Stevie was the sun, the moon, the stars: she was everything. I would move the needle back to the beginning of “Dreams” over and over again. I just wondered how anyone could sing like that. Like she was inside of my room, telling me how she felt with no pretense. That record pointed me to Tusk and their self titled. I like to think that Stevie is woven into the fabric of my voice.

I always knew I’d make music. Even as a little girl, there wasn’t much else that I would even entertain. I didn’t do sports. I dramatically quit swimming during the try outs, demonstrating a lack of awareness as to what trying-out actually meant. I thought Girl Scouts was a waste of time and convinced one of my friends to sell my cookies for me. I felt like this weird adult, trapped in a kid body and expected to do kid things. But when I found Rumours, it finally clicked. I was meant to sing songs the way that Stevie sang “it’s only me who wants to wrap around your dreams and have you any dreams you’d like to sell?”

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Seth Glier,
The TVD First Date

“I love the smell of vinyl. The polymers. The fresh crisp clean of card stock. It’s like the smell reaches out to remind you ‘this is real.’”

“My first time with vinyl was when I was 22. I didn’t grow up in a musically active household (though discs where frequently being played on the stereo). I had a girlfriend who had a Crosley turntable from Target. Within a few weeks I had quickly become someone who would add to her vinyl collection. Living in Washington, DC at the time Mobius was my favorite stomping grounds. That and sometimes Crooked Beat.

I’ve always been highly inspired by the songwriters of the ’70s. Carole King’s Tapestry, Jackson Browne’s Running On Empty, Springsteen’s Darkness On the Edge of Town, and of course Randy Newman’s Little Criminals. This was my opportunity to get the real thing. I stared deeply at Joni Mitchell’s Blue album cover and tried to understand why songs were like tattoos and how she’d been to sea before. Blue made me a better songwriter. Miles’ Kind of Blue made me a better cook—the soundtrack to many meals in our small Alexandria, VA kitchen.

My favorite thing about the process of listening to vinyl is that after 20 minutes I have to stop what I’m doing and I’m forced to actively re-engage with the experience I’m having by flipping it over. In a world where everything is becoming automated, the interruption can seem like a radical act. As an artist, rituals are deeply important to me and I believe the whole physicality of vinyl makes listening to music a more intimate experience. I do not take it for granted. There is a power hidden in the process.

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Whitacre,
The TVD First Date

“I’ll never forget the moment I finally gave into the vinyl craze. I had believed it to be a trend that would come and go in a year or two and be quickly forgotten about. That was until my buddy, Max, gave me a spare record player he had lying around his house that wasn’t getting any use.”

“I remember it being such a kind and unexpected gesture. I also remember feeling somewhat ‘obligated’ to buy at least one record to try the thing out. A couple of weeks later I went to see Rayland Baxter open for Fruition at The Ogden Theatre in Denver, CO. I picked up Rayland’s Feathers and Fishhooks LP for $20 and took it home with me. I’ll never forget sliding the vinyl out of its sleeve and discovering it was an opaque green record. I was instantly hooked.

I remember flipping that record back and forth 4-5 times that first night I got it—listening to every song on repeat. I think that was the first time I really appreciated a collection of songs and their ability to tell a story. I felt so stoked about buying a record that didn’t have a single song that wasn’t so enjoyable to listen to. I let that idea fuel my passion for vinyl.

I started wondering about other albums some of my favorite artists had produced that I could throw on the turntable and never worry about wanting to skip a song. Lief Vollebekk, Hippo Campus, The Oh Hellos, and Coldplay were a few of the first records I bought.

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