Author Archives: Special to TVD

Aly Tadros,
The TVD First Date

“Where I grew up, record players weren’t really a thing.”

“I came of age in South Texas in a town where and Top-20 Radio ruled. The first tape I ever bought was Britney Spears’s breakout single, “Hit Me Baby.” The only music my parents we listened to at home was classical music on the local Catholic radio station or, on special occasions, the Gypsy Kings. My family’s music taste was, in short, tragically uncool. Outside of the occasional odd reference on Nick at Night, I never really understand the purpose of a record players. Weren’t CDs the wave of the future?

The first record I ever listened to was Tom Waits’ Blood Money, camped out in a my buddy’s apartment in downtown San Antonio, Texas. “There is NO other way to listen to this album. The fidelity is incomparable,” he told me; but to be honest I couldn’t really tell if it was the vinyl that intensified the croon in Tom’s voice in “Everything Goes to Hell,” or the massive amount of pot we had just smoked. I just didn’t get what the big deal was.

Then I moved to Brooklyn.

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ISLE,
The TVD First Date

“There’s something about vinyl. There’s something about that crackle and just-slightly-out-of-tune quality to it that gives it a warmth and instant charm that no other format manages to replicate.”

“As a kid, I grew up in a fairly musical family and we had a lot of vinyl. I remember my grandpa having a whole set of Pavarotti records that he would play, mostly at night, on an old oak-set record player that could’ve been stolen straight from the set of Mad Men. That sound of Luciano Pavarotti’s voice bellowing from a record player in the next room as you were falling asleep isn’t something you easily forget, and listening to it now instantly takes me back to being about 5 years old in that house.

At our own place, my parents’ tastes were a bit more modern and my dad had a few Police, R.E.M. and Depeche Mode records that we listened to all the time—as well as my mum’s Cyndi Lauper LPs and a heap of new wave stuff. It was these records that really set my attention to wanting to play what I was hearing. All of it just triggered a sense that this was something I wanted to do, every artist’s sound painted a different picture in my head and I wanted to paint my own.

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Air Traffic Controller,
The TVD First Date

“There were stacks of vinyl in my youth, mostly well-known, critically acclaimed classics, but I don’t need to go there because, number one, I did not purchase these hand me downs, and number two, they were acquired well before I knew I wanted to make music of my own. I hope you’re willing to read about an artist you may have never heard of. He unofficially refers to himself as an “author unknown,” but his name is Jason Falkner and the inspiring album I purchased was Can You Still Feel?.

“My brother showed me Jason’s first album, appropriately titled Author Unknown, and told me that he was one of the original members of the band Jellyfish, which we were pretty obsessed with for their likeness of The Beatles, Queen, Beach Boys, and Supertramp. Why anyone would exit a band as special as Jellyfish is a question that made checking out Jason a necessity. A few songs in, it was clear that his solo thing was way too awesome to not devote all of his time and energy. Whatever the case was, focusing on his own music was the right move.

His debut was a masterpiece in my opinion, so by the time this second record Can You Still Feel was released, I needed to have it right away, and I needed the vinyl. The artwork was cool as hell—Jason dressed in leather, sitting in an outdated airplane with orange interior, being served a drink by a sexy/ghostly flight attendant. I loved this album before I even played it.

The opening line “Take a chance with me…” had me on the edge of my seat, and this new mixture of raw ‘in the room’ sounds along with a signature scapey vibe, courtesy of producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Travis) made this album different yet still very much Jason doing what he does best—which is everything. He plays ALL the instruments on his records extremely well. His witty lyrics, catchy song melodies, and guitar hooks made this another fully satisfying journey.

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Jasmine Rodgers,
The TVD First Date

“I’ve been looking at all the First Dates and what I love is how many of these musicians have been drawn to music through their parents’ record collections. It’s not just a collection of records, it’s a record of their lives collected together. When I was a kid, cassette tapes were norm and CDs were coming up too. We were once given one of those that were the size of an LP—I don’t think my dad knew what to do with it so it got put on the wall as art/weird mirror.”

“The ceremony attached to the playing of vinyl was never lost on me, there was such a buzz watching the needle pick up and play. At home the collection was very varied as my dad is a real searcher for good music. It started for me with Elvis though, Little Richard, The Beatles, and the Disney soundtrack (I kid you not, “We are Siamese” and Luis Prima singing Jungle Book? Incredible). We also had a 1950s jukebox which had been slightly updated with the odd single from the 1970s, so I know all kinds of wonderful tunes that your gran probably rocked out to (such as “The Stripper”—David Rose & His Orchestra—my grandma loved that) as well as “Tiger Feet” by Mud.

But it was the whole sensory experience, the artwork, the opening up of the cover and the feel of the cardboard, sometimes they had writing on them and you had a sense of them being held onto, through all the different times in my parents’ lives, so in a way they made me feel closer to my parents too. It was a real initiation being taught how to hold vinyl, take it out of the sleeve, all that.

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Brett Ferguson,
The TVD First Date

“I am the youngest of three children. My sister is 10 years my senior and gave me my first mix tape (yep, those actually existed) when I was 7 or 8 years old.”

“It had everything from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to Pearl Jam’s “Alive” and even LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” This small piece of plastic with 21 songs opened up the world to me. It was rebellious, it was lyrical, it was emotional, and it was raw. The artists didn’t all sing with pretty voices. They just sang with what they had. The imperfection in the artists did not matter and, if anything, were reasons for celebration.

I found this break from the norm glaringly obvious in Dave Matthews Band’s CD, Under the Table and Dreaming. Go ahead, laugh. Shake your head in disagreement. But to a ten-year old kid in 1994 when this album was released, it was revolutionary on the Pop/Acoustic Rock scene.

His guitar playing and song writing broke away from the 4/4 time signature, broke away from the four chord songs I was used to hearing, and created space for improvisation with unconventional instruments instead of your typical guitar solo. This influenced my desire to study jazz in college as a bassist. This influenced the instruments that I wanted in my band. It also influenced my song writing to pull out some of the darker emotions I felt and to write about my inner demons.

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Psychic Mind,
The TVD First Date and Premiere, “Day Trader” and “Wavebreaker”

“Nothing beats listening to my favorite albums on wax. I’ve always been an album guy, and vinyl records, for me, facilitate the necessary conditions for proper enjoyment of an album. The couch, the stereo system, the atmosphere, the lighting; everything bends to the will of the record once the needle drops.”

“Growing up in the ’90s, I experienced firsthand the minimizing and accessorization of the art and packaging (and ultimately the vibe) that was the unintended result of music going entirely digital by the early 2000s, and after going from cassettes, to CDs, to minidisks, back to CDs, onto to mp3s, and now streaming, it became clear that so much of the original context of people’s work gets lost in the details.

When all people have is a little track on their phone at the end of the day, something is missing. Records, to me, are the best way of retaining all of the integrity of an album and delivering the emotive experience to the listener as originally intended.

My record collection, while nothing to write home about, has become my little greatest hits of all my favorite bands. If I fall in love with an album, I feel compelled to add it to the shelf. Right now I’m really excited about my recent pick up of an original UK mono edition of Rubber Soul, and Nick is lending me a live Can record from France, circa ’75, which has some pretty insane stuff on it too. I also tend to keep Stereolab’s Mars Audiac Quintet next to the player as my go-to record these days for general life-living.

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The Adventures of
the Silver Spaceman,
The TVD First Date

“As a kid of the tape/CD generation, I’d frequently sift through my Dad’s records feeling slighted that the album art now was only a fraction of the size of what it used to be. A bunch of the jackets were all chewed up from when his dog got into them. Ray Manzarek’s face had been eaten right off of L.A. Woman.”

“He had all the cuts a Jersey boy from the ’70s should: The Flying Burrito Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Warren Zevon, everything Springsteen ever did. Listening to “Thunder Road” with lyrics in hand is more than partially responsible for my hopeless Romanticism. He’d weave verse into cinema that would play over and over in my head. Though, I’d always get stuck on that line, ”you ain’t a beauty but hey you’re alright.” I mean, who says that? I’m positive this is something you should never say to a person.

Eventually we put the record player in the basement and got one of those five CD changers, but Dad got real defensive anytime Mom suggested throwing out the records. He wasn’t ready for that. Soon enough I inherited his collection and took it to Brooklyn where there was cheap used vinyl everywhere. Slowly I began to build on what the ol’ man had started.

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Rodes Rollins,
The TVD First Date

“My grandfather and his brothers own an old farmhouse in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts. The original house is nearly ancient, built before the Revolutionary War. It used to belong to my grandfather’s parents, and has since become a home away from home for five generations in my family. It’s an old, rickety structure on an overgrown, uneven green plot of land. The place reeks of mothballs and mold. But it’s a family gem nonetheless.”

“A few years ago, the family decided to put the old farm up for sale, after deciding that there were too many heirs to the property, yet not enough of them willing to take the time out of their busy lives to care for the poor old house.

The house has not yet sold. Still, my family, especially my grandpa, mourns the loss of the farm and the cherished moments and memories housed in its wobbly old walls. After all, it’s the memories that really form the structure of the old farmhouse; and it’s those memories that make it so beautiful.

One of my favorite things to do at the farm is to rummage through all of the archaic artifacts around the house. From playing the painfully out-of-tune piano, to digging through my great grandmother’s vintage coats, to stealing pots and pans for my Brooklyn home, there’s always something magical to find at the family farm.

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Paper Route,
The TVD First Date

“My father loves music. Wait, as I’m saying this I’m realizing my father loves music as much as he loves sound. It’s my mother who loves music. There’s a huge difference. Let me unpack.”

“There’s the mystique of artists, the unknown, the legend, the fandom, the rituals, and most importantly the sense of wonder that never dies. That’s loving music. Loving music AND sound, well this basically means you aren’t afraid to dissect everything I just mentioned about loving music. The mystique of an artist is great and all, but, what guitar pedal got him to sound that good? Or, what studio did they record in, what mic did they use?

My father built his own home sound system. Between teaching music, running sound for multiple events, playing in bands (he still plays in one), and making sure that I didn’t break anything, he devoted his life to that one thing we all hunt—the perfect home stereo. And, as I’m sure you’ve probably put together, it was my mother who had quite the heavy hand in the vinyl we purchased for our home listening.

All of these things considered I’m sure you can imagine the reality of me being just buried in music as a child. Almost every photo of me growing up is by the turntable or wearing headphones. I was enamored with vinyl. Its size alone could swallow 8 cassettes or possibly 4 of the “new best thing—the compact disc.”

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Nikki Yanofsky,
The TVD First Date

“I have often said I was born in the wrong era. Maybe it’s that we glorify the decades that we weren’t around in based on all the good that came out of them. Maybe it’s the stories we hear from our parents or our grandparents. Maybe it’s the memorabilia, the vintage, the style, the art, that a certain era had to offer.”

“I have always categorized time through what it had to offer me. So the best time, in my mind, is the ’60s and ’70s. It offered up some of the best, most consistent, real art, real music to date. Sure, maybe it’s that it’s very hard to be objective about the present. And a decade only becomes a tangible thing the farther away we get from it… but for whatever reason, I have fully dreamt up what I would have been like had I been born in a time that embraced peace, freedom, and real genuine music.

I relish in the stories I hear from my parents. My mom, running home for lunch in elementary school, having just enough time to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, put on her favourite vinyl, and listen to side A and side B while singing along with her mouth full before heading back to class. My dad, remembering the exact moment he heard The Beatles for the first time on TV, jamming along on the keys to anything and everything he could get his hands on.

Imagine a time where people, kids even, would wait in line at a record store and use their allowance to buy music. To listen to an album as a whole.

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