Author Archives: Special to TVD

A Big Yes and a small no,
The TVD First Date

“There are VERY few things I did when I was 5 that I still do now. I still brush my teeth. I still tell my mom I love her. And I still buy vinyl. “Take it Away” on 45 by Paul McCartney was my first. “A Brief History of Amazing Letdowns” on 10″ by Lilys (after quite a search) was my last.”

“Around the time I bought my first, my sister got “Thriller” on 45 and because it was so long the grooves were TINY. And if you even breathed on it, it would skip. My dad said, “I’ve got a song longer than that on 45” and showed us Don McLean’s “American Pie,” which was so long it faded out halfway through on side A and faded BACK IN on side B!

My dad was into building speaker cabinets and he let me hold a speaker that was producing sound before he installed it. I still remember watching the needle tracking on the grooves, my eyes following along the wires to the speaker cradled in my hands. Seeing it move. Feeling the air and the vibrations. Hearing it create MUSIC. It absolutely enthralled me.

People assume I’m into vinyl because I’ve been a hip-hop DJ since the mid ’90s, but they’re wrong. I was already into vinyl long before I was a DJ. The reason? Because vinyl is inherently social. All of my fond memories of vinyl involve other people.

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Hidden Hospitals,
The TVD First Date

“Like most things taken for granted, we tend to notice only after they’re gone.”

“Records were these old, musty smelling things that lined our shelves the same as books. Occasionally my mom (who grew up collecting records) would put one on, and we’d all listen. We’d sing, dance, shake the floor and cause the music to skip. I’d try to scratch like the DJs and get yelled at. Then, at some point, vinyl was gone. We no longer had a turntable. My mom had packed her records into milk crates and put them in the attic. I was born into an era that had already ended, and the future took over.

Somewhere in my teens I discovered DJ Shadow. I loved hip hop, so his music resonated quickly. Often brooding, gritty, imperfect beats laden with vocal and instrumental samples transformed, chopped, and screwed. This was Endtroducing…., a 100% sample-based album, all pulled from vinyl records. I memorized it, studied it, analyzed it—curious to learn how he’d made this landmark and widely influential masterpiece.

I knew nothing about sampling, but quickly discovered it’s at the root of most of the music that I grew up loving. One of the most special things about Endtroducing…. is how vast the ingredients are. DJ Shadow spanned samples from Björk to Metallica, and avoided using popular (obvious) material, opting for obscure ingredients with which to build from. The cover of the record is from Rare Records, one of many shops he’d scour meticulously searching for records to cut from and with. He’d hit estate sales, garage sales, online ads—anywhere that could have a stash of strange and obscure records that no one else could get.

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Alex Hepburn,
The TVD First Date

“My parents were into their soul, jazz, and blues. They used to play James Brown, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Otis, Jimmy Hendrix, and so much more.”

“I remember when I was little, stealing a Billie Holiday record off my mum—I was mesmerised by her voice and her look. I felt her pain when she sang. Actually, all of the singers I latched onto had that lived-in voice, tortured soul, and raw emotion, that’s that shit you don’t get a lot of nowadays. Raw honesty, real life.

I think life forged these amazing singers’ voices and I feel that, looking back on my life, I’ve probably had the same crap happen in mine—hahaha! Someone once said to me, “Girl you gotta have lived the blues to sing the blues,” and I guess it’s true ‘cause life’s thrown everything and the damn kitchen sink my way. But, oh well.

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Young Rising Sons,
The TVD First Date

“My earliest memory of my first introduction to music was my father blasting The Beatles’ Rubber Soul in our living room. My brother and I would dance around and sing along to “Drive My Car.” My father’s love for The Beatles, The Doors, The Dave Clark Five, and Herman’s Hermits would be passed on to my brother and me in the form of punk rock, hardcore, and hip-hop.”

“Growing up, my father used to frequent a record store called Wow! Music in the Hudson Mall, in Jersey City, NJ. He would always randomly browse and pick up any record that MIGHT seem like he would enjoy. I wouldn’t understand until later in life the satisfaction he would get watching his collection grow every week. It’s something that to this day, my brother and I would bond over with him.

Having an older brother who started DJing in the pre-Serato era made a huge impression on me when it came to hunting, purchasing, and collecting music. Browsing the used vinyl section and the $1–$5 crates of old records at Vintage Vinyl in Fords, NJ, and Jack’s Music Shoppe in Red Bank, NJ not only became a hobby, but an obsession.

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Delta Jackson,
The TVD First Date

“I got a record player for my birthday one year, but I only had a limited amount of money to start buying. So, rather than just buy one or two records I was more tempted to get my hands on as many different sounds as I could. I left the store with an armful of records by Van Morrison, Phoebe Snow, Rickie Lee Jones, The Animals, Dennis Wilson, Steely Dan, and Pink Floyd. I’ll never forget that first moment of being in a record shop and about to dive down the rabbit hole of music and never return! I suppose the vinyl record that has stuck with me the most from that shopping spree is Luxury Liner by Emmylou Harris.”

“Compared to people who I know who have massive vinyl collections, I wouldn’t necessarily say that I am a hard core ‘quantity’ collector. But I do have a decent collection, and every record that I own has a great meaning to me. That is the probably the biggest reason why I wanted to release my EP on vinyl as a limited edition vinyl pressing. You can really achieve such a great sound for the music by listening to it on vinyl. Especially with recordings, such as mine, that were recorded live to tape (Studer A820 24-track) at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in the UK, which in itself… is a deep rabbit hole of recording gear that I won’t even get into!

As I delved deeper into my own songwriting, I found it a lot more interesting to continue on with my vinyl collection as a way to discover older records. This was before music became digitized and other than the local vinyl/CD shop or the public library, it was hard to catch on to great music. Buying old or new vinyl really opened up new possibilities for finding an artist that I hadn’t encountered before. Jackson Browne was someone who I found at the record shop and his single “Doctor My Eyes” was something that I gravitated to without knowing why. I have probably listened to that song over 1,000 times on vinyl.

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John Craigie,
The TVD First Date and Premiere, “Scarlet”

“I have always loved records as a whole. Even when I was a kid it was very important for me to hear the whole record, in order, from start to finish. I liked going through the journey, some songs good, some songs bad. Seeing where the artist would place the “hits” vs. where they would place the deep cuts. What songs they would open with, and which songs they would close with.”

“I was born in the era of CDs, so vinyl was not something I listened to as a youth. It wasn’t until I got to college and hung out with some friends who had a record player. I was immediately drawn to the larger size. Seeing the artwork better and not dealing with plastic jewel cases.

I found a record player for myself and started getting some vinyl at the local record store. I was in Santa Cruz at that time and Logos and Streetlight Records had great dollar bins. I would dig through those and whatever looked interesting I would get. One dollar wasn’t too much of a risk. And if it sucked I would just give it to a friend or donate it back. I always liked how vinyl kind of forced you to listen to the record in full. I mean, you could drop the needle on any song, but I found people tended not to do that.

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Shana Halligan,
The TVD First Date

“My first vinyl purchase. Well… I should really talk about my second. If I dare mention my first it could possibly strip me away of all street cred I thought I once had. It may be so embarrassing that you could possibly have deep regret asking me to do this interview. It may be so bad, that you may think, how could this girl really have come from Rock and Roll royalty?”

“It’s that embarrassing. Oh god, I’m doing it… Wait, ok, in my defense I was late into my 6th year of life on this planet. I was in total and complete awe over what I had just witnessed. The greatest movie of my life to date! Eyes wide, completely mesmerized. I must have watched this movie over 100 times. I learned every dance move. Every song. I want to be her! I need to be her! I need leg warmers, I need a bandana around my forehead, wait, I need a flowing chiffon Ice Castles dress, I need rollers skates!! I NEED to be her!! But wait, there’s more! She could be a throw back jazz singer in the perfect cigarette girl outfit, a cowgirl, and ’80s electric goddess, a work out queen…she was everything. A muse. My muse. Here it goes…

Xanadu. Yes. That Xanadu. The ridiculous movie soundtrack featuring Olivia Newton John on the cover looking as glorious as ever. I will never forget this experience. It was quite emotional and traumatic.

I had saved up months of allowance to get this album. It was all I could think about. If only I could get the album, then I could read the lyrics in the liner notes, I could learn who she really was, and then I could figure out how to get to Xanadu. I could get the address to that art deco building in the photo and be free from the shackles of my crazy hippy life as I knew it. Xanadu. That’s where I needed to be. And I could only get there through the pertinent information located in the secrets of this particular vinyl.

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The 286,
The TVD First Date

“Vinyl. If I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure what I’d be doing now if I hadn’t had the fortune of experiencing music on it. Would I ever have been drawn into music like I have been without vinyl? Would I even be in a band?”

“It’s hard to judge how much of an impact those early vinyl days had on me, particularly as they largely coincided with when I started becoming obsessed with music. But I’ve no doubt that those early vinyl experiences completely drove that obsession.

I grew up listening to my mum and dad’s singles and LPs. Their collection was wide-ranging, from early Beatles singles through to late ’70s albums by Bowie, Roxy Music, and ELO. Their collection would trip my senses. It seemed that vinyl had a particular smell like no other. The artwork or photo, blown up to the size of the sleeve, announced the record’s contents, inviting you on a musical journey.

I would scan the front and back of the sleeve whilst the disc played, discovering a new detail each time. Some of the sleeves would be pristine, like the amazing coloured records in their collection; others would be more worn, like the late ’60s sleeves that I later found out my dad would use as cigarette ashtrays when hanging out with his band! Each record seemed to tell its own story which was something which make these memories so vivid to this day.

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Anjulie,
The TVD First Date

“Making and listening to music is therapy for me. It calms depression, anxiety, and the incurable affliction of being different.”

“When I was growing up, OK computer by Radiohead made me feel like someone understood me. I was raised in a pretty conservative all white suburb in Ontario and I would get under my headphones with a flashlight in my room and read the lyrics of “Fake Plastic Trees” under the covers. It helped me make sense of myself. “A green plastic watering can for a fake Chinese rubber plant In the fake plastic earth…”

I wasn’t the type of kid boys were into, so much so that the hottest guy in class actually asked me out as a joke. Instead of offing myself, I would listen to Jagged Little Pill and scream into my pillow over and over. “And it would knock me too the ground if I wasn’t there already. If only I could hunt the hunter…” All my aggression pain and sadness was sopped up by the sounds coming out of silver CDs. (world’s most emo alliteration).

Then came The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It helped me understand how to take that hurt and turn it into art and beauty and hope. “Now hear this mixture where hip hop meets scripture develop a negative into a positive picture,” she sang on “Everything is Everything.”

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Mitch Bradford,
The TVD First Date

“Vinyl has always had a huge impact on me. There’s something about holding it. Looking at the cover art and design. It feels like a work of art. Almost like a book. And when you buy it—you buy it with intention. Even if it’s bad, you’re going to listen to that record front to back.”

“When I was a kid, there was one vinyl store in my hometown of Brownsville, TX. It opened and closed pretty quickly. And I can’t remember the name. “Wolf” something, I think. But while they were open I snagged the songs of Hank Williams, “Mr. Blue Sky” ELO’s Greatest Hits, and Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music by Ray Charles. This was also the time where vinyl was in a downturn so I inherited a lot of vinyl from my grandparents. I think everybody received Carole King’s Tapestry at this time. And Herb Alpert’s record with the famous “whipped cream” cover. Haha.

I’d play them on a cheap Crosley portable record player in my room. I didn’t know about turntables then (I’ve gotten more sophisticated since) but the sound and the warmth of the music meant a lot to me. It was all much more majestic than mp3s. And it felt real. Like the artist had taken time crafting the song structure and deciding which ones came first and last. They took you on a journey—a narrative.

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