“Ever since I was a young child, I’ve been addicted to vinyl.”
“I’ve always had lots of records….at one point I had 10,000 or so. The funny thing is that I can remember where and when I bought most of them. Perhaps all of them, if I think hard enough. Records have taught me a lot over the years – not only about music, but about cultures and eras and languages, about styles and how they change, and about sound and vision. How technology has changed and how it has changed us.
Records have taken me to other lands, other worlds, other sounds, both in my mind and in reality. They’re an obsession, I’ve traveled the world in search of them. There’s something about the thrill of the hunt, especially when you’re digging through piles and piles of dusty platters. You never know what you’ll find! Yeah, I know a lot about collecting and rarities and monetary value – hell, I spent nearly a decade working in used record stores. While there are many factors that go into why people collect things, the bottom line is that it’s still about the music.
“There’s a fire extinguisher strapped to that guy’s drum set. WHY? His sticks are on fire and I can clearly see smoke…is he going to be ok? Is he going to use the fire extinguisher? As a kid, this is what I would repeatedly think to myself as I stared at the back cover of my older brother’s copy of Van Halen 2.“
“I would fixate on the photo of David Lee Roth and try to comprehend how the split he’s doing is as high as the mic stand. Was there a springboard or something that they pulled away right before the photo was taken? I didn’t have the answers but I knew what I was looking at and listening to was AMAZING.
Downstairs in the den was my parents’ record collection. I had been having dance parties there with my mom courtesy of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. The coffee table would be removed to make room and then I would go to town. That record is now sitting in the basement next to a Sergio Franchi album.
I didn’t own my own piece of vinyl until “Start Me Up” was released a few years later. I had it on 45. Having my own record was definitely a big deal. Otherwise, if I liked a song, I had to tape it when it came on the radio.
“In 1999 I was well on my way through a journey of classic rock. I was nine years old, and anyone you might expect to see on a list of “Rock Gods” had become my idols. Bowie, Hendrix, The Stones, and anyone else with tight pants and a guitar were all who mattered. I bought an electric guitar and stopped cutting my hair. At just over four feet tall I considered myself a total badass.”
“Due to my new-found obsession, I took an interest in my dad’s record collection. Unfortunately they were kept at my parents’ cottage three hours north of our home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We only used the cottage during the summer, so I waited for the school year to end, and dreamt of a stockpile of classic rock artillery to blast on the record player.
You might expect a description of me opening a dusty cabinet to find Zeppelin, The Who, Bowie, and the rest of my hero’s records hidden away like treasure. Unfortunately, this is not a Rock’n'Roll fairytale and that’s not what happened.
While there were a couple hundred records in a dusty cabinet, the majority of them were 1940s lounge singers, and a surprisingly large number were Christmas records. I was crushed. Someone should have videotaped my reaction; it would have been Youtube worthy. The more I searched the worse it got and my hopes of spending an afternoon listening to classic vinyl culminated in listening to the Bread album Manna. Not exactly what I had in mind.
“My first experience with vinyl was when I was around 7 or 8 years old. My dad had this incredible room in our old house that was completely devoted to his record collection. He had been collecting vinyl since the ’60s and was a complete addict.”
“Whenever he was back in town, which wasn’t very often, we would all participate in this weird little ritual of his; every weekend, he would drag my brother and I around to garage sales looking for those old discarded records no one wanted anymore. He’d buy EVERYTHING. No matter what it was. At first I didn’t get it, but when I was 7 or 8 years old, he finally let me play my first record. We put on Billy Joel’s The Stranger—from the minute I lifted up that needle– “gently, gently…” my dad would remind me in his hushed, excited voice—I knew I was experiencing something holy.
From that day on, the record room became my refuge, my temple, my place of worship, my therapist’s couch, my home. Looking back on it now, I believe it was also a way for me to feel closer to my dad. For the past 30 years my dad has been working in the film business; the nature of that business requires you to be constantly on the road, so Casey and I didn’t get much of a chance to see him growing up. But when he was home, it was heaven. Being in that room, surrounded by all those records, helped me not to miss him so much.
“Honestly, I was late to the vinyl game. But as soon as I discovered it, I instantly fell in love.”
“One morning around Christmas two years ago, I was living alone in LA, and a package showed up at my doorstep. There was nothing indicating whom it was from, but I opened the box and it turned out there was a turntable inside. I’ve never owed one before, but had always been meaning to buy one. I was a bit shocked and pleasantly surprised that the gods one morning had just dropped one off at my door. So that’s how I got my first turntable; it literally fell upon my door.
I later found out that our record label Bright Antenna sent it to me as a Christmas gift, and that was the start of my vinyl story.
Although it’s not the first LP I ever purchased, when I signed my first record deal with Bright Antenna, I decided to get myself two splurge items: one was a pair of new boots, and the other was a first edition copy of Nick Drake’s Pink Moon for $300—which I bought from Wombleton Records in Highland. It’s the highlight of my wax collection.
“Back in ’95 I was into hip hop. One by one, all of my friends started rapping and there was a great deal of peer pressure for me to go and show off my lyrical skills as well. But no way was I going to grab a mic, so I thought I’d get myself a pair of decks instead. The plan was to become the greatest DJ of all time, so nobody would ever talk to me about rapping anymore.”
Obviously at the age of 15 my budget must have been around 300 francs (which is the equivalent to 7.5 Euros today). So I got myself a summer job working at a milk factory which was absolutely exhilarating, as you can imagine. They paid 120 francs an hour (3 Euros). So, after a month I had enough to buy myself a JB System turntable and a crappy old Gemini mixer. I didn’t quite have enough to buy the second deck yet, so for the first 6 months I was using only one deck to DJ, which was interesting as well.
We had no record shops in Luxembourg, or at least none that would sell hip hop vinyl. So as often as I could, I took the train to Brussels to buy records. Most of the time I was there hours before the shops would even open. I spent a lot of time sitting in front of these shops waiting for the shutters to go up.
“A lot of people can attach a song to a part of their lives—a breakup, a birthday, a goodbye… but for me, it’s not just one song, or even one instance. House and electro as a whole have shaped who I have become and directed my life choices ever since I discovered it at my first rave in high school.”
“When I was younger, I was a complete outcast with art nerd status, several turned down dates, and a journal as a best friend. I was a member of My So-Called Life just waiting to be cast. One time, I was stood up at a dance because my presence would have lowered my date’s social standing, so I called up a radio station, dogged him out on air, recorded it, and played it the next day on full blast in the school hallway.
That pretty much captured my high school experience until the day I met Damian at a long gone café up on Belmont street. I knew he was a raver, but didn’t know exactly what that meant – but I was lured in by the flyers, the colors, the clothing…oh my god, the music. I bugged him incessantly to take me to one until one day he gave in and let me raid his friend’s closet so I could fit in a little better. I remember reaching for her candy bracelets and being admonished. “Those are hers – you can’t take those.”
We wound up at an old roller rink named Route 66 and though I was admittedly terrified being thrown into the middle of a thousand people all knowing what was going on and what they were supposed to do, for the first time in my life I felt like I belonged somewhere. I was addicted.
“I remember a very specific time as an adolescent when records, tapes and CDs all had their own sections of my local music store. Deciding between the three musical mediums was extremely confusing, and often limited to genre specifications (as if puberty wasn’t already hard enough). I was attracted to the physical size of records, but new releases were often pricey. And I never thought that CDs would truly catch on. Tapes became my preferred aural delivery method; cheap and they’d play in my General Electric boom box.”
“Spending a lot of time in the basement, I slowly started to creep my father’s record collection. It was a standard “dad” collection, featuring plenty of Doors, Moody Blues, Jim Croce, and Simon & Garfunkel…all things that were not very exciting to a 6th grader who just saw Nirvana play on TV. Then, I found a copy of Molly Hatchet’s Flirtin’ With Disaster. Never actually hearing the band before, I remember thinking that my dad was a secret hesher, based off of the album cover alone. I had to hear this!
After a couple of seconds into side A, I was convinced that the record in the jacket was not the correct match. I kept looking at the cover while listening, getting frustrated that there was no mention of warlocks, death angels, and danger. So, I did what any normal kid would do–buy another Molly Hatchet album to see if their earlier records sounded anymore like their album covers.