Author Archives: Special to TVD

Jeremy Elliot,
The TVD First Date

“You know, I always get the same instinctive weight in my stomach whenever people bring up vinyl. See, despite the huge role that vinyl has played in my life, I’ve never been the guy who has the 500-deep record collection.”

“That always blows people’s minds. I’m a guy who cares so much about high-fidelity audio that I personally immerse myself in the mixing and mastering of every song that I release. I literally tell folks that I wouldn’t be alive without music. So, how does that guy not have cabinets full of vinyl in his house?

Blame it on my nomadic tendencies and general discomfort with anything more technologically advanced than a pencil. But just because I can’t tell you which album insert of all the Pink Floyd album inserts is my favorite doesn’t mean that I can’t tell you just how vinyl shaped my life, not only in the music that I make, but in the artist that I am today.

Right off the bat, I can tell you that my earliest memory with vinyl was listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The USA with my dad when I was four or five years old. Up until that point, my parents had tried to pique my musical curiosity with classical music and children’s music. No offense to Raffi or Mozart, but it wasn’t until I heard Born In The USA on my dad’s turntable that I ever thought to myself, “oh, so this is what music is supposed to sound like.”

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Monica Rizzio,
The TVD First Date

“There was not a lot happening in East Texas when I was growing up, besides tending to the cattle and horses on my parents Pleasant Valley Ranch in Quitman. Well, that and going to church several times a week.”

“But my dad had a record player and he was always spinning those good old country records. I distinctly remember Red Headed Stranger always making its way to the top of the pile of albums we listened to while getting ready for school.

I guess it was country music in the morning, but my dad is a New Yorker and obviously Italian, so the nighttime was saved for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Judy Garland. We would listen and sing along to them all night and I could tell my dad was using the songs to escape Texas and get back to New York, if only in his mind.

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Gregory Ackerman,
The TVD First Date

“Growing up, there was music playing constantly throughout my house. My father had an extensive music collection that consisted mostly of CDs—stacks and stacks of them, coming out of drawers, falling out of closets.”

“A record player to me was a sign of ancient times. That was until about high school when I started writing and recording my own music. With that came the evaluation of sound and how you capture it and play it back. You always want it to sound the best, right? Well that’s right around when I started listening to vinyl. Once you start to take sound quality into account, there’s no going back.

Sure, I still stream music on a walk or throw a CD in my car’s CD player when I don’t have anything else, but that’s always a matter of convenience, not quality. Vinyl is something completely different. The raw talent and emotions of the musicians are captured right there in the grooves. You just can’t digitally compete with something like that! If I had a choice between vinyl and streaming, I would choose vinyl hands down every time. But, alas, I can’t bring my record player on a run or a road trip through the woods.

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Ismay, The TVD
First Date and Video Premiere, “When I Was Younger, I Cried”

“I fell in love with vinyl long before I ever used a record player.”

“It was high school in the 2000s, and I clung onto the aesthetic statement of having a record collection to show. Cat Stevens, The Band, Gregory Alan Isakov—it would take years before I was able to listen to those vinyl records. It’s not that I didn’t know the music, because I just bought those same albums on iTunes. But I listened without the connection between those physical pieces and the music on them. I had no access to a record player, and besides, I didn’t really know that it would be any different.

But when I dropped out of college, I spent some time in New Mexico, where my friend had a small a-frame house in a tiny town right where the Great Plains met the Rocky Mountains. Most of the living space was dedicated to records, and without internet or cell service, listening to records became the focal point of our days. I found that listening to the records from my walls on iTunes just wasn’t the same as experiencing vinyl in its fullness.

It was there in New Mexico that I grew a deep connection to music, and in particular for the records we had like Songs: Ohia, Michael Hurley, and Mata La Pena. I fell in love with this music that I would never have listened to just on a digital format. Some of these records couldn’t be found digitally at all. Moreover, I listened to what would normally be considered the in betweens. Those lesser known songs, silences underscored by needle scratch, and my favorite vinyl sound of all—the sound of music coming out of a record when the speakers weren’t on, just from the movement of the needle.

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Jason Tyler Burton,
The TVD First Date

“I don’t really remember my first love. Or rather I remember it in pictures and stories from my family. How I would play Glen Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy over and over and how I’d scratch the record to put the needle back on that song, the first track on side 2 of what I later realized is not Mr. Campbell’s best work. But that cowboy in white on the cover, hat raised high and riding his horse in the desert. I was in. Then I dropped the record and it broke. I am told I cried all day.”

“My first memory of vinyl that I know is my own was later, in Kentucky, in the log cabin I spent my formative years in, pulling old records from my parents collection and listening on the cheap system we had. I fell in love with the Skeeter Davis song “The End of the World.” It’s such a classic country song, complete with a recitation verse and a steel guitar and a gentle shuffle beat. It was also sad. And man, I love sad songs.

This all happened near the end of vinyl’s reign, and I spent way too much money on cassette tapes in the coming years, and then of course amassed a ridiculous collection of CDs. But still I’d buy the occasional vinyl. Paul Simon’s Graceland, R.E.M.’s Murmur record. Uncle Tupelo’s March 16-20. I frequented Recordsmith in Richmond, Kentucky. CD Central in Lexington, and once I moved out west, Groovacious in Cedar City, Utah. Not only are record stores places to find great music, they are usually inhabited by folks who have way better taste than me. The workers in the few stores that are left are the monks of wax. They ask you a few questions and send you home with something you didn’t know you needed, and it fills a void in your soul.

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The Futureheads,
The TVD First Date

“My folks met through working in hotels in Newquay, Cornwall in the early 1970s. My mother grew up in Sunderland and had been a skinhead and a first-wave mod and was really into music. She’d lived in Clapham and bought records straight off the boat from Jamaica. Duke Reid, Prince Buster—that sort of stuff. My dad was born near Salford, Greater Manchester and was a long-haired rock fan (Led Zeppelin, Free, The Mighty Groundhogs, Ten Years After etc). He’s introverted and also loved Leonard Cohen and Neil Young. That meant that when they left Cornwall and moved up to Sunderland to get married, and then have me in ’82, they had a pretty decent record collection for me to get my hands all over as I was growing up.”

“Some of my earliest memories are being swung around the kitchen to Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Right Round,” which was bought for me on 7” from Blandford Street cos I wouldn’t stop singing it. I remember hiding under the bed covers listening to Jeff Wayne’s version of War of the Worlds. I loved the Thompson Twins so we got their record, my dad would help me tape things off the radio, which by the time I was a teenager became an absolute obsession. I didn’t get a CD player until I was 16, so I grew up with vinyl and tapes.

My mother used to work at the Philips factory and worked strange shifts, so a lot of evenings when I was growing up it was just me and my dad at home. I’d stay up playing Led Zeppelin LPs on the record player. I was put off Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor by the beige sleeves until I was much older (when I finally realised what amazing singers both were).

I had some friends who liked music, especially by the time Britpop arrived, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I met other kids who enjoyed crate digging, obsessively reading about record labels, and collecting stuff. I was into Fierce Panda, Damaged Goods, Domino, Too Pure etc at this point.

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Wallis Bird,
The TVD First Date

“I remember looking up at my dad as he spun vinyl around in his hands, smiling down at me, then the needle came down, music started playing, and he began to silly dance to me!”

“I remember a huge sense of good feeling in me. I thought ‘whatever this is, it makes my dad REALLY happy.” I must have been only a toddler. He still looks at me with that mischievous face when he’s listening to that good ol’ rock and roll! As I got older we moved house and had a billiard room which we often weren’t allowed into—where the vinyl lived. My parents were out for the night and my brothers started playing Dire Straits’ “IIIII want my MTVVVVV,” and they’d turn off the lights for the intro.

It frightened the shit out of me, and that’s when I realized the power of atmosphere in song. That same night they were messing with me because we were explicitly told to be very, very careful with the vinyl and my brother Edgar was being a brat and putting 2 records on top of each other, slowing it down and generally making the LP sound like a demon or a chipmunk. I was curious and scared of vinyl for a long time, because in the hands of the right person (or wrong person!) it could be pleasurable or horrifying to me.

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Pom Pom Squad,
The TVD First Date

“There were two record stores in my hometown that defined my teenage experience.”

“Growing up, my family moved from state to state, but I spent most of my formative teen years in Orlando, FL. After being homeschooled for the second half of 7th grade and the first half of 8th, I made the grave mistake of requesting to go back to “real” school because I wanted to be a “normal” teenager. Ugh. Little did I know that my “normal school” would look far more like a CW teen drama than a John Hughes movie. It was a culture shock, going from public schools in New York and Detroit to a private school in the semi-south.

There were uniforms, jocks, and cheerleaders, parties in suburban mansions, matching jerseys emblazoned with the word SENIORS—I weaved in and out of unfitting friend groups until I eventually befriended the quietest girl in school. Leka, who remains my best friend to this day, was also a Florida transplant, bounced from state to state and school to school. Turns out, she wasn’t all that quiet—she was actually just really, really cool. Together, we isolated ourselves, exchanging mix CDs and blasting them from the stereo of her soccer-mom-blue Volkswagen. She introduced me to a lot of the music that informs my own to this day—That Dog, The Shins, Mitski.

The first time I went to Park Ave CDs was with Leka. Park Ave CDs was insurmountably Orlando Hipster—a highly specific aesthetic native to the area and characterized by a cluster or acceptable, stores, cafes, and venues frequented by college students with thick-rimmed glasses, dyed hair, and American Apparel outfits. I used to go there to thumb through the selection of radio-friendly indie-rock and shoplift vintage pins, packs of hi-chew, and once, a Beach House tee-shirt. I bought my much-beloved copy of Karen O’s Crush Songs there. The vinyl itself cracked a few years later as I was moving back to New York for college, but the sleeve is framed on my wall.

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TRØN & DVD,
The TVD First Date
and Album Premiere, Manhunt

“Since being born in 1988, I would have to say my experience with vinyl has been based on its resurgence. Like a lot of others my age, it was a new thing to me. My parents only had cassettes and CDs growing up. They’d have huge stacks of CDs and that we’d dig into at family BBQs and put on the boombox for everyone.”

“I had a friend who used to play this Velvet Underground record every day and it made me want to get my own player. Like a lot of people my age I gravitated towards that cheap Crosley as my first player. I didn’t know any better, and probably was smart to start out with something like that to build a collection before spending some money on a good system. Most of my firsts were classic rock albums that everyone had—Born in the USA, Rumours, stuff by Led Zeppelin, etc. Whatever there was a lot of and was cheap. My collection now definitely represents my taste way more and I like to think of it as my real library of music. No one has their iTunes library gigabytes full of MP3s anymore. You can’t really show someone your sound on a phone. That only comes from a physical collection these days.

I have a four cubby shelf from IKEA and one box is for new rock/alt or pop. This consists of any new vinyl not used at all and part of this square is the entire Lana Del Rey discography on vinyl. I think it’s my only complete discography in record form. It also has many of my favorite bands growing up like Thursday, Taking Back Sunday, and Coheed and Cambria. I was a big Warped Tour kid, so when Hot Topic was one of the first places I saw selling new vinyl I started getting it from there every time I went. I try to only keep stuff I purchased or actually wanted/was gifted. I don’t like just getting a crateful and keeping it. There’s no connection. Each record has to have some kind of memory attached so at least you can remember why you have it.

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Lisa Bastoni,
The TVD First Date

“I grew up spending most afternoons at my grandparents’ house. They were commercial artists, and my grandmother was a hobby songwriter and guitar player, and a huge fan of folk music. When I was thirteen years old, she gave me a guitar and started teaching me some chords—that’s around the time we really started digging into her record collection.”

“She kept her records stacked on the floor, under a big wooden table covered with all kinds of vintage knickknacks, rolls of butchers’ paper, rubber stamps, cups of sharpened pencils, and heavy old tape dispensers. You had to practically crawl under the table to find what you were looking for, but it was worth it.

We’d listen to my grandmother’s records on the hi-fi or on the portable player, while working or cooking or cleaning up. Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and Linda Ronstadt were all in heavy rotation, but her absolute favorite was Emmylou Harris. She had every single Emmylou Harris record, including the ones where Emmylou sang “only” harmony.

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Michaela Anne,
The TVD First Date

“I didn’t grow up listening to vinyl. I was a child of the ’90s and CDs. My Discman and my big notebook of CDs was how I consumed my music collection. But after college, living in New York City, I moved in with my boyfriend and he had a turntable. At the same time, I started a job at Nonesuch Records, who were quick to jump into the vinyl revival, and I was lucky enough to get to take home some copies of the latest releases.”

“It was a brand new world of listening for me. I was nervous at first of how to place the needle, how not to scratch the vinyl, how to carefully return it to its sleeve, and how to keep our growing collection organized alphabetically. The effort required gave the act of listening a sense of attention and additional care that seemed to be missing from my Discman, iTunes library, computer or phone.

My new favorite pastime was bringing home a cheap bottle of Campo Viejo Rioja from the corner liquor store, picking out a record, placing that needle down, cozying up on the couch with the sleeve and taking in the artwork, musician and songwriting credits. Connecting names to instruments, seeing who played on multiple records, who wrote songs for various people…it only deepened my tangible connection to the album itself.

It’s how I discovered Rodney Crowell wrote, yet again, one of my favorite songs from an Emmylou Harris record, “You’re Supposed to be Feeling Good” (from Luxury Liner). It’s how I learned about Jerry Jeff Walker’s record Ridin’ High where he covers many of his friends songs from Chuck Pyle’s “Jaded Lover” to Guy Clark’s “Like a Coat From the Cold.”

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Liily,
The TVD First Date

“I was at a friend’s house in 7th grade. It was the first time he had invited me over because he had recently won a contest on KROQ and Grouplove was coming over to play at his house.”

“While we waited for the band to show up I was introducing myself to his house and particularly his room. As I walked around I began to shrink, getting smaller and smaller as I walked. Everything in the room was foreign and unspeakably cool to me. Posters of bands I didn’t know, instruments I’d never seen, and a giant record collection. I had never seen a vinyl record before, but I knew what they were. I couldn’t believe how cool this kid was that he had gone out himself and bought these records—it was a level of commitment to a band and music that meant a lot to me for some reason. (He went on to form Slow Hollows.)

By the time the band had arrived and began to play, I was still in his room sifting through all of these records. I was so infatuated by them that I begged him to let me take one home with me. I persuaded him to give me a Youth Brigade LP even though I didn’t have any way of playing it.

After that, buying records became an obsession. I was also skating everywhere at this time and the two obsessions had a marital effect, skating all day then going to the record store (Freakbeat) and straight to the dollar bin to buy the first name I recognized or the first album cover that peaked my interests. Some of the first in my collection were John Lennon’s Mind Games Devo’s Q: Are We Not Men… and a single pressing of the Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love” and an eBay purchase of Blink 182’s Dude Ranch.

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The Lilacs,
The TVD First Date

“It’s remarkable how the music that resonates with you through the years depends at least as much on who you were when you first heard it as it does on some”objective” criteria of its quality.”

“The first record I ever owned was Barry Manilow’s Greatest Hits which I got when I was 10 in 1978. His big hit at the time was “Ready to Take a Chance Again,” which was used to great effect in the Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase thriller Foul Play (which I also loved, by the way). So everything from “Daybreak” to “Can’t Smile Without You” to his “rocking” numbers like “Copacabana”—I loved all of it. I loved the singing. I loved the instrumentation. I loved the over-the-top sentimentality.

All of those qualities found themselves into my own work. Not that I would ever put myself in the same category either talent-wise or obviously success-wise as Barry Manilow. But man I loved that record and I wore it out, and I remember even being assigned to be the lead male dancer at my camp and the tune was the theme to American Bandstand that our choreographer had chosen and discovering that song also had been written by Barry Manilow just felt quite perfect to me.

Predictably, as I got to high school and wanted to seem cooler and probably also not get pummeled, I wasn’t as willing to publicly acknowledge how much I loved that particular genre of sappy love ballads. But secretly I still did. And then something funny happened as I entered the punk and indie-rock phases of my musical career.

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Ryan Romana of Press Junkie PR, The TVD First Date & Vinyl Giveaway

“I first experienced my passion for vinyl when I went through my dad’s record collection of pop songs in the ’80s in our basement turned disco, where my parents would entertain.”

“I remember flipping through 45s of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince, Cyndi Lauper, and The Police. I loved how each record had its own identity and that the records had these tactile grooves which you could run your fingers on. Once the needle touched the record, I remember thinking it was magic, how the sound jumped out from the records through the speakers.

Growing up, my parents would entertain co-workers and friends in our disco basement filled with strobe lights, linoleum flooring, and a disco ball. Part of my job would be to keep the music going by changing the records. Once, I discovered the world of DJing and hip hop, I thought it would be cool to try to scratch a record like I saw on MTV. To my surprise, my dad’s belt driven turntables and needle were not ready for the abuse and I broke one of his record players. He was livid, and rightfully so. So, I researched and found out that I would need Technics to practice scratching.

When I got to college at CU Boulder, I hopped on KVCU as a radio DJ and the station also had a huge vinyl library, way bigger than my dad’s collection. From being on air, I knew that I wanted to buy Technics and pursue DJing. The next summer, I saved up to buy one Technics turntable and a Gemini mixer.

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Ashley Sofia,
The TVD First Date

“Growing up my parents had kept a very curated sense of art, music, and books in our house that I was exposed to. My mother was always playing Jim Croce or Simon and Garfunkel or James Taylor. My dad was always singing and playing his guitar, and I was raised with all these older sounds and flavors.”

“We spent a lot of weekends in antique stores looking at collectibles, and items from the past. When I was little it bored me, but over time, it became this thing I absorbed and couldn’t shake off. I was young but I was beginning to develop old tastes and sensibilities and style from a totally different time period.

I remember I started collecting vinyl before I even had a record player. I could get them for cheap growing up, 30 cents, sometimes a nickel, because everybody was getting rid of them back then. The CD was the future. I’d lay on the floor and read their liner notes and big/ giant photographs.

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