Author Archives: Special to TVD

Extravision,
The TVD First Date

“It’s 2018, a fascinating moment for music, a moment which I find shockingly easy to discover new music I like, to create playlists of favorite songs, not to mention it’s cheap af. Other than losing my dongle daily or Siri misunderstanding my song request, it’s amazing how effortless it is to listen to “Pink and White” by Frank Ocean several times a day whenever I want.”

“That’s why I think the renaissance of vinyl is important. Convenience is wonderful, but vinyl is powerful. It helps me connect to music uniquely. Vinyl is a multimedia art form. The cover artwork, the guts, the colors and designs, the weight of the record. If I’m purchasing a vinyl record, it means I’m intrigued by a more complete sonic and visual story the artist is trying to tell at that moment in their life. In a world rapidly teetering toward serving-size consumption of so many things, music at the top of that totem, I think vinyl is keeping music listeners like me more connected and engaged with music and with the musicians making it.

My vinyl collection is all over the place. My grandmother gave me her collection, consisting of Sinatra, Herb Alpert, The Four Freshmen and the like. I’ve since ballooned my collection with artists that inspire me, make me want to dance or clean the house. My favorites over the last couple years have been Crosby Stills and Nash, Simon & Garfunkel, Vestiges and Claws by Jose Gonzales, Fields by Junip, The Waterfall by My Morning Jacket, Clouds by Joni Mitchell, Burst Apart by The Antlers, Sufjan Stevens (the state albums), a Hall & Oates greatest hits, as well as a lot of my friends’ records like Land of Blood and Sunshine and JE Sunde.

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Smoke Season,
The TVD First Date

“I can distinctly recall pulling out a 45 RPM record from my dad’s collection. It had a green apple in the center, and I thought it was funny that there was a fruit right in the middle of this small vinyl.”

“I threw it on my little record player and out popped this magnificent sonic magic. It was the song “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Beatles. Those harmonies blew me away and changed my thinking on music forever. I don’t think if I was to have pressed play on a computer to hear that same song, it would have affected me in quite the same manner.

Through the years I developed an affinity for many of the bands and artists I heard on my dad’s vinyl collection; Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Stevie Wonder, Crosby Stills & Nash, Sly and the Family Stone… and the list goes on. The ’60s and ’70s had so much pivotal music made, in all genres. Even with all our technology and hi-fidelity capabilities, you hear countless hip hop artists sampling from this period. If I had to guess, I would say it is likely the most sampled time period that is still relevant and vital in music today. Just listen to “Amen, Brother” by The Winstons. This gem came out in 1969, and since then it has been sampled over 2,000 times. You probably don’t know this group, but you undoubtably have heard at least 1 song containing the famous drum break.”
Jason

“Vinyl has always carried a kind of unique listening magic for me since I was born in the age of tapes and CDs. All my early vinyl experiences revolved around finding old Tori Amos, Portishead, or Kate Bush albums on vinyl and re-experiencing music I had already consumed on CDs through the warmth of vinyl.”

“As a band, we try to capture that unique energy through the way we release vinyl. Our most recent release, “Ouroboros” EP, is actually the only place our fans can hear the score for the short film we released in conjunction with the EP—outside of the film itself. We wanted to make sure there was a bold, surprising experience awaiting those who took the time to listen through our vinyl completely.”
Gabby

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Delorentos,
The TVD First Date

“My relationship with vinyl was always really clear—my dad’s record collection.”

“Since I was old enough to drool, tear, throw, or simply stamp, I was barred from the magical slide-door cabinet which held about 50 dog-eared record sleeves—hidden away, protected from my grubby hands. Every Beatles studio album, Abba, The Kinks, Roy Orbison, Simon & Garfunkel, and my favourite, Teaser and the Firecat by Cat Stevens. Not for the music of course, but the brilliant cartoon cover.

All these iconic albums of mostly early ’70s music from when my Dad was a young teen. Sometimes I would take them all out—under supervision—and just look through them. Fold out the card cover. Gently slide out the shiny record and the torn inner sleeve. Often on summer days when all the windows and doors were open, a record would go on, and I’d sit inside on the floor, cross-legged, and read the lyrics and dedications and credits while the music played.

CDs were around of course, but they were boring compared to these historic crackly artifacts. The covers were tiny and you had to squint to read where the record was mastered and who the associate to the mixer was.

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TVD Video Premiere:
Cut Chemist at Palm Door on Sabine and Elysium, SXSW 2018

“I’ve been a huge fan since first hearing his Brainfreeze mix with longtime collaborator, DJ Shadow, around 20 years ago. So, it was next level seeing him live. This isn’t just pushing buttons – he’s truly a scientist on the turntables. Only when reviewing the footage in slow motion did I fully appreciate how quick and precise his movements are. Hopefully, I was able to convey it in the edit.”
Matt Rhodes, videographer

In a prolific career well past its second decade, Cut Chemist has been considered a master of turntablism and production since his days in Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli through this year’s release of Die Cut, his first solo album in 12 years.

We captured the master holding court during a couple nights at Palm Door on Sabine and Elysium during SXSW, set to “Home Away from Home” from Die Cut.

Catch Cut Chemist tonight at Clusterfest in San Francisco.

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Sam Valdez,
The TVD First Date

“The first time I started listening to vinyl on my own began when my dad was cleaning out his garage one day. He brought all of his records inside and told me to go through them and take some. It was mostly all classic rock and that led me into listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Doors, etc.”

“The whole experience of putting a record on is exciting—buying a new one, pulling the plastic off, checking out all of the art front to back and placing the needle on. It becomes more intimate just by doing that. I was always really fascinated by the album art and my favorite was Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin. I still think it’s so great and unique, there’s nothing like it.

Now I have a record player and have started collecting more. I feel like I definitely need to grow my collection of current artists because I was recently given The War on Drugs’ A Deeper Understanding and I can’t stop listening to it. It’s definitely one of my favorite albums, but now having it in physical form and holding it is a beautiful thing.

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Sarah Sharp,
The TVD First Date
and Video Premiere, “Pieces”

“Vinyl… Although I’m surrounded by digital media throughout my waking moments, listening to a great jazz, blues, Motown, classic rock, or pop record is a welcome respite from the disconnectedness of our time.”

“It’s an active (interactive), sensual experience. The smell… pulling the shrink-wrap off virgin vinyl, the anticipation… knowing that something new awaits your ears. The reverence… holding the disc in your hands, carefully avoiding putting so much as a fingerprint on it, balancing it over the waiting turntable, gently setting the needle on that first track, then intently listening as sounds made in New Orleans, or Memphis, Detroit, or London fill the room.

And the extra dimension to that sound that you can feel as well as hear… actual air being moved, not just zeroes and ones. It’s like the difference of looking at a picture of a Degas or Seurat vs standing in its presence.

There’s another level of pleasure in the warm familiarity of a record spun to the point of wearing out. Pops, crackles, and imperfections you can count on and grow to love more than any new, untouched version. In writing this, I’ve had a memory come up that won’t quit. My parents spinning Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life, especially “Isn’t She Lovely.”

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A Hawk and A Hacksaw, The TVD First Date

“What happens to messages and acts of protest when they end up packaged and sold at grocery stores?”

“As a child I was more interested in the artwork and packaging on my parents’ records than the musical content. I wasn’t allowed to play records, but I could familiarize myself with various bands’ music through my Dad’s 8 track player in the car. In the early ’80s I would ride in the car between my parents up front and in the middle, sitting atop a storage case between their seats with no seat belt. We went everywhere this way until I grew too big and had to move to the backseat with my brother. My Dad had a few great 8 track tapes. The one that stood out and often led me back to the record collection to investigate further was a Creedence Clearwater Greatest Hits compilation.

C.C.R. may be the greatest Anglo-American band of the ’70s. Of course there is also ZZ Top, but in my perspective ZZ Top were an ’80s band, as I came to know them through their ridiculous ’80s videos, whereas C.C.R. just seemed to typify an era that I missed (and can therefore magically create in my own idealized way).

They were finished by the time I heard them. The band had no painful years in the ’80s. The Creedence compilation my Dad owned has a typically bad band photo on the cover. This is a budget collection that he most likely bought either after seeing a TV commercial or on a trip to the supermarket. He has never frequented record shops, but I remember clearly that records and CDs were often bought at the grocery store checkout line or later, Wal-Mart. Much of his collection then, are Greatest Hits compilations from different eras. I think he has about four copies of the Eagles’ Greatest Hits.

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Emilie Mover,
The TVD First Date
and Video Premiere,
“Walkin’ Through”

“I did not own a record player until I was about 25. I grew up listening to CDs, often one album (and sometimes one song) over and over and over and over again until I knew every little lilt.”

“When digital music became the thing, I started making playlists on my computer because it was easy to do. But, I’m grateful to have grown up back when one’s attention span was not turned off by the idea of listening to just one artist for 30-45 minutes. My attention span has probably diminished now that so much variety is available, it somehow seems like more of a challenge. And that to me is a big reason that vinyl is so important. Listening to records is for me to centre myself, stay still, play out a mood, and of course, have a little reverence for what an artist is trying to say or play as opposed to just listening to the hit(s) and never really digging into the catalogue.

I first got into records when I started hanging around a store called Flash and Crash in the annex in Toronto, which is gone now but was the beginning of my love for vinyl. I ended up living with one of the guys who worked there, and he has an encyclopedic knowledge of 20th century music. He’d been working in record stores all around Toronto for year. For Christmas one year I alphabetized his record collection and it took 5 whole days, just to give you an idea of the span and size of music.

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Kevin Max, The TVD First Date and Premiere “Moonracer”

“The first vinyl album I ever listened to was an Elvis LP, Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite, that my parents housed inside a beautifully ornate 1970s wooden vinyl contraption that took up half of our living room.”

“As a young boy growing up in the 1970s I would leaf through their collection and constantly look for that Elvis record. It was the one thing that stood out among their collection of soft rock and country hits. Not only was Elvis wearing some strange bejeweled white jumpsuit, but it had a gatefold and sounded glorious. As I grew into my teenage years, a neighbor down the street introduced me to The Moody Blues, The Beatles, and Black Sabbath. The album that seemed most peculiar to me (and I love peculiar) was the John Lennon album Shaved Fish. I started collecting my own albums in the early 80s and my taste became more solidified with the onset of new wave and post punk.

I grew up in Grand Rapids Michigan and the only vinyl store close to me at the time was a 30 minute drive down 28th Street, but it was always packed with the latest and the best. The Smiths’ Meat is Murder was the only album that I literally could not find as it was sold out quickly, which prompted me to have to order it through the store. When it arrived some weeks later, it became my most prized possession in a collection that was mostly Duran Duran, The Cure, and Depeche Mode. The Smiths became a musical escapism for me, and their unique sound and lyrics would continue to inspire me for years to come.

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Water Slice,
The TVD First Date

“By the time my high school economics class assigned us the task of taking a job shadow, my long-standing love affair with vinyl was already in full swing. It’s a little hazy as to when I started frequenting record stores, probably about the same time I asked my grandfather to give me all his wax of Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons, ELO, Beatles, Stones, Elton John etc. from his collection. By 15 or 16 I was fully seduced by the warm sounds and large format artwork of records, that CDs simply lacked.”

“So when it was time to choose who to shadow in their career I elected Nick at Ranch Records, much to my parents’ not-so-subtle chagrin. Ranch Records was, and still is, one of maybe two music shops that weren’t a Best Buy, Hot Topic, or Sam Ash in my hometown of Salem, OR, and of course they sold vinyl. Ranch was link to the world of cool that otherwise existed an hour drive north in Portland, so close yet so far.

Nick, the guitarist for my favorite local band at the time, The Widgets, was the hip-priest in the gospel of records to my impressionable ears. While I followed him around the shop, decorated with framed Mudhoney and Nirvana concert posters, I was shown all sorts of records—stuff by the Stooges, Wire, Modest Mouse, The Zombies, and Built to Spill. He turned me onto deeper cuts from artists I already liked, like the Kinks’ The Village Green Preservation Society and Neil Young’s On The Beach. I think we ate pizza at some point. I remember thinking, “You just get to listen to and talk about records all day, every day? AND make (insert Oregon minimum wage of 2004)! This is clearly the life.”

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Elle Belle,
The TVD First Date

“Growing up in a small town outside of Manchester, NH (or “Manch-Vegas” as the locals called it) could get lonely sometimes. The music scene then was mostly made of nu-metal bands or cover bands and that was decidedly not the kind of music I was into making. I felt no camaraderie or connection to a scene.”

“One day I found a store tucked in a nondescript plaza near the Mall of New Hampshire. It was a record store called Music Connection. Whether intended or not the name was more than apt: I had found the connection I was looking for. It was a window, a glimpse into a life I didn’t have now but maybe could have some day.

I would visit every week, checking the new arrivals or ordering records they didn’t have from the old man at the desk, who must’ve been around 150 years old at the time if I had to guess. After a while I developed a system where I would limit myself to two purchases a week: one record that was considered a “must have” in a collection and one that I personally wanted to have : Abbey Road / Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Ramones / Bee Thousand, Sticky Fingers / #1 Record.

Sometimes, I would go just to hang out. When I was broke and knew I wasn’t going to buy anything I’d wander around, occasionally picking up a record, checking the back, scratching my chin like I was thinking about something. The experience of being in the store felt tantamount to the music I was buying. I imagined it was what the Replacements or Sonic Youth did when they were young, and I wanted to feel like they did. For a moment I wanted to feel like I was in a big city where people dug vinyl and that I was an artist making music that was important.

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Brandy Zdan,
The TVD First Date

“Memories are a peculiar thing. Do we shape them as time goes by for comfort’s sake or do we twist them around for the stories we tell? We can’t avoid the rose-colored glasses. Who can really know, and who knows if any of this memory is correct, but it is true.”

“I can still remember the smell in the basement of my parents’ house, 234 Bancroft Bay. The brightly colored ’70s carpet of red, orange, and yellow hues. And the taxidermy black bear rug that hung on the wall, one my Dad got while hunting somewhere in Manitoba.

Basements are the best when you’re a kid. But then it becomes something completely different as a pre-teen. It’s the escape realm. The specific smell I can recall is from the cupboard that held their record collection. Tucked away in the corner on the ground, always damp and musty, the worst place to hold vinyl. But the best place because that’s where I found it.

Music, for me, has always been. I’ve been singing since I can remember and involved in all the things a child could be involved in. You could find me singing along to The Bodyguard soundtrack (which is still amazing) and liking New Kids on the Block while singing classical music at my voice lessons every week.

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HAWK, The TVD
First Date and Premiere, “Lay Me Down Easy”

“Vinyl sounds the way music is supposed to sound. There’s friction when the needle meets the groove; it’s a tactile thing in the room, not some digital process. The needle vibrates in the groove and creates natural distortion; the sound of the guitars, the thump of the kick drum, the voice, everything sounds more real and present; like the band is in the room with you.”

“When I was around 10, my brother got this orange mod plastic turntable for his birthday, from Sears I think, and that was my first real portal into the world of vinyl. My parents had a stereo, but that was theirs, and this was all ours. He would bring home records and we would hang out in his room and listen to them over and over. I remember he had Changes One Bowie, Elton John’s Greatest Hits, some early Beatles, Eddie Kendricks, Neil Young, AC/DC “Let There Be Rock,” and I remember vividly the day he first brought home Tom Petty—we really connected with that record. The songs felt like they were written by someone we knew and could relate to.

I grew up in a college town, so once I started buying my own records, there were several cool record stores that I loved going to. And not just when I had money to buy something, but as a place to hang out and spend time. I could spend hours there, just flipping through the bins, taking the records out and looking at the art and reading the liner notes.

And the guy behind the counter had great taste and would turn me on to new stuff that he thought I’d like. I discovered so much great music there that I wouldn’t have found as soon otherwise, like Brian Eno, The Clash, R.E.M., XTC, The Jam, Pere Ubu, Meat Puppets and so many other great bands. Looking back, it was really formative for me musically. (I’m writing this on Record Store Day, by the way, so please support your local record store!)

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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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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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