Author Archives: Special to TVD

Dany Laj & The Looks, The TVD First Date
and Video Premiere
“Left Right to One”

“It was sometime in 1994, likely spring or summer. I was 14 years old.”

“I grew up in a small town named Kirkland Lake in Northern Ontario, Canada, about 6 hours north of Toronto. Now, I’ve been around records for most of my life. I mean, in an age where people had long since converted to cassette and, later on, CDs, being by far the most popular mediums at the time. At least that’s what it was like for the most part, where I was from.

At that time everyone had some old records hanging around the basement. The passionate music lovers would keep and cherish them, the rest would let them sit there or get rid of them. Which was great for me, ‘cause pawn shops (or ‘new & used stores,’ like we called them over there) had gems for very cheap. At the very least, I could snag some LPs for free off of one of my friends parents, or homes/establishments trying to make some space.

Which brings me to hearing the freshest thing I’d ever heard at that time. My parents owned a small construction company. One day, one of their employees, Dan, who was likely picking up the rubbish from one of the sites they were working on, had sifted out a couple of boxes of 45s. I skimmed through the boxes of singles, which turned out to be from a collection that was previously owned by the local radio station, CJKL.

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Veronica Bianqui,
The TVD First Date

“’Just listen to his scream,’ my mom said as she placed down the vinyl record of John Lennon’s “Well, Well, Well” from Plastic Ono Band.

“I remember the sound of the crackle and the slightly too-bright timbre of the track. It wasn’t the best of record players, and that particular record was kind of worn out, and so the bass end was not too present. But, man, did that track hit me. It was grunge before grunge. It was raw, it was melodic, and it’s probably one of the first songs in my life that I experienced on record first before hearing it on any other medium.

I really don’t know how I got into records. I guess growing up with baby boomer parents, they’ve just always been around. I started to dive into my mother’s collection probably in my early teens. You know the drill, when you ‘borrow’ … indefinitely. Many of those first records that I borrowed, I still have today. A lot of Beatles.

I interned in the Mastering department at Capitol Records, where I used to leave my desk duties during downtime, and go downstairs to watch Ron McMaster cut record masters. Yes, that’s his real name! I would watch in fascination as grooves would begin to appear on fresh lacquer and take notes while McMaster would explain to me what he was doing. I was surprised when he said he had never had anyone take such interest in what he was doing.

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Pale Houses,
The TVD First Date

“From the moment I was first exposed to music, I was into it. My dad used to talk about how when I was two years old, I could do a spot-on vocal impersonation of Ronnie Millsap. And while that may have been a bit of a stretch (like many of his tales), it does sound like something I would have at least attempted to do.”

“But my first real memories of music were quite literally given to me by my mom, Judy Crawley (Robinson). In the late ’60s and early ’70s, my mom was a bit of a rising star in the unassuming, church-packed town of Cleveland, Tennessee. She was a fantastic singer, somewhere between a southern Karen Carpenter and Anne Murray, but more dynamic, more piercing in the upper register. She and my sax-virtuoso uncle Tommy had both signed with a small Nashville-area label called Chart Records. Seemingly unbeknownst to most everyone involved, for that brief moment, some really magical stuff was happening in that little speck of the deep south.

My mom would track songs written by would-be heroes of the great Muscle Shoals Sound not long before they fled to south Alabama to take over the music industry. A couple of my mom’s singles were picked up by radio stations scattered around the country. She briefly moved to Nashville and, before long, found herself hanging out in historic studios with the likes of Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed.

But nearly as quickly as it began, life’s priorities changed and it all just sort of stopped on a dime. She married young, divorced, re-married, had me, and her brief affair with the industry remained captured only on those circular, black time capsules that eventually wound up buried in my grandmother’s basement.

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Joel Levi,
The TVD First Date

“My first physical connection to music was in the early nineties via cassette tape. I can still picture the frustration, when I listened to a tape so much that it finally unraveled in my tape deck. It was the compact disc that dominated most of my adolescence. It wasn’t until high school that I got a proper introduction to vinyl, and it was quite a revelation. My good friend Jason, who at the time was well into his twenties, put it upon himself to get me educated.”

“I didn’t even know how the record player worked. He sat me down and told me the first thing I needed to listen to on vinyl was Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited. It was like I was listening to music for the first time. We sat cross-legged in his living room and took in every nuance of the sound. The full range of the vinyl was hitting my ears in such a profound way. After we finished both sides of the record, I looked at him and said, “What else do you have?”

My introduction to vinyl was really my introduction into the music and genres that would help form the foundation to my songwriting. My youth was mostly filled with pop music, but after I was introduced to Jason’s record collection my tastes really started to evolve. I then started diving into the Ryan Adams and Wilco records. These artists, along with a healthy dose of bands from the sixties and seventies, became a huge influence. I still remember hearing Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on vinyl and thinking “I don’t get this.” It was somewhere after the third listen that Jeff Tweedy’s musical genius hit me like a ton of bricks. Most likely it was the full attention that vinyl demands of you that helped reveal his brilliance.

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McLovins,
The TVD First Date

“I find myself in constant pursuit of nostalgia. If you were to ask me what I enjoy most about music, I would respond in a cluttered medley of words about how I believe it is the most honest way of expressing human emotion. As a songwriter, lyricist, and performer, I feel that my job is to transport the listener for a moment into a separate space as a spellbinding film or book would.”

“With that being said… I was rather stoned in the midst of a high school rebellious phase when I heard my very first record. It was mid-day at my buddy Dan O’s apartment in Hartford, CT when he placed a weathered Bob Dylan vinyl on this vintage record player. I don’t remember specifically what record it was, but I remember falling in love with music all over again.

Unlike scrolling through playlists on my iPod mini, this was different. It felt sonically organic in a way that allowed me to experience what listening to music might have felt like in and earlier time. I could hear the dust sifting past the needle as I watched the diamond glide across the vinyl like a merry-go-round. I remember asking Dan if the record was spinning fast enough, perplexed by how warm and slow it sounded. Needless to say, I was sold. My first record player was purchased that night.

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STAL,
The TVD First Date

“There’s a record that totally changed my life.”

“This is Sigur Ros album named ( ) released in 2002. The only thing I do not remember is how I heard about this band from Iceland. At that time, they were well known but not like nowadays. It was on Christmas, and there, I remember everything. My brother and I went to the record store. By the way, what a pleasure it was to go to the store and search for hours for some new music. We bought the CD, and the artwork was quite mysterious. We got back home, sat in the living and started to play video games with the music in the background.

After the third track, we literally dropped the joysticks down and were completely upset. I can say I never felt such emotion listening to music. Their music was in complete connection with my feelings and what I wanted to listen to. Pure and ethereal. From this day, we decided to start our very first band called A Red Season Shade and post rock was everything to us.

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Sam Himself,
The TVD First Date

“I’m a survivor of the CD generation.”

“When I first started listening to music on my own, music was still tied to an object and that object was a compact disc, preferably via Discman on a solitary bike ride around the small Swiss town where I grew up. Before any of that, though, long before owning my first bike or CD, I heard vinyl. One of my earliest memories is an image of the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan spinning on my parents’ turntable, snow falling outside (obviously I couldn’t read the label yet, but I was intrigued by Dylan’s raspy wail on “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright”).

They’d also play Dire Straits and Bob Seger (dad), Bill Evans and The Pointer Sisters (mom), artists I still associate with their portraits on the creased and torn record sleeves they lived in, like well-loved paperback novels. Years before speaking English, I heard it sung on vinyl. Naturally, this being my parents’ record collection, I soon rejected it with all the prepubescent rebellion I could muster; vinyl was for sentimental old fools who made me get up before noon.

It didn’t last. For birthdays and holidays, my parents, ever mindful of preteen temptations, used to give me these coupons in lieu of cash. You could only use them at select local stores, one of which happened to sell vinyl. Not knowing what else to do with all those pieces of paper, I dragged my mom in there one afternoon shortly after my eleventh birthday and asked to listen to the one band I recognized from a poster in my cool older cousin’s bedroom – Nirvana.

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Roxiny,
The TVD First Date

“My father has always been a lover of music. I was probably around 6 or 7 when I became fascinated by his record collection. I loved the artwork, the smell, the lyrics, and I was always curious about the music trapped in the ridges.”

“By this point, I’m pretty certain he’d gotten rid of his player. It was just the records that remained. There were some incredible salsa albums along with The Mama’s and The Papa’s, The Carpenters, Cuban son, and so much more. I spent hours looking through the song titles, checking out the styles, and wishing there was a way to unlock all that music. I just wanted to transport myself into my father’s youth and absorb every bit of it. He must have noticed my curiosity, because during one of his business trips he returned with an old player and a pristine copy of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I felt like my little heart was about to explode. Everything about the music sounded so rich. It felt like something truly special and palpable.

We moved to Madrid, Spain when I was 12, and the next vinyl I remember getting my hands on was Luz Casal’s rendition of “Piensa en Mi” which was featured in one of Pedro Almodovar’s most beautiful films, Tacones Lejanos. As a kid, I always had a tough outer shell, but deep inside I was an old soul and hopeless romantic. I felt every bit of pain in her scratchy delivery. I’m forever grateful to vinyl for that much texture, and to my father for giving me the tools to listen and appreciate it.

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Great Peacock,
The TVD First Date

“I clearly remember the first vinyl record purchase I made.”

“I had just graduated high school and wasn’t what I would call a ‘music aficionado’ by any means. It took a friend of mine dragging me to Criminal Records in Atlanta, GA, to show me what it was all about. He was a music nerd–the guy with a terabyte or so of music saved to multiple hard drives at his house. He became my music liaison; he knew my tastes and helped me extrapolate beyond them and find new music that I’d be interested in. So, what records did I walk out of the store with that day? Album by Girls and the National’s High Violet. Both are responsible for shaping my tastes, and both are still in heavy rotation today. In fact, I think I’ll go put them on right now.

I lived in Athens, GA, for seven years, and would constantly kill time thumbing through the collections at Wuxtry and Low Yo Yo. Those two hold a special place in my heart, as I cut my teeth as a musician in Athens. The folks who worked there were all musicians and they were all super inclusive and supportive of the local scene, which is something that tips me off as to whether a certain store is worth spending your time and money in. Are you getting the High Fidelity treatment or do you feel welcome? Record stores are by their nature (maybe not the Amoebas of the world) small businesses that survive by serving the local community. It should feel like a local coffee shop, not a Starbucks. Also, I’m obligated to mention that Peter Buck worked at Wuxtry back in the day. Doesn’t get any more gangster than that.

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Parthenon Huxley,
The TVD First Date

“My first record was “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison. It came with a record player on Christmas, probably 1965. I played the crap out of that record and couldn’t wait to buy more. I recall furiously debating whether I should spend my hard-earned 79 cents on “Wild Thing” or “Hanky Panky.” I figured “Wild Thing” would have a longer radio life so I went with “Hanky Panky.” Decisions, decisions.”

“I lived overseas in the late ’60s and ’70s. I was civilian, but my military friends had PX privileges where albums cost $2.50. One day they took me on an album buying trip. I had to stay in the car while they hit the record rack. I only had enough money for one album and the choices were Stand Up by Jethro Tull or Spirit’s first album. I thought Spirit was slightly more obscure so I went with the underdog. Fresh Garbage never sounded so good.

I remember exactly when the vinyl era ended. My album Sunny Nights was released on vinyl in 1988 by Columbia Records. The second single “Double Our Numbers” was released on CD. I made it onto a major label 12” just in the nick of time. A CD release wouldn’t have been the same. I’m hugely proud to have my name on Columbia’s big red label surrounded by my songs etched in glorious black vinyl.

My relationship with vinyl atrophied for years after CDs became the norm. It was just the way things were. When I was dating my (soon to be) wife Helle in the late ’90s, it was her CD collection that I admired. LPs were gone.

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