“My family used to have a cottage on Muskrat Lake. My parents moved in there full-time after they sold our place in town, so that makes it technically a house now. Semantics aside, for the first five years that we owned it, it was usually empty during the winter months. I was just coming out of high school at that time, and as such was more than happy to serve as part-time caretaker of the property when I was available. Actually, “caretaker” might not be a completely accurate term in this case.”
“There really wasn’t much to the cottage for most of my caretaking career. The basics were there, but not a whole lot else: no internet and no cable meant I had to rely on other means to have fun. Luckily, the lake wasn’t too far away from Quebec, where libations are easy on the wallet and even easier for a just-out-of-high-schooler to procure. You might be surprised at how easy it is to come by good old-fashioned honest fun times in rural Ontario, even in the dead of February. Nights like those, however, often called for an increase to the number of caretaking staff on hand. Sometimes, you just need a whole crew to really get the job done. It was a volunteer position, but the perks were many.
One year, one of our senior staff members brought out a record player, which we hooked up to the PA system we had set up in the living room for band practice. The rest of us looted our families’ record collections. In my grandma’s garage, I found works from Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, George Gershwin as performed by so-and-so, etc. My mom had a Canada-only Beatles release Twist and Shout, and my dad had gems such as Blondie’s Autoamerican, Lou Reed’s The Blue Mask, and of course Who’s Next.
The best thing about the cottage was that you didn’t have to worry about breaking anything while dancing around the living room, since there wasn’t much there to begin with (except a low-hanging light fixture which we took care of early to get it out of the way). The hiss of the needle skipping at the end of a record reminds me of the wind whistling in off the lake. Or that might’ve just been the way I tumbled off the balcony into the snowbank.”
“My oldest brother believes in the idea of the full-length album. Never before have I known someone so willing to go the distance on giving an artist a chance to impress with the entirety of their work. Maybe it’s his production background. Maybe it’s his patience and ability to focus on a single task without needing anything else. It doesn’t matter either way. I’m just glad that he insisted so heavily on sharing new bodies of work with me when I found myself in his homes over the years.”
I give full credit to his record collection for introducing young Nick to the likes of Radiohead, Dan Mangan, Dan Auerbach, Tom Waits, Tame Impala, and so many other artists who taught me that music is just as much about the relationship between pieces as people are. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great single as much as the next person, and we all need to stand on our own two feet; but when you have an insistent sibling, or a big groovy disc, asking you to sit down and let the order of things work itself out, you realize that maybe there was a purpose to the way something was ordered. Maybe you don’t need to be in control.
My first record was Funeral by Arcade Fire. I love it. All of it. I still love going on the journey I go on every time I start it from the front. Music has always taught me to listen to myself better. Vinyl just helped me learn how to listen to others as well.
“As a twenty something music fan, there’s nothing nostalgic about vinyl for me. The record player of my childhood was merely a device to steal parts from if you needed them for another project—just hurl it back behind the CD player when you’re done. If I’ve got anything to feel nostalgic about it’s the unlabelled mix CDs from a high school crush, containing a carefully curated mix of Slayer and Britney Spears. When I go digging through my parents’ basement, I’m a lot more likely to retrieve another mystery disc of linear PCM than any of the clearly labelled Beatles albums…I have those on CD anyway.”
“I don’t think vinyl sounds all that great either. There was a close encounter at an espresso shop a few years back, where the distinction between ‘totally warm, dude’ and ‘lacking clarity’ almost escalated into a hockey fight. I was tempted to unleash my trademark cross check with one of the many available stir-sticks, but thankfully I settled for a customary pat on the butt. I can concede that each person’s perception is reality when it comes to what you’re listening to, but for my money, I’ll usually take a wav file over a lacquer puck.
A mentor once told me that analog formats are more about workflow than anything else. In the case of vinyl, I think he was entirely right. A side of music is the perfect weapon to defeat the compulsive changer at every party. It won’t turn itself down when said song changer gets a text, and unless I’m missing something radical, it keeps speed metal and dance music for separate occasions. Vinyl might be one of the only ways to get everyone (or just yourself for that matter) on the same page for an extended period of time. The possibilities are endless in the digital age, and sometimes the best feeling is limiting yourself to just one. So adorn your floppy hats and unnecessary work boots, millennial comrades, vinyl is here to stay!”
“My initial relationship with vinyl was listening to Christmas albums with my family. The record player sat in a wood cabinet and got used once or twice a year, but everything about those rare moments was experiential. Placing the needle, the crackle, how particular my dad was with his McIntosh amplifier—all part of the holiday listening ritual.”
“With the recent revival of vinyl, it’s been fun to see my parents dust off their old records. They watch me like a hawk when my eyes light up, spotting an album I think I might like to take home. I hear the term, “hands off” quite frequently. Do they listen to their old CSNY, or Hocus Pocus by Focus? No, but I’m sure memories flood back just looking at the album art. I hope that in 30 years my kids will leaf through my music collection and I can return the, “hands off” favour.
We may not even release this record on vinyl. We’d like to, but the logistics aren’t always realistic for an independent band. A short run of CDs is the initial plan, but vinyl is always part of the discussion. Collaborating with other developing artists to create a shared physical product is fulfilling. Like a book to a reader, I think there will always be a place for vinyl, CDs, and cassette in the music industry—at least that’s my hope”
Midnight Vesta’s forthcoming release Seconds arrives in stores this Spring.