Foreign Air,
The TVD First Date

“When I was growing up, vinyl was the biggest window into an artist’s world.”

“The internet was nothing like today. If you were lucky enough to have a home computer you were most likely playing Pac Man loaded from a floppy disk. The dial-up connection with a 56k modem was terribly slow. Cassettes were shared amongst friends and lovers as a means of discovery. Walkmans were used to listen to music while skateboarding or riding bikes, but if you were really into something you would get the vinyl and lock yourself in your room.

The artwork was important. Sometimes you’d buy a record just because the art looked amazing. If there was a fold out poster with lyrics on one side then you were stoked. You’d read every word and all the liner notes. You’d eat it up until it’d became a part of you. Whatever happened to you that day at school, you’d take the experiences home and make sense of them in your room with your records. As I write this, I’m listening to all the records I loved when I was in middle school and high school. The sound brings back so many rushes of memory and emotion. It’s a truly unique and fascinating phenomenon.

My earliest memory of vinyl paints me as a witness to my father’s rituals. His sound system was a thing of pride. You had to have the state of the art tube preamp and huge speakers. I was so small, I remember the stereo was bigger than I was.

He’d put on Jeff Wayne’s musical version of War of The Worlds and turn it up so loud I thought the whole neighborhood heard it. It was a fantastical ’70s synth rock record with this spooky narrating voiceover. Thinking back on it, there’s not many times in my life where I’ve notice someone blaring orchestral movie scores. I’d love to pull up to a stop light someday and hear the car next to me blasting Danny Elfman’s score for Edward Scissorhands. That’s my dream world.

Anyhow, that Jeff Wayne record was a gateway drug that led to my fascination with film score composers and experimental artists like Captain Beefheart, Lord Buckley, Philip Glass, John Cage, Meredith Monk, and Diamanda Galás.

I grew up in a quiet neighborhood in Raleigh, North Carolina. My first record player was the Fisher Price toy. I don’t remember what records it came with but it was probably children’s rhymes and marching drum pieces. Eventually I got a Technics SL-B200 which I still use.

By the time I was old enough to leave the house by myself I would ride my skateboard a few miles to these two record stores that were across the street from each other. The Record Exchange and Schoolkids Records, off Falls of the Neuse road. By that time I was fixated on emotionally aggressive music.

I remember buying the early ’90s Neurosis records, Cap’n Jazz, and American Football. I was into anything that felt intense. It was a total escape to put on records really loud after school. My older brother had a huge stereo in his room. We would get high and listen as loud as the speakers would let us. We’d light incense and hide the bag of pot in back of the speaker cabinet so our parents wouldn’t find it.

I was 15 years old and exploring emotional landscapes through music. But It wasn’t all about aggression. I had a thing for old Jazz singers. I loved Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Chet Baker. To me, old Billie Holiday records are exactly what I want out of vinyl. It’s a sound that will always ground me, like comfort food. If Billie Holiday is on, then I am happy.

This past New Years Eve I was in my house with a few close friends, a bottle of Jameson, and Billie Holiday.”
Jesse Clasen

Foreign Air’s “For the Light” EP is in stores now.
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