ash.ØK,
The TVD First Date

“When my parents came from India in the late 1970s to attempt making a life for themselves in the United States, they arrived with only a few essentials and not much more. My dad often recalls having $7 in his pocket as he first got off the plane, hitchhiking his way to a small Catholic parish outside of NYC where his brother was the resident pastor. By the early ’80s, my parents eventually moved to West Philly, living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment to begin their new life. While my mom worked as a nurse, my dad worked nights in a factory and spent his days putting himself through printing school.”

“I was only a few years old at the time and I don’t remember much about that apartment, but I do remember two items very clearly. One was an old nylon six-string guitar that my dad bought from one of our neighbors. There’s no name or label attached to it, but this first guitar has stood the test of time, still playable and very much alive after decades of rough abuse by me and my siblings.

The other thing I clearly remember was my dad’s first sound system. It was a solid silver Quasar unit that multitasked as a single cassette deck, radio, and a phonograph. The cabinet was beautiful and heavy and I can remember trying to lift that glass lid just to see the turntable spin, the mechanics of that arm catching my attention anytime it went about its single job. The front of the system was loaded with large silver dials and a two band equalizer that beamed red lights in sync to the audio.

The very first vinyl record my dad purchased for this Quasar deck was Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life. The swirling orange cover used to sit propped next to the system, almost a trophy on display. Back in southern India, humidity played havoc on all sorts of media, gradually eroding cassettes, color photographs, and anything else that wasn’t securely kept. Vinyl records were almost out of the question and to my dad, it was surreal to be the owner of one in his own home in America. I can still clearly remember being mesmerized by the black grooved disc spinning steady and hypnotic. The music poured out and filled the small living room through large, faux-mahogany speakers that my dad carefully panned out on either side of the room, doing his best to hide wires and plugs.

Eventually, the collection grew to include other records, including albums from Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Neil Diamond, Phil Collins, and John Denver. Unfortunately, none of these made it through the years like that six-string, lost somewhere between moving homes and my parents raising three kids. As knobs started popping off and the turntable stopped working, my dad ended up getting rid of the system. Our music collection continued to expand religiously over the years, no longer vinyl, but on tape and CD.

The vinyl tradition, though, isn’t over in my house. A few years ago, we picked up a new system and the record collection is slowly, but surely, growing. I’ve been able to reclaim some of the vinyl we had growing up through garage sales and vintage shops. My collection has a few newer additions to the list, including Outkast’s Aquemeni, A Tribe Called Quest’s Beats, Rhymes And Life (picked up in a shop in Paris), and my newest treasure, Bjork’s Utopia. And as friends of mine part ways with their Technics and other equipment heavily used during days of hosting college house parties, crates of records have now found their way to my collection, orphan vinyl getting new attention all over again.

Now if I could only find that old Quasar.”
ash.ØK

ash.ØK’s new release, The Unraveled is in stores now.

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PHOTO: DAN DRUFOVKA

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