Deaf Poets,
The TVD First Date

“My Euro parents were heavily into disco, preferably dancey rather than neck jerking. Now at 28, I remember being a kid waking up to the Bee Gees blasting in the AM. I was too young to really care, but seeing their LPs rotating on top of that table always caught my attention. WTF… just wax and a needle?”

“Coming from the generation of Nintendo and Gameboy, music didn’t really wag my tail until my sister Gina showed me Zeppelin. Then, like a slap in the face, all those talks about the Stones and Dylan my dad would share made sense. I inherited my parents’ records ranging from the obvious disco to random Dutch tunes. I’ll still play it for laughs. It wasn’t until middle school when this hobby became more of an obsession.

My friend’s dad loved ’60s, ’70s-era rock, and occasionally lent me vinyl from The Who and Hendrix. Back then, MTV was still a thing—exposing me to newer bands like Modest Mouse and Franz Ferdinand. (A funny memory was when I’d record their music videos over an old VHS copy of Home Alone 2.) From what I remember it wasn’t really easy getting newer music on vinyl living in Miami Beach (this was before Urban Outfitters started carrying a selection, and before Sweat Records and Radio-Active Records existed).

Among the records I was given, one that really stood out was Harvest Moon by Neil Young. I’d blame my mom for my love of chill rainy morning vibes, the room smelling of incense while we’d laugh as she’d recall when she bought whatever LP we were listening to. These stories came from a different time when people would wait in line all day to grab their copy of a band’s release.

Vinyl always felt nostalgic, presenting music in a way that you felt rather than heard—the only physical format that a presence and warmth is so apparently sitting in the room next to you. Just close your eyes and listen to the words, the melodies, and the soul.

At one point in ’08 my buddy Menachem and I did a trade for his extra copy of Radiohead’s In Rainbows. I had seen them live earlier that year but my spot was so far back that the experience wasn’t as spiritual and intimate as I had hoped. Now having their vinyl in my possession, I remember laying on the floor in my parents’ living room, holding the speakers hostage for the weekend. Such a mix of styles ranging in every direction possible, what better way to experience their music than on vinyl.

A few years after Nico and I became close to Lolo Reskin (the owner and founder of Sweat Records in Miami), she, along with the help of Emile Milgrim, resurrected Sweat’s Sutro Label putting out our first ever music in vinyl format. The 45 consisted of a copper-colored metal center with our 2 singles “This Pain” and “Sally” from our first full-length 4150.

I remember opening up the box and listening to my first ever vinyl with my good friend Ben Katzman (owner and founder of BUFU Records). It was a moment of disbelief, something I’m sure every musician gets the first time they come to that same reality. It sounded great even being played on a cheap Crosley desperately in need of a new needle. This was a moment I’ll never let go.

It would be some time later until Deaf Poets would put out our second full-length on vinyl. During the time between, Nico and I worked on our method of writing leading to a specific direction and theme. We wanted a cohesive sound and a well thought out full length leading to our 2017 release Lost in Magic City, mixed and mastered by Jim Diamond—an homage to our beloved city where we both met and spent the majority of our lives.

On Cinco De Mayo we released our first ever full-length vinyl with 100 limited edition indigo splatter that sold out quick. I hand packaged and inspected each and every pressing at the factory myself, dusting off left over material and analyzing for any defects to ensure our product was perfect.

When looking back at the first time we heard the test pressing I’d often laugh. Nico and I plus Natalie Smallish (Co-Founder of our label WaxRomantix Records) got pretty drunk in my bedroom laying on the floor with the lights off listening to our 12 inch. There wasn’t much talking from beginning to finish besides the few random comments of satisfaction which was mainly profanity. What felt so personal and special was the fact that we recorded majority of the album in that room, acquiring the knowledge from our past experiences working alongside engineers and our late producer Patrice Kramer (RIP).

We came to the point where we wanted to engineer and produce our own music leading to our upcoming 2018 release “Change & Bloom.” This EP was fully recorded in the same room back in Miami by us. It’s our answer to what defines this band and our sound, inspired by the last few tours and the transition of moving from our tropical chill life to the hustle and bustle of our new home in New York City.

This EP is the essence of my love for rock ‘n’ roll. Coming out on an equally as visually impressive 12 inch vinyl with an art illustration depicting us walking from a tropical background to the recognizable New York landmarks. I am so incredibly grateful and honored to have this opportunity. My love for vinyl and music come hand in hand and I hope our fans cherish our newest musical baby.
Sean Wouters

“I’m a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to vinyl. Growing up, cassettes and CDs were the newest and latest thing. I remember making CD mixes for the bus ride to school for my CD player. Lots of Pink Floyd, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, RHCP, and especially Nirvana. I still miss walking around like a ninja trying to avoid making the CD player skip #90skidsstruggle.”

“When iPods came out, it was time to say goodbye to the old and in with the new. I had all the music I wanted at my fingertips and that convenience made me extremely naive and unaware of what I was missing out on with vinyl. Therefore, my love story with vinyl began on a beautiful afternoon on February 27th, 2008. This day not only signified the start of a romance that would inspire me to one day press my own record, but it was also the day my mother and I finally earned legal status in this country.

I left high school early after second period in order to meet my mother and stepfather at the immigration office. My mother and I emigrated to Miami in 2000 from Argentina and for the first 8 years in this country, we were living undocumented. (For those of you reading this, it’s the first time that I am publicly talking about this.)

We hustled and hustled some more during those years. We left everything and everyone behind in search of a better life. You know, the American dream. Let me tell you, there was no greater feeling than finally getting the letter in the mail with our interview appointment. Maybe Argentina winning the World Cup this summer can surpass that, but for right now… this is it.

I distinctly remember seeing and feeling my parents’ nerves as we waited for our names to be called. I sat quietly with my iPod and my headphones singing, “Blowing in the Wind” by Bob Dylan. I always found that song extremely beautiful and relaxing. Our name was called and in we went. You could cut the tension with a knife. I resorted to cracking a few jokes in hope of loosening everyone up. After 20 nerve-racking minutes, which felt longer than the intro to Game of Thrones, we left that room and finally exhaled those 8 long years.

After the interview, as our first action as residents of the United States, we decided to stroll inside a Goodwill to chusmear (for my non-hispanic/non-Miamian friends, chusmear = to see what’s up). As I looked at the book section, I saw a bin somewhat hidden on the last shelf and what appeared to be records with a sign that read “$1.” I didn’t own a record player but regardless I went in to see what’s up.

After aimlessly searching, there it was… the infamous white bricks that make up Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I could almost hear angels singing as I pulled it from its dusty bin and opened the gatefold and saw the artwork as Gerald Scarfe intended—pristine condition without a single scratch on both LPs. For the first time it felt like I was holding music and most importantly a piece of history. There was this sense of weight and importance that you certainly don’t feel while holding an iPod or CD. It’s as though the band themselves sculpted each record by hand and put in the effort to present to the fans as an artifact that will live on for generations to come. And that’s when I knew I needed to press my own piece of history.

I know what you’re thinking, another vinyl story that revolves around The Wall. However given the day’s circumstances, finding this record was meant to be. Living the previous years in an atmosphere of constant struggle and uncertainty, music was my only rock. It became my escape and bands became the tour guide and soundtrack to my life. Pink Floyd was a massive influence growing up and cementing my decision to play music for the rest of my life.

“Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb” hits the feels harder than when Dwyane Wade left my beloved Heat for the Bulls. The symbolism of that record and its theme of abandonment and isolation really struck a chord with my living situation in this country. Starting fresh in a new place means giving up all of your comforts you have growing up and literally starting from zero. At times it’s hard to fit in and it feels like there are these barriers you can’t easily overcome. On this day I was able to “tear down the wall” (so cheesy) that prevented me from truly pursuing my dreams.

February 27th, 2008 was the beginning of something new, and I discovered a new love.
Nico Espinosa

Deaf Poets’ new EP, “Change & Bloom” arrives in stores on June 15, 2018 via WaxRomantix Records—on vinyl.

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PHOTO: NATALIA BORGES

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