PublicART, The TVD First Date and Premiere, “Light Years”

“My earliest encounters with music were digging through my father’s vinyl collection.”

“He would categorize them meticulously and protect them with fine plastic sleeves, a treatment that undoubtedly influenced the way I would nurture my own stash of recordings, systemized my understanding of music history and probably also shaped the way I dissect music production to this day. It was a tangible relationship with music. The credits, graphics, faces, and fashions. We would load up each disc onto the old Sonab turntable with great care, drop the needle, watch the wide lines get closer as the song faded in, feel a sense of urgency if the vinyl was warped, wondering if it would glitch. It was precious.

Original copies of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Animals, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue and Milestones, War’s The World Is a Ghetto, Stevie Wonder, Cat Stevens, Ella Fitzgerald… it was all there. A thorough education before I’d even picked up an instrument. I am forever indebted.

My first trips to NYC in my early 20s brought access to used vinyl stores, where I started my own modest but symbolic selection of LPs; Pat Metheny’s First Circle, George Benson’s CTI recordings, Prince’s Batman soundtrack. In the advent of iTunes and LimeWire, I painstakingly transferred my favorites of these LPs over to MP3. It sounded old but had the accessibility of streaming. But the original medium had instilled in me the passion for hearing the album from start to finish.”
Jan Ozveren

“I remember when record players weren’t even stand alone…they were entire pieces ….large, horrifyingly gaudy pieces of furniture.”

“Thinking back to it now that eyesore was actually making a very important statement about our commitment to music—that it was worthy of taking up physical space, that it had its own designated place in one’s home which was often positioned prominently in the center of a communal room. I think the obsolescence of these pieces highlights an existential shift in the way we perceive music and art, in general.

So here I am all of 8 years old and what do my parents play in the house on our record player…Barry Manilow! Well, it certainly doesn’t get any whiter than that… oh, but I loved his songwriting, “Mandy” and “I Write the Songs” being among my favorites. In truth my father was a strict Pentecostal Reverend so while other kids were getting to hear Rick James and Earth, Wind and Fire, I was adamantly forbidden from hearing anything that wasn’t innocuous…hence Barry Manilow.

I was exposed to super nerdy, arcane music like P.D.Q. Bach (the original “Weird Al” Yankovic but of classical music) a constant stream of Bach, Mozart, Hayden – all the great Baroque composers. On the absolute other end of the spectrum, I gorged on some of some of the most powerful Gospel music known to man including Andraé Crouch, The Hawkins family, and Sandi Patti. There was also the occasional soundtrack like Chariots of Fire and Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, perhaps odd choices for an 8-year-old black girl. By this time there was simply nothing on earth that was as interesting or all-encompassing as music for me. Every day after school I would stand in front of that gargantuan piece of furniture, mimicking every run from Andraé Crouch’s background singers (the best in the biz by the way!). Even at that age I was studying the writing and song forms.

In recent years, with the advent of “music as a concept” and by that I mean downloads and streaming, I must admit I’m guilty of not owning a record player. I did buy one for a friend recently and am seriously considering getting one for myself again. The ritual of taking an album out of its sleeve and arranging it on the turntable just feels like a hearkening to a simpler time. Vinyl is regressive for me and not only sounds incredible, warm and tangible, but it brings me so much peace.
Stevvi Alexander

“Light Years” is taken from PublicART’s “Modernika” EP which arrives in stores this Friday, September 21, 2018.

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PHOTO: MICHELLE SHIERS

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