Sincere Gifts,
The TVD First Date

“I did not come to vinyl as a hipster or for noble retro reasons. I wanted to scratch, because I liked some terrible rap-rock in my teens and thought it would be cool to incorporate those sounds into my home recordings. To be clear, this was not the entirety of my musical interests—I listened to plenty of cool, interesting and unique music. But I was also into horrible stuff, as any kid is.”

“I bought a shitty turntable that was supposed to be ok for learning to scratch. However, it turns out scratching is hard, and I gave up pretty quickly. What I started doing instead was layering soundscapes from vinyl over my home recordings, or finding ways to make odd little loops. This led me down the path of digging into the dollar bin in record stores for the oddest vinyl I could find. Scottish choirs, organ music from Eastern Europe, old ukelele records—the stranger the cover, the more ridiculous the instrumental accompaniment, the better.

I discovered that in the dollar bin at any record store, you could uncover decades of forgotten sounds and ideas. It spoke to me as a young artist who was totally unknown. I labored over recordings endlessly and passionately, with little prospect of an audience to hear my work—the people on these recordings were the same. They had poured their hearts and souls into their music, got it pressed to vinyl with hopes for an audience, but they then ended up in dollar bins around the world collecting dust, heard by very few (weird) people.

Eventually, I started to branch out from the dollar bin and began to discover the joy of vinyl as a listener. I would be standing in a record store digging through the bin and then something awesome would come on the store’s stereo. This was before Shazam, so I’d have to actually go ask the human behind the counter who we were listening to, and before long I started collecting records of “normal” (aka good) music. As so many have discovered on their own, I found that listening to music on vinyl was a physical experience that can’t really be replicated in the digital realm. That is the aspect of vinyl culture that has stuck with me to this day—the physical connection vinyl allows you with the artist behind the music.”
Nick

“Vinyl records are foreign, deeply fetishized alien objects to me. I love being around vinyl and people who love spinning records—it makes me feel like I have wandered into a wizard’s den.”

I have never owned a proper stereo, and I have never even once in my entire life actually placed a vinyl disc onto a player and done all the things one does in order to make music play. It’s in the category of things I have never done myself but love to enjoy secondhand—I love tandem skydiving but I’ll never pack my own chute. I love riding in a classic car, but I just can’t drive stick.

I have purchased only one vinyl record in my entire life – the glorious psychedelic record Undress My Mind by Yazan, an old bandmate. It was from the first run released in 2013, and printed on this beautiful, gorgeous, exotically marbled purple vinyl that was one of the most aesthetically beautiful things I had ever encountered. To celebrate my first-ever vinyl purchase, I had set up a low-key photoshoot in the backyard of The City Reliquary, a legendary small museum in Brooklyn that I helped operate while its founder was on sabbatical. I was wearing a purple velvet blazer, decked out with a floral pattern, with a fake beard made out of living plants. My intention was to send Yazan a photo of me holding the first vinyl record I ever owned.

I will never forget lovingly, tenderly removing it from the beautiful packaging, briefly glimpsing its undulating purple pattern…

…and then it falling instantaneously out of my hands and completely shattering on the ground.

About three years ago, I was in the East Village visiting my friend Nigel Filson who is a brilliant drummer and film/tv editor who also happens to be a fanatical vinyl junkie. His talismanical turntable is like an alchemist’s cauldron. While snuggled by the deep warmth of whatever music was emanating from those perfectly tuned speakers at the time, I captured a picture of one of the glowing tubes of Nigel’s power-amplifier contrasted against the many plants he keeps in his dimly lit apartment.

The image of a vacuum tube’s soft glow surrounded by urban botany was so compelling that I identify that moment as the earliest origin of the feeling of intimate, organic magic that I’m aiming for with Sincere Gifts’ long-term aesthetics, and will return to after debuting “Ghost of America,” our unexpected detour to the funeral of our country’s soul.”
Benben

“Ghost of America,” the new single from Los Angeles’ Sincere Gifts is in stores now.

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