Ali Holder,
The TVD First Date

“My first experiences with vinyl were as a kid. My mom had a bunch of old rock and psychedelic records like Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Ravi Shankar, Janis Joplin, Beach Boys. She also had some Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Rita Coolidge. My grandparents passed down records from Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Bobby Bare Jr., Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash—basically all the outlaw country folks—that I got into in late high school and early college.”

“Some of my most cherished vinyl are these super old Bob Wills 45s that were my grandparents’. They’re falling apart and sound so lovely. They’re probably from the ‘50s, and smell like old vinyl and old paper from decades of use. They sound like field recordings to me. For some reason, it just encompasses the idea of music being timeless and intergenerational. It makes me think of my grandparents as young adults.

It’s like the first time I heard old blues record by Robert Johnson or Blind Lemon Jefferson. Or the Lomax recordings. It just feels so spooky and beautiful. Haunting. I also grew up going to a lot of square dances and jamborees that were heavily based around western swing—which didn’t really influence my writing or music per se, but the arrangements and themes that leaned towards country music for sure had an impact. In terms of influencing me today, I feel as if it’s in the amalgam for sure.

I was raised in the time of CDs so I never really owned modern music in vinyl form until the last decade or so. I went to college in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas, where there used to be a record store called Bill’s Tapes & Records. Bill was the best. I would roam around forever in that store looking at old vinyl, mostly. Bill would let you wander around even if you didn’t buy anything. I think conversing about music was as important as selling it was to him. I mainly have my friends’ music on vinyl these days. Little Brave is one of them, she’s my favorite. I suppose it feels special on vinyl because it feels more intentional.

There is such a different connection to vinyl. From a listener’s point of view, it’s much more of a tangible experience. You pull this big disc out of a cover, then its sleeve. You put it into the record player. You move the needle. You pack it back up safely. You have to be in one place to listen to it, right in front of wherever that record player is. All the CDs I’ve ever had are scratched to hell or melted from being in my car. I love streaming because it’s easy, but it’s also so easy (just like with a CD) to skip a track or just put on a playlist that a computer made for you from an algorithm. That feels less intentional.

From an artist’s perspective, it costs around $50 to distribute your album digitally. You can make 1,000 CDs for $1,000. For vinyl, it would be closer to $4,000. So, unless you have a huge fan base, you end up doing small batch vinyl (like me) where at least the cheapest I’ve found is $25 a pop. So it’s an investment that you don’t really make that much money back from. For my most recent record, Uncomfortable Truths, I only made 50 copies. So, only 50 people will ever have that on vinyl—which I think makes it special.

Vinyl has a certain smell—kind of like old books. There’s something romantic about putting one on. No matter what you’re doing, it makes everything seem a little rosier.”
Ali Holder

Uncomfortable Truths, the new full-length release from Ali Holder is in stores now—on vinyl.

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PHOTO: ERYN BROOKE

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