The TVD First Date

“Just found “It’s Called A Heart,” Depeche Mode, Extended 12 when I was going through my records. It is just so good. After spending years traveling and moving around, I was often away from my records. Finally today I put on my remastered Depeche reissue of Music For The Masses. The band is just brilliant. Back in the day, I used to make mixes burned to CD, or minidisc—to listen to while driving or flying, or walking around the city when I lived in NYC. With a record on, turned up, it fills the air with a kind of warmth that is divine; you can breathe in the sound, exist on it.”

“When I was first learning guitar and music theory, I would spend hours in record stores—I remember one apartment when I didn’t have any furniture, but I had records! It was just that important to me to build my collection. I think musicians understand that. You needed more than the CD or Spotify—you need the vinyl. Vinyl is a kind of deathless thing, a spiritual experience of deep listening. It also gets you into the album itself, rather than just repeating certain songs you love. But when that favorite song comes on and it’s vinyl, the way you dance is different. It’s about the pure aesthetic experience of the art, about loving life, going into a range of emotions. I’m so grateful to slow down and just be with my music.

Before the quarantine one day I was getting ready to go out and looking through my vinyl, I put on the “Together” 12” by the London Suede from Sci-Fi Lullabies, a collection of b-sides from their first album. That release probably had the most significant impact on me as a musician. I will never forget hearing Bernard Butler’s and Richard Oakes’ guitar tones (each with their own voice and style) and the falsetto of Brett Anderson’s voice when I discovered that band. It was life changing in a transcendent way. Brett’s lyrics are so artful, mystically poetic. I have a vivid memory of being 19, driving on the 101 in California, listening to that CD. Later I began collecting all the vinyl I could get from them, before all the reissues. Still have it after years of traveling around.

When I was maybe ten or twelve, I bought Love and Rockets’ Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven on vinyl at Lou’s Records. It is a place of pilgrimage, in Leucadia, CA… it’s still there, but unfortunately one of the buildings closed. We have to keep independent record stores alive. That place was my mecca as a kid. I didn’t even have my own turntable at the time, but I knew I would one day and that was the start of my collection. The record I most remember from my childhood was Bowie’s Let’s Dance. It was always something I asked my mom to play when I was about six years old. So I did grow up around vinyl.

There is something about listening to a record while lying on the floor in a dimly lit room. It is something I don’t do as often as I wish. The music gets into your bones. At the moment I have on Cocteau Twins, Head Over Heels. It is just a masterpiece. Album art and song titles are essential parts of the experience for me. If I don’t like album art or a song name, I’m much less likely to listen to the music.

Vinyl records not only have incredible sound quality, but they keep the “je ne sais quois,” that thing about music that makes us fall in love with a song or album, alive. The few moments of crackle before the sound kicks in—it brings you to out into a place of awareness. Currently I actually prefer being at home and blasting vinyl versus going to shows. I have been to many shows, but the age of festivals and extreme crowds and volumes turned me off. (As a musician, I value my ears!) I remember seeing Spiritualized in more intimate venues like the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan—those were formative experiences for me. Now I like to create that atmosphere at home.

I’m still really interested in many genres—post punk,  gothic, shoegaze, jazz, ambient, even classical, where it all began. I actually think that genre is less relevant these days. I think it has to do with the amount of music out there. There is so much… and so much that is not classifiable particularly. I have found in this day and age it takes effort to keep researching and discovering new music, specifically less mainstream music. I just saw the Amoeba Music “What’s in My Bag” on YouTube with The Legendary Pink Dots. What a band.

There are a lot of great artists out there. I have become aware of songs that I like through media or apps or films. And the culture of playlists removes that preciousness that music used to have—but there is an element to playlists, when properly curated, that allows for deeper discovery. At one point I worked in a dance music vinyl store. Some dance music I can’t stand, but in the case of intricate polyrhythms and syncopated drums with a harmonic minor flair—put that in your earbuds at the right moment for a walk and you go into your zone. I don’t collect as much electronic dance on vinyl, just because of the space and time it takes. I remember waking into a cafe in the East Village and there were drag queens flitting around while a DJ spun minimal electro house on vinyl—you can really fall in love with a beat when you experience it organically like that. All of these memories make me what I am.

The precious quality that a beloved artist has never goes away. Music is so personal. It has a fragility to it. Once an artist really becomes special to you in a personal way, they attain that quality of “preciousness.” It’s not just “music.” It has a special relevance to one’s life and life experience at a given time. It helps define a person and who they are. I think that vinyl helps preserve this by adding layers to the experience of sound. A record is itself a work of art you can hold in your hands. They say creation began with the primordial sound, that everything is vibration. That is the truth for me.

There is that line in a DJ Shadow song that is a sample where he says, “There is nothing worse than to play the wrong thing,” (meaning a song, referring to a DJ). It’s almost as though time itself is musical. It takes a subtle finesse to know what record fits the moment. It’s also not every day that I discover an artist I love. You remember those things. When I discovered Tamaryn “by accident,” when someone I knew in passing mentioned the band, that was one of those moments. Her luminous voice, along with the incredible guitars of Rex Shelverton and production of Jorge Elbrecht—it has the transcendent quality to it that is rare. I had been distracted by life events, and finally started buying her records. When I put on “Mild Confusion,” it just lit up the space like only a great artist on vinyl can do.

Records are a religion. They take time—-and yet in a contradictory way, open up the space of eternity, of nothingness. I remember reading a quote by the bassist for Suede, Matt Osman. He says something like, “You may listen to a ton of music because at one point you might find that gem.” Also I very much value silence. When music is your world, it is so important to just stop—watch the molecules floating in the air. Like the line from “David’s Last Summer,” one of my favorite Pulp songs. My turntables and vinyl have presence in the living room; they are pure consciousness, expressing itself, even in silence. I am careful what objects I surround myself with. Records are like lovers.

Honestly putting on a PJ Harvey Peel Sessions record and blasting it a little bit, when in the right mood…it’s love in the middle of an afternoon. All you need is music and the air.”
Nico Wyland

Exotic Legend, the current full-length release from Nico Wyland’s FerrariLover, is in stores now.

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