Author Archives: Special to TVD

Boxout,
The TVD First Date

“When I was growing up and discovering my music taste and preferences, the sun seemed to be setting on the heyday of vinyl records. From CDs, to iPods, to streaming platforms, the music landscape rapidly changed from year to year—and I along with it. Even though I didn’t grow up with a whirring turntable on my desk or shelves full of dusty records, I have been influenced by vinyl every step of the way.”

“My first vinyl memory came from the most unlikely of places—an EDM track. 7th grade me was browsing through early YouTube when I first came across the music video for “Levels” by Avicii. I was instantly hooked on the song. The synth chords were so catchy that I instantly went to iTunes and downloaded it to my iPod Touch. However, my favorite part came a little over halfway through the track.

The beat drops out and a woman starts singing a powerful melody about a good feeling that she’s never had before. Who was this woman? I knew she wasn’t Avicii. This sent me down a Wikipedia rabbit hole only to find in the end that the woman singing was actually Etta James.The vocals were sampled from her 1962 record “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”.

My journey through vinyl continued from there. I was fascinated with albums like Wildflower by The Avalanches and Donuts by J Dilla, in which every song was made almost exclusively from sampled records. I also extensively listened to Graduation by Kanye West, who masterfully wove samples from old soul and jazz vinyl into his tracks. These albums and many others would eventually inspire me to start making my own music.

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David Franz,
The TVD First Date

“The first thing I ever bought with my own allowance money at age 7 was Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” 7-inch single. It was either at Musicland or Sam Goody in Minneapolis. From that day on, I begged my parents to bring me to a record store any time we were driving around on errands. Next up were “Celebration” by Kool and The Gang, Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” and The Empire Strikes Back movie soundtrack, all out in the same year, 1980. That’s the year music took over for me.”

“Growing up, we had instruments in the house… guitars, an organ… my parents played them, and I would noodle on them, trying to pick out melodies from the records. I think my early piano lessons didn’t stick because I wasn’t interested in reading music, I wanted to play what I heard. I wanted to play what I heard on the radio and records, not “Hot Cross Buns.”

By the time I was in middle school, Van Halen’s 1984 LP was a serious influence on my musicianship. I had started taking drum lessons by then, and that record brought musical complexity into pop music that inspired me deeply.

Vinyl has so much going for it, and it’s no wonder there’s a resurgence. The sound quality, the large scale artwork, and the physicality of opening the packaging, holding the record, putting the needle down, and flipping it every 20 minutes or so creates a very pleasurable tactile experience.

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MUNNYCAT,
The TVD First Date

“My earliest memories of vinyl are all inextricably linked to my family. Each record is hard-wired to emotions and specific moments that brought us together. As the self-appointed family historian, I still have a lot of those records and they feel as important to me as the dusty photo albums that most people would use to document their family history.”

“I remember from a very early age my mom playing The Beatles, Stones, and Billy Joel as well as classic country and bluegrass records from Johnny Cash, Norman Blake, and Willie Nelson. They were the soundtrack to every moment. We cleaned to them, ate to them, danced to them, and cried to them.

I was so lucky that my parents had such an eclectic vinyl collection when I was growing up. My father, who had moved from Lebanon to go to college in my hometown of Youngstown, OH, always told me that his record collection helped him learn English.

He LOVED old soul records. He was responsible for the Otis Redding, Aretha, and Ray Charles records that were always playing in the background while I played with my Star Wars action figures pretending that the cabinet that housed the vinyl was the interior of the Death Star. He used to explain that he didn’t enjoy rock and roll because the lyrics were too trippy and weird for him to really get anything out of while he was still learning a new language, but the soul records reminded him of the French music he grew up loving.

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Candice Hoyes,
The TVD First Date

“I fell in love with vinyl, like many fortunate kids, through my parents.”

“As a child of two super responsible Jamaicans transplanted to the Bronx and then Long Island where they raised me and my sister, dancing to records in our family room, or better yet at a basement party, brought out their sunny, fun loving nature. I was like a fish to water going through the cover art, reading the liner notes, and essentially teaching myself how to sing and phrase. My favorite of the bunch was Whitney Houston’s eponymous first album, all in peach like an 1980s Aphrodite.

Vinyl took on a totally gigantic presence at the Jamaican basement parties of my youth. My Uncle is beyond a weekend warrior when it comes to his vinyl collection, from dub, soca, reggae, dancehall, Bossa, jazz, soul. I feel that vinyl collections shaped my musical style as a vocalist and recording artist. The songs I write and gravitate to are always beyond genre when you really peer into them. They most likely draw from different styles like a super rounded, well stocked vinyl collection.

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L E A,
The TVD First Date

“I often find myself telling the story of when I discovered my mom’s vinyl collection. It led to a deeper discovery of my love for music and eventually turned into me starting my own collection.”

“For the longest time, we had this giant, yet somewhat old, sound system in my house growing up. My mom used to rotate her favorite jazz CDs on the 6 disc CD player (and sometimes I’d throw in my Jesse McCartney, Aaron Carter, Dream Street, and Myra CDs in the mix as well, haha). There was also an old record player sitting on top of it, but I never really questioned it until one day I found stacks and stacks of records in our unfinished basement. I think I said something like “Mom, why didn’t you tell me you had all of these?” and then dug my way through every record she had.

Of course, I was searching for The Beatles or The Beach Boys records, but instead, I was really intrigued by an album by Air Supply and Electric Light Orchestra. I brought those two upstairs and played them instantly! “Don’t Bring Me Down” by Electric Light Orchestra was a favorite of mine, but the Air Supply record… Let’s just say, I wound up playing that one from start to finish probably every single day.

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Elektric Voodoo,
The TVD First Date

“Growing up in Lawrence, NJ, a suburb that borders the town of Princeton, really shaped who I am today.”

“Most people know Princeton because of the University, which is one of the most prestigious academic institutions. But many people don’t know that across the street from the University is a record store, Princeton Record Exchange (PRE), arguably one of the greatest record stores on the planet. For me, living ten minutes from PRE was a dream. I had easy access to a constantly evolving collection of amazing and affordable vinyl during my formative years. This record store had a profound impact on my life and career as a musician.

My vinyl obsession started when I was 14 as a result of growing up in a diverse musical household. My mother has sung in the church my entire life, mostly as a cantor. My older brother Chris is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer, and producer. My parents had a small and well curated vinyl collection that fit into one cardboard box. It contained mostly classic rock LPs like Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced, The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s…, The Doors L.A. Woman, along with some outliers like Esso Steel Band Front Street.

I still have those records today as my parents let me keep whatever I wanted. In contrast, Chris had a far more esoteric collection that included lots of industrial and gothic folk records like Einsturzende Neubauten Funf auf der nach oben offenen Richterskala, The Legendary Pink Dots Hallway Of The Gods, and Current 93 Soft Black Stars.

Before I was in high school, I didn’t have my own record player, so I would browse through my parents’ and brother’s records. I became fascinated by the artwork and liner notes and mesmerized when I heard my brother playing his records in his room. The sounds, visuals, and inclination to copy my older brother encouraged me to buy my own record player. Back then, I was able to purchase one for $10 via a classified ad in the local paper. From there, I knew it was time to build my own vinyl collection.

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Bridges,
The TVD First Date

“There is nothing more distinctive than listening to a recording on vinyl. The feel, the one of a kind sound, the obsession it can lead to. For a long time I was picking up a few records a month, rather than a streaming service subscription. I figured it helps the bands out way more, and I get to own something that I will really appreciate having in my collection.”

“I would say I am a modest collector compared to some of my friends, and that my collection really has come from an urge to support artists I love, more than necessarily wearing down the needle with play after play. Whenever I see a new band that I really love putting out their music this way I try my best to pick it up. I don’t want more MP3s or burned CDs around the house; they sound exactly the same on the internet. A record is unique, and I absolutely want to indulge in that.

The past year has been a little slower, but I have managed to pick up a few of The Wonder Years and Frightened Rabbit albums that I’ve been chasing for a while. I am really proud to finally own those, as well as some pals’ bands like October Drift and Wrest’s debut albums.

The best way I have found to experience a band’s work comes from putting on a record, sitting back and taking it all in—listening to a body of work exactly how it was intended, from start to finish. No skips, no bloody adverts—you’re just in it until the end—it’s absolute magic.

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CLAVVS,
The TVD First Date

“My earliest musical memory involves vinyl.”

“I was four and my mom bought me my first two records—Thriller and Synchronicity by The Police. I remember playing those albums over and over again until I had almost every word memorized. At that age the whole process of learning how to use a turntable, putting what I thought at the time was a massive piece of plastic on it, and then having this amazing music blast out of the speakers was pure magic. That was it. I was hooked for life. And looking back I think by becoming a producer/artist I’ve been trying to recapture that childhood feeling ever since.

My best music store experience involves the now closed Tower Records in Atlanta, GA. At the time I was an assistant engineer at a big Atlanta studio. I was assisting on a Lionel Richie session and the guitar player he had been using couldn’t make it that day. By sheer luck the head engineer told Lionel I play and I ended up tracking guitar on a song that night. I thought for sure they would have his main player come in and replay my parts.

But I was pretty shocked to find out he ended up keeping mine. This was my first real credit on a big commercial label release. The day it came out I drove to Tower records at 7:00am and waited in the parking lot for them to open at 8. I bought the Coming Home CD, opened it in my car and stared at my credit while playing the song probably ten times. RIP Tower Records. Thanks for one of my best musical memories!
Graham Marsh

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Gal Musette,
The TVD First Date

“I was fifteen when I received my first turntable as a gift from my bandmate. At the time I didn’t own a single record, but it looked cool, so I put it in my room and made a mental note to start my collection.”

“Gradually I started building it starting with a few records I found at a local music shop called Sound Spectrum. My grandpa had been educating me with the music of Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Irving Berlin, and Tony Bennett, so when he discovered I had been given a record player he eagerly let me “borrow” some of his favorite records of theirs, which I began listening to on repeat. Now it feels strange to listen to those artists in any other setting!

In recent years I’ve found great records all over the place. I’ve found many at the Amoeba Records locations in LA/SF where they have such a broad assortment of well-known material it can be a bit overwhelming. Sometimes I prefer finding gems at thrift stores/antique shops where you really have to hunt for the good ones (it makes it sound better.)

Listening to vinyl is an entirely different experience than listening via a streaming service, or even a CD. The warmth and quality of the sound is obviously elevated, but it’s also the experience. Sort of like opening up a piano and seeing the mallets hitting the keys as you play them—it’s really special to see the mechanics so clearly when you set the needle on the grooves of a record.

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Grace Pettis,
The TVD First Date

“I just recently (as in a few weeks ago) purchased my own big girl record player. Not one in a little hipster suitcase that sounds like garbage but a decent starter Audio-Technica turntable. The next thing I need to do is upgrade my speakers because I’m just listening through slightly better than average desktop computer speakers.”

“A few years ago, I inherited my grandmother Bobby’s soundsystem—a tower of tape decks, 5-disc CD player, radio, and turntable on top. It came with a good quality record player, but it broke during the move from Florida to Texas. I kept meaning to get it fixed and just never did. It would have been too expensive; it wouldn’t have been worth it. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to throw that soundsystem away for a long time because it had been hers. She loved records, especially opera singers. She was legally blind the last time she upgraded her own soundsystem so the buttons had fuzzy stickers on them so she could feel her way to “play,” “pause,” “skip,” and “select input.”

Now that I have my own turntable, I’ve slowly started purchasing albums. I’ve got the new Indigo Girls record, Look Long, and I’ve preordered Amythyst Kiah’s and Allison Russell’s forthcoming LPs. I got a “best of” collection of Townes Van Zandt, a Rosanne Cash record, and a few local Austin albums made in the eighties and nineties by bands I’ve never heard of. I haven’t listened to the Austin bands yet but I’m excited to. I love the idea of getting to discover music made on that kind of a small scale, in my own backyard, not reissued or available anywhere else but in the bargain bin at the local record store. It’s kind of like having a time machine to the Austin of yesteryear.

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Seth Kessel,
The TVD First Date
and Premiere,
Ride on Through

“Vinyl holds a special place in my heart and is largely responsible for the influence on most of the music I play. My collection started with 7″ records of punk and hardcore bands such as The Templars, Dropkick Murphys, and Crimpshine. The best spot in NYC was Generation Records, on Thompson Street. They used to be open until 1am or so and had a great selection of local and obscure bands.”

“It wasn’t until college that my musical tastes broadened. A big reason for this was my mother gave me her vinyl collection to take with me. It was there that I fell in love with early American recordings: Mississippi John Hurt, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Skip James, Jim Kweskin’s Jug Band, and many more. My favorite was Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. He traveled with Woody Guthrie and was the predecessor to Bob Dylan. It was because of these records, I picked up the guitar and started in on fingerpicking blues and folk songs.

I was obsessed and the search for vinyl continued. In the beginning, nine out of ten times, the artist wasn’t one I’d heard of. I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover… does that apply to music as well? I would say it’s hit or miss and the hits have stayed with me to this day.

What I love most is the ritual that comes with a new record. I have one of those furniture pieces from the 1960s with the turntable and speaker built in. I listen to the record while reading the liner notes and looking at the musicians on each track. There’s a warm feeling of having music in tangible form. There’s something personal about when it goes through a turntable. For one thing, you don’t have to listen to a 15 second ad on YouTube and your personal information isn’t being shared. There’s no number that tells you how many plays it’s gotten either. None of that matters.

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Steven Page,
The TVD First Date

Celebrating Steven Page on his 51st birthday with a look back from our archives.Ed.

“I grew up with parents who loved music, so there were always records playing on our stereo at home.”

“My folks had a record collection that, to a seven-year-old, seemed slightly impenetrable: jazz artists like Joe Williams and Oscar Peterson, folkies like Ian and Sylvia or Buffy Sainte-Marie, or stuff I thought was just plain mushy like Charles Aznavour. Of course, years later I realized the awesomeness of all of these artists and am grateful for being exposed to them at such a young age.

However, looking back, it strikes me that my Dad must have bought in the neighborhood of one rock album per year: Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road, Hey Jude (aka “The Beatles Again”), Blood, Sweat and Tears, Joni Mitchell’s Clouds, CSNY’s Deja Vu, the Chicago album with the chocolate bar on the cover, Bee Gees’ Main Course, Clapton’s Slowhand, Hotel California, and then the descent into Dad buying only singles, ones like Kansas’ “Dust In the Wind,” because he didn’t much care about getting to know the rest of the album. For which I say thank you, Dad.

Dad loved to sing along to songs on the radio in his clear, high tenor, especially ones that had intricate beats to which he could drum his rings on the steering wheel and dashboard. He’s a great drummer and this rare display of abandon was both thrilling and embarrassingly intimate to my little brother and me in the back seat of our AMC Matador. The most exciting would be when Dad enjoyed a song so much that he’d buy the 45 of it. Like, for example, the double A-side of Queen’s “We Are The Champions” / “We Will Rock You.” That was exciting to have in the house. I liked “We Will Rock You,” Dad liked “We Are The Champions” because of the high anthemic singing. I was seven. He later bought “Another One Bites The Dust” and I played it over and over and over until he told me to stop. I said, “But I thought you liked that song?” to which he replied, “I did.”

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Piper Street Sound,
The TVD First Date

“Without any carpentry skills to speak of, I found myself emptying my ‘guest bedroom’ of all furniture in order to build enormous shelves, floor to ceiling, to store thousands of records, mostly for Latin American electronic music labels, combined with some of my own Reggae productions in the horde as well. Why not? This was during a pandemic, so it wasn’t likely that we would be having any guests staying with us anyway. How did I get to the point where I would have a whole room of my house dedicated and filled with vinyl, not to mention a vinyl collection in the living room and my parent’s walk in closet too?”

“My first experience with vinyl was through my parents’ record collection. Mostly ’60s and ’70s rock. The usual suspects for their generation were Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Jimi Hendrix, things like that. It wasn’t a very large collection, but I really enjoyed something about the process of selecting a record, putting it on the turntable and hearing it come out of the large Kenmore speakers. This was in the era of the battery powered boombox, somewhere between the decline of tape and vinyl, and the domination of the CD, so my parent’s stereo felt quite impressive and powerful in comparison to the little speakers on my little boombox.

The stereo was in the same room as the family library, a room without a TV, with a large west facing window, and it received nice afternoon sunlight which lay in rectangular pools on the carpet. I liked bathing in these and reading the record jackets as the music played, and absorbing the information in the liner notes as best I could. I enjoyed panning the music from left to right, especially on the more drastic stereo mixes, and messing with the graphic EQ on the stereo receiver. This was an epiphany!  I could alter the sounds coming out of the speakers. On some mixes I could even remove (Ringo’s) drums, or some of the vocals, just by shifting a little slider from left to right! Some proto-inkling of a remix concept was growing in my mind.

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The Witherbees,
The TVD First Date

“I think my affinity for records really started around the age of 12 when my great aunt gave me her record player and a huge box of old 45s.”

“Although I admittedly wasn’t particularly fond of her musical taste, I quickly fell in love with the ritual of playing records, and before long I was building a collection of my own. I started spending a lot of time in Allentown PA’s Double Decker Records 50 cent room, which was full of classical records that I scooped up by the arm full, since classical recordings are few and far between on streaming services.

As my musical taste evolves, my vinyl collection grows with me. Any time I’m in a city for the day, I make it a priority to stop into a record store and see what gems I can dig up. Thrift stores, yard sales, and antique shops are some of my favorite places to hunt for records I’ve been looking for or discover something new. I support my favorite artists by purchasing their work on vinyl, since the hands-on experience is so much more meaningful and satisfying than streaming.

Currently, some of my favorite records to spin are Rafiq Bhatia’s Breaking English and Daniel Barenboim & The English Chamber Orchestra’s recording of Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta and Divertimento for Strings.

Although I definitely appreciate streaming services for the purpose of learning about new artists and having lots of music accessible to me on the go, vinyl holds a special place in my heart and my routine and reminds me to slow down and enjoy the process of listening.”
Jacqui Armbruster

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Alex McArtor,
The TVD First Date

“The most mystical place for me as a little kid was Waterloo Records right next to Amy’s Ice Cream in Austin, Texas.”

“I remember sitting outside waiting for my mom to get out of her hair appointment next door, eating strawberry ice cream in my plaid school uniform and looking like a complete loser watching all these edgy older kids come out of Waterloo. They would be talking about their records, smoking cigarettes, and making out against their cool cars. I’d think, “Damn that’s cool, I wanna be cool too.” So, I begged for a light blue record player that was the same color as my walls, my bedding, and my carpet (I really liked the color blue).

My parents already had a pretty hefty record collection so they were game…Cat Stevens and Van Morrison being the most played. I stole a bunch of their records in the beginning. I just wanted the records that had the coolest album art like Remain In Light by the Talking Heads, Ocean Rain by Echo and the Bunnymen, Disraeli Gears by Cream and stuff like that.

However, what I was really listening to at the time was stuff like Katy Perry on my brother’s iPod while I danced around my blue room singing “Teenage Dream” and pretending I had a boyfriend. But I still loved my blue record player, with my parents’ records lying next to it the corner of my room. I still have that little blue turntable even though it broke when my family moved to Dallas. A keepsake, I guess. It has “I heart Jim Morrison” written on the inside of it… I misspelled Morrison.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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