Author Archives: Special to TVD

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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Blue Lab Beats,
The TVD First Date

“I have had vinyl all around me from the day I was born!”

“My dad had a big collection and my mum had an even larger one as she was a DJ since 1990. My favourites were Miriam Makeba—the way she was involved with the South African and African American struggle was inspiring, and I loved her music from when I was very young.

My mum’s jazz funk, ’80s soul, and jungle collections were also a huge inspiration for me. The Roy Ayers Ubiquity album—Everybody Loves The Sunshine—is a massive influence for David and me.

For us, it’s incredibly important to release our music on vinyl. An example is when we did a crowdfunder so that we could release our “Freedom” EP and our two albums along with the “Vibe Central” EP.

Our favourite record store is Pure Vinyl in Brixton. Claudia, the owner of the shop, has sold all of our vinyl. She has long conversations with customers about us. She’s so passionate about her vinyl; it’s incredible to see.

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Steve Almaas,
The TVD First Date

“The first record I owned myself was a 45. Fittingly, I got it when my father brought home a turntable somebody gave him that only played 45s. It plugged into our radio downstairs in the rec room. The spindle on it was the size of the hole in a 45.”

“While my parents considered themselves middle class, there wasn’t any money in our house for 45s, much less albums. Me being nine years old, getting my own money wasn’t on the table yet. But my father did bring home that one record with the turntable (maybe it came with the turntable), “Ticket To Ride” b/w “Yes It Is” by The Beatles.

It’s hard to remember now how scarce pop music could be in 1965. You had to suffer through 35 minutes of the Red Skelton show waiting for The Animals to come on. Shindig was only once a week. And even on my lifeline, Top 40 radio, you had to listen to a lot of music you could do without waiting for The Kinks or The Rolling Stones.

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Mat Kearney,
The TVD First Date

“At sixteen I convinced my dad to let me buy a 1968 Volkswagen square back with $1,500 dollars I had earned as a bat boy for our local minor league baseball team.”

“I think the car ignited my interest in all things retro. My friends and I got deep into thrifting. The goal was to find the most ridiculous ’70s butterfly collar shirt from Goodwill and wear it with a smirk confidently. I remember a friend took me to a store called Donkey Salvage which introduced me to a more refined version of what thrifting could be.

The store had a quietly cool owner who curated items from the ’50s and ’60s along with a modest selection of jazz and blues records. I ended up hanging out at Donkey Salvage all the time. The owner constantly was spinning music and I would grill him with questions about artists like Dave Brubeck, Billie Holiday, and Dizzy Gillespie.

When I realized his ’50s Magnavox console record player was for sale, I gave him $100 and loaded it into the back of my VW. I look back at that moment as the beginning of my great love affair with vinyl, and really music in general. I discovered artists like Al Green, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis. The more I dug in the more I found a world that felt entirely my own.

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Scott McKeon,
The TVD First Date

“There’s something just really soulful about vinyl. The feel, the sound.”

“My first memories of vinyl are going up in the loft in our house when I was a kid and finding these old dusty boxes of records that belonged to my folks. I remember being fascinated by the album cover artwork and the dusty smell of the sleeves and cardboard. Albums like Donald Fagin’s The Night Fly, Stevie Wonder’s Fulfillingness’ First Finale, Frank Sinatra Live at The Sands, Glen Campbell’s By The Time I Get to Phoenix, MJ’s Off The Wall, Quincy Jones’ The Dude…

But when I was growing up, we didn’t actually have a vinyl player so I didn’t get the chance to actually experience listening to them until I got my own record deck. What I’ve always loved about vinyl is that you can see all the musicians’ credits and all the extra bits of artwork—seeing where it was recorded and who played guitar on what song, and seeing certain names keep cropping up, like Larry Carlton, Steve Gadd, and people who would master the albums like Bob Ludwig.

I really started getting into collecting vinyl myself in my twenties, and going back and listening to some of the original blues artists I love and their original vinyl records. Some of my favourite vinyl albums would be BB King Live at the Regal, American Folk Festival of the Blues which features a young Buddy Guy playing with Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon.

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Ben Cosgrove,
The TVD First Date

“I remember playing with my parents’ turntable as a kid. They had boxes and boxes of old records that I’m sure they assumed they’d eventually never have any use for after all those albums gradually became available on CD, and I recall marveling at the fact that you could see, right there on the record, exactly where the information was that would tell the needle to tell the machine to tell the speakers what sounds to make.”

“Long songs were thick, short songs were narrow; a visible scratch would mean a corresponding skip in the audio. I would flip the things back and forth for hours, staring mesmerized at the slowly spinning discs, thinking there was something so thrilling about being able to physically see and feel what a musical recording would sound like.

I am now an adult, and I write instrumental music about landscape—it’s a funny niche to have fallen into, but one I’ve found extremely gratifying for years now. For the first several years I was doing this, I mostly focused (largely without meaning to) on big places: national parks, oceans, rivers, wilderness areas, and vast plains, but with my new project, an album I released in April called The Trouble With Wilderness, I tried making a change.

I was concerned that I might be reinforcing an impression among my audience members that nature was something exotic and separate from the world they knew—something to go and visit rather than to appreciate where you find it—and so to correct this, I tried writing about small places: weeds growing out of the sidewalk, gardens, roadside plants, and other places where it’s harder to say exactly what is wild and what is not.

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Bob Lord,
The TVD First Date

“Some of my earliest memories of music begin with the crackle of a needle drop.”

“I can distinctly remember sitting in my childhood friend’s family room at age 4 or so, around 1980, listening to Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade and being hypnotized by the disc going around and around on the turntable, totally immersed in the sound and the cover art and all the spectacle and ceremony of the whole thing.

My parents had some vinyl which I listened to—I still have their original 45 of “Funkytown” right here next to my desk—but the first brand-new, just-released record that was my very own was Business As Usual by Men At Work, and I couldn’t get enough of “Who Can It Be Now?” Still can’t. Around that same time, I got The Beatles’ Blue and Red album compilations on cassette and found myself stuck on that first volume of Blue, it simply entranced me. I went through multiple copies of that one.

A bit later I got Synchronicity by The Police on vinyl, around the time when “Every Breath You Take” became a hit, and after hearing side one with the “I” and “II” bookends I have to say I was hard-pressed to even turn it over (same thing happened with side one of Back to Oakland by Tower of Power when I was in high school many years later).

But there was one particular musical experience in 1987 which I still think about frequently. I was 10 years old or so at the time and had been a regular watcher of the syndicated series Solid Gold. The show typically featured hits of the day, but this one episode had a guest who had a hit many years before, making his first appearance on TV in quite some time—the British singer Arthur Brown, performing (cough, lip-syncing, cough) his 1968 hit “Fire.”

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Charm of Finches,
The TVD First Date

“We’ll be honest and say we’re pretty new to vinyl. We’re 18 and 21 years old and we grew up with CDs and now we live in the age of streaming.”

“When we were really little, our dad had a bizarre record player called the “sound burger.” It didn’t really look at all like a burger, but because it was called that we were fascinated and thought it did look like one. We loved watching him put the record on as if it was the meat pattie in the middle (we have always been vegetarians, btw). He listened to a LOT of Bob Dylan on that player, and we both realised he must have played Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks extremely often because we know the lyrics for “Tangled Up In Blue” deep in our bones. Also, “Idiot Wind” was a pretty funny song name to us. Something unfortunate must have happened to the burger, because at some point it disappeared and was replaced by a regular turntable.

It’s not until we recently inherited an old record player and a few records from our parents that we’ve started collecting vinyl. We hunted through the shed and cupboards of our family home to see what was lying around. Our mum is a Kate Bush fan, and we claimed Hounds of Love and The Kick Inside, both sublime albums. It’s interesting transitioning to the two-sided listening experience. You start wondering how the artist decided which were to be on side 1 or side 2. There is the choice to create two moods, two shades.

One of our friends gave us Sufjan Stevens’ The Greatest Gift: Mixtape (Outtakes, Remixes and Demos from Carrie and Lowell) on vinyl—an album we revere. The mixtape is an incredible collection, containing everything from iPhone demos to the heart-wrenching epic track “Wallowa Lake Monster,” a song which features so much beautiful poetry and tragedy and small details which Sufjan does so well. Our song “Treading Water” has a fairly generous nod to that aspect of Sufjan’s writing. We played around with mixing in small details into that song, and we are very happy with the effect.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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