Johanna Samuels,
The TVD First Date

“To me the sound of vinyl has an imperfect warmth. You can hear intention and delicacy. It’s how an album is best heard. You can grip the cover but you can’t get your hands around the intricacy of its sound. You ​lay the needle down and hear the arc. The whole story.”

“I was raised in Los Angeles by two music lovers. They named me after a Dylan song and I thought I was going to marry Paul McCartney when I was seven. For some reason we had no vinyl lying around. My mother always talked about her records and she’d say that they must “be somewhere.” Somewhere was the garage and the garage was completely haunted (no joke).

By the time I ventured in, I was fifteen. The box was big. The records were damp but they played. She had what seemed like everything. All of the original English Apple pressings of the Beatles albums that I had previously bought in shrink-wrapped jewel cases at Tower Records (RIP). I finally understood the way Abbey Road was meant to be flipped over to side 2. I could really look at the album art. They kind of felt like long lost friends. She let me keep the ones I went crazy for.

That was when I started to ask for a lot of rides to Hollywood. I genuinely believe the reason I passed my driver’s test was so that I could get myself to Amoeba Records. It was the Disneyland of music to me, it still is. The space is giant and all of the walls are plastered with cover sleeves and rock posters.

They really did have everything. Townes, Bowie, Young, Motown, Joni, Cobain, Orbison… It was at Amoeba that I realized how much I loved pop music. I got records that changed my little teenage brain. I bought Elliott Smith’s Figure 8 and Pet Sounds. I heard Mark Knopfler sing “Skateaway” at a listening station and pined over the faraway idea of turning eighteen and moving to New York City. I heard Eno’s “Cindy Tells Me” and the last verse of Tom Petty’s “Shadow of a Doubt” for the first time: And when she’s dreaming sometimes she sings in French. But in the morning she don’t remember it…

I was a goner. I wasn’t confident enough to write my own songs but these people seemed to say all the things I couldn’t say with their records. Memorizing the sounds and chords, change for change, and learning to harmonize with them gave me so much fulfillment. It made me feel less lonely. On vinyl voices feel human and close.

I owe the music I make to the voices on these records and to my favorite record stores. My collection is constantly growing. I remember where I was when I found them or who gave them to me. They’re treasures to me. I know these days we tend to stream, rip, and in moments of sheer desperation we head to the iTunes Music Store—but I urge you to go to a record store this weekend and to grab onto something. Let’s keep these places and ourselves open and alive.”
Johanna Samuels

Johanna Samuels’ full length release, Double Bind is available now on vinyl via Bandcamp.

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PHOTO: FRANCOIS LeBEAU

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