Speelburg,
The TVD First Date

“I was born at a perfect time. I got to experience a house full of music and full of CDs.”

“My mother, a perfect target for the entertainment industry’s ephemeral mediums, would, every 5 to 10 years, throw out the old and make way for the new. This is not to say that she was wasteful—she rode the big waves. Cassettes to CDs. VHS to DVDs. Eventually doing away with all the plastic boxes and putting them all in zip-up cases. It was all in an attempt to declutter.

I of course, in the wake of all this change, have swung the other way and will happily place nostalgia on a golden pedestal. I think about the bad quality of the movies we taped straight from TV and every radio introduction that overflowed when I taped a song off my boom-box with admiration. The movie channel would occasionally play a behind-the-scenes short, and though I’m glad I can find it on YouTube now, that was as much a part of watching Hook as was watching Rufio tear it up with the Lost Boys or seeing Peter using his “imagination” for the first time (that movie rules and you’re dead inside if you think otherwise).

And then Napster happened. There were a couple of years before getting my first MP3 player where, inexplicably, my dad bought a portable Mini-Disc player and would let me use it so I could record my own 128 kbps, illegally downloaded Incubus, Beastie Boys, and Sublime mixtapes. It’s funny to think how awful the quality must have been, but it didn’t matter, because you could bring your favorite songs with you anywhere.

When I was 14 or 15, my mom found a turntable with a busted needle and a crateful of vinyl by a dumpster—clearly a kindred spirit going through their own cleanse. So we brought it home and went through it all. There must have been 30 records in there, but I can only remember 3 of them: The Best Of Beethoven, a Donna Summer record and John Barry’s soundtrack to You Only Live Twice.

Having grown up around hip-hop, and yes, nü-metal too (where every rock band must have its own DJ), I pretty much only knew the turntable as an instrument, so of course my first experience with vinyl was scratching the shit out of John Barry’s beautiful string arrangements. Hot damn! It actually sounded like something being scratched. Sure, the needle sucked and was probably destroying the record but I was blissfully unaware. Who needed a cross fader or any of that when you could stop and start a record with your hand and hear the pitch revving up as if you were manually resuscitating the song?

Some buddies of mine had a band called The Jesus Christ Side Project (still top 5 greatest band name ever!) and I found my way in as the “DJ.” Still without a mixer, or fader, or any skills whatsoever. We played in a parking lot next to our school and it’s still one of the most fun and dumbest shows I’ve ever played. By the time I started actually DJing a couple of years later, I went straight to CDJs and then to a laptop and a controller. Vinyl may technically sound better, but a laptop, controller, hard drive and headphones all fit into one backpack.

The first two songs I ever put out as Speelburg were “Aubrey” and “Kline.” I owe those two songs a lot. The website Turntable Kitchen heard my music and got in touch about pressing up 100 copies of that EP and did a beautiful job. A blue and white 45 with that beautiful front cover shot by Ari Gabel. As if vinyl needed anymore fetishizing, the box is sitting in my studio gathering dust, but they’re so special, I don’t even know if I’d want to sell them.

For as long as I can remember, I always enjoyed the process of releasing my own music. In high-school I made a couple terrible albums that I burned onto a CD and gave away to dozens of friends. And though it was a great feeling to have something physical to hold, having your music on vinyl felt like a step up. I guess because it’s more expensive to produce and because CDs are so disposable, but the whole thing feels way more important.

I still don’t have a turntable of my own by the way, but I do have a few records around the house – mostly from friends – so it felt real good to have something of my own to contribute to the pile. Something I keep telling people is that I wish Netflix just had a few channels you could tune into the middle of episodes or movies like you did when you were watching TV, for those days when you don’t want to spend 45 minutes choosing something to watch, and it feels like we’re getting there with music. Too much choice is sometimes overwhelming.

I think the ease of streaming is awesome, but now it’s all about singles. And that’s not to say that’s necessarily a bad thing. From an artist’s point of view, it’s kind of cool to not be locked into a 12 song structure, and maybe just deliver music to your fans more regularly if you want. But I do still miss a time when I would listen to an album 100 times in a row. I think it was especially good for giving songs you may not have loved the first time round, a second, third or fourth chance until you couldn’t listen to the end of one song without immediately expecting to hear the next one; like that album was now a part of your bones.

A lot of people are buying vinyl again. I’m sure for a lot of them it’s a great way to force themselves to listen to the whole album as it was designed. I’m sure some people are doing it for the sound quality. Whatever the reason, it’s great people are putting money into music again. I still haven’t seen James Murphy and Soulwax’s Despacio yet, but I think it’s something I’d very much enjoy. Maybe that will be the turning point where I become a guy that talks about the sound quality of vinyl like it’s the antidote to all of the world’s problems.

My new album Character Actor comes out at the end of the summer, and I’m seriously considering releasing a few copies exclusively on Mini-Disc, for old times’ sake. I know I probably shouldn’t idealize the past, but it’s an easy trap to fall into; rent and food were free back then.”
Speelburg

Speelburg’s new single “Oxy Cotton Candy” is in stores now.

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