“If you’re a dick about vinyl and records, you’re probably a dick anyway.” -Konstanza!
I love collecting records. I usually go for LPs with strange sound effects, weird movie soundtracks/scores, nostalgic stuff that reminds me of my parents and Disney novelty albums. The ritual of playing records makes me happy. Taking out the disc, placing it on the turntable and delicately setting the needle into the groove. Heck, I even feel the same way when I’m putting a cassette tape in my boombox.
So, a few weeks ago I was at a party, and I overheard a conversation between three people regarding records and record collecting. Now I know I shouldn’t have been eavesdropping, but I did, and what I heard bummed me out. The general way of the discussion was that collecting records is a ridiculous “hipster” thing to do. That the storage of discs was way too cumbersome and that anything people would want to listen to can be downloaded or streamed.
What a big bag of “ugh.” I made sure to stay out of the conversation. If I went into that discussion with a rainbows-and-lollipops-grin; it wouldn’t have changed their opinions or experiences with vinyl. What did cheer me up after that was being able to ask questions about record collecting from a really sweet group of women!
Valerie aka DJ Explorateur
Her Jam: Jazz, Funk, Psychedelia, Ambient, Prog Rock
Spirit Animal: Tippi
Did you grow up with records in the house? Weird question right? But we’re living in a time where children listen to music on an IPhone.
Yep, my parents had records, but they didn’t listen to them much since cassettes were the ruling format at the time. I now have some of their records in my collection, and I’ll even play them out sometimes. I guest DJ the JAZZ//BRUNCH event at Revolver on Sundays, and I’ll often play some of my dad’s jazz records that I didn’t fully appreciate when I was a child. I like that I’m giving them a second life.
Was there one record in particular that you would listen to over and over again? I know I would listen to my mother’s Diana Reeves albums constantly.
My mom’s 45 of Andy Kim’s “So Good Together.” I still have her copy and play it. It’s catchy as hell!
What’s on your phonograph now? Have you been on a certain kick lately?
I’ve been listening to a lot of obscure new age and ambient these days, and I showcase that stuff on my Hollow Earth Radio show and the sporadically occurring Rare Air night at Q. I’ve also been listening to a lot electro-funk. Westwood/Cash’s “Psycho For Your Love” 12″ is rarely far from my turntables or out of my DJ bag.
What about vinyl specifically appeals to you?
The entire experience: Digging for records, making a score, appreciating the artwork, and sharing records with others through DJing or just hanging out. I’m a huge digital music junkie as well, but nothing compares to vinyl.
Do you have any pointers on purchasing records? Give me some tips, gur!
Know your labels and what years a label was putting out quality records. That way you can feel more confident about picking up something you haven’t heard before. I also have a portable Handy Trax turntable that is great for doing quick surveys when digging. It’s a bit of a pain to lug around, but I’m never sorry when I bring it along.
What’s Tippi’s favorite record? I’m just joking. She’s so adorable.
Unsurprisingly, Tippi has excellent music taste! I’ve only seen her react negatively to one record: Sonny and Linda Sharrock’s Paradise (1975). I can understand, though; Linda Sharrock’s voice isn’t everyone’s bag.
Do you have records out there that you lent to a loved one/old flame/friend and didn’t get it back? Or maybe you did get it back but in an awesome gangsta way?
Years ago I gave away an original pressing of Olivia Tremor Control’s first record in a romantically induced haze. I wound up regretting it because it’s one of my favorite albums, and for years it was very rare and difficult to find at a reasonable price. Fortunately it was reissued recently so I was able to replace it in my collection.
Catch DJ Explorateur on May 3rd at the Party Line T-Shirt Party, Hollow Earth Radio and May 14th with Midday Veil and Swahili at Chop Suey.
Originally From: Ecuador
Her Jam: Taking photos, listening to music, writing
Spirit Animal: Black Panther – it lives in her inner psyche and it doesn’t collect vinyl
What’s your favorite LP at the moment?
I could never have a favorite LP. Not even of the moment. But I’ll tell you the best record I ever bought was Sade’s Promise because it’s warped and just makes her voice take on this very sort of warbly, sad, crooning thing. My favorite album I have though is Geogaddi by Boards of Canada. It has two of the same exact vinyl in the sleeve/case thing. So weird.
I also have a couple Sergio Mendes records and I saw him so that makes it much more personal. If you’re not even just talking about the quality of analog sound, it has that ability to make things much more personal and warm. Ha! I also recently got the soundtrack to Goldfinger which is one of THE best soundtracks. Shirley Bassey is a fucking goddess!
I’m totally interested in someone going off especially about being a ladeee who likes rekkids. Have you had some awkward conversations with dudes and dudesplaination of said rekkids?
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had any weird conversations with men or otherwise in regards to records. I take it very casually, you know, I buy only things I want to buy but I don’t set out to find anything. I like it better when they come to me. Recently I was at Atlas in Fremont and got a bunch of great ones. REO Speedwagon, Thompson Twins!
Anyway, the “Dudesplaination”: I haven’t experienced that and I find that in this particular situation (re: records) it’s a “kind of person” thing. Like, if you’re a dick about vinyl and records, you’re probably a dick anyway. I wish I had room to go off on this one, because I have plenty to say about Dudesplaining in general, but, yeah.
Her Jam: Eating, Drinking, Playing Video Games, Watching Movies
Volunteers at: ZAPP (Zine Archive and Publishing Project)
Spirit Animal: Manatee and Chinese Giant Salamander – The manatee and the salamander are definitely into listening to records together, because why wouldn’t they?
What got you into purchasing records? Was it a particular group or performer?
My mom, the Beatles, and my ex-boyfriend. My mom has a record collection (mostly 70’s stuff, Heart, Moody Blues, Led Zeppelin, Billy Joel, and lady Blues singers) and when I was a kid, listening to Mom’s records was a special event as she had convinced my sister and I that you had to sit very still so the record didn’t skip.
When I was 12, I got super into the Beatles (this was when the Beatles anthology came out) and my sister, best friend and I tried to start a Beatles cover band (none of us knew how to play the appropriate instruments or read guitar tab so it didn’t work very well, but it was super fun pretending we were the Beatles) and the record store in Vancouver, Washington had a lot of Beatles records selling for like, $5 and it was very exciting, so that’s when I bought my first records. I also bought some classical music records from the library book sale, because I was really into playing classical flute.
My ex-boyfriend and I met in high school, and he and his best friend were super into record collecting – I liked to buy them to listen to but they sometimes liked to buy them because of how rare they were, etc. So we went to a lot of record shows together with all of our friends.
Got any record tips? Purchasing or cleaning/care? Do you have a particular way of organizing your wax a la Dewey Decimal System like in Party Girl?
I actually don’t really organize my records– though that reminds me; I really, really need to see Party Girl, as I went to library school. My boyfriend and I have merged record collections and he might have organized them, a bit. My best tip is making sure you have a decent needle for your record player and keep it clean. I don’t have anything fancy, just an old Sony turntable we got from my boyfriend’s mom, a Sony amplifier that my boyfriend has had since high school, and speakers of unknown brand. You don’t need anything really fancy to enjoy records!
DJ Domenica Clark
Her Jam: Boogie, House, Soul, Funk, Weird Stuff, Noise, Disco
Spirit Animal: Unknown
Tell me more about yourself and how you’ve come to hone your craft. What got you into wax and what made you stay?
I’ve been DJing on the radio since I was 21, so for about 10 years now total. I’ve always been a music fiend of the highest order. In my youth, it was all about compact discs (which I haven’t totally eschewed) and mp3s via peer-to-peer networks like Soulseek. I learned most of what I know now through my college community radio station’s music collection. A sizable chunk of it was vinyl. It was DJing vinyl on the radio that taught me the pivotal lesson about playing records at the correct speed. I’ve been devouring music voraciously since I was a teen, but I don’t think I really got into vinyl collecting until my late 20’s. That development was largely concurrent with my obsession with disco and boogie music. Dance 12″s became necessary for DJing. Well, most DJs don’t actually use vinyl, but I prefer it. It also feels holy to me, being in possession of this large object that contains a song I love dearly.
In the last few years my collection has grown substantially, but I still don’t have a ton, because I don’t have a lot of money, and it is hard to be low-income and be a record collector. The cheap alternative is constantly digging through thrift shop collections, but shops around the Puget Sound region are always so picked over! I usually try to buy a couple of records I want a month.
Why do you think things like collecting vinyl has been genderfied? Has this created a challenge for you in the field? What’s a good solution for us to combat gender lines? How do you stick it to ’em?
I think collecting vinyl has been so gendered for so long is because there is a long and storied history of vinyl collecting, music fandom and the general music community being very male dominated. This infiltrates every part of the music world, from production to music writing to performance. There is definitely a kind of very macho culture to collecting records that I find kind of gross. Especially in my preferred genres – disco, soul and funk music. I often feel so alone! I’ve gotten a whole lot “mansplaining” about music over time. All the times I’ve bought online from record sellers, they have always been men. The clerks at a lot of my favorite shops are largely men. Men are the famous record collectors and DJs. I have definitely experienced sexism from record store clerks and sellers directly and in online music communities. The only solution I can think of is to encourage more women to DJ and buy records (or whatever format they prefer, I am not that big of a vinyl snob). I think those of us who DJ just need to continue to do what we do publicly and actively encourage our music-loving friends to do it too.
Speaking of which, what is your favorite fight record? And what’s your favorite record to dance alone to?
My favorite fight record is Ludus’ “Breaking the Rules” which is actually relevant to this topic! It is a fight song in the sense that it encourages one to fight gender norms. My favorite record to dance alone too is Digital Emotion’s “Get Up Action.”
You can catch Domenica spinning for “Gentlemen Take Polaroids” on the second Monday of the month at The Rendezvous. A night dedicated to exploring the topic of melodrama in pop music history from girl groups to glam to new romantic, new pop and beyond.