“I think things are cyclical and in the advent of digital, people crave the physical”
“And I think record collectors will always be buying vinyl and building a collection of good music, then passing on that knowledge to others who might not collect yet, because it’s great and fun and a way of life!”
This is the second installment of the blog’s new series titled “On The Outside, Looking In”. As the title suggests, it is a retrospective sneak view into my guests’ photo albums, collections, musical diaries, hazy memories and internal monologues. The discussion timeline is non-linear, jumping back and forth in times and places, as it would probably be in a real-time conversation with friends, whose music-related work I admire and respect. The concept of interviewing my guests in pairs has been intriguing and thought-provoking, trying to find out how their paths have periodically intersected and eventually converged through music: from rented studio time in the early 90s to custom-made studios and modern production, from raves in warehouses and sweaty basements to transatlantic tours and remixing punk priestess Siouxsie (well, that’s a story for another day), from tape packs and pirate radio to record fairs, eclectic record collections, running boutique record labels in 2019 and everything in-between.
Justice & Dissect
The head title of the series has been inspired from the first Modern Urban Jazz release by Glider-State (Blame & Justice), so it is with great joy that I present the man himself Tony ‘Justice’ Bowes alongside one of the most interesting figures of the new generation of producers Michael ‘Dissect’ Walsh.
“Sacrificing time, energy and money to keep an independent record label afloat in a niche and saturated market is a reality we often ignore or overlook, especially when it comes to investing on the vinyl format. So, I take the opportunity to thank all artists and record labels for gracing this year with their beautiful music and safeguarding the art, the passion and the romance”.
The last blog post of the year is traditionally a retrospective countdown. Though our culture of distraction and minimal attention span seems unrelenting on burying new releases beneath an endless scroll, 2018 has been exceptional for important things like new, fascinating music. From the establishment of new boutique record labels and classic album re-issues, to much-anticipated debuts, spectacular or dramatic comebacks, this year abounded with great music. My penchant for LPs was more than clear in the previous post, however I feel the urge to express it once again: Album writing has always been and still remains an art form. When you want to make a statement in music, you write an album and at the moment those statements are more exciting, varied and relevant than ever before.
“We’re suddenly in a period when it’s de rigueur to buy records” – Alan Scholefield, Honest Jon’s Records, London
“… but those clerks are still there, still sneering at your bad choices, offering you an understated but supportive raise of the eyebrow for your good ones.” – Nick Hornby, writer
“There was always interesting music playing, but I was too timid to actually buy a record, you know, in case I bought the wrong record” – Damon Albarn, musician, singer-songwriter
Chapter 2: Record Stores
At different times in my life, I have daydreamt about owning a record store. These days however, running one seems like a first class ticket to financial disaster. Apart from the obvious incentives, including satisfaction of my vanity and intimidation of unsuspected customers (Jack Black’s portrayal of an erratic assistant in “High Fidelity” has brilliantly set the bar too high), I have very fond childhood memories from my casual visits with my dad to the local record stores in the late 80s. I still remember a particular owner slipping mix-tapes in the bag for my school parties (an early form of piracy I guess, but this is for another chapter). I was exposed at a very young age to various musical genres, which I regrettably snubbed or simply ignored, due to immaturity and stubbornness. Very late at the party, but after a long time I gradually started to appreciate and embrace various genres and styles.
“I lost the plot for a while then. And I lost the subplot, the script, the soundtrack, the intermission, my popcorn, the credits and the exit sign” – excerpt from ‘High Fidelity’ by Nick Hornby
Chapter 1: Intro
This is the first of a multi-part thematic series about obsessions, music and obsession with music. Based on my own experiences, I will attempt to explore and rationalize the profound impact of music on our habits, daily routine and life in general. With music being the focal point, each part of the series will be focusing on a different aspect; all-day long visits to record stores, endless queues outside clubs, late night radio listening with the record button on, mixtapes, the digital era emergence and the inevitable changes to the way we perceive, consume and enjoy music.
The series title is a paraphrase of an excerpt from the book High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, featuring also in the eponymous film adaptation a few years later (replace obsession with misery for the original quote). Although the essence of the question is totally different in the book and I am pretty certain Hornby didn’t have electronic music in mind, it has prompted a psychological dilemma that has been bothering me for years. What came first, the music or the obsession? Did I listen to electronic music (and drum & bass in particular) because I was obsessive? Or did I become obsessive because I listened to electronic music? Continue reading
Wednesday morning, October 2003, somewhere in west-central London
The BT technician had just left the flat. Finally, the internet connection had been restored and upgraded to 2Mb. After almost 48h without a connection, the return to civilization was a great relief. His flat-mate had fallen into an internet coma for the last 2 weeks and the lack of internet connectivity had made him a bit quirky.
He left the flat and walked to the tube station. J* would be meeting him outside the Bond Street HMV store. Last night at the local pub J was telling him that a new vinyl section had been introduced at HMV with second hand vinyl and recent represses. At first he thought it was the lager talking, but J never bullshitted about 2 things: football and vinyl, so it was worth the shot. After all, he would be paying a visit to BM records anyway; HMV would be a minor deviation. Continue reading
Sunday evening and is about time for the ritual. Holding a cup of coffee and a few hours to spare, it is undoubtedly his favourite part of the week. Time to check the new releases!
First task is to open the notepad where the wish-list is written down and check if everything from the previous week has been crossed out. Apparently not, there are too many new releases to follow nowadays, let alone he always comes up with an old tune worth finding and spare time isn’t unlimited. Although there is no longer a problem in terms of actual or virtual space (no more carton boxes full of records in every part of the house and hard discs’ capacity has increased over the years to accommodate every need), experience has taught that a few gigabytes of free disc space should be available at any time. Continue reading