Canada Is for (Vinyl) Lovers

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Today is the second day of The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, UK.  A few days ago I ran a preview of the Canadian Blast showcase happening at the festival, featuring interviews with some of the bands. I had asked them about female representation in music festivals, and in the music community in general.

But I couldn’t help asking them about vinyl, too.  I’m always curious about people’s taste in music: their influences, their favorite albums, what kind of vinyl collections they have — if they even buy their music on vinyl.

I suspected that at least some of these Canadian musicians might be into vinyl, though.  In the research I’ve done, it seems that Canada has a greater number of record stores than the US.  Or maybe it’s just that Ontario all by itself has hundreds, even in its furthest reaches.  There’s a shop in Sault Ste Marie.  There’s one in Thunder Bay.  (By contrast, I live in a supposed cultural mecca, yet my closest record shop is 30 minutes away, and it’s not even worth the trip.  I have to drive at least an hour to find anything with a decent selection.)

Also, my favorite current Canadian bands were putting out vinyl before the hipster boom brought it back into popularity.  And there are a number of fantastic Canadian record labels, like Paper Bag, Dine Alone, Nettwerk, Arts & Crafts, and True North.  Vinyl might be as Canadian as the maple leaf.

It was excellent to ask these kick-ass women and their bandmates — most of whom, as I suspected, collect vinyl — about their music collections and most influential albums. Here’s what they had to say.

Q: Are you a music collector?  Do you collect vinyl records?  If so, what is your collection like?

Hannah Georgas: I collect vinyl!  I alphabetized my albums finally not too long ago.  I realized I have a lot more records that I thought.  I’ve accumulated a bunch of vinyl from when I was a kid.  My mom gave me a ton of classical records and then the rest is from what I’ve collected over the past 5 years or so.  I do have a habit of playing the same vinyl over and over.  And the same side, haha!  People get annoyed.  The Sylvan Esso album should be broken because of how many times I’ve played it.

Mo Kenney: I buy a lot of vinyl, but I don’t hunt for rarities or first-press issues … I just enjoy listening on vinyl. My collection isn’t enormous, but it’s getting there! I have a lot of older stuff that I’ve collected since I was a teenager, and I buy a lot of new vinyl now. It’s how I like to listen to music when I’m at home.

Beliefs: You know it! I don’t have a huge collection, but I go through buying phases. The last record I bought was Marie Davidson. After seeing her perform a couple of weeks ago here in Toronto, I’ve been so enamoured by her. I also just bought the new Slowdive at their show here. That’s a band who haven’t aged a day, but have matured a lifetime. Love the new songs. I’ve also been grabbing more ’70s Nigerian comps lately.

Mozart’s Sister: Yeah, I have a collection. I have worked at a record store for a number of years, so I have a small collection that I like a lot. It’s a real mix of stuff, lots of ambient and instrumental records. ’80s and ’70s disco, contemporary experimental and classical music, and ’90s indie rock/pop, mostly.

The Avulsions: Sure, any format. I buy records, but I don’t know if can say that I am a collector in the sense that I have no interest in buying a $300 original pressing from 1978 on Discogs or whatever. I have paid too much money for a few things over the years that were hard to find, but I’m mostly not too nostalgic about it. My overall taste in music is not necessarily well-represented by my collection, which leans more toward recent small-run independent releases because I end up buying records from touring bands quite often. I guess for me, buying records has the function of showing support to artists as much as it does to collecting, or seeking out music I already know. Wanting to support the format makes me more inclined to buy new records, rather than flip through garage sale bins (though this is absolutely worth doing too). I love reissues and curated compilations, and cringe a little bit when I think about how much money Light In The Attic has taken from me. As far as my record collection goes, other than those things, and a bunch of littler-known Western Canadian acts, you’ll find some pretty predictable old post-punk classics—I bought every Joy Division comp/bootleg I could find when I was 19, some early electronic/experimental, ’60s French pop, present-day 4AD-type releases, the remains of a large opera collection I inherited, and way too much emo-hardcore I liked as a teen and should get rid of.

Port Cities: I collect vinyl records, mostly inherited from my parent’s collection: the Beatles, Carole King, Paul Simon, as well as new artists that I fall in love with.

Bad Pop: Yeah, I’ve got a bit of a collection! It is full of records from bands I’ve toured with, records inherited from parents (lots of Talking Heads, The Who, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin), some jazz records (Miles Davis, Chick Corea etc.), important records from the late ’90s/early 2000s (Elliot Smith, Radiohead, Grandaddy … ), and some newer stuff I’m digging (Savages, Wye Oak). Oh yeah, and way too many copies of the same vinyl from my own bands that never sold on tour.

Youngblood: I am and I do! My collection is quite diverse, some of my faves are Air’s “Love 2,” Anderson .Paak’s “Malibu,” and then a couple of weird old ’60s spaghetti western soundtracks.

Mauno: None of us would call ourselves legitimate vinyl collectors, especially being surrounded by hardcore collectors all the time. That being said, our guitar player Scott modestly owns probably over a hundred records. His collection represents all of our tastes in its broadness — he has everything from hiphop records to old country to movie soundtracks.

Like A Motorycle: Extensively. When my sister, Zooey Deschanel, left home to be a flight attendant, she whispered in my ear, “One day you will be cool.” Then she told me to look under my bed. “It will set you free,” she said. She told me to listen to Tommy with a candle burning and that I would see my entire future.

Q: What five albums have most influenced your own musical endeavors?

Mozart’s Sister: I’ll give you 5 songs:

  • Les Paul – “Brazil”
  • Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savanah Band – “Hard Times”
  • Arvo Part – “Fratres Suites”
  • White Town – “Your Woman”
  • Tom Waits – “Tango Till They’re Sore”

Youngblood:

  • Air – “Talkie Walkie”
  • Beach House – “Devotion”
  • Stars – “Set Yourself on Fire”
  • Cat Power – “The Greatest”
  • Arctic Monkeys – “Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not”

Beliefs:

  • Portishead – “Third”
  • Slowdive – “Souvlaki”
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Let Love In”
  • Massive Attack – “Mezzanine”
  • Jesus and Mary Chain – “Psychocandy”

Like A Motorcycle:

Michelle:

  • Fleetwood Mac – “Rumours”
  • Heart – “Dreamboat Annie”
  • The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Show Your Bones”
  • Rilo Kiley – “Portions for Foxes”
  • Supertramp – “Crime of the Century”

Kim:

  • Oasis – “Definitely Maybe”
  • The Pixies – “Doolittle”
  • The B-52’s – S/T
  • The Dandy Warhols – “13 Tales From Urban Bohemia”
  • Lou Reed – “Sally Can’t Dance”

Dave:

  • David Bowie – “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust”
  • The Rolling Stones – “Exile on Mainstreet”
  • The Clash – “London Calling”
  • Iggy Pop – “Lust for Life”
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – “Damn the Torpedos”

kt:

  • The Distillers – “Coral Fang”
  • Nirvana – “Nevermind”
  • Save the Day – “Through Being Cool”
  • Every Modest Mouse album
  • Fear Before the March of Flames – “Odd How People Shake”

BONUS: THE BATMAN FOREVER SOUNDTRACK!

Mauno: Between the four of us, the five albums that have most influenced our musical endeavors are:

  • The Books – “Lost and Safe”
  • Erykah Badu – “Baduizm”
  • The Dirty Projectors – “The Glad Fact”
  • Broadcast – “The Noise Made by People”
  • Arthurt Russell – “Love is Overtaking Me”

The Avulsions:

  • Section 25 – “Always Now”
  • Blonde Redhead – “Misery Is a Butterfly”
  • Iggy Pop – “The Idiot”
  • The Wake – “Harmony”
  • Suicide – S/T

Bad Pop: This is always a hard question. I acknowledge the hypocrisy in presenting a list comprised entirely of men, but this is what I was exposed to in my younger and more formative years:

  • Radiohead – “Kid A”
  • The Beatles – “Abbey Road”
  • Green Day – “Dookie”
  • Sigur Ros – “Ágætis Byrjun”
  • Badly Drawn Boy – “The Hour of Bewilderbeast”

Mo Kenney: Uhhhh, that’s tough, but here’s a few records I was listening to whilst recording my latest:

  • Amen Dunes – “Love”
  • Deerhunter – “Fading Frontier”
  • Guided By Voices – “Bee Thousand”
  • Sufjan Stevens – “Carrie & Lowell”
  • David Bowie – “Diamond Dogs”

Port Cities: Some records that have influenced us are:

  • Fleetwood Mac – “Rumours”
  • Joni Mitchell – “Blue”
  • The Beatles – “Revolver”
  • Frank Sinatra – “Strangers in the Night”
  • Norah Jones – “Sunrise”
  • Bruce Springsteen – “Born to Run”

Hannah Georgas: That’s a tough question … Some albums that I have listened to front to back many times over off the top of my head are:

  • The Cranberries – “No Need to Argue”
  • Michael Jackson – “Bad”
  • The Very Best of The Everly Brothers
  • Annie Lennox – “Medusa”
  • The Smashing Pumpkins – “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”
  • Janet Jackson – “Velvet Rope”
  • Snoop Dog – “Doggy Style”
  • Enya – “The Memory of Trees”
  • Fiona Apple – “Tidal”

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If you’re in the UK, it’s not too late to catch some of these fine performers at the Canadian Blast showcase, happening now at the Great Escape Festival.

Canadian Blast is being held May 18-20 at The Green Door Store (Lower Goods Yard, Brighton Train Station, Brighton, UK), which will be called “Canada House” for this event. Participating artists are: Altamedia, Bad Pop, Beliefs, DSG Samurai Champs, Hannah Georgas, Harrison Brome, Hello Moth, John K Samson, Like A Motorcycle, Mauno, Mo Kenney, Mozart’s Sister, Pierre Kwenders, Poor Nameless Boy, Port Cities, Royal Tusk, The Avulsions, The Wooden Sky, and William Prince Youngblood.

Canadian Blast is presented by Music Export Canada, a brand of the Canadian Independent Music Association.

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Introducing Robin!

Continuing my quest to find and highlight all the female record collectors out there, I interviewed my friend Robin (Girl + Records) about her collection.

Who wants to be next? Are you a woman who loves vinyl? Hit me up!


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Name, location, blog.

Robin. East Coaster. Blog: Girl + Records.

When did you get into vinyl?

I got into vinyl when my parents started buying me records at the young age of 3. I started off with Sesame Street, Cabbage Patch Kids, and Alvin and the Chipmunks. Then it turned into Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran, and Madonna.

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What was your first vinyl record, and how was it acquired? Was it a gift or did you purchase it?

It was the single for Madonna’s “Lucky Star.” My parents bought it for me. I had to be around 4 years old.

What attracts you to vinyl as a medium?

There’s a special connection with vinyl that doesn’t come across with a CD. It’s taking the record out of the sleeve, spinning it, and really listening to all of the tracks thoroughly. I’m drawn to the artwork on the cover and on the back, as well.

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How many records do you have in your collection?

I own 284 records. If you are counting 7″ records into the mix, then I total about 308.

What is your stereo setup like?

Kind of embarrassed, but these are temporary … I own two Crosleys. One is the old-fashioned brown make from Target, but I keep it because it plays cassette tapes (I cannot part with my best friends mix tapes from college). The other one is from Urban Outfitters. I plan on investing in a U-Turn, probably in the fall or winter, along with some killer speakers.

How do you store and/or display your records?

In the past, I had wire crates from Target that made it easy to flip through the albums, but they were jarring the edges of the vinyl. All of my vinyl now is in an IKEA record holder called a Kallax. I own two, since the one was overflowing with vinyl!

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Where do you shop for your vinyl? Stores? Online? Yard sales?

In my early 20s, vinyl wasn’t en vogue, so most of the albums I found were from flea markets or yard sales. In my late 20s and early 30s, I would take trips to New York to visit my friend. Bleecker Street Records was one of my favorite record stores. I’d go nuts in there.

Now that I’ve been to New York so many times, I like Generation Records, as well as Rough Trade. There’s a good handful of record stores in southern NJ that are great: Innergroove, The Record Collector, Man Cave. In Philadelphia, there are Repo Records, Long in the Tooth, and Sit and Spin. I like to collect old and new.

What is your favorite record store and why?

I actually love Rough Trade. I collect a lot of new vinyl, so that’s my place to go if I’m in Brooklyn. I also love that it’s a venue, and they sell books as well.

What genres of music make up your vinyl collection?

My collection is pretty much split 50/50 between male and female artists, although I prefer female artists. I have everything from pop, rock, classic rock, rap, R&B, blues, punk, alternative, riot grrrl, etc.

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What is your current favorite record on vinyl?

Cate Le Bon – “Crab Day.” I recently saw her in concert, and she was phenomenal live. Her album is good for putting a smile on your face; it’s a bit quirky, but the songs are catchy.

What is your most prized record?

The Slits – “Cut.” That album was a major influence on Kathleen Hanna and Carrie Brownstein. To own something like that is special to me. Plus, who doesn’t love Ari Up?

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What white whales are you still looking for?

Mostly PJ Harvey’s earlier albums. They are extremely hard to find, anything before the “To Bring You My Love” era. Extremely expensive on ebay. I’m hoping to find “Is This Desire” at a reasonable price one of these days!

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What is your favorite album cover art in your collection?

Probably the cover of Duran Duran’s “Rio,” because it’s so ’80s and fondly reminds me of the decade.

Do you have a favorite record label? If so, what is it and why?

I do like Sub Pop, but currently Hardly Art because of The Julie Ruin and Tacocat.

How do you connect with other vinyl enthusiasts?

A lot of my internet friends in college influenced my musical tastes and preferences. Without them, I wouldn’t have discovered so many great bands. I still keep in touch and meet up with them today! A lot of people I’ve met through the Sleater-Kinney fandom have similar tastes and go to a lot of shows, so I chat with them about bands/artists. One of my new best friends keeps me posted on all the upcoming bands from magazines who are touring our way. There’s so much out there, it can be hard to keep up!

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Do you know a lot of other women who collect vinyl?

To be honest, not very many. Maybe a small handful of my friends.

Do you have any advice for women or girls who are interested in starting a vinyl collection?

My advice would be to get what you like. Sure, your taste might change over time, but having music or something great to listen to is what gets you through hard times, especially during teenage years. It’s hard to articulate what you may be going through, but that’s what music does. It makes you feel less alone.

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