Crate Digger Evolution
For those that don’t know, going from record shop to record shop hunting down the right tracks that will eventually find their way into your prized record collection is to many, known as crate digging!
Originally the phrase was coined back in the late 80s, early 90s and broadly associated with hip hop and the use of milk crates to store records in. Both for hip hop tracks to play at parties and old soul, funk and jazz which could be flipped (sampled) into a killer hip hop joint (track)! I myself fell into both categories and loved every single minute. Most Saturdays felt akin to a pilgrimage to London Town, searching for the latest and great track as well as the unique samples that nobody else had!
Things to look for
People’s ‘digging’ techniques varied greatly. For me, when digging for breaks and samples the first thing that had to get me interested was the artwork. Did it have that right feel, did the fonts indicate the right era. It was a feeling that led me to taking the record out of the ‘crate’ for closer inspection which consisted of a date search followed by musicians. If all was in order then I would have a quick check on condition before either adding to the ever increasing stack of biscuits (records) or ejecting back into the bin (the crate). Then when I had a nice pile together it was over to the listening station if one was available! For my digging partner this however was not an issue as he had his portable battery power Vestax turntable with him at all times. Many, many hours were spent; and happy ones at that!
With the amount of records I was buying it was inevitable that I was going to build relationships with record shop owners. The perks of these friendships ranged everywhere from a welcoming nod and being greeted by name to having first dibs on latest releases and old classics being put by and even access to the locked rooms where all the rare (expensive) records resided.
Fast forward twenty or so years and 50% of my diggin is now online and predominantly house music. The success of searching for your records online is based on a few things. No1 – and understanding partner, because hours even days of your time you will be stuck glued to your laptop with 30 second preview blasts bleeding out of the headphone whilst Corrie is on in the background. No2 – A good mp3 previewer and cart adder on the chosen website. No3 – a good recommendation tool as per Juno’s “customers also bought these” feature. For me, buying online is convenient and pretty good, but this has stripped a few of the key elements from the very satisfying process of yesteryear. Every record I purchased in the 90s has an experience attached to it and a story to tell. Having records handed to you by the postie isn’t quite the same. Still great though!
One of my favourite spots to dig these days is the amazing LoveVinyl in Hoxton. Always a warm welcome from Zaff and Dave Jarvis wgo offer a superb range across many genres old and new from old soul and funk classics to silky smooth nu disco records.
5 PEARSON STREET
TEL: 020 7729 8978
Tell us your digging stories below!
There’s nothing better than visiting a well-stocked second-hand emporium. The thrill of the chase, spidey sense tingling about some random album and weighing up if you’re going to gamble (if no listening post is available). there’s something magical about that period between the record store and slapping em on. either to find this weeks haul was utterly useless or spitting your tea/Snapple out as some random tune makes your hairs stand to attention. This is why I do this you’re reminded as you ring your buddy “hey guess what I just found?
True story, I’m known for being first to sample Bobby Hutcherson Montara. which I’dd bought without listening. I had other albums by him and had an expectation which didn’t match up when I got home and listened. it sat in the crap pile for months until one hot July evening I was playing blue note stuff purely for background vibe while doing something else. I remembered it was chilled, then Montara came on and to this day I still remember how excited and engaged I was. the point is if I had listened in store id prob have dismissed it. plus trends change, our taste is constantly shifting/developing.
E-diggin is awesome too, getting access to tunes you may never come across in a lifetime. search engines, youtube, diggin blogs, and specific diggin sites. the world is at our fingertips these days. but you have to put in the work, develop that instinct and be prepared to go through hours, days of utter garbage while not shutting down/keeping an open mind. Repeat daily over the decades.
Purists say blah e-diggin is cheating, but I don’t believe people who say this. There’s nothing wrong with researching online and buying copies as and when you find them.