Still playing vinyl, are you mad?
The title of this article requires looking at things from several angles and standpoints. Let's take a look from a Dj's perspective, in particular, mine. I've been Djing and mixing (this is a very important distinction and the subject of an upcoming article) for over 30 years. Until around 2015/16 I was exclusively analog, you could cut me in half and see a record groove (not grooves as there is only actually one groove on a record) running through my core! When I play out in venues across the country and beyond I still play records.
To most, the thought of carrying a couple of boxes of the heavy black stuff into a venue from the carpark is utter madness! To me however it is the ultimate convenience, as way back in the 80s I started out as a mobile DJ, supplying and erecting the entire sound system, lighting rig and too many record boxes to mention.
So, carrying two boxes of records into a club, stepping into the booth, hopefully smashing my set and sending the crowd into a frenzy of epic proportions, then closing the lids and going home couldn't be simpler.Wax Wrx...
But of course things could be simpler still! I could very easily take a couple of memory sticks with 10s of thousands of tracks on them and deliver the same electrifying set and the crowd would be none the wiser (and the club engineer would be a lot happier no doubt). But I ask you these two questions. 1. Has anyone ever asked to see your mp3 collection? 2. Does every track you've downloaded have a memory attached?
I'm not saying the way of the digital warrior is wrong, I'm merely offering a valid reasoning behind my decision to remain in the physical records camp. For me, collecting records is about the following pillars:
- The memories - as eluded to before, every one of my records has a story or a memory attached and isn't that what life is about; memories?
- The relationship - we build a tighter relationship with our music and get to know it in greater detail.
- The feel - placing a record on the platter, blending between tracks and the dexterity involved makes you connect with the music on a different level. Speedily rifling through your crates searching for the perfect next track!
- The sound - Many believe the sound of records to be warmer and superior. I am not going to get into that argument here but it does sound wonderful. For me though it's more than just the sound through the speakers, it's also the little ding of the record on the spindle as you fail to perfectly locate the disk perfectly central on the platter, the crackles and sometimes even the heart-stopping jumps.
- The artistry - the art of the playing and mixing the records as-well as the cover & label art. I often spot the record I want by the pattern on the spine! Positiva records are easy to spot for example.
So basically there are many different reasons I use records and angles in which it affects my musical journey far more than the digital counterparts.
Before we wrap this up and eagerly await passionate but friendly interaction in the comments section I would like to briefly put my digital hat on. There are many reasons why digital formats make sense over records. Let's take a look at a few:
- The footprint - i can fit 10s of thousands of tracks all fully and easily searched to have my entire collection at the tips of my fingers. No need to pre select a few hundred records you believe will hopefully fit the bill.
- The cost - no brainer here. A typical house music ep is around the £10 mark and you potentially only want two of the tracks on the ep anyway. Those two tracks in digital land would set you back around £3 in mp3 format and possibly £5 if you wanted to up the ante to a lossless AIFF or WAV format. The
- The opportunity - yes this is important and often overlooked. I have many DJ friend who take their memory sticks everywhere with them. You never know when you can force your way onto a set of CDJs in some random bar or club for an impromptu set.
My fear with digital however id the reliance on software and digital files, but that's just because I am old. All I worry about is keeping the beer splashes of my beloved records.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the above and experiences you've had and would like to share.