How many records would you say are in your collection?
Less than 100. I keep my record collection small because of space, and if I had more I probably wouldn’t listen to all of them. I try to keep what I enjoy listening to, and if I don’t listen to it, I pass it along for someone else to enjoy.
Do you consider yourself a ‘collector’?
Sure, why not. Anything you have more than a couple of is collecting, to some degree. It’s different sizes for everyone, and there’s no need for qualifying limits.
What is your playback setup like?
A Denon automatic turntable, mixer, and monitor speakers. Everyone makes fun of this cheap setup, but I can listen to records just as easily as anybody. Besides, this is an easy way to introduce children to music, by just putting the record on the turntable and letting them push the start button. Can you imagine how annoying you would sound or how impossible it would be trying to communicate to a 5-year old “ok, now move the arm gently, and place the needle softly at this spot on the record”. Seriously…
What was the very first record you purchased?
I don’t remember the very first, but Autobahn by Kraftwerk is one of the oldest purchases that I still have with me. I bought from a local shop when I lived in California in the early 2000s, and it still has the $9.99 sticker. It’s in fair condition, but I like when it gets stuck in a lock groove.
Tell us about the most prized record in your collection.
I really like the Olivia Tremor Control’s Under the Black Foliage, Vol. 2. I’ve had this one a long time too. Though I don’t have many fond memories of growing up in the American South, it was a pleasure seeing many of the Elephant 6 bands.
Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing is a special one, too.
What makes you want to purchase an album on vinyl as opposed to any other medium?
I guess it depends on what it is, but I don’t have a particular preference. Sometimes it depends on the price, or whatever I find first. I always want jazz albums on vinyl, but they’re always 5x the price of CDs, and I end up getting the CD. Film scores are always nice on vinyl – there’s something nostalgic about that, like the movie poster.
What are your thoughts on the “inconvenience” of vinyl?
It’s a little inconvenient to carry to and from shops when you walk or use public transportation, but there’s nothing inconvenient about home listening. It’s nice looking through the records to find something to listen to while having dinner, put it on the turntable, and start it. It’s been fun to teach my daughter about this process, and how to appreciate and enjoy all different formats.
Ever consider digitizing the collection and selling it off?
I barely can keep track of my own digital archives so likely not, but I have no problem with selling it off if it’s necessary.
What album has your favourite artwork and why?
I really love Zoviet France “Misfits, Looney Tunes and Squalid Criminals. It’s in a paper bag sleeve with off-center/crooked artwork, the band name is spelled differently in multiple places, some is black and white and some is color, it’s just a bizarre package, but I’ve always liked this album.
The crude cut-and-paste collages are cute, too.
What do you look for when you go record digging?
I usually have that problem of forgetting what I’m looking for once I get to the shop, but there are a lot of shops in Tokyo, so it’s easy to just look around randomly. I rarely buy stuff, but just looking is a nice way to pass the time. I appreciate spontaneous finds that are so cheap it seems to be the right thing to buy, even if you wouldn’t have thought of it before.
Where do you buy your music these days?
There’s a very local shop about 20 minutes by bicycle. It’s a bit far from central Tokyo and there’s usually no one there, but they have some cheap stuff from time to time. Otherwise, there are Disk Unions all over Tokyo, and though the prices can be high there, it’s possible to find good prices, especially for Japanese editions of foreign albums, that seem to be undesirable to Japanese collectors and more cool to me, so they’re always dirt cheap.
What are your thoughts on limited editions, original releases, and reissues?
I don’t really have much interest in these, or can’t afford to buy new vinyl. Almost everything I buy is used. The only new are trades or gifts from friends, usually.
What were the most memorable liner notes that you’ve ever read?
Definitely Discreet Music. The diagram and explanation on the back… I’m not sure how many ambient musicians that launched, but it surely helped me and gave me a down to earth way of understanding something simple yet beautiful.
What record do you think you could play all the time?
I like a lot of his albums, but Ennio Morricone’s “Che C’entriamo Noi Con La Rivoluzione?” is one I can listen to over and over. I like this kind of album particularly, the “variations on a theme” with the entire score basically different interpretations of the same melody, with different instruments, tempos, etc. “Duck, You Sucker” also, as far as a soundtrack album, is just about perfect.
How is your collection organized?
It’s not organized.
How has vinyl impacted your life?
I enjoy listening to vinyl, and I enjoy releasing it as a label too. That whole process, including once I have the records carrying them to shops to sell, is something I wouldn’t have ever guessed I’d be doing 20 years ago. I’m glad for what I have, and these opportunities.
What will happen with your collection when you’re gone?
I have no idea. If it lasts that long, hopefully, my daughter will have use for some of it, and if not, I hope she’ll pass it along to someone else for them to enjoy.