Wednesday, November 17, 2010

TVD First Date | The Kopecky Family Band

Kelsey Kopecky | It seems to me that the only comparison to my feeling about vinyl records is one with riding in a horse drawn carriage, or canning vegetables. To 20-something year olds, this not-so-common ritual usually is presented by our older family members in a story that starts with, "When I was your age..." My grandma Carolee, a hippie at heart who had me dressed in vintage threads at age 7, was the first to help me admire the craft of vinyl records. She explained to me that the beauty was not only present after the needle found the groove and started sliding, but in the large square texture and ink. Vinyl records offer something to hold in two hands.

I remember filing through Grandma's records on her steps next to her Native American/western decor. With each flip of cardboard she told me why the Carpenters were so tasteful with harmonies only siblings could create, and why it is alright for naked body parts to be central for album artwork. After all, bodies are beautiful and God is an artist.

To this day while I shuffle through my own record collection, the smell of dusty attic mold is just as attractive as a pie in the oven. When I smell it I know something wonderful is close by. Vinyl is an interactive way to listen. It requires attention to be paid to the artist, lest down time cause the show to stop between side A and side B.

David Krohn | About five years ago I discovered listening to music on vinyl and it has changed the experience of listening to music for me in a way that I will always be grateful for. My appreciation for music began when I was in middle school, which was during the Napster era. As a result, I viewed music as a free, endless commodity where my friends and I would have an arms race to see who could build up the largest music library on our computers.

Having a large, well rounded music library is great, but it doesn't allow the listener to give the music the proper time and respect that it deserves. I am a strong believer in listening to music in the way that the artist intended the listener to hear the artist's work. When you listen to music on your computer or iTunes, it is far too easy to create a playlist and distract the listener from hearing the artist's work in the entirety that the artist intended. Being an artist, I know that my band records an album or EP with the intentions of creating an experience where a lot of thought is put into the track-listing and transitions in between songs.

This is why I love vinyl so much: it forces the listener to hear the artist's work exactly in the way that the artist intended the listener to hear it. You cannot make a playlist with LPs and you cannot skip from favorite track to favorite track with the same ease of iTunes. I typically buy a record because there is one song in particular from a band or artist that I love. Initially, when I listen to the record my experience revolves around my desire to hear that one song, and I will typically dislike most of the other tracks on the record. After listening to the record a few times that desire fades and the songs that I didn't particularly like emerge as the underdog, becoming my favorite tracks on the record. It breaks my heart to think of all of the people creating playlists, missing out on having to make an effort to understand and enjoy the songs surrounding their favorite single on an album.

Listening to music on vinyl creates a ritualistic experience for me. When I listen to vinyl it forces me to actively pay attention to the music, opposed to just listening to it in the background. After a few songs, I have to get up, walk to my turntable and flip the record. If I want music to be playing, I have nurture my turntable and flip the record when it needs to be flipped.

Vinyls add value to music for me. There is something magical about the weight, the large album art and the need to handle your records with care. I don't have any prized mp3s or even prized CDs, but I have a handful of vinyls that I wouldn't hesitate to grab first if my house was on fire.

When I am looking for a particular classic record, I will do everything in my power to get a first print, the older the records, the more of a story that they have to tell. My mom gave me her copy of Bill Wither's Just as I Am on vinyl that she grew up listening to. It is one of my most prized possessions not only because it is a masterpiece, but because each scratch and hiss reminds me of my mother listening to that exact record having the same listening experience that I am having today.

Benjamin Kaufman | I have only been listening to music on vinyl for the past few years, but the transition has been more than satisfying. My love for vinyl is very similar to my love for film photography: it is real and it is tangible.

For instance, when someone takes a picture using film, light is exposed for a millisecond on to a small piece of plastic film which creates an invisible image that only appears once the film is developed. Once light is exposed through the film onto photo-sensitive paper and is processed with chemicals, the previously invisible image appears out of nowhere. Not only do I love the fact that this tangible piece of paper is a representation of a moment I experienced in a different time and place, but also it is the result of completely scientific process…no iPhoto, no computers.

Same goes for vinyl records. What especially thrills me is that the music I am hearing when I put a record on is the actual workings of a needle passing over tiny little grooves that produces real, analog sound. I remember the first time one of my friends turned his stereo all the way down as the record was spinning, and showed me the sound the needle makes without amplification…I never knew a needle scratching wax could be so fascinating. Thanks again, Edison!

Ever since then, I've learned that music can be a completely different experience with vinyl. Yes, of course it is nowhere as convenient as your iPod shuffle, however listening to records forces one to make time to just sit down and listen to music in the way it was meant to be experienced: on album at a time.

A few favorites in my collection are Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest, Billie Holiday's Greatest Hits, and one of two records of Sigur Rós' () album.

Gabriel Simon | My vinyl fascination started with my Dad's Jim Croce Photographs record. I remember seeing the picture and being caught off guard by the look on the mustached man's face. I recall the lyrics that were large enough to actually read and a black disk that I had no means to possibly listen to.

Later my 2nd college roommate Jordan would let me borrow his record player and I would sneak vinyls from his closet when he was at band practice. These extra records were an easy way for me to seem cool when I brought girls back to my dorm room... until he finally got mad about me stealing his records. M. Ward's Hold Time was the record of choice.

When I finally moved into my new apartment I smuggled my friends record player when he wasn't looking and placed it in my kitchen. I remember I had just brought a box of records back from my parents house and had been sifting through the good and the bad... and there I found it - Photographs by Jim Croce.

Still my favorite record ever written to date, I was finally able to listen to that little treasure, spurning a further love for vinyl, and a record collection that lines my entire living room wall.

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