Keeping a record
On World Vinyl Day, two aficionados tell us how the lockdown changed their listening habits
If there's one good thing that the lockdown has given us, it's seemingly more hours in one day. People now have added time to pursue interests at home that they might not have been able to earlier, given that the daily rigmarole of commuting, working and socialising is out of the window. This holds true for vinyl enthusiasts, too. The very act of listening to a record is incongruent to the click-bait ethos of the entertainment world right now. You have choose what you want to listen to, carefully take the vinyl out of its sleeve, and clean it gently with a solution before finally sitting back after the record starts to spin once the stylus is in place. It isn't about simply pressing the play button, in that sense."
But the whole process demands even more time from serious collectors. Roycin D'Souza is a photographer and DJ who has over 400 vinyls. He tells us that the lockdown gave him the leisure to revisit his stock and bring a sense of order into the way they are stored. "I would earlier keep them randomly in boxes in different areas of the house But I have now merged them all, and segregated them into different sections, because I had the time to pinpoint which record is kept where so that I can pull one out when I want to. This period has basically given me a deeper understanding of what I have," he says.
D'Souza adds that he also invested in a high-grade amplifier and changed his cables to make the act of listening to a record less of a task. "I also managed to clean a lot of my records and put them into plastic sleeves, and stashed some of the albums I don't care too much about behind my desk, since I don't need to see them every day." But he reveals that he didn't end up purchasing as many records as he normally does. "A lot of my buys would happen on my travels anyway. I usually only buy used records in India, or from places like The Revolver Club [in Mahim] and Music Circle in Kandivali when they have a sale. But I don't want to spend '4,000 on records right now, like I would earlier. The lockdown has helped me take a few steps back."
It's the same story for restaurateur Anil Kably, another vinyl enthusiast (though he refrains from calling himself a passionate collector). Kably says, "There was such a sense of paranoia in the early stages of the lockdown that there weren't any deliveries taking place. So I used the time to instead visit sites like discogs.com [a music marketplace] and look up stuff that I might want later on. I made a loose wishlist for myself."
Kably also spent his hours cleaning his records, but says, "I even started arranging them in alphabetical order before I laughed and asked myself what I was doing." Yet, crucially, he revisited the neglected vinyls in his collection given the time he had on his hands. He'd bought some jazz fusion records ages ago, albums by the likes of Stan Lee Clarke and George Duke. It's a genre that didn't sustain his interest. "So, I pulled them out because they had just been lying there, and as I was listening to them, I realised why I hadn't played them in years," he jokes.
But the most important thing that Kably points out is how the lockdown has robbed enthusiasts of the serendipitous pleasure of chancing upon a rare vinyl at a physical store. He recounts an occasion in Singapore, when he was digging through the material at a small shop run by a Malayali man and he found two coveted records lying at the back. One was by New Order, and the other by Quincy Jones. And the thrill that Kably felt is something that will have to wait for some semblance of normalcy to return again. So, yes, the lockdown has given vinyl enthusiasts more hours in the day to revisit their existing collections. But it's robbed them of the joy of sifting through music at a record store, meaning they are in a win-some-lose-some situation at the moment.
Call The Revolver Club, Mahim (9833182255); Music Circle, Kandivali (9820365979)
Take these notes
D'Souza tells us that there are certain factors that you need to keep in mind while buying and maintaining vinyls. These include:
. Keep them away from moisture as much as possible. Vinyls can survive the humidity of Mumbai if stored properly, but fungus is a major enemy. So, you need to pull out the records at least once in two months.
. Ensure that each record has a plastic sleeve, not just for the outer covering, but for the vinyl itself as well.
. Regularly air the room in which the vinyls are kept. You don't want dust falling directly on them.
. When buying records from the international market, aim for West European countries including the UK and Germany, instead of the US, since you'll save on customs duty.
A musical date
Vinyl Record Day is celebrated on August 12 every year to mark the date in 1877 on which Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph.
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