arts and culturefeatured-art-and-cultureIssue 35

Vinyl’s Making a Comeback

By Noel Daniel

The warm whisper of a record isn’t fading into history as one might imagine. There are a myriad of music formats that have had their rise and fall in just the last two decades. Even cassettes are starting to make a resurgence, with tape decks and boomboxes still hanging on in an era of shrinking hardware.

So what is it that inspired this shift back to music with crackle? We spoke to Felipe Garcia of Trax on Wax fame to give us the skinny on vinyl specifically, and why it was that records would seem to be coming back into vogue.
“For me, I’ve always played records,” said Garcia. “I collect records and I know a lot of other people that do the same. They still have their old vinyl from the 90s and 2000s. Manufacturers have started to re-press vinyl, and a lot of the younger kids are starting to get in on it.”

But that’s just Garcia’s love of records explained. He feels like the social shift has more to do with the thrill of the hunt. Vinyl, he explained, takes a little more effort than a CD or an mp3 because you have to really dig to find what you’re looking for. As a result, people take more pride in their vinyl collection.

One of his favorite dig spots is Cornell’s Records—a happening storefront with record sales every last Saturday of the month. He also recommended checking Rasputin’s, Best Buy, and Guitar Center. One of the most delightfully varied digging spots in our experience is a thrift store. Going antiquing is a surprising way to find some new records for your collection. At worst, you come away with some inexpensive vinyl that’s fun to put on now and then. And at best, you find your new favorite record.

So, if vinyl is this hard to find, why is it catching back on? You can even spot vinyl in stores like Barnes & Noble and Target.

As we progressed into the era of digital, music got crisper, cheaper, and easier to find. When Garcia first started as a DJ, vinyl was basically the only format. Now that a song can be right at someone’s fingertips, the glamor of vinyl becomes akin to art collection.

“I collect just about everything,” said Garcia. “Lately I’ve gotten more selective. I’ll write down an artist I like and then go find them on a record. I don’t order it online, I look for it in a store. It’s all about the adventure of a dig. You can find whatever you want online, but that’s no fun. It’s more fun to go out and find it. I’ll give you a quick example: I just got a Lou Rawls: You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine record. I’ve been looking for it for 15 years, and I was so excited when I finally found it in the record store and had it in my own hands.”

Some of his favorite finds are old dance music records. He even just recently came across some Led Zeppelin, and currently owns an old Cheech and Chong record that still has the giant rolling paper inside.

“It’s just the nostalgia of having that record to play,” explains Garcia. “Anyone can go download a Jimi Hendrix song—but to have the actual record from 1968? There’s a little more pride in that. Those that know, they’re amazed. They respect that you have it.”

It was the resurgence of vinyl that inspired Trax on Wax, an event at the Speakeasy that takes place the first Wednesday of every month—except July, which will take place on Jul. 11. It targets those from 20 years old to those 40 to almost 50. Some have played their records forever, but others are using this as their first time to play a record in front of people.

“I give everybody thirty minutes,” said Garcia. “If you’re doing three-minute songs, you can get a good six or seven songs, and the next person will come up with a different point of view. It never gets stagnant.”

Trax on Wax encourages people who aren’t DJs to come out and showcase their records. So go out and share your collection with the world. You can meet other like-minded people, share your favorite digging spots, and bask in the general appreciation of vinyl.

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