The things you do for love...
I fell in love with dj’ing from the first moment I ever walked into a club, which happened to be Changes Nightclub on Custom St, I couldn’t believe my luck at getting in, finally I was a clubber. The owner was dj’ing and doing a rather mediocre job, straight away I thought “I can do better than that!”
So I did… That Saturday I caught the bus into the city & started to trawl through the record shops which at the time were Real Groovy Records, Marbecks & 256 Queen Street. There were music stores on main streets of most towns & they all had vinyl.
I preferred shopping for music in the central city, there just seemed to be a vibrancy attached to the surroundings that made me feel connected to bigger things and it was a welcome change from the familiarity of the suburbs. I was happy to wander from record shop to record shop.
On one trip while making my way home I came across a doorway in Fort Street that had records piled on the floor all the way up a dimly lit hallway. Curious to see more I cautiously entered taking in the album covers of artists I’d never seen or heard of, before emerging into a room that was Utopian in it’s dedication to music. Vinyl seemed to pour from every orifice, there were records in bins, on racks, in crates, in stacks, leaning on walls it was overwhelming & straight away it dawned on me… I’d arrived!
Many people remember their first crush, the first kiss, making love for the first time and other such monumental teenage moments and for me those moments are no different. I just can’t deny the significance of walking into my first real record shop, where for that moment all the planets are aligned, the angels in heaven sing & you are bathed in the glory of finding your calling… an addiction to vinyl!
From that moment forward life would never be the same, whenever I travelled to a new city within New Zealand or abroad I’d grab the local directory & look up where all the record shops were, there was no way I’d forgo the opportunity to trawl through LP’s, EP’s & most especially the 12”s of a foreign land.
You’ll find when travelling that records which are hot property in NZ may not occupy the same status in other countries. What flies off the shelves at home can occupy sales bins abroad. I remember in the 90’s walking into a small shop in Perth & going through their 12” sales bin to find artists such as Prince, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Shalamar & Mantronix. All of whom were still getting jammed by New Zealand dj’s but at that time you couldn’t for love or money hear them anywhere in Perth.
To be a dj in the early 90’s you had to have access to the hard copies of songs, if you wanted something earlier than the local release you had to organize a mail order from overseas, which to the frustration of many dj’s could take weeks to arrive.
The main stores I used to visit throughout the 90’s & early 2000’s were Bassline Records, 256 Queen Street, BPM Records, Central Station, Real Groovy, True Tone Manukau/St Lukes/ Papakura, Quaff Records, Papatoetoe Record Exchange, Marbecks & Revival Records.
Of all these it is perhaps Bassline Records that was my favourite, there can be no denying the influence Grant Kearney & Sam Hills shop had on the dance scene at the time. BPM would compromise the bulk of my house music purchases, as did Central Station which thanks to Andy Vann stocked a decent catalogue of Paper Recordings, Soma & Glasgow Underground 12’s.
Other top record spots included Beat Merchants, Criminal Records, Put The Needle On the Record, Conch and countless other places that would open & then just as quickly disappear.
I still have booklets full of BPM stamps, one day I finally gathered them together to hittup the shop for my comp 12”s, only to find out that they were no longer honouring the loyalty cards… Gutted!
I miss the dj meetings at Festival Records, where they handed out all the fresh new promos. I miss waking up in the morning and seeing a big square package sitting in the letter box and racing down to see what new promos the record companies had posted.
What I don’t miss about records is the back breaking strain involved with carrying crates of vinyl to a gig, the space these crates took up in the car, needles jumping when you play at venues with wooden floors, people always wanting to have a look through your collection, the needle jumping out of the groove a second before you release it for the mix.
Make no mistake records were hard work but they made up for it with the satisfaction of putting a slice of wax on the platter and watching it play out, the music had a soul that lived & breathed inside a flat black circle, it’s life could be measured in the grooves that spiraled on it’s surface.
I treasure my records & accord them the status of an old friend, for me each 12” denotes a coming of age for musical taste from Talk Talk in the 80’s to De La Soul in the 90’s & Inland Knights in the early 2000’s. I can remember from which shops I purchased a lot of the records I own, each slice of wax comes imbedded with its very own set of memories, so listening takes on a special meaning. Sadness for the good times past & happiness for the good people music has brought into my life. Long live vinyl…. Snap Crackle & Pop!