Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Art of Crate Digging - How It was in 2003

I have  followed E.D.M. for as long as i can remember. I started clubbing when i was 17 back in perth circa 2001 (fake id ftw!). The music has alway fascinated me - i would be at the front row right in front of the dj booth trying to find out what that last track was by typing on my mobile phone and handing over the mobile phone to the dj. The message would be something like "That track was DA BOMB!! Track name pls??" - the DJ would either smile and tell me the name of the track -or- make a weird face & ignore me altogether - Yes that was very silly of me, coz later on being a dj i hated when that happened :)

In 2003 i moved to Sydney, the clubs there were even bigger and more awesome than Perth (sorry RISE and The Church ~Perth~, but subbies ~Sydney~ in 2003 was sooo awesome!) During that time particularly hard-dance : German Hard Trance was really really getting into me , and i started off buying mix cd's from the likes of Sanity and HMV (now both pretty much bankrupt by the whole MP3 revolution). I bought every single dj mix cds that were released, by djs such as Jumping Jack (used to be such a big fan of him) , Peewee Ferris, Nik Fish, Bexta etc. These music were getting constant play on my discman (no ipods back then!) and it started off a habit of "collecting tunes" and finding out the next awesome hit before everyone else has them.

I remember the first time i went to Central Station Records (Oxford St, Sydney). I didnt even have turntables yet - i found out that tracks are released light years ahead on vinyl than in mix CD's (back then obviously! vinyl was like the ONLY source for tracks unlike now with mp3s). I felt like a kid in a candy shop - so many music , so many vinyls, many i've never heard of before - AWESOME! The fact that a spinning analog plate with a cool artwork cover can play awesome, never-before-heard-awesome music was something very new to me - and something very interesting

After hours of browsing and "crate digging" for the first time, I bought my first ever vinyls - Music is The Drug by Lee Haslam and Ding-A-Ling by Yoji Biomehanika. I didnt even know how to listen to them at first, i had no idea on how to cue a record, i had no idea on how to install a needle on the turntables, i bought the tunes coz i heard them before, loved them and i knew i had to OWN them. Finding this new medium so appealing, i started collecting them: I learnt how to properly install a needle into a tone-arm, learnt how to listen to records just so that i could listen to them and buy what i want. Of course later on this wasnt enough and them i bought my first ever decks ever : a pair of crappy Numark Direct Drive TTs and a crappy Numark Mixer that came bleeding (LOL).

And then my Crate Digging days begun... Everytime before work (i worked 2PM shifts in Qantas airlines before) or on my days off i would frequent the local Record Shops. This was probably one of the most memorable moments in my life - the feeling of finding freshly imported wax, listening to some awesome new tunes, and buying them before anyone else did.

I would go to Central Station Records on Tuesday mornings and afternoons - when the new ones just arrived to the shop. Another shop i frequently visit was of course - the famous OneStopDJ in Oxford St. (now gone - bought by vinylwarning and then turned into today's StoreDJ) which has really good selection of tunes as well. Later on i also sourced a lot of my stuff from Vinylwarning (also gone now...) All This is where a HUGE CHUNK of my pay checks would go to - i would prefer digging them first and hunting down the tunes by hand and THEN - when everywhere else is sold out - Vinylwarning was the place to go. Sometimes a place called UTOPIA Records (underneath George St. Cinema, Sydney) would have some hidden gems in there as well - that place is not very well known but sometimes they have some pretty good stuff in there.

There was something about going into a store, flicking thru the covers, placing a needle on the groove of a record - it was an enjoyable but expensive art form, you paid a lot for a track - but it was also something of Quality Control - with the track being so expensive you only buy the ones you REALLY want. And of course, spending money for something that you cant see at all (MP3s) versus spending money for something you can hold and physically own - its just different

Life was pretty good for good ol' vinyl back then, you think? Will it be happily ever after for our old friend Vinyl? Sadly this didnt last too long...

Today, finding tunes can never be the same, In 2009 Vinylwarning - probably the largest stockist of vinyls in australia was closed down. A lot of vinyl shops soon followed or even were already downed way before this. People were saddened by this and made people realise - Is vinyl really gone for good? Did CDJs really kill Vinyl? Perhaps so, as CDJs became standard in clubs , more and more people started buying CDJs - and buying music online from sites such as BEATPORT and Trackitdown (or even stealing them from some Russian forum). People were Bulk Buying tracks from beatport to save money (The TOP10s, most downloaded etc) so a lot of people ended up having pretty much the same library...

After the CDJ Revolution, less and less is released on vinyl, and more and more are being released Digital only. After that - Compared to using CDs - vinyl were expensive , CDJs were the cheaper option and have more selection - even for myself, after 800+ collection of vinyls and having almost no savings at all , i made the switch the CDJS (and then now DVS) - it had to be done. If i was a billionare and making tons and tons of cash every year then it would be another story - but for a normal bloke with normal earnings - CDJs seemed like the way to go, after years of collecting and crate digging, my vinyl collection stopped at the number 885.

It was good while it lasted, and i will really really miss the good old days when finding tunes was more than clicking a bunch of texts and listening the preview player, but it was the inevitable - the vinyl has fallen. I will always treasure my vinyl collection, many holds memories of the good old days of djing, but i will probably never sell them - ever. They hold too much sentimental value to me - i might re-filter them and keep ONLY the ones i really really have to keep (lately i dont fancy the really hard stuff at all so i will probably keep the trancier stuff and re-filter the hardstyle/hardcore stuff) but i havent gotten into that yet....

-ZILCH 28/07/2010