Skip navigation

Category Archives: Interview

This time an interview with Dj/producer LXC. He runs the Alphacut label and works as a cutter at the R.A.N.D Muzik pressing plant in Leipzig.

1) is vinyl the no.1 format for you and if yes why is vinyl the superior format for you?

Each and every format has its own advantages. The most both technical impact and emotional content for me do have nothing else but live music, which goes directly thru a precise microphone into a well twiddled FOH mix onto a powerful and transparent PA situation. There is no better sound but real live sound. When it comes to audio recording and storage, you have great oportunities in digital WAV and FLAC files on harddiscs, Solid State Drives and such. Of course, depending on the input, but with the greatest features on the physical side and about efficiency in general. Compared to that, a CD provides the same or sometimes poorer quality plus a lot of enviromental trash due to the physical medium with low capacity.

Finally, good old vinyl is far away from superior when it comes to sound issues (against the current opinion, and also not in 180 gram wonderland), but far the greatest thing in added values is that it is to an artful product, which I mean in terms of handling, feeling, haptics, covers and visuals. Playing back a record comes close to playing an instrument to produce sounds, and so the listener gets much more “involved” than in a situation where you just start some randomized playlist on a shiny display without anything to grab at all. I assume you somehow get closer to the music (or maybe even towards the musician) when consuming vinyl. For me this makes up for the tricky audio question, and raise it above all other kind of media finally. Sometimes I wonder too, but most of the time I can fully understand the hype around it and the fact it is still existing and will exist as long as we can pay the basic materials and as long as the “old babes” (how we call the pressing machines) keep running!

For me sometimes the sound is (or at least feels)  superior, for instance with old fusion records it sounds more “real” and sounds bigger in my opinion. You really think the audio in this case is far from superior? You mean the crackles & pops, etc or the sound in general? Maybe it’s as you stated because of the action/handling of playing a record and thus a psychological thing, but am not sure about it..

Often people ask me why vinyl does sound that “great”. I think its mostly
all about the engineering. To achieve a superb vinyl cut without
distortion, noise or jumping needles it takes much more effort than to
“just” push the loudness of a digital file. I see so many digital audio
around which is punched to death (and this is only one of the bad moves
there are). This would just be impossible on vinyl – cutterheads would
burn and needles would scream! All the years it takes to become a good
vinyl cutter (of which I’m not even close to!) are a big help and impulse
for superb audio mastering works.

So, I’d say the tricky media led to a higher level of engineering, and so
to a better / bigger / fatter / real sound, whatever you wanna call it.
Please just don’t use “warm”, as there is no rational expression for that,
apart of a simple low-pass filter circuit. Why would anyone like to listen
to a really dull, muffled song? I still don’t get it and I always want to
run and hide when a customer comes with the warmth request!

Also, yes, the noises, crackles and pops are an issue. We spend propably
more work on reducing these than on twiddling a tight audio input signal.
One of the huge disadvantages of vinyl is the pretty small signal to noise
ratio of 70 dB or even less. Whatsoever, some listeners might even like
and reclaim these “defects”. Lucky us.

So yeah, I’m afraid it is pretty much about the psychological thing only.
I also won’t screw the audio abilities of a vinyl record at all! It can
basically handle close to every sound your ears are expecting from an
audio channel. Plus, on the emotional side you get even more on top due to
the physical appearance.

2) “if you can hear whatever you like,whenever you want to hear it you don’t have to own or physically possess the music” This statement is from the future of music book, do you agree ? why or why not?

Agree. You don’t have to. Although I’d say: Why not? If you are really into
something, why only have a digital copy of it around? You can’t possess
everything in the world, of course. But if it is realizable, achievable and
even makes you happy, why would anyone refuse being able to touch his
favourite album cover of all times and put a needle on the record?

3) You are a dj, do you dj only with vinyl ? will you ever switch to digital djing ? why/why not ?
*) Whats your opinion on digital dj gear that simulate the manipulation of records ?

Unfortunately digital DJing still sucks, even in 2010. Timecode records still do fail from time to time, or lets say at every important moments (just
spoke with one mate who will switch back to vinyl due to very bad live experiences with crazy timecode noise in front of a huge crowd). Other controllers feel odd and timing is still an issue with software. Laptops do have immense problems with long-term club environments. Even the latest gadgets turn out to be toys compared to the feeling and reliability of a good cut working together with a set of proper turntables. I tried a load of different new technologies and I just won’t run down any of these here by including names or products, but as far as I can say from studio tests and stage experience, I’m still not impressed really.

Some might think now that I am a vinyl enthusiast, but to me the truth is that there is a great opportunity in digital gear and the things you are
able to do with. Just the fact to see the traditional DJ morphing in to a liveact and vice versa is awesome. I will definitely keep checking the
techniques and machines to come! And at the same time, I will still use vinyl. I don’t see why it has to be this OR that. For me the magic happens, when both the analogue and the digital worlds shake hands – whether it may happen on stage or in the studio. Everything else is just rough belief, half knowledge and wannabe blah.

4) according to the dutch pressingplant the market for dance vinyl shrunk but is compensated by other styles, do you notice this, did it have impact on your releases?
*) And did you notice a change in your cutting engineer job ?

This is hard to answer from here, because we have an overall increase of orders at the RAND plant in Leipzig where I do lacquer cuts. But thats not really related to the market, it just tells you about other german plants and their prices maybe. I roughly can imagine that some dance markets got stuck due to simply boring music, but this has got nothing to do with the media itself. Major labels are back into pressing Jazz and classical music, the overall market is growing again, and not to forget: the lovely 7inches are back from the graves! I can imagine that customers are interested in more non-dancefloor vinyl.
More and more younger people are buying turntables again and dig themselves thru tons of sunday listening grooves, not just to drop them in
front of a screaming crowd but to have something special to enjoy when their mobiles are turned off and their Facebook finally sleeps. I can fully understand them, I like it, too!

5) What are you doing as a label in order to survive and to keep releasing records?
*) Do you think giving a downloadlink to the digital version free with the sale of the record will discourage downloading illegally and encourages to buy a legal product ?

At the moment I have to say it doesn’t feel like survival at all. We don’t drive no Beamers but great tunes keep coming in heavy rotation, and that’s the most important.

It may sound strange, but illegal downloads don’t harm the label at all. It’s free promotion, enthusiasts are spreading the vibe and people who may get to know the label in this way are going to buy the releases. A few years back, when Soulseek was still going strong, quite often someone would leech a few Alphacut folders but then order the whole vinyl back-catalogue a few days later.

You may argue about the artist not being paid and all this, but we are talking about a small scene here with a special interest. Digital sales are laughably low but file sharing helps us to get both heard, and sometimes also to get bought in places we may have never reached by any vinyl distribution deal ever. Speaking of downloads, you can have every song of every Alphacut vinyl on our website in full length MP3 version for free. Further questions?

No further questions 🙂 i agree with you on this, I think only the major labels maybe have major “damage” from illegal downloading, but within smaller scenes there’s no better promotion people worldwide can easily get in touch with your music, wich before the internet was much more limited. Maybe it’s only that labels now press more limited run of their releases
than before, don’t you think?

Yes, and its a shame. I still feel that all the diggers, nerds and usual listeners are still there. The only problem is that it gets harder and harder for them to purchase what they like. Vinyl will never leave, as long as it can be produced in an economic way. And probably even far beyond that point. The key role at the moment is not at the labels, not at the artists and not at the listeners, its at the distributions and shops! Get yourself some balls and buy the unsual tunes. Otherwise this market will die during the next 5 years. Vinyl won’t go, whatsoever.

6) Will you ever release netreleases (mp3,wav) ?

why/why not?

will you ever start selling mp3’s of your backcatalogue?

Let me think. Mmmh. No. Let me think again. Mmmh, see above.

To be honest,
I still haven’t decided really, speaking of being afraid of the load of work that comes with data adjustment for all the digital
distribution channels… I mean, why not. If anyone cares. At the moment it simply doesn’t look as if they do.

7) In the survey i took someone answered: ” i don’t see the use of pressing vinyl if the music on the record is recorded digital and will be converted from digital to an analog format” what’s your opinion on this?

I’d like to record analogue instruments and gear on master tape and run it directly into the cutting head without any converters so much it hurts! I have to admit that I haven’t done this yet and yes, it makes me a little sad.

The “use” of vinyl is not always about better physical features, as I already stated at question 1. The reasons are totally different, and you know what it is about – basically the weird thing you may call the love of music.

Also, of course the input master of a vinyl record production has to have better quality then a usual pressing. That issue is about technical facts this time: Sampling rate versus tracing speed, and bit depth versus noise ratio. Both master tapes as well as digital wave data with high bit rates do have better technically measurable numbers, easily. But don’t forget: the audio range provided by vinyl is perfectly adequate for our ears and psychoacoustics and you don’t need much more then this on 99% of the signals I work with. In addition, vinyl sound makes up the listening curve we still prefer and keep on producing for – even more than 15 years after digital audio media came up – and it will stay pretty much like it is now, I’m sure.

8 ) What do you think is the reason that so many distributors,shops,labels quit while the media is talking about the return of vinyl, and numbers show that vinyl sales are going up?
*)I’ve seen someone describe the “comeback” of vinyl as a way to rebel against downloading music, what do you think of this?

Anything refering to digital versus analogue like the “rebel” statement is a little bit close-minded, promotional language without deeper
thoughts. There is of cause no causal connection between vinyl and downloads.

Surely the market has changed, and not in a good direction for everyone selling vinyl. But I am the last person to argue about problems sellers experience or create themselves. I can see a lot of stores closing due to a more and more special range of dance releases that punters are searching for – the wide variety of different tastes you have nowadays. You just can’t buy in everyone’s favourite selection or style into one record store in a city like Leipzig, where you have half a million inhabitants and roundabout 500 vinyl fans. Which is quite alot, but it’s still not enough to keep such a diverse business running. Also, when the economy in general goes belly up at the same time and vinyl lovers have way less money to spend for their beloved grooves.

On the other hand (no advertisement here), the biggest digging place in the world is growing and going well, and well deserved. Really, it is one of the few things I really like about the oh so great web-based social network thing. Every cloud has its silver lining!

Even the movie industry lately re-discovered 35 mm film for their needs, as it is the best way to store their material – no drop-outs after years, best quality playback and copy characteristics. Maybe one day we will all be back with our favourite music on master tapes fiddling around our Revox machines in the “vintage living room”, who knows?

9) How would you describe the future of vinyl?

I can see quite a few people still involved, running this thing as if we were still in the 80ies and as if it was still a major industry, simply ruining everything. There have to be new ideas, new ways of distribution, new concepts for music or video on analogue media, new materials and so on.

So speaking of the future of vinyl literally – i hope there is no future at all! I mean, wouldn’t everybody go crazy on an organic record product? No oil needed, no more vinyl at all but recyclable records that are durable and more audiophile at the same time? No dream, more soon!

Advertisements

This next interview is with Berlin based Dj Poingi. Playing styles ranging from (Italo)disco to breakcore. Check out his mixes at:
http://soundcloud.com/poingi
http://www.mixcloud.com/djpoingi/

Photo by Photophunk

1)You’re djing with time code records, what was the reason for you to switch from vinyl to Serato ?
Well the main reason was so that i can play all those hard to get or super expensive tunes. Second reason was having to carry the heavy records all those years, sometimes two DJ bags for some of my gigs. It was too heavy. And always having to choose from all those records i want to play when now i can have all my music on me.
But the variety has a downside, sometimes, or even usually i get lost in between all this music. so many file names instead of a few familiar record covers.

2)Do you use Serato only or do you still DJ with vinyl as well ?
Unfortunately i’am only using serato. I’m saying unfortunately because I still love Vinyl. I like the way it looks, the way it feels, the happiness you feel when buying new records. I often get jealous at people still using vinyl.

3)Do you still buy vinyl ? and if yes where do you buy it (online, shop and why?)
I don’t anymore, rarely, but i wish i were.

4)Do you buy the digital music you play ? (or do you play your own vinyl rips, tracks from friends or illegal downloads)
All. Some stuff i buy, some stuff like Italo disco or breakcore you cant really buy digitally, so i download it. And i also play tracks from friends.

5)Do you think music will stay an accessory (Ipod, telephone, etc)? or will new generations will get the feeling they’re missing something (to collect, to hold, etc) ?
I think the younger generation is already used to music as being a file on the computer. I do think they will collect but only the music files themselves. Maybe some people will still collect vinyl but i doubt if many. Also, i am sure that future generations will be more ecological aware and will not use paper and for that matter will probably also won’t use vinyl.

6)How would you describe the future of vinyl?
I love vinyl. I think in some clubs it will go on living for a while. But i don’t see much of a future for it. Here in Berlin there are many clubs that insist on playing vinyl. The biggest clubs like Tape Club or Berghain love vinyl and don’t like digital. But this is Berlin. Whenever a DJ comes from the US or some other places Europe they often use cds or Serato or Final Scratch – digital format.

*)do you think there will be any “real” record shops left?
I think that as long as Vinyl exists there will be some real vinyl shops. Part of the Vinyl culture and experience is to buy it in a real shop. To touch the covers, to browse through the records, to take the record out, to put the needle on and to listen.

7)Do you think the switch from real shops to online shops has an impact on record sales ?
No I don’t. On the contrary. Maybe selling vinyl can still be profitable even due to low sales because the shop owners don’t have to pay rent for having a record shop.

8)What do you think is the reason that so many distributors, shops, labels are quitting while the media is talking about the return of vinyl and numbers show that vinyl sales are going up?
This is actually new to me. Didn’t know Vinyl sales were up. What can I say? never trust the media?
Maybe vinyl sales as a hyped product are going up but im pretty sure in general the sales are not doing well.
When one talks to shop owners you can always hear how bad it is going. then again… the economy is bad. so who knows?

9)Someone described the “comeback” of vinyl as a way to rebel against downloading music, what do you think of this?
I think its an interesting way to fight against downloading music. But i don’t know if this can really change anything. But the best way should be keeping digital music prices low and the quality high.

I did a short interview with Graham Jones, Author of the book Last shop standing – What ever happened to recordshops?

1 ) Which format do you prefer vinyl or cd or digital? And why?

Vinyl as an LP is a complete package with the cover often being a piece of art.

2 ) “If you can hear whatever you like, whenever you want to hear it you don’t have to own or physically possess the music” This statement is from the book future of music (by Gerd Leonhard & David Kusek), do you agree? Why or why not?

Disagree. Every record I own brings back a memory for me. Downloads don’t. It is like the difference between drinking instant coffee and proper coffee.

3 ) There’s a boost in vinyl sales at the moment, what do you think is the cause of this?

More bands are putting out product on vinyl and more decks are being made. Great to see lots of young bands putting out limited pressings of vinyl

4 ) Do you think this boost in sales will continue? Or is it just a fad to own records again?

Yes, vinyl sales have continued to rise over the last 5 years

5 ) Do you think there will be any “real” record shops left in the future?

Yes. I think the market has bottomed out. We had 14 new record shops open in the UK last year

* do you think shops need to diversify in order to survive? (Like for instance rough trade east with books, coffee shop, performance stage, exhibition space, etc.)

Yes. I say to all record shops check out Rough Trade. Fortunately there are lots of record shops like Rough Trade all over the UK they just don’t get as much publicity

* In your book last shop standing you mention some of the last surviving record shops in Britain are all the shops you mentioned still in business?

No 2 have closed. Pendulum and Selecta Disc

6 ) What kind of impact do you think the switch from real shops to online shops has on record sales? Positive, negative or both and why?

The internet is a good thing for music as it allows people to hear new music. I have been in record shops many times when somebody has said I have downloaded a track and now I wish to buy the album. Illegal downloading is the big problem

7 ) Do you think giving a download link to the digital version free with the sale of the record will discourage downloading illegally and encourages buying a legal product?

Downloading needs to be cheaper. The record companies were just too greedy.

8 ) I’ve seen someone describe the “comeback” of vinyl as a way to rebel against downloading music, what’s your opinion on this?

I wished I had thought of saying that.

9 ) What’s your vision on the future of vinyl?

Sales of vinyl will continue to increase but it will remain a market for true music fans. Cd sales will lose out to downloading