Love Vinyl Records
is a record store for DJs by DJs. While it stocks the normal array of classic rock, jazz, pop, metal and other genres, its primary focus has been on dance records, like house, techno, hip-hop, disco and breaks. That’s because proprietor Seth Nichols is a DJ himself and has been spinning vinyl for decades. Name a club in Denver, and he has probably played it.
We caught up with Nichols to discuss why DJs still use vinyl, despite the limitations, and what vinyl DJs can do to get the most out of their records while playing clubs.
Westword: Your store specializes in records for DJs to play. Despite the advent of technology like CDJs or even more cost-effective pieces of technology like Traktor and MIDI controllers, why do you think that vinyl is still used by some DJs, despite some of its technological limitations?
I know that some DJs just collect the music they love on vinyl so they can have that piece in their archive. I’ve always felt that your physical music collection is like a diary of your past-to-present development of taste and the music that reaches your soul. Not all music a DJ plays has such a deep effect, and those filler-type tracks would not likely make it into the "collector DJ" archive.
I also believe these collector types appreciate having those records around for home play as well as playing locally with easy transit of the medium. They would not likely go through the trouble of bringing records on an airplane for a traveling gig, and that is also a benefit the digital format provides. For someone like myself who prefers to play vinyl anytime they can, I collect primarily vinyl
for my sets and will always play it when I can, locally or traveling. However, I also record my vinyl in a lossless format so that I have a jump drive of my music available for the times I am not able to use turntables.
There are quite a few reasons I still prefer to play vinyl, despite its extra cost and carry tax, to digital. One being the tangible hands-on aspect coupled with imagery that I can attach to the music. It’s a bit romantic, but I also enjoy the aesthetics and tradition of playing vinyl as well as seeing others do it. I respect the extra work that goes into playing vinyl and the "truth" aspect to mixing records vs. digital formats that allow for the use of tools such as sync and key match.
Some will argue these tools allow for the DJ to be more focused on other elements of the mix and not spend time worrying about the beat matching. I agree, but also see the performance value in doing all the things and making it pop just the same, or even more so because the DJ is forced to be more engaged with their mix process, which I feel can bring about an extra edge to their end result.
I’m also excited for the extra room for error in the mix process of vinyl, and it makes it more exciting to witness the process knowing how badly things could go.
In my opinion, oftentimes digital mixing is stale and redundant to listen to or watch because it’s so perfect and produced and void of error — which is where the excitement rages and is a part of the performance aspect.
What are some things that vinyl DJs need to look out for when trying to spin their vinyl at a club?
Sturdy flooring under the table is a big help, for sure. There are some ways to pad or suspend the tables so they can float and be unaffected by floor bounce or vibration from the bass cabinets coming up through the bottom of them, which can cause feedback. I have a set of rubber feet that I keep in my bag that can help with the feedback issues, but a bouncing, hollow floor under the decks will take more attention to set up properly and be unaffecting.
If outdoors, it's also a good idea to be mindful of where the sun is and will be throughout the day and keep your records shaded from sunlight. Heat is not as much a factor as direct sunlight, which can make a record wavy in no time.
I actually went to a show at the Pawn Shop in Miami back in 2007 and saw Richie Hawtin play a vinyl that was in the sun. As the track played, there was one corner of sunlight hitting the record, and by the time the record was done, the needle was jumping off the record, it had become so wavy. It was quite the scene, and everyone was jumping up to help rotate the shade line so it would put the turntable back into the shade.
You co-host The Underground at Milk Bar every Thursday, which features underground house and techno DJs primarily. You also deejay and have a duo with Kevin Callison called Sevin. This has been going for about seven years now, so you’ve seen a plethora of locals come through. Who are some standout vinyl DJs in this city that you think people should be paying more attention to?
There is a gang of them, but off the top of my head, I have always enjoyed sets from Poten, Sean Michaels
, Drew Bull
, Stefan B, J
onah Brotman and Andre Orcutt. There are a lot of others I can see rising up soon in this arena as well.