Collector Talks with Frederic
Frederic is a true collector at heart.
He started buying vinyl at the age of ten and found his love for analog music back during the early days of the vinyl revival in 2007. We talked with this proud collector about his diverse collection and love for tube amplifiers.
Can you tell us how your vinyl collection started?
I am perhaps the last of the generation where vinyl was the standard when you wanted to listen to music; when I was young cd's started getting popular as well. I bought my first 7" single “Ghostbusters" from Ray Parker Jr. when I was around ten years old in a supermarket in France. By the time I went to high school my taste in music got more serious and I bought records by Sting, Pink Floyd and Dire Straits. When CDs were introduced, at first I was hesitant because they were so expensive. Around 1988/1989 my parents bought a CD player; we were relatively late adapters at home. I was instantly hooked. My father to my surprise however told me the digital sound didn’t appeal to him. He simply had an emotional connection and I later understood that he missed the warm sound of vinyl, which I didn’t understand at all as a 15 year old teenager. My love for vinyl however never fully left but in the nineties and early 00s, cd's were simply the standard. So, when in the really early days vinyl revival began in 2007/2008 I started collecting records again and understood what my dad was talking about. I bought my own record player, a Marantz, and the first records I bought were from Alamo Race Track, Calexico and The XX, but also Neil Young, Simon & Garfunkel and other classics.
What kind of gear do you use to get the best music experience?
After the Marantz record player I quickly switched to a Pro-ject. At the moment I have an Orbe record player and I use a tube amplifier from the Japanese brand Leben. A friend of mine just bought it when he showed it to me in his living room. I loved the warm and vintage sound so much that I had to have it for my own record installation. The pre-amplifier is also tube equipped and from the brand Audio Research. The speakers are from the British brand Spendor. Some may find them pretty unattractive… but these “British Boxes'' have excellent sound.
How do you take care of your records?
To keep my records clean and dust free I like to use a record wash system. I know, it sounds nerdy and should you want to turn off women, just tell them that you have a record washer haha. But it works like a charm and for me it’s an absolute must. Second hand records are going straight in when I buy them. It depends with new records, sometimes they are so dirty from the manufacturing process they have to be cleaned before you can properly listen to them. I also use plastic inner sleeves for the records.
What are your top 3 records in your collection?
My oldest son asks me this question a lot, he lives his life through lists. I feel when I choose three records now, I would immediately insult a lot of artists and great records I also have. But as you ask now I will try to choose three.
The first is Songs: Ohia - Lioness. This is also the most expensive record I bought because I wanted to have the original pressing; as it came out late in the nineties it was rare. It costs me around €100,- but it’s worth it!
The second one is Calexico – the Black Light and for the third one I would pick Talk Talk - The colour of spring.
Now I think about it; these three are all relatively older records. All them Witches, a more current band, I enjoy a lot. They always make a vinyl mastering for their record release, which makes a difference. You can categorize them as a psychedelic-blues-rock band. They released five albums until now, which I all have. Sevdaliza just released "Shabrang", a beautiful album which sounds wonderful. We should also not forget Nick Cave, for when you are in the mood. See, it’s too hard to choose only 3 records!
A more easy question then: Where do you buy your records?
Most of the time I buy my record at Concerto in Amsterdam. If there is a record fair in the neighbourhood I will certainly go. I also buy second hand records online from Discogs. Just this afternoon I bought R.E.M. - Green from Discogs, it’s an original pressing from the 80’s. The reality as that most of the run of the mill records from those days sound great; even if the vinyl comes across as thin and is not "180gr virgin vinyl", the fact is that these albums were produced at a time when every link in the production chain was geared towards vinyl as it was the standard. Today, as there is a lot of marketing involved, some new pressings or remasters can sound disappointing, sometimes the cd master is used for a vinyl re-release which makes soundwise no sense.
To wrap up our conversation, we have some brain-teasing questions about categorizing for you.
Genre or Alphabetical?
Well, I personally don’t believe in genres. The only genre I have is for the classical records I got from my parents. I categorise my other albums on alphabet. I think artists would rather not be categorised in genres.
Ok, alphabetical order it is! Do you categorise them on the first or second name of the band?
This is a nice neurotic question haha. No I don’t do this, they just go where I think it’s logical. I will file the The Cult at "C" and not at "T" of course.
And a solo album or somebody from a well-known band, do you categorise these albums alphabetical or together?
That varies, I categorize Morrissey separately, because he made more solo albums then with The Smiths. David Sylvian and his band Japan are staying together. No deep thinking behind it.
Bands who start with a number?
I don’t recall having albums from bands who start with a number, if I would have them I would place them before A.
7” and 10”?
I have one or two 10” and about 30 7” they are all placed together.
Thank you Frederic for sharing your record collection and your enthusiasm for your record wash system with us!