As some of you know, I have been listening to digital music for a long time now. And I have only just gotten into collecting records, especially those 7 inch treasures known here and elsewhere as “45s” (called that because the record needs to spin at 45 rpm… for those few readers who haven’t heard of google). But in the short while that I have delved into this new scene, I have noticed a dramatic change in my perception and appreciation of music.
I first noticed it a few months ago when I was spinning at a house party (at my house) and a friend of mine was on deck for fun. I was teaching him what I knew at the time about mixing which at the time was just how to fade in and fade out. He picked up and played one of my records at random and wanted to know what he should play next. Immediately I knew what would be a great song to follow up the current title with and I started flicking through the stacks of records looking for that particular single. But, and here’s the subtle but important point, I was not searching for the song by its title or by the artist name even though that information was right there for me. Instead, I was searching by color.
Yea, the color of the actual single. At that party, I noticed that I have subconsciously developed color-song associations for my records. Montego Joe’s “Soul Man” is purple, Darondo’s “Didn’t I” is off-white, Inez’s “A Stranger I Don’t Know” is red. For the first time in my life, my perception of music was not restricted to the auditory world, but instead has begun to use up visual, tactile, and olfactory cues. Unlike MP3s, records have weight and feel to them. Some are heavier than others and some have sharp edges. And I can actually smell the dust on some of these older joints! My appreciation for music has reached a new level because each song, each record, takes up physical space in the real world and forces me to use up all of my senses to experience it (except taste the record… unless i’m enjoying a tall frosty one with a 45 under the needle).
The music is no longer just digital files that can be deleted, duplicated, or emailed at the push of a few keystrokes. Each record has color, sound, stickers, scratches, and nuances of its own. And as a collector or a DJ it becomes impossible not to make a connection with that piece of music.
Now I’m beginning to understand what DJ Illiterate and Skeme Richards meant when they told me I have to “make a connection with the music”.