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For around a year now I’ve been a part of a musical movement based in my home town of Oswestry, England. Apart from Radio Cafe it’s a major part of my original inspiration for starting this Blog.
There are three aspects you need to take away from this interview; First, it’s amazing what you can find on your own doorstep when you look hard enough; even if you can’t find anything happening culturally nearby, take what you have available to you right now and think about what you could start with a limited budget and who could help you make it happen.
Second there’s the positive social implications. PVC is a great beacon for everything that’s cool about Oswestry, which is more than the apparent sum of its parts; not just another carbon copy pretty little Market Town.
If something similar is happening in your town, we’d love to hear about it.
Third, PVC is a great paradigm for the way great ideas can grow and how that expansion can accelerate Online – it could be your music, your art or a business idea, the model is the same.
Have a really original idea, let people take part free, and dedicated followers are inevitable; how you move from there is up to you. It doesn’t have to be commercial.
I love Peoples Vinyl Collective and “people” is the operative word; we’ve all made some great friends there. Who knows what relationships we’ll build as the power of the Internet further broadcasts our small movement into the wider sphere?
Adam: I’m here with Tom, who’s one of the founders of PVC – OK Tom what’s the general concept?
Tom: the idea is anybody can bring along any of their vinyl records of any genre to play out. Originally it was limited to people in the same room (Ironworks, Oswestry) but in December 2010 we set up an online radio site so people could listen anywhere on the Planet which is quite cool!
Adam: also you started to tweet out the tracks as they were being played?
Tom: yes that’s right, it’s a sneaky way of drawing more attention the the playlists
Adam: we’ll speak more about the old school meets tech element of vinyl broadcast online later, first perhaps you could tell me more about the origins of pvc?
Tom: Neil Phillips (of Eclectic fame)is really the original founding member, it was his idea – I believe the actual name came from Rob Lawton, a local artist. Everyone immediately agreed that was a great name, it does “exactly what it says on the tin” I guess.
The first night was a little disheartening beacause there were literally only two of us there, Neil playing and me, with no records of my own, not a single piece of vinyl, listening to some of the crazy music he was playing. That got me hooked because there was a lot of stuff I’d never heard before.
Next day I hit the charity shops and came back with a few records, the week after some more vinyl. I played a handful of tracks and Neil played 99% of everything else. From there it’s snowballed and a lot more people show up regularly now – we struggle to play four tracks per DJ on the busiest nights.
Adam; yes it certainly has snowballed, but remained small enough to remain a close community with a lot of regulars here and thats a lot of fun, whilst welcoming new poeple with the right attitude into the fold. It’s inclusive and anyone can dig some old records out of a car boot sale or charity shop and get involved.
One of the things we’re interested in at Bootstrap Cafe is that intersection of old fashioned simple stuff that hits technology and explodes into the Internet ether. When I saw you tweeting the tracks out live it really fired my imagination, plus the online radio station. What made you think about these online aspects, is it because you’re quite a techie?
Tom: yes, my background is in IT working with computers and I love that sort of stuff. Also I’ve grown up listening to a lot of music. I’d heard about the sound you get from vinyl that can’t be replicated digitally. I’d always listened to digitally formatted music; the earliest personal player of mine was a Discman playing CDS and then the ipod, so when I had the opprtunity to come along and listen to vinyl being played I went for it right away.
Then one of our members mentioned how great it would be to hear it on radio. I immediately thought that’s something I can do with an online station. Took a bit of fiddling around to get it working, but now we’re taking the analogue sound from Neil’s decks and sending through the mixer – from the mixer the signal goes into the laptop which encodes the sound into an MP3 format, which can then be broadcast out Planet wide, which is pretty cool seeing as it’s coming from a small bar in Oswestry!
Adam: it is awesome how these days you can start anything and get it out there with no particular barriers. Getting back to the weird combination of MP3 and vinyl and broadcasting online, certainly we’re all becoming one with our little mobile devices. Everything’s becoming more minaturised and minimalist, condensed into an electronic form, so really PVC is going against the grain because you’re having to physically go out and but vinyl records which are going to clutter your house up and going through the whole seemingly laborious process of sharing music by going out to PVC and putting a needle on the recordwhich nobody really bothers to do anymore. What’s the attraction and why would anyone want to do that?
Tom: I think I’d be lost without things like Spotify, but one of the great things that gets to me is the artwork. I grew up with CD cover artwork – when you see the same art on a twelve inch LP you see the detail and it’s such a fantastic thing to hold too. Also a lot of junk MP3 were coming off the ‘Net and the sound quality was terrible. It really ruined the music. When you have the physical format you get a lot more involved in what the Artist has achieved.
Adam: yes it’s a physical and emotional process touching the vinyl and putting the needle to the record.
Tom: it’s the care you have to take too.
Adam: yes the care, you have to take your time, you’re forced to slow down. Everything moves so fast these days. Maybe it’s a kickback, a sign that people can only evolve at a certain pace?
Tom: the other thing with albums is that you play the whole album properly from start to finish. What most people do with their MP3s is to make a massive playlist of random tracks pulled from a lot of albums . It’s great to appreciate the concepts and ideas of an album as the Artist intended.
Adam: finally how to you see PVC evolving? We’ve just celebrated our first Birthday – big things might happen!
Tom: everything’s grown in a completely organic way, with no plan. One new thing that’s quite exciting – we’ve just moved from simply live streaming on our regular Wednesday night only to add a new “Listen again” feature. This has been keenly anticipated by most of our regular DJs and audience. Hopefully this will really build our audience when they can access the tracks at any time.
We’re already getting some listeners globally – USA, France, Spain, Germany, Ireland – even one listener in China!
Adam: Yes listen again is working really well and I’m thinking I’ll place a link on the top of each of my blog posts in future to playlists on PVC so people can listen while they read! (Click link top left to listen to a PVC archive playlist)
Tom: that would be brilliant!
A; Ok I’d just like to say thank you Tom for everything and hopefully more great things will continue to happen!
So that’s the end of a significant interview here on Bootstrap Cafe – thanks for reading and we’ll see what degree of local and Global comments this post generates?
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