What made you start collecting records?
Back when I was still in my crib, I was already listening to Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin… My father was an enthusiast of hard rock, and I grew up between his records. I was fascinated by the spinning vinyl as a toddler, and I constantly bugged my father to put on a record. So I was born and raised between classic rock records. When I was about 8 I got the Appetite For Destruction box set from my cousin. She outgrew her Guns ‘n’ Roses phase, and gave it to me. Back then I was a big fan, so I was truly over the moon. Also, it was a box set. So magical! I held on to that like it was a treasure (I also outgrew my Guns ‘n’ Roses phase quite quickly, but even to this day I still hold on to that box set. I think that box set sparked my collector’s soul). After that, I inherited the collection from some friends of my parents. There was much there I wasn’t particularly interested in back then (like The Cure and Depeche Mode), but there were some albums by AC/DC and Iron Maiden that grabbed my attention. Being really grateful, I held on to all those records (and I’m very happy I did, because in time really started to appreciate all those albums). This meant my pile of records was amassing, and I could start to talk about “a collection”. It also sparked my interest in metal. I raided our local libraries for metal music, and a whole new world opened up. And I was sold…
Do you remember your first purchase?
Yes, although my first purchase was a cd. I just got my first cd-player, and I was very eager to break it in. My first album was Morbid Angel’s Covenant. Plunged straight into the death metal pool! Got it when it was just released, and much to my surprise, this has been already 20 years ago! Time does fly…
I collected a lot of cd’s from then on. The Norwegian wave of black metal swept me away. But it didn’t take all too long before I returned to my trusted medium. With Satyricon’s Megiddo I rekindled my love for vinyl, and I started to buy a lot of vinyl too.
How long have you been collecting?
It depends on when you start to count. Back when I was 8? In that case, I’ve been collecting for some 25 years.
If you start counting from the moment I purchased the first album with my own allowance, it will be 20 years.
What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
Well, that kinda came in waves. In the beginning I mainly listened to death metal. Then Mayhem came, and it pulled me under in the Norwegian frenzy. Then somehow I ended up – via speed and thrash metal – in traditional metal. Until some 12 years ago I grew really tired of metal. It all sounded the same to me. Nothing that really excited me anymore. I discovered bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky and the likes. I immersed myself completely in post rock. A friend of mine who liked post rock too said I should get into doom, because they kinda deal with the same atmosphere. I started to discover that end of the spectrum, and it felt like coming home. Bands like Isis, Cult of Luna and Pelican blended the post rock aesthetic seamlessly with doom metal, and I was excited all over. All of a sudden I got to know bands like Agalloch and rediscovered Enslaved, and saw that they too blended progressive and post rock elements with black metal. And all of the sudden, the circle was complete. Today I focus on a rather vast arrange of genres, but from my perspective it does make sense: post rock, post metal, doom, drone, ambient, black metal and progressive rock and metal. I occasionally take a jazzy side-step, but I still feel very much at home in my obsession for over 10 years now.
How do you discover new music?
I keep close watch to all kinds of blogs, Facebook accounts, and mailing lists like the Record Heaven Newsletter. Those channels usually keep me up to date with regards to the new and exciting albums and bands.
I also have a subscription to an experimental music zine (for those interested, it’s called Gonzo (Circus)), so if something might slip under my radar, I’m usually set straight by that zine.
Please let us know more about the Belgian situation. Many people who collect ? Many record stores left ?
Just like anywhere else in the world, Belgium too got hit hard by the crisis in the music business. A lot of record stores closed over the years, and it was really hard to get a hand of those underground releases. For years I mainly bought music online. There are a lot of collectors though. I have a lot of friends that share the passion for music collecting, so there was still a strong pulse. And as we grew older, we saw a lot of youngsters really getting into music. So there’s always been a real strong undercurrent for music in general and for collecting music specifically. And now the worst of the crisis seems to have been left behind us. The playing field kinda leveled out. Yes, downloading will be here to stay, but it also enabled the formation of music lovers who go to indie shops and buy the music almost as a kind of statement. In the last couple of years, a lot of young collectors joined our ranks. And it shows! Instead of closing down, in my city new record stores are opening up! So I’m very optimistic about the future.
You also run a label, Consouling Sounds, please let us know more about it !
Yes indeed, thanks. Well, that same friend who convinced me to listen to doom music also got me to join a black/doom metal band. Some 6 years ago, the group disbanded, and I had it with playing in live bands. All the trouble… It just wasn’t worth it. But I did want to keep on playing my part in the music scene. Almost by accident I spoke to Miguel who had a small label, but wanted to stop because he had had it with that dabbling in the margins. He wanted to stop and restart, and approach it seriously and with ambition. That sounded like music to my ears, and we teamed up to start consouling sounds. We both share a love for “post music” and all sorts of doom, so our focus was quickly found. We had the chance to release an album by Nadja early on, and that gave us a head-start. We managed to grow, and build a – if I say so myself – qualitative and respectable back catalogue. Some truly great bands, like Sweden’s Snailking for example, but also Amenra, The Black Heart Rebellion, or Gnaw Their Tongues and Alkerdeel have done some magnificent things on our label – and that’s just to name a few. I’m very grateful and feel truly blessed we’ve been able to work with these artists. And we keep our ambition going!
Where do you prefer to buy your records?
I prefer to by my records in brick and mortar shops. I like the crate digging, the personal contact with the salesman, and I just need to actually see and feel the records. Nothing more satisfying than coming home with some great finds. I visit my local record store nearly every week. I don’t even have to buy something. Just stop by and say hi. Have a little chat about what’s new and exciting… (Although I admit I usually do come home with a few records).
But I also buy online if a band I closely follow releases an album. I usually buy directly from the label or from the artists. Having a label myself, I feel compelled to support my colleagues. Also, buying directly from them mostly means you’ll be able to score some limited editions. I’m not completely hung up on colored vinyl and all, but there’s that collector in me that feels strangely attracted to anything “limited” 🙂
Only for out of print stuff, I resort to Discogs or eBay. And I rarely buy records for my own on Amazon or the likes.
Name three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
Well, the first one would be that Guns ‘n’ Roses box set I mentioned earlier. I was only 8, but I have vivid memories of it. I can’t begin to describe the impact getting that box set had on me. I really think that’s where I turned into the collector I am now. Some 25 years older, but in the mean time having a collection of 5000 albums and counting…
The second album would be the Isis Shades of the Swarm box set. Yes, another box set, I can’t help it. This box set was due to be released back when I was really short on cash. Me being a major Isis fan was absolutely gutted. Unfortunately, the box set was too expensive for me to ever buy it. My mom overheard me, and she convinced my whole family to pitch in. On the date of the release, the Shades of the Swarm box set got delivered to me. I just couldn’t believe it. The feeling of pure happiness and bliss in that moment has only been surpassed by the birth of my children. So yes, that was a pretty special occasion. I will never ever forget what my mom (and the rest of my family) did for me.
The third one would be Mass II by Amenra. I had been a huge fan of Amenra for years. I was dreaming to collaborate with Amenra on some kind of project with our label. A few years ago, that all came true. We got to reissue Mass II for the first time on vinyl. So I was able to release a band I adored, and got to work with people I tremendously respect. Something I’m incredibly proud of!
And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
I’m actually pretty confident about the future. Of course, the vinyl renaissance will surely temper again. The hype is a bit too much right now. I think the current popularity of vinyl to be a bit suspicious. 🙂
But I do believe it has sparked the collecting bug in a lot of youngsters. People are starting to physically buy music again. And I do think that’s a trend that will perpetuate. After our darkest days, I’m pretty confident we’ve had the worst, and we will reach an equilibrium. This will probably weed out the common denominator, but it will give some more breathing room to specialized shops. To be more precise, I’m not sure Madonna will necessarily flourish on a physical medium. Why would you buy it? The radio plays it all the time! But more niche stuff – usually released with a lot of care – will remain sought after. Of this I’m really sure!