What began as a conversation between a few friends in Los Angeles about wanting a place to play music has now evolved into the formation of a collective known as Vinyl Night. Meet Vic Caretti, who along with a group of buddies has created an experiential event around 20 minute DJ sets open to anyone who wants to share in their love of music and the unique sound quality of the analog LP, liner notes and all. We sat down with Vic at The Mandrake in Culver City, California just as the group was gearing up for a scratchy five hour session.
“So it started out in my friend’s living room with four or five of us and we realized that something was happening. It wasn’t just about playing LP’s, it was about sharing the experiences. We would be sitting listening to music and the conversation would turn to “why they were playing that album? The beginnings are very humble. Basically Vinyl Night comes down to three simple principles. We try not to outline everything because its about conversation and you can’t really put any limits on that and the music tends to do a lot of the talking at these events. People can do whatever the fuck they want, but they have to play 20 minutes, they have to play it on vinyl, and there’s no judgement. So if you want to play a Culture Club album or if you want to play a Billie Holiday album in its entirety, or the b-side of something obscure, it doesn’t matter.
We are trying to get away from the digital experience or the streaming experience, so its just about playing music. If you don’t want to talk about the music you don’t have to. What we found is that people get pretty excited talking about why they’re playing that specific album and the conversations tend to lead into a lot of music discovery for other people at the event. That's kind of amazing because we are all learning on the fly about a tremendous amount of music that was recorded, that is being recorded, that we had no idea was out there. I play a lot of jazz and funk, and not one night goes by where at least two or three people are trying to Shazam, or literally buying the album while I’m playing it just because, for them, it’s new and it’s about discovery. So you can be as involved as you want with the dialogue, but you need to be totally committed to playing it on vinyl. I think on a human level we are a little bit older so we all grew up with vinyl, and have these collections that have been curated over the years. We have all moved and brought them with us.
Vinyl seems to be really personal. Its tactile, there’s always a story about how the vinyl found its way into that living room or DJ set. People are really down to share the experience of how the record came into their world. You can’t do that with streaming, you couldn’t even do that with a cd, they’re just not as personal. It’s almost like reading mail from 20 or 30 years ago. You see all the stampage, all of the international borders that it crossed. A lot of our vinyl had 50 other life cycles before we got them. They’re beat up, banged up, they came from the Middle East or Canada or the U.K., so there is something special about wanting to share that. There is also something beautiful in actually owning it, in reading the liner notes,
We have about 15 regulars just making a night around vinyl. it just keeps growing. About twice a month we get around a 100 people. There is a power in getting people involved and wanting to share their own music. This keeps the conversation growing as well. The more people we get, the more diverse the people become and that brings more diversity to the kinds of music being played. We want this to be about inclusion. Music is really personal so you know, its a beautiful thing when someone is into something that you might not know about or understand but somehow resonates with you. We don’t want to diminish someone’s enthusiasm for something like goth metal or disco. We want to be inclusive and open.
The lack of judgement is a really helpful thing when we try to recruit more people in. We find that some people are apprehensive about the DJ experience whether it be in someone’s living room or at a club like The Mandrake. All we want is for people to help us curate a five hour playlist that’s gonna happen tonight, so just bring what you want to play. We aren’t about any certain genre, just music discovery on vinyl and what’s happening in the world of LP’s. Vinyl has been a very big part of our lives, and we also want to support the independent record shops. We hope that if we can bring events like this to other cities it could be a cool way to support the people who own some of those shops.”
With the resurgence of vinyl that is sweeping the music industry, they share in a turn back to these analog experiences that got unnecessarily tossed aside with the advent of digital entertainment technologies and easily accessible streaming services. Though we love the convenience and immediacy the 21st century has provided us with, the time has come to embrace the best of both worlds.