Five years ago, Anouk Rijnders and Robert Haagsma published their book Passion For Vinyl – A Tribute To All Who Dig The Groove. A book full of interviews with vinyl aficionados and record collectors from around the world. This month, their second book Passion For Vinyl Part II – An Ode To Analog (featuring our very own Diognes_The_Fox!) will be available from book and record stores around the world. A great time to ask Anouk and Robert about their own passion for vinyl!
First off, can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Anouk Rijnders: Born in 1972, I grew up with vinyl. As a toddler I listened to Disney Fairy-tale records and later on started buying vinyl from my favourite bands. One of my first weekend jobs was in a CD shop – which back than was very unique as there weren’t that many shops yet, it was the beginning of the CD era. I studied at the Art Academy (documentary and television making) and worked as a producer and director for a few years. Until my friend Ton Vermeulen asked me in 2000 if I wanted to work for him, in this vinyl pressing plant he took over from Sony two years before.
It was crazy busy at that time and he needed a trouble shooter. Eighteen years later I’m still here and enjoying every minute of it. Each year has been different production wise, from very hectic times to a really slow and uncertain period, and now it’s extremely busy again, pressing 50.000 records a day, an amazing quantity which 8 years ago was still unthinkable for us! But also my own job has been changing over the years as well, next to my role as a Sales Manager for the company, I got the chance to produce our book Passion For Vinyl Part 1, released 5 years ago, and now again on Part II. Next to that I’m the Project Manager for a new Mastering Studio and Live Room we’re building, new adventures ahead.
Robert Haagsma: “My love affair with music began when I was handed down a handful of vinyl singles by my older sister when I was in my early teens. At the same time my parents gave me a all-in- one record player. It was like a window opened and I was exposed to an entirely new world. To this day I’m fascinated by the excitement that can be captured in a bunch of grooves on a piece of plastic. And the way it allows me to travel to a different place and a different era. I was hooked from day one. Asa kid I had little money of course, but what I had I spent on records. Although my taste has broadened over the years – think soul, jazz and even classical music – for many years I mainly listened to guitar dominated music: rock-‘n- roll, garage rock, psych and prog rock, folk, punk and metal.
Through some friends I began working at a radio station in my spare time. When they started a magazine I wrote my first reviews. It took a few years to realize this was my true calling. A little over 25 years ago I finally made the big step and began working as a full-time freelance journalist and I never looked back. Over the years I’ve written for Dutch music magazines such as Aardschok, Revolver, Lust For Life and Vinyl Magazine and contributed to international publications like RecordCollector and Ugly Things. I’ve done thousands of interviews with up and coming bands, but also big names like Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr, Roger Waters, the Metallica guys, Sting and many others. In recent years I’ve also been involved with various book projects, as a ghost writer and under my own name. Apart from the two Passion for Vinyl books I’ve written about Pink Floyd, Golden Earring, Black Sabbath, the Beach Boys and the Dutch beat scene. An to wrap things up, I’ve also written close to a hundred liner notes for various compilation albums.”
What does your own record collection look like and what is the most precious item in your
Anouk: My record collection isn’t that big, perhaps a few hundred records. I’m not a real collector, I buy records from bands or musicians that I like, but I don’t have a “theme” in my collection. There are a few favorite records which I play a lot (although those may vary from time to time) but one of my most special records is a signed white label of the last Fleet Foxes album “Crack-Up“, and I guess my collection of Disney Fairy-tale records is also very precious to me.
Robert: “I’m afraid that if I give you a truthful answer I’ll end up in one of the reality shows like ‘Help! My husband is a hoarder!’. All kidding aside, I occupy a large extension to the house that my girlfriend affectionally calls ‘the man cave’. I have about 2500 7”singles, 20.000 cd’s and roughly 25.000 vinyl records. I’ve got a lot of original and audiophile pressings.
Over the years I managed to assemble a great high end system. Sound is important to me. Music to me is an adventure. Not a week goes by without discovering a new great artists – from the present or the past. And if I like the album, I want to have it. I don’t stream. I went to library school for a few years, long ago. So it helps me to keep things organized. I may be a hoarder, but I’m a neat hoarder. My most precious item is a copy of the rare Soundhouse Tapes EP by Iron Maiden, given to me in person by bass player Steve Harris. That, and an original copy of the infamous The Shaggs LP – one of about a hundred known to exist.”
How did the first Passion For Vinyl book came to be?
Anouk: The first book started as an idea for some kind of brochure to present to customers, to celebrate Record Industry‘s 15th anniversary. I approached Robert with the idea – to interview and write about people in the music business about their Passion For Vinyl. But once we got started, we ran into so many great stories, the brochure got bigger and bigger, and before we knew it we had a list of over 40 international names, people from all sides of the music industry. Shop owners, mastering engineers, record label people, musicians designers but also collectors and DJs. The brochure became a serious hard cover book of 240 pages which we decided to publish worldwide and actually became a great success and was very well received.
Robert: Of course I jumped at the chance to be involved with this. A few years before I had written a book called Vinylfanaten (‘Vinylfanatics’) for the Dutch speaking market. It done well and people
asked me to write follow-up. I hesitated because I didn’t want to replicate a book that felt kind of definitive to me. Because of the different angle and because it would be written in English, this was very different. So I felt inspired right away. It’s still one of the dearest projects I’ve ever been involved with, also because we’re a great little team!
What made you decide to create a second book?
Anouk: At the time we were working on the first book, we were already joking about Part II as there were so many wonderful stories and interesting people, we could easily make a few more books. So here we are: Part II. Although the common thread is the same as in Part I, stories about and interviews with people passionate about vinyl, there is a difference. Five years ago vinyl and its resurgence still was considered to be a hype by many people, but now in 2018 we know for sure, it’s not going away anymore and it’s here to stay.
Robert: Like Anouk said, the list of interesting people is literally endless. And indeed, the mood changed in the last five years. Back then, most people involved didn’t know how to deal with the comeback of vinyl. This time around we spoke with people who invested in its future: a company that opened a huge pressing plant in Fairfax, Virginia and various shop owners who opened a store over the last few years – often realizing that this was the perfect time to make their long cherished dream come true.
How did you find the people that are featured in the two books?
Anouk: Some people we had on our “wish list”, and others were tips from people around us.
Robert: Yeah, once the word got out that we were working on a second edition of the book, we were given lots of great suggestions. It’s a helpful bunch, these music lovers and vinyl fanatics!”
Apart from the people interviewed, are there any differences between this second book and the first?
Anouk: As the occasion for our first book was actually Record Industry’s 15th anniversary, there’s two big chapters in Part I about how a vinyl record is manufactured and also about the history of the factory. Part II only contains interviews and portraits, 48 in total. Although the last four pages are designed as a some kind of a board game with highlights in the history of vinyl.
Robert: Apart from that, we wanted to cover again a broad spectrum of people with a connection with vinyl: collectors, shop owners, musicians, engineers, designers, managers…
Why do you think people are so passionate about vinyl records?
Anouk: Vinyl is about emotions and attention. Not only the music, but also the admiring design, the sleeve, the action of picking a record and carefully taking it out of the sleeve and putting it on the player. When you put on a record, you give yourself some free time to sit down and enjoy the music. It’s actually quite a mindful activity, almost like meditating.
Robert: Over the years I’ve interviewed many, many people about their love – or passion, as I should say – for vinyl. Everybody has their own connection with the format. Some like to collect them, others like the sound, the sleeve or the technical aspect of spinning a record. It’s my experience that listening to a record – and to a lesser extent a CD – creates a bigger connection with the music, as opposed to listening to a streaming service. It’s great that people feel the need to step out of the day to day fast life and enjoy a nice and quiet time with a great record. It’s quality time!
What is/are the most memorable interview(s) you did for Passion For Vinyl?
Anouk: that’s a really difficult question, as there are so many different stories and people. What left a very big impression on me was meeting and listening to Miriam Linna‘s story. She allowed us to come to her house and talked to us at a very vulnerable moment in her life, just a few months after her husband Billy had died. She shared her story, which was actually the (love) story of Billy and her, forty years of collecting 7” singles and working on Norton Records. But I also love the stories of Lucy and Miles, who work for Abbey Road Studios, and from Merel and Esther, two lovely girls who own a record shop in Amsterdam, and Steven Wilson’s story who would like to have his own record shop perhaps, one day… and Discogs’ own Brent Greissle who’s hobby is adding titles to the Discogs database.
Robert: “I’ve enjoyed them all. When we were in Brooklyn for a few interviews we discovered that the great Grado company – known for their headphones and cartridges – was literally around the corner of the pressing plant that we were visiting. We were able to set up an appointment and a few days later we were at the family owned factory and I got to talk to the great John Grado. Especially because I’ve owned Grado carts for many years, it was great to see where their great products are being made.”
Can you reveal what artists will be featured on the single that comes with the book?
Anouk: Yes we can! As a tribute to Billy from Norton Records, there are two great tracks by Hasil Adkins (the first artist released on Norton Records) and Bloodshot Bill on one side and a special track by German DJ/Producer Ellen Allien on the flip side.
Get a copy of Passion For Vinyl from your local book or record store, or pick up your copy and meet the authors at Record Planet Utrecht!