Don’t call it a comeback: for these Berliners, old-school formats like vinyl, film and tape never went away in the first place. Now they cater to a niche but growing crowd of enthusiasts. For the people here, the needle hitting the vinyl is nothing short of magic.
CUT IT YOURSELF
In an apartment off Karl-Marx-Straße, the vinyl enthusiasts of Disc_Archive are learning firsthand how to press records from their living room.
“I guess we fall under the category of ‘niche’”, laughs Kristin Lee Stokes, 29, who has been producing music alongside husband Mikale De Graff, 39, since they moved here from the US in 2011. Early this summer, they were joined by friend Joel Sagiv from Israel, 25, who produces under alias Arad Acid. Backgrounds in audio engineering, production and analogue photography paved the way to their self-funded project, Disc_Archive.
Their not-so-secret weapon: a €3200 vinyl-cutting machine, called the “Starter Set T560”, designed by engineering wizard Ulrich Sourisseau. Before they could buy it off him, they had to take part in a mandatory 16-hour crash course. “We all had to go to Baden-Baden…” they laugh, “but it was worth it!” Essentially a reverse record player, complete with diamond stylus and cutter head, the source (they use an iPad) feeds through the machine and the mirror image of the sound is cut into a €3-4 blank in real time.
“The industry standard of 300 copies only suits bigger artists or labels,” explains De Graff about their decision to create shortrun vinyl. They market towards smaller artists and independents, creating as few as 1-20 copies of a track, EP or album for €12- 26 per copy. Genre-wise, the door’s open. They lean towards electronic, but have toyed with music from Dubai, and have even been asked to press a vinyl of their friend’s newborn crying. And, adds De Graff, “If your dad has been a musician all of his life but has never released anything, we can do it.”
Get in touch at www.discharchive.de.
A RECORD REFUGE
Berlin is crammed with record stores, but nowhere are the vinyls better crammed in than at Charlottenburg’s Platten Pedro.
Now in his seventies, Berlin-born Peter “Pedro” Patzek has been filling up his shop on Tegeler Weg for 41 years. The vinyl count stands at around 100,000 – that’s 40,000 LPs and 60,000 singles, not including around 2000 shellacs. It’s easiest for Patzek to measure his collection by the metre. The musty corridor to the back of his shop are rammed wall to ceiling with towers of seven-inches, which he gets almost entirely from private sellers. “I can’t do anything else,” he says, “I started collecting early… I calculated I’ve been studying this subject for 126 semesters.”
It’s no surprise he’s become a cult hero, with vinyl fans travelling from Russia, Japan and the US to dig through his treasure trove (he just unearthed and sold a rare Joseph Beuys record). His erratic opening hours add further charm. “You can leave early if you start early,” Patzek explains, “so I’m open 10:07- 16:53 weekdays, and 9:59-13:07 on Saturdays.”
The shop feels like a memento to a forgotten time. Patzek’s sole concession to the 21st century is the computer in the corner, used for updating his website. “My family bought me a phone, sometimes it beeps and then I charge it – I don’t need it. Everything’s made out of plastic now…” he sighs. “If there was a wooden phone, I’d get one.”
Tegeler Weg 102, Charlottenburg, Mon-Fri 10:07-16:53, Sat 9:59-13:07