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Collector Interview: Armin P.

Posted on May 10 2016

Armin Paya's vinyl collection

Armin is a collector with impeccable taste in music. Armin got into vinyl in the mid-70s in Iran, and was soon hooked on everything from disco to rare jazz, classic rock and new wave. Armin uses a combination of record dividers to get his vast collection of over 6,000 records (and counting), including a set of 6 panel A-Z Stencil Dividers and several custom stencil dividers including Maxi, Disco, Nuwave and Electronic.

Give us a breakdown of your collection: how much is used vs how much is new?
It's probably 60 new /40 old.  I collected a LOT of my Blue Notes and priceless Jazz and Disco records in the late 1980's and early 1990's when people were literally giving away their LPs in favor of CDs!  You could go to "any" Half Price Books and pick up mint LPs around $1.  I often see some of these records on ebay listed for hundreds of dollars now.
I also collect different pressings of the same record which skews the old/new ratio even more. 

Size of your collection:
I have north of 6000 records not counting the 7"
Current top 3 albums:
  •  Getz/Gilberto: '76, 1976  
    This is a recently found live recording from the duo in San Francisco that was released in 2016!  Everyone knows the famous Getz/Gilberto collaborations, this is more of the same except recorded live which is extremely rare for Gilberto.
  • Lynn Stanley: Interludes, 2015, fantastic album which was recorded using Frank Sinatra’s Microphone. Unbelievable audio quality!
  • Don Ray: Garden of Love, 1978.  
    Another impeccable disco album by Cerrone's right hand man, Don Ray.  Don Ray was responsible for some of Disco's most beautiful arrangements including all of Cerrone's productions such As "Kongas: Africanism" as well as collaborations with Alec Constandinos' flawless LPs  "Romeo & Juliet" and "Love & Kisses".
Favorite music genre:
I was a teenager in 1978 when Disco ruled, so naturally my response is Disco but my collection includes a large collection of rare Jazz LPs from the 1950's and 1960's as well as Classic Rock, New Wave and Electronic.    

Best party album:
  • Dinner Party:  Getz/Gilberto (LP by same name)
  • Cocktail Party: Sinatra's Sinatra
  • I can make anyone and everyone dance by playing a "Chic" or "Nile Rodgers" production, old or contemporary since Nile is still producing some of the most popular dance and pop records.
10 Records I could NOT live without:
  • "Giorgio Moroder: From Here to Eternity", if there ever was a perfect album this is it!
  • Shakatak: Nightbirds
  • Imagination: Body Talk
  • George Benson: In Flight
  • Grover Washington: Winelight
  • Rosanne Cash: The List
  • Roxy Music: Flesh & Blood
  • Bryan Ferry: Boys & Girls
  • Pink Floyd: Wish you were here
  • Toto: Toto (their first LP)
Best album to listen to alone:
"George Benson: In Flight".  Flawless from beginning to end.

Last record you purchased:
"Fleetwood Mac: Tusk, the alternate version", Record Store Day Release, 2016

Album you're in search of:
It's actually a 12" extended, bootleg remix of Jean Michel Jarre's Oxygene Part 4, it's from 1977 or 1978 based on different accounts.  A friend of mine had this record in Iran back then but after 30+ years of looking for it all around the world I have yet to find it.

How long have you been collecting records? How did you get into it?
I first started collecting records in 7th grade in the summer of 1976 when I lived in Iran.  I heard “Rose Royce’s Carwash” and I was hooked!  I have traveled and seen a LOT of record stores in my life but one of the best record stores I have seen to this day was in Tehran called "Beethoven".  It was a multi-story building, you could listen to any record! Unfortunately that store and its contents were burned in the 1979 revolution so that collection came to an abrupt halt.
I started my current collection in 1981 with records purchased from the legendary "Champs Disques" in Paris.  It was a store for DJs, the most obscure and exclusive 12" Maxi records were always released at Champs Disques initially and many DJs around the world had some sort of membership (for lack of better expression) there to get the exclusive releases first.  I moved to the States in 1982 and found Oak Lawn Records in Dallas.  It was yet another great record store that catered to DJs and carried rare dance music.  Sound Warehouse was my source for rock and d all other categories back then.

Where do you hunt for vinyl? 
Obviously my collection includes a lot of Jazz, right now the only real options are online stores such as Acoustic Sounds, Elusive Disc and Musicdirect.  I have series subscription with some of these stores and receive records on regular basis.
I also travel a fair bit and of course always look for record stores, Tokyo has simply no competition!  
  •  I specifically love the "Disc Union" in Shinjuku for the Jazz and Rock selections.  The Jazz offering is out of this world, from newly pressed Japanese classic Blue Note titles to mint, used LPs.  The Japanese are very meticulous in EVERYTHING they do, so when they label a used record as mint you can take their word for it.  I also find the Tower Records in Shinjuku an excellent place for new records (yes Tower still exists in Japan).  I have tried most Disc Union stores in Tokyo and keep going back to the Shinjuku area they have the best selection, at least for my taste. I have spent entire days in the few stores there picking up records!
There are also a couple of spots in London that are a "must visit" for any record collector: 
  • "Honest Jon's" on Portobello road is a great place for Jazz as well as Reggae records, they  also have their own record label with some amazing music from around the world, also worth mentioning is their impeccable mail order/online service!
  •  "Love Vinyl" in East London.  Great little place for new dance records as well as small but decent “used” section.
How do you organize your collection?  
I've tried them all but here's what works for me.  I have my records classified by genre first (Disco LPs, Disco 12" Maxi, New Wave, Rock, Jazz and Electronic).  Within each genre I have the records classified alphabetically by Last Name.

Any thoughts you'd like to share about your method of record organization, how you store your collection or use your record dividers?
My main approach is to divide the genres, then alphabetically in each group.  However, there are those exceptions that command their own grouping!  For instance I have a LOT of Sinatra LPs, so there is an entire shelf dedicated to the Chairman!  Same goes with Pink Floyd and Giorgio Moroder. Last but not least I deviate from my own system in the Jazz section; I have my Blue Notes LPs in one group (and even in the group I separate the various pressings such as the original US pressings, the new pressings, the Japanese pressings, The Music Matters Repress, etc...) Hint: More custom divider orders from Kate!

Anything extra you want to share about your collection, set up, turntable, your equipment, listening room, plans for the future, etc? 
I have 2 dedicated listening rooms, one with the large Magnepan speakers and big amplifiers and a smaller room for nearfield listening with vacuum tube equipment.  Each one has its own merits depending on the mood!
I have many turntables/tonearm combination but the 2 daily tables are the Michell Engineering Gyrodec with an SME IV arm which is quite a sexy turntable as well as a great sounding one (all vinyl junkies and movie fans should look up the history of Michell Engineering and its roots in the movie Clockwork Orange) and a vintage Thorens 124 MKii with an SME 3009 arm that I have restored.  I have one of my original Technics 1200 in mint condition in my office also, I do have a soft spot for it!.
My recommendation to anyone that wants to start a record collection: no need to break the bank but spend a little bit of money in a decent turntable and cartridge and be selective about what you buy on Vinyl!  There are many labels that have jumped on the recent popularity of vinyl bandwagon and and are cranking out terrible pressings!


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