Collector Interview: Elaine and Mike
Posted on June 20 2018
The only thing we like better than peeking into the collection of a record collector is peeking into a shared vinyl collection. Elaine and Mike are an art-loving couple in Toronto with a beautiful home and a relaxed approach to sharing and enjoying their vinyl collection. Read on to see more photos of their home, (with a few cheeky surprises on the walls!) vinyl collection, and their recommendations for the best albums for any party.
Downtown Toronto couple Elaine and Mike merged their lives and record collections when they moved in together last March. Elaine is a full-time sponsorship specialist/part-time Instagram interior design nerd @lana_gto, while handsome handyman Mike manages the power-pop band Sloan.
Size of your collection:
MN: The collection is currently around 750 albums. At its height I had about 2,000 albums, but have culled the collection over the years, and at this point maintain a pretty strict one-in/one-out policy.
How do you organize your collection?
MN: The collection is organized alphabetically for the most part: A-Z by band name or last name of artist. We do, however, get into grey areas (i.e. Alice Cooper is filed under “A”, while Gavin Friday is filed under “F”) Compilations and soundtracks come after the alphabet.
Give us a breakdown of your collection: how much was purchased used vs how much was new?
MN: Most of the collection has been found at yard sales and in used bins. I work in the music industry, so much of the collection includes recording projects I’ve worked on and gifts I’ve received over the years. When I go to shows, I often pick up vinyl at the merch table instead of a T-shirt. Since moving in with Elaine, we have started buying albums that mean a lot to us.
Favorite or biggest music genre in your collection:
MN: As a mostly used (and largely inexpensive) collection, the bulk of the albums are classic rock and pop from the ‘60s to ‘80s. There are plenty of outliers (country, jazz, experimental, big band), but this is an accessible collection that lends itself well to friends guest DJ’ing when they come over for dinner and drinks.
Where do you hunt for vinyl?
Sonic Boom Records
Current top 3 albums:
EG: Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney, Ram (1971)
Taylor Knox, Love (2017)
Elvis Costello, Trust (1981)
MN: Brian Eno, Here Come The Warm Jets (1973)
Big Star, #1 Record (1972)
Tame Impala, Currents (1985)
What album do you think every new vinyl collector should own?
EG: Something by either The Rolling Stones (Exile on Main St.?) or Wings (Band on the Run?)
MN: Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney, Ram (1971)
Best party albums:
EG: Sade, Promise (1985)
MN: Rickie Lee Jones (1979)
MN & EG: Cyndi Lauper, She’s So Unusual (1983)
MN: Rod Stewart and Faces, Coast to Coast: Overture and Beginners (1974)
EG: Spoon, Kill the Moonlight (2002)
Best album to listen to when you’ve had a rough week:
MN: Mitchell, Blue (1971)
EG: Sufjan Stevens, Illinois (2005)
Last record you purchased:
EG: Kate Bush, The Dreaming (1982)
MN: Eumir Deodato, First Cuckoo (1975)
Album you're in search of:
EG: George Harrison, All Things Must Pass (1970)
MN: The Stooges, Raw Power (1973)
How long have you been collecting records?
MN: I’ve been collecting albums since I was in high school (more than 30 years ago). My best friend and I started doing all-night radio shows at the local university when we were in grade 11. Digging through the record library at CKDU in Halifax, Nova Scotia, sealed my love for vinyl.
Where does your vinyl collection live in your home?
MN: The collection is centrally located in our dining room/lounge area. It’s housed in a modified IKEA shelving unit with 10 compartments that each hold about 75 albums. It’s completely accessible, and we’re not precious about people playing with the albums and/or misfiling things—although I do periodically give things a once-over and always refile after a party.
Any tips for sharing / co-mingling a collection?
MN: Since Elaine and I started building our home together, I consider the collection a shared project. I’m more familiar with the breadth of the collection, but she is always contributing new and thoughtful albums to round it out. I enjoy limiting the collection to this size (taking albums out as we add new ones), so it becomes a living manifestation of the music that we actively listen to and enjoy.
What is more important to you- sound quality or building your music collection?
MN: I’m not precious about audio equipment. I get a kick out of my old Marantz stereo, but we enjoy the music in a smaller space. We have more stereo than we need for the space and a couple sets of speakers which lend themselves to quiet or louder listening. It is functional, but would not impress any audiophiles. My main goal is to have a fun, usable album collection. It is such a great way to explore and discover music. I encourage friends to dive in and play whenever they show an interest.