Collector Interview: Rob M.

Posted on May 01 2017

Rob is a record collector from Melbourne, Australia. His collection first caught our eye on Instagram (@mulholland_drivethru) not only because of his great taste in music, but because his hifi living room is so inviting and stylish. Incorporating a collection of this size into a home is no easy task- it is clear to us that Rob's passion for music is big part of his life. Rob explains, "I organise things by genre, and A to Z within the genres (by surname). I usually listen in the living room, but if the volume is turned up to 11, it doesn’t really matter where I am!"  

Rob uses a few sets of our genre panels to keep his collection in order, as well as a few custom panels.

An issue on the minds of many collectors is storage. Rob writes, "My record storage is always expanding and evolving, like most collectors. To add further complexity, my partner and I have a one year old who loves to dig in the crates whenever we’re not looking! At the moment I’m using an industrial, heavy duty 4 shelf storage system in the living room (which stores around 800 LPs), 4 wooden record crates in the dining area (each ones stores around 70 to 80), and then some bookshelves down the front of the house stores the remainder. We found the industrial shelving at a local store around the corner - a lucky find! The wooden record crates are pretty generic but look great, are strong, and are easily portable (for DJ gigs). The bookshelves at the front of the house are, regrettably, Ikea".

Size of your collection:
It’s around 1200 at the moment.

Current top 3 albums:
Oh man. The first three that come to mind right now are Talking Heads’ 77 (1977), Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing (1981) and Ryan Adams’ Cold Roses (2005). This will change again in an hour.

Favorite or biggest music genre in your collection:
I’m a bit of a singer-songwriter tragic. That’s probably about half of it. But I’ve got a pretty loose definition of that genre - it ranges from Townes Van Zandt through Bjork to Bat For Lashes. Anyone who writes and performs all or most of their own material is singer-songwriter to me.

Best party album: 
You can’t really go past War’s Greatest Hits.

Best album to listen to alone:
Sparklehorse’s Good Morning Spider. Or any of his other ones, really. Mark Linkous was a genius.

Last record you purchased:
The Twin Peaks - Fire Walk With Me soundtrack reissue on Death Waltz records.

Album you're in search of:
Springsteen’s The Rising or Devils and Dust for under $200. If you have one and you’d like to sell, hit me up! And Bowie’s Black Tie White Noise.

Give us a breakdown of your collection: how much is used vs how much is new? Probably about two thirds is used, but I try to find quality pressings that aren’t dusty or scratched, and the covers have to be in decent condition. Part of vinyl’s appeal for me is the aesthetic, and if the cover’s all banged up, it’s off-putting. If it’s scratched or anything under VG+, forget about it. The original pressings always (okay, mostly always) sound better. Reissues these days are hit and miss, so I’ll generally try to make sure it’s a good one before buying.

How long have you been collecting records? How did you get into it?
Since around 2000. I got into it when I started going to markets and finding loads of my favourite albums for extremely cheap prices (back then!). I loved the fact that the records were much bigger than the CDs I was used to, and I always loved the sound. I’m sure the needle hitting the wax triggers some sort of deep, primal happy/nostalgic response in me. My parents used to play records when I was young, and I remember not being allowed to touch them when I was little because they were fragile. Maybe my collection these days is just overcompensating for this??

Where do you hunt for vinyl? 
A combination of online, op shops, markets and record stores. Thornbury Records (@thornburyrecords) has a great selection in Melbourne, and I’ve recently discovered Heartland Records in North Melbourne (@heartlandrecords) which was great to explore.

When in Sydney, I’ll always hit Red Eye Records (@redeyerecords) on York St.

Any thoughts you'd like to share about your method of record organization, how you store your collection or use your record dividers?
I used to organise everything in one giant A to Z, but I started finding it too daunting to find something to play. As difficult as it is to pin down some artists’ genres (Bowie, Eno and Dylan all come to mind) and put them into one ‘pigeon hole', I think the benefit outweighs the cost. If I want something moody, I’ll go to soundtracks. Something with a beat and a bass line? Funk/Soul. Something thoughtful and arty? Singer-songwriter. Something with loud guitars? Rock. And so on. Genres kind of reflect the mood you want to create, and this system is really working for me. Plus, the inevitable regular ‘cleanups’ are less daunting when you can sort your mess into genre piles first!

Anything extra you want to share about your collection, set up, turntable, your equipment, listening room, plans for the future, etc?
I don’t think you need to spend a fortune to get a great sounding system. My main turntable is a Rega RP1 and it works just great. I’ve got a pair of Dali Zensors which are totally affordable and really complement the music I play. I’m definitely not an audiophile; I couldn’t tell you which pressing of Sticky Fingers sounds the best. I don’t really want to be that person, either. It’s not the reason I’m into records. I love holding the artefact, dropping the needle on the wax, reading the liner notes, looking at the artwork, and experiencing an album the way the artist intended. It’s kind of the anti-Spotify. Not that I hate Spotify, but I definitely find I’m a more active listener when a record is playing. My plan for the future is really to just keep enjoying the music. I think vinyl is the best way to do this - it just values the music more.

The owl print hanging in the dining area (that features in a lot of my Instagram shots!) is by an Australian artist called Leila Jeffreys. You can find her at @leilajeffreys. She’s amazing!