Ryan/Off The Record - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the chance to interview Ryan who runs the Off The Record Youtube channel. Check out the full interview after the jump.

For people who aren't familiar with your Youtube channel can you tell me a little about it, when you started it, and why you started it?
My channel is called Off The Record and I am a music oriented channel with a heavy focus on vinyl. I started making videos the first week of this year. It began as a new years resolution for me since it was something I always wanted to try. There wasn’t any music or vinyl channels that appealed to my music tastes and I wanted to share my thoughts on music with people.

I've tried to sit through a few vinyl review channels and often times I find a lot of them hard to watch. Yours on the other hand seems to be coming from a really knowledgeable place. How long have you been into collecting records and what got you interested in them?

I’ve been collecting and buying music for almost my whole life. I started heavily collecting CDs around when I was 11. A few years later (I think around 2006) I found some records of more modern music in a store and it really appealed to me since I wasn’t too aware that newer music still came out on vinyl. From there it slowly grew and became my main format to buy.

A couple of your more interesting videos are your review of VNYL and then your video showing what you could purchase for the same price at your local store. I've seen mixed (mostly negative reviews) of VNYL. Did you have any hesitance on posting the VNYL video afraid that Nick Alt might send some harsh #vibes your way? What made you want to speak out on their service?
When I started hearing a lot of the controversy surrounding VNYL, and seeing peoples disappointment, I felt like I had to say something about it and let people know exactly what was going on. This was especially important for people who may be new to vinyl or don’t live near a store that sells records. On top of that, once I found out that my niece had subscribed to it and was taken advantage of like that, it really hit close to home for me. I tried to give a very honest and truthful approach to the video. I was never worried that they would see it and I wonder if they have seen it. There’s a very interesting video up now of someone actually going in to the store and I’m not going to give anything away but it’s worth a watch and is very entertaining!

Are you a fan of any vinyl subscription services?
Personally no. I can understand why people like them though. For me, I’m just not interested in taking a gamble like that. I always have a constant list of new records that I want to pick up and old ones I’m hunting for, so I’d rather spend the money on something I know I’ll definitely be into.

You recently added a new feature on your channel that shows you doing record store walk troughs. What stores do you have coming up you are excited to show people?
I’m doing a full day trip to Baltimore soon and filming at a ton of stores there. Baltimore may be my favorite city to record shop in. They have such a diverse range of stores with great prices, plus a lot of them are within walking distance of each other. I’m also doing some cross-country traveling at the end of the summer so hopefully I’ll have a few really cool videos from that. On top of that I plan to do a lot more in the PA/NJ/NY area as well.

Record collecting has really changed over the last five or so years. If you had to give one piece of advice to a new record collector what would it be?
It’s kinda crazy to look back on a few years ago on how different it was. I’m not sure if it’s better now or then, there’s so much to weigh in on, but for new collectors I’d have to say two main things. 1. Invest in a good set up. Vinyl is a hobby and you need the right equipment to truly enjoy it and appreciate it. Not only will it sound amazing but you’ll keep your records in great condition. 2. Always do your research and stay on the safe side with things. There are a lot of scams and issues in vinyl now. People seem to be scamming with trading and on ebay. If you’re going to spend a lot on a record, make sure it’s not still available elsewhere for less and also be wary of grading.

What are a couple records you are still on the hunt for?
Off the top of my head:
Sister Nancy - One, Two  (Probably the best reggae album ever)
Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary (splatter vinyl)
Red House Painters - Old Ramon
Cursive - The Storms of Early Summer: Semantics of Song
Fall Out Boy - Take This To Your Grave (original press with alternate cover)

What's the most you've ever spent on a record and did you end up regretting it at all?
The most I ever spent was $130 on a test press of one of my favorite albums, Slow Warm Death’s self titled LP. The guy who owns the label actually made me a deal where if I donated the money to a local charity for women’s health and rehab he would give me the test press. It worked out beautifully and the money went to good use so I never will regret it. It’s one of my prized possessions.

What has been your favorite vinyl pressing of 2015 so far and why?
So far I’ve really loved the Red House Painters box set. I waited a long time for those to be reissued so that was awesome. I also really loved the packaging on Sleater Kinney’s new album and Bjork’s as well.

What is the most disappointing vinyl pressing you've ever purchased  or pre-ordered in terms of sound quality, packaging, etc...?
Worst would have to be a time between The Wonder Years - The Greatest Generation, Blink 182 - Enema of the State (splatter vinyl), and Fall Out Boy - From Under The Cork Tree (reissue). The Greatest Generation was definitely the worst sounding press I’ve ever heard. It had tons of surface noise and was super low quality. It just got reissued on a 2xLP vs the original single LP so hopefully it all got worked out. The Blink and FOB presses had the same issues but only on the last few tracks on each side, which had this weird degrading sound to it as you listened.

I guess that about wraps it up. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for having me!

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