He saw their painted black and white faces and shaggy hair on the cover of a magazine sitting on a shelf at a 7-11.
Scott Arkwell had no clue who or what they were when he bought the publication, but he knew he needed to learn more about them. “It was KISS,” he recalled. “When I learnt they were a band I went straight out and bought their record. That was my first record.”
Approximately 29,000 records later and Arkwell, best known as Vinyl Ritchie in the DJ world, can recall them all by name or album cover and tell the tale behind them.
“I am pretty weird,” he said. “I know what I have and I pretty much know where it is.”
Next Thursday, Feb. 18, Arkwell will share his collection at the GLC. He’ll be on stage alongside Whistler’s Mat The Alien, Calgary’s DJ Pump, Ottawa’s DJ Illo and American hip hop group EPMD’s famed DJ Scratch. They’re all a part of the 4th annual Monster Energy’s all-vinyl road-trip, the 7 Inches of Pleasure Tour, hitting up 10 ski resorts.
“There are kids that don’t even know what records are,” Arkwell said. “They never left me.”
To say Arkwell’s passion is vinyl is an understatement. The West Coast musician made a name for himself as an inventive mash-up artist, being coined Canada’s “King of 45s.”
He’s known for playing sets entirely with 7-inch, 45-rpm records. The records were introduced in 1949 by RCA as smaller, more durable counterparts to the 78 rpm shellac discs.
There’s something soulful about vinyl, Arkwell said. As a kid he spent countless hours holed up in his bedroom with his Mickey Mouse turntable. His parents had a bigger, better, turntable in the sitting room; one that he secretly became acquainted with when they went out.
His search for unusual 7-inch records has led him to some interesting contacts. Online sales have opened up the door to finding unique singles from around the world. After delving into Bollywood sitar funk, Arkwell connected with a doctor in India who is the leader of an Indian music preservation society. They’re still in touch today and every once in a while Arkwell will receive packages in the mail from him.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It is hard to get good records from India because of the heat.”
Mat The Alien (a.k.a. Mat Andrew) is also revving up for the tour. As a child growing up in England, his father owned a record shop in Bury. He would hangout under the counters watching people pick through the records. The tour helps keep the turntable culture alive, Andrew said.
“People kind of like seeing the little records,” he added.
After hitting up Whistler, the tour will head to Vancouver before travelling east to the Rocky Mountains. Mixing, DJing and hitting the ski slopes was kind of a no-brainer, Arkwell said. Unlike last year, this time around the mountains are stocked with snow, he noted.
“It’s going to be a great tour,” he said.