Record Collectors

Record Collector: Rachel Calkins, aka rachel_excarnate

Rachel Calkins lives in Denver, CO where she runs a small cassette-based record label, Graven Earth Records. When she's not working on her label stuff, she collects records, tapes, and CDs, as well as any other '80s-related metal memorabilia she can find. M

It's with great honor that I welcome Rachel to the Record Collector club.

How long have you been collecting records?

I only started collecting records a couple years ago. My parents got rid of their collection when I was young, so I didn't grow up with them around and I didn't have any inheritance records to start me off. I had resisted the urge for a long time because I knew I'd be obsessive about it and spend too much if I started buying them. Turns out I was right, but it's totally worth it!

Where/how do you usually find your records these days?

Usually the used section in any record store. Any time I go to a new city, I check out as many record stores as I can squeeze in plus we have a couple great ones in Denver, including the original Wax Trax! Records. For newer releases, I try to buy straight from the record label or band. Of course I take advantage of Discogs to find items I'm sure I'll never run into in the wild. I've also received a lot for free from coworkers and family who just want to get rid of their collections.

What is the most you paid for a single record, where/how did you obtain it, and what was it?

I'm a huge Sigur Rós nut and have paid quite a bit in my quest to complete that discography. The most expensive item in my collection is a Sigur Rós 7xLP box set. I bought it on Discogs and rarely listen to it because the quality of the records is not as nice as they are as individual albums, but I guess that's the price you pay when you're a completist!

Of everything in your current collection, what is your most prized record and why?

One of my most cherished is probably my original pressing with green Combat labels of Mercyful Fate's Don't Break the Oath because I felt pretty lucky to find it in a store in pretty good shape and it's one of the greatest albums of all time. I have an original Music for Nations pressing of Cruelty and the Beast by Cradle of Filth as well that I could never part with, not only because it's an incredible album and rare to come by, but it was one of the first albums that got me into extreme music and it changed my life.

Is there anything that frustrates you about the current record collecting scene?

The inflated prices on some old records, even when the condition is less than desirable, that comes with the online resale market. It takes the fun and thrill out of finding something you've been hunting for and boils it all down to who can spend the most money for it. I've gotten plenty of records that way, but I do often wish that it wasn't even an option and the only way to find what you want is the hard way! The temptation is strong when it's at your fingertips though. You get the record, but not the rewarding feeling of finding it on your own.

Which records are still on your want list that you've had a tough time tracking down through the years? 

There are so many! Several old 16 Horsepower albums, Exhumed's Gore Metal, Perdition City and Lyckantropen Themes by Ulver, Diamond Head's Lightning to the Nations, and one of these days I'm going to get my hands on the original Metal Massacre comp by Metal Blade Records.

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Follow Rachel on Instagram, and you can see what Graven Earth Records has for sale at this link.

Tagged: record collector

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