April Del Castillo and Ivan Gonzalez are a record collecting couple from Long Island, NY. I have known them both for many years from the local vinyl collecting scene here, and they are also both DJs in the area.
They are always a pleasure to run in to and chat vinyl with Ivan, who also plays guitar with local heroes Too Many Voices.
Check out what April and Ivan have to say about the collecting world.
How did you get into collecting records?
April: I grew up in a house where music was always played and encouraged. I can remember being 5-years-old and enamored over all the different album covers in my father’s collection. I used to sit and scan over the artwork and memorize the names of the bands. I would get so mesmerized by the colors on some of the album covers. I really loved it.
In fact, my parents used to get such a kick out of how well I would remember the names of the groups, that when they would have their friends over, they would point to specific records and ask me who the group was. I have always loved and gravitated towards music.
I grew up on the Fisher Price turntable and I can remember playing 45s that were in my dad’s collection. The collecting started at an early age when I obtained some of my dad’s records.
Ivan: I come from a family of music lovers, I grew up with my father playing his spanish albums loudly on the weekends, his 8-tracks, reel-to-reels, cassettes. My brothers and sisters all love music, we all came up together listening and buying all the great rock, punk, hardcore, metal, new wave, pop, hip-hop, R&B from the 1970s and 1980s.
Compared to a small cassette tape vinyl records sound better and have a better package, you can read, see the album art and pictures better.
In the 1990s, with getting into deejaying and having new stores like Tower Records, I continued with buying and collecting more, it hasn’t really stopped. I guess its kinda like comic books, I love records of all sorts.
What was the first record you bought with your own money?
April: The first record I bought with my own money was in 1984 and It was actually Madonna's album entitled Madonna, but re-titled and reissued later in 1985 to Madonna: The First Album. At the time, I didn’t have a working turntable, but I bought the record anyway. I didn’t even care that I didn’t have a working turntable. I was just determined to have that record.
Ivan: I bought my first record with my birthday gift money, It was 1985 I just turned 12. I bought Ozzy Blizzard of Ozz from a Pathmark supermarket [laughs]. I think everyone forgot supermarkets sold music.
I use to love the song "Mr. Crowley," and I would always play my older brother's album so I needed to own it. I also remember being nervous what my parents would think and say to me about the album cover being that in the 1980s almost everyone was religious and heavy metal was kinda not accepted.
What is your collecting philosophy? What do you collect and why?
April: I used to be all about being a completist, but now due to the lack of room in our apartment, that has become kind of a challenge [laughs]. I have various categories within my record collection. I collect certain movie soundtracks (mostly exploitation films and horror) – the weirder, the better. I also collect a lot of reggae, which has a couple genres within it that I collect like: skinhead reggae, ska, roots reggae, rub-a-dub style, and dub.
I have always found myself loving Jamaican music. I can remember my mom taking me to a roller rink in Queens when I was about 6 [I think she might be referring to United Skates of America in Jackson Heights, ed.] and they had a huge screen that they would play videos off of while you skated.
They played Musical Youth’s “Pass the Dutchie” and it made such an impact on me that I swore I would find out the name and title of the song (because we didn’t grow up with being able to hop on the internet to look things up).
It wasn’t until 1996 that I found a Best of Jamaican Hits cassette in the bargain bin at Tower Records where I re-discovered my childhood favorite song. Besides Jamaican music and my film soundtracks, I collect '70s funk, disco, some post punk, and metal.
If you were to look through my collection, you’d probably notice that it mostly consisted of disco, funk, and reggae, but I like to keep things eclectic so you might find a lot of surprises too.
Ivan: I particularly collect originals or as close to original pressings I can find, I love the sound and also knowing that this record was made a certain year. If it's a repress, something new that never came out or new music with an amazing package I’ll def look into it.
I collect all types of stuff: jazz, soul, hip-hop, rock, soundtracks, metal, house music, Latin music, 45s of all sorts, etc.. I try to keep an open mind.
We all have one record that we sold that we completely regret, what is yours?
April: I didn’t necessarily sell these two records but rather gave them away to someone, which I am now kicking myself over [laughs]. They were two early psych records from the group The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. The albums were: Vol. 2 (Breaking Through) and Volume 3: A Child’s Guide to Good and Evil. I guess they weren’t meant to stay with me as I had initially acquired them for free myself.
Ivan: I don’t sell records I just buy them [laughs],l but I did experience Hurricane Sandy in 2012, I ended up getting over a foot of water in my apartment and lost half my records, including that Blizzard of Ozz and Iron Maiden Number of the Beast, which I got when I was 12.
I also lost a lot of punk/hardcore I’ve had from 1987, and that was rough.
Where do you find your records for the most part?
April: I have been finding them in the weirdest places because I guess everyone is trying to sell records. I’ve been lucking out and finding them at spots that look like the backdrop to Sanford & Son. For me, it’s the dig and in these places, you are literally digging through piles of stuff.
Ivan: Me and my wifey April dig everywhere, we go to a lot of thrift stores, record shows, garage/yard sells, flea markets, record music stores, we do a lot of exploring and we have our secret spots [laughs]. I also buy from friends, If its something I can’t live without I can usually find it online.
What do think about the values of rare records skyrocketing? Do you think the bubble will burst?
April: I really don’t know what to think about it, actually. I always wondered how the bar gets set for why certain 45s could be like $1,000. I always do my own thing though so I really don’t understand it. I guess it’s helpful for people trying to sell vinyl as a way to bring food to their table.
It does get me aggravated when I have a specific album in my want list and sometimes, they are just too astronomically priced. That’s why I have been really enjoying digging in places that you wouldn’t normally think to find records. The records in these types of places aren’t too terribly priced and the hunt gets much more sweeter.
Ivan: I feel the value of rare records will go up and down depending on the music trends but I don’t see them getting cheaper. This whole planet is collecting records now I dont think the bubble will burst just yet, there’s someone out there willing to pay top dollar.
What’s the most you ever shelled out for a record?
April: [Laughs] have actually spent $200. Once. Once and only once!
Ivan: $100 for Mercyful Fate's Nuns Have No Fun EP, which was a gift for April.
Name a record or records you can’t live without?
April: That’s a hard one to pinpoint. I would have to say that I couldn’t live without my Jamaican records. They are some of my most prized pieces in my whole collection.
Ivan: John Coltrane - A Love Surpreme, this album changed everything for me. Donald Byrd - A New Perspective, Odyssey - Inside Out 12 inch.
As a collecting couple, do you share your records? Are they organized all together or do you keep them separate?
April: I think some people find it funny that we have our own separate collection. For the most part, I have had no problem if Ivan wants to listen to my records or vice versa. He is actually more of a giver with his stuff because I remember he was going to DJ an event and wanted to use my Gang Starr’s Hard to Earn original pressing and I was like, “Um…….No?” [laughs].
We share one of those huge Ikea shelving units in our livingroom and his part of his collection is sectioned off as well as mine, but there are no real rules set in place. I think it’s important for each of us to have the things we love and that we are passionate about. We are always sharing everything with one another anyway, and that’s what makes our relationship so special to me.
Ivan: Me and April basically like the same of everything lol, we learn from each other all the time, I’m so grateful to have her in my life, I even got her into deejaying. We will share but we keep our own records separate, there are many occasions that we both buy our own copy of a same record [laughs].
What are the top records on your want list currently?
- Minnie Ripperton, Come to My Garden
- Purple Image, Purple Image
- Cassandra, Thank You for the Many Things You’ve Done/My Angel Baby)
- The Way We Live, A Candle for Judith
- Madlib, Sound Ancestors
- Juicy, Sugarfee (12 inch and 45)
- Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
- Mr Fingers (everything)
- Sun Ra any originals from his Saturn label
Is there anything that really bothers you about the collecting scene?
April: [Laughs] Yes, there is. Maybe this will change (hopefully), but I think it’s strange that it seems like the record collecting scene is dominated by men. I can remember one time going to a record convention and there was this guy who was watching me as I looked through records. He said, “Oh, you collect records?” and I was like, “Yah." He proceeded to say, “that’s cute."
I didn’t even know how to respond to that [laughs]. Wasn’t sure how me doing the same exact thing that this guy was doing was considered cute, but that’s the kind of dumb shit I hope goes away. I must say that I am thankful to social media sites like Instagram where it has brought more light and introduced me to some super cool women that are hardcore collectors and diggers like myself.
Ivan: Not really I just do my thing. I like having conversations with music lovers, trading notes and learning new things. I’m happy to see there are still people embracing this.
What do you foresee for the future of vinyl and collecting?
April: I’m glad it’s around and even if it falls back out of popularity, I’ll still be collecting. I don’t follow trends.
Ivan: I feel its here to stay, it will always be a thing with certain types of music like punk/hardcore, house music, hip-hop but all genres of music are now pressing vinyl. We are seeing collecting worldwide, also the art and packages are getting amazingly creative.
Do you both plan on growing old with your records or do you have an exit strategy?
April: I would like to grow old with my records but I know that I can’t take them all with me when I go, so I try not to let myself get too attached in that regard. I plan on us owning our own home in the near future so I do have some records set aside that I would like to sell in order to quicken that goal.
Ivan: I wanna own a library of vinyl, I will grow old with my records. I just find myself getting pickier with what I buy as I get older, If I’m not feeling an album no more or out grow it I’ll pass along to a friend.
What’s a record or genre in your collection that might surprise the readers?
April: I have an obsession with astrology/zodiac albums. The funniest one that I own in that category is Blowfly’s Zodiac Blowfly record. I can’t stop laughing when I listen to that one.
Ivan: I love collecting early '70s Hatian compas, its the merengue dance music of Haiti. It has such happy beautiful african rhythms and singing with the craziest guitar playing, sometimes they add a cool spacey effect on the guitars, sounds so awesome! Bands like Les Difficiles, Les Gypsy de petion ville, Les Shleu Shleu, etc.
I’m still learning.
Follow April (@aprilrenee76) and Ivan (@iveski666) on Instagram.
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Tagged: record collector