Vinyl has never seemed this unsexy. A new survey by YouGov has revealed that vinyl records are largely bought by lonely, introverted middle-aged men – which is going to be news to places like millennial shopping Shangri-la Urban Outfitters, who casually slip shiny Lana Del Rey and Foals 12”s alongside their crop tops, hoping to entice their shoppers with a saucy touch of analogue technology. Instead, it seems the majority of vinyl enthusiasts are between the ages of 45 and 54, with 56% preferring to keep their feelings to themselves, and 69% saying that they enjoy being alone. Blimey. It’s enough to make you want to melt down your copy of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ and admit that you’re never going to have sex ever again.
Well take if from me, not all vinyl buyers are your weird uncle Nigel. I am a woman with, like, loads of mates and something resembling a pretty decent social life and I’ve been buying vinyl since the age of 12. It all started on holidays to Cornwall with my mum, which would often end up in the local charity shops, where I realised you could pick up the original copies of the 1970s and 1980s tunes me and my mates were downloading like crazy on Napster for 50p a throw. One dodgy belt-driven record player later and I was hooked. In my teens I’d spend awkward Saturday afternoons in Covent Garden’s Rough Trade branch – the one underneath Slam City Skates which sadly closed in 2007 – flicking through stacks and stacks of obscure alt.rock and electronica, soaking in the vibe as much as buying anything. And yes, sure, the shop had its fair share of 45-54 year old men there, but there were giddy teenagers there too, 20-something men with shaggy hair who’d played the 100 Club the previous night and DJs of all levels, from their bedroom to Fabric.
Then, when I moved to Los Angeles in 2011, the obsession continued, in no small part thanks to Amoeba Records in Hollywood. The biggest independent record store in the world, it was – and still is – crammed with vinyl, and it’s $1 racks became my haven, filling my new home with the music the made the city what it is – from the twanging, storytelling folk of Warren Zevon and Linda Ronstadt to the caustic punkabilly sounds of The Gun Club and X.
Now, back home in London I get my cheap, basement finds from Lucky Seven in Stoke Newington, and when I’m feeling slightly more flush I head to Sounds Of The Universe in Soho. But wherever I am, I’m certainly not the weirdo YouGov suggests I might be. Are you?