The Collector Series: Chinmay Madhu’s vinyl records collection

The Collector Series is a photography and interview project documenting vinyl records collectors in their most natural and intimate environment. Want to get featured on #vinyloftheday? Send us a photo of your records collection and a few words about your records collection to webstore@vinyloftheday.com.

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Name: Chinmay Madhu

Location: Bangalore, India

Size of collection: Around 200 – 250.

Tell us a bit more about yourself:
My family is originally from Kerala but I was born and brought up in Abu Dhabi, UAE and we’re currently settled in Bangalore. I’m an up-and-coming music composer for films and games. Just got done composing the background music for my first indie feature film. I play the alto sax, both jazz and Indian Carnatic music. Also, I love tennis and play almost every day. I used to be a national level player but couldn’t keep playing at that level due to a knee injury.

What started your interest in music? Is there any interesting story or history behind it?
I’ve been into music as far back as I can remember. My dad was a guitarist and had his own band back in his school days and my mom loves to sing. They have been very supportive to me and my sister and encouraged us to get into music from a very young age. I started taking piano lessons like most people do and then decided to pick up the clarinet a few years later. I then learned to play Indian Carnatic music on the alto sax from Kadri Gopalnath who is one of the most well known and revered saxophonists here in India. Some of my earliest music related memories are my parents VHS tapes that contained the music of Tchaikovsky, especially Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.

How long have you been collecting?
I haven’t been collecting records for that long. I got interested in records back in 2012 after stumbling upon videos by members of the youtube vinyl community, especially those of SublimMedia, dereckvon, bigstar1000 and secofunk. I bought my first record in 2013 which was Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On even before I had a turntable. I’ve been collecting ever since.

What does your collection mean to you?
I love my records. I make it a point to listen to a few at least twice a day, right after I come back from playing a session of tennis in the morning and during tea time in the evening. These are the moments in my day that I look forward to the most. Sitting on the sofa and listening to records, reading liner notes while sipping on tea brings me immense joy.

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What’s your philosophy behind collecting records and how has that evolved since you started collecting up until the present day?
When I first started collecting records I would just pop into a record store and buy the cheapest reissue of any album I wanted. These days I’m much more particular about the quality of the pressing when buying records. Be it on Discogs or at a record store, I try and buy originals in near mint or mint condition if I can afford them and if I do buy reissues I make sure that they are analogue pressings taken from the original master tapes or high-quality digital pressings like the half speed mastering done by Abbey Road Studios. I make it a point to listen to and collect music from all over the world, be it Nigerian Afrobeat music or Son music from Cuba. I want my collection to be as diverse and eclectic as possible.

Any interesting story about your record collecting adventure? Please share.
Very few places in India sell records, especially the ones that I’m interested in and that’s why I buy most of my records from the UK where I currently attend university. The only downside to vinyl is the weight and the inconvenience of traveling with multiple records. I usually bring around 30 to 40 records back with me every time I come back home to India. I once brought back 60 records from the UK to India, that was the worst. I had around 25 records in my backpack and I could barely stand up straight with all that weight. I have no idea how I managed to get through customs and to my flight. Never doing that again!

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Share with us your current top 3 records and tell us why they are your favorite?

There are way too many that I love but here are 3 records that mean a lot to me and are on constant rotation at my place:

Mahavishnu Orchestra – Inner Mounting Flame: Mahavishnu Orchestra is my all time favorite band. The founder of the group John McLaughlin is my favorite guitarist and Billy Cobham is my favorite drummer. I come from a Hindu family so just the name of the band itself interested me. They were such an intense band and every member was a master of their instrument. Their second album Birds of Fire is just as good.

Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges – Clube da Esquina: I didn’t really care for this album the first time I listened to it. It was only a year later when I finally got into the music while listening to the entire double album in one go on a long taxi ride in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Watching the sunset and skyscrapers while listening to this beautiful music from a distant land in a language I didn’t understand is an experience that I’ll never forget. I’ve always had a soft spot for Brazilian music, it’s music that I can relate to even though I don’t understand Portuguese. I guess in some ways life in Brazil and India isn’t that different, we go through the same ups and downs and you really feel that when listening to this album. Some other Brazilian artists that I love are Arthur Verocai, Novos Baianos, Os Mutants, Jorge Ben, Caetano Veloso and Gal Costa.

Can – Future Days: This one doesn’t really need an explanation, anyone familiar with the music of Can will know why I picked this record. I was fortunate enough to see the band (albeit with only the two remaining original members) live in London a few months ago but unfortunately their drummer Jaki Liebezeit passed away only a few weeks before the concert. Their other albums Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi are superb too. Together they make the holy trinity of German space rock aka krautrock.

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