am rewinding a few months back, it’s winter again, I’m in Greenpoint with Danny, A.K.A. Akalepse. He replied to one of my postcards I left in record shops around NYC, asking for collectors to take part in my documentary project. It took me a long time to finish this one, but I feel it was worth the wait. excellent collection from a genuine music lover. I felt he has so much respect to the vinyl and to the music, so I’m delighted to have Lepse on board.
“I can’t begin to know……..how lucky I was…………”
D’Angelo – Voodoo (DJ Sampler)This record was the promo only “for djs record”, what makes that dope is that it has the instrumentals to three tunes from voodoo on it. To me voodoo is one of the dopest records recorded in my lifetime. it really is a vibe through the whole thing. I put two tunes from here on a mix I made called “shadow of a doubt”. when this came out a lot of good things were also coming out, this was a good time for music that I like.
This is a record that my man gael put me on to. He put me on to so many reggae records, he’s one of my favorite djs. He has been playing sundays at this bar in brooklyn Iona for at least 6 years now, probably more. one sunday I was walking around with no destination, walking something off really, when I past by this spot and heard the music coming out. It has been my destination ever since. the first time I was there he played movie star and it took over my life for at least a year, everywhere I went I was singing it. It is amazing. Then he started pulling out versions of it, this was one of them. most things he has, I never see, never. lucky me on this one. I keep this record on ice, I only play it when things are going really the right way in a night. This is one of my favorite records that lives in my house.
Mulato Astatke Quartet – Ethiopian Jazz 45One of the best things about collecting records is the people it has connected me with. I spent a day going through about 10,000 doo-wop 45s. The guy who owned them and I had a real good day together. He was born in the city in the 40s, we were listening to 45s on the portable, and he would tell me where they would take him. He told me how the city used to be, he told me a lot of good stories, and I told him how the city was going now. He collected everything, his home is a museum. I was actually leaving when he randomly reached into a shelf I wasn’t going to get to and pulled this out. he wanted to hang some more, I had to be out, so I was packing up my things and not looking in his direction he was trying to get me to stay a while more, “what about this one, ummmm (reads the cover) Ethiopian Jazz”. That one found me.
Winter in America – Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson.This record is amazing, from the cover art to the music. There is a tune on this record in particular called “your daddy loves you”. It is a beautiful song, it gives me hope, and it’s nice to hear someone realize they are going the wrong way before it is too late. I hope I can do that in my life as well. The way he is singing it to his sleeping daughter because it is the only way he has the courage…..such a beautiful picture.
Lee Fields – Do You Love Me (Like You Say You Do)?First of all this record is pure fire, both sides. People always have and still continue to come up to me when I play this and ask what it is. I played honey dove a million times in a row at home. Something else, I lost my first copy of this record, or I thought I did anyway (I wound up finding it later). I couldn’t find another so I called the label, long story made short. I had no idea what truth&soul; actually was, and when I went there I was so impressed with what was going on that I asked for a job. Being a part of truth&soul; has certainly enriched my life, and still does. I guess this is one of those records that has more than music coming off it for me.
Gangstarr – Daily OperationThis is one of my favorite records, Gangstarr is top ranking. I really learned a lot listening to these guys, both about music and about life. I am still hearing new things in this record 17 years later.check “conspiracy” the dj and mc really doing the song together, and primo dragging the needle across the record for the hook.Making it happen.
Nina Simone – He needs me 45I could have grabbed any Nina Simone album, or 45. I love her so much. I consider some people a gift to the rest of us, her definitely being one of them, so intense, so beautiful. “He needs me” is very easy to understand. I read somewhere that she made up “my baby just cares for me” on the spot to give her first album an “up” number. I have had the pleasure of turning many a dances up with this record. I really relate to the thing that this song is about, it is what I care about too.
My main man Tari played me the whales record one time, it is a really good listen, and it takes me to a lot of places. I think it is so dope how much experimental recording used to go on. I guess you don’t really see too much of that anymore. All kinds of pushing the boundaries stuff, that Raymond Scott record too, he’s just doing some real out stuff. One thing I really love about diggin somewhere where there is all kinds of stuff, is, well, that there is all kinds of stuff.
Astrud Gilberto – I haven’t got anything better to doI Pulled this one out when you were here because I had just come up on it a few weeks before. I love Astrud Gilberto, so I was happy to find one that I didn’t have yet. But then I listened to this record and it stayed on the turntable for weeks, in fact it is still getting heavy airplay here. There are some really slick arrangements on here. They even use this one technique that I have been using for a long time in both mixes and production. I guess “not a thing new under the sun”.
The Mad Lads – In ActionAs far as covers go, I mean I pulled this one out because I just don’t get it. This is a really nice record; I can only imagine why they went with this cover. But it is really nice looking. Classic.
Q: Name, Age & PlaceA: Akalepse, but you can call me lepse for short. 31 years old, Brooklyn.
Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I DJ. I make music. I work at truth & soul records.
Q: What was your first album? How did you get it? At what age? Do you still have it?
A: The first thing I ever had on vinyl was the alkaholiks “make room” 12″. I didn’t start collecting records until I started djing. That was 1992-93. I was 15ish. I still have it, I still play it.
Q: Do you remember the day when you switched from being a record listener to a record collector?
A: I really don’t think of myself as a record collector. I am a D.J. I wouldn’t do this to myself. Having this much physical material is at times a hard thing. Getting more records is like learning more words in a language. It gives me the ability to be more articulate as a D.J. as far as listening goes; I am still doing that all the time.
Q: Initial interest in music? Did you get influence from your family? Instrument?
A: music has always been in my life, not from my folks or anything like that; although my mother was always very supportive of whatever I wanted to get into, musically, artistically, passionately. Music has always been a place of comfort for me, something that makes sense without needing an explanation.
Q: Why vinyl? Is it the sound of it? Or maybe the archival qualities? Or other romantic reason?
A: I love records. So many things about them.The music of course, but the sound of the needle on the record before it gets to the music. The sound of the needle on the record after the music is over, in the forawhile (the groove that stops the needle from getting to the label at the end), records all have different forawhiles, I love finding good ones.I like looking for records, looking through records.The art that comes with records, be it the label, or the cover, I love the inserts in records that have pictures of other records.Finding places that are full of records, finding people in the street selling records, I mean it’s captured music that turns up everywhere.Someone’s art from Brazil, I found it in a crate of records waiting for the garbage man, now it has a brand new life.Romantic reasons?I guess they all are.But, what it started from is simply that that is what djs use. I wanted to dj.
Q: How many LPs? 45s?
A: maybe 10,000 to 15,000 LPs maybe 2000 to 3000 45s.I haven’t counted them, but that is the question most people ask when they come by the house.
Q: Any specific genre? What attracted you to this specific genre?
A: I collect things that I like. I don’t really set out digging for records with certain ones in mind that I want to find, I am way more interested in discovering something new to me just by putting the needle on it. I look for certain different energies and textures more than I look for certain genres.And then I am always looking for things to sample and flip. So that may make me take home some really out records because there are three seconds of some sound on there that catches my imagination. I am also always, always, always, looking for new music. This is by far what I want to find the most. Good new music, meaning current music.I always love finding anything I like that is new to me, be it older music or newer music of course.But, what I am after is current music that is good, it is harder to find.I always want new music to spread to people when I am playing records; recently I go to the record store and leave with nothing too often.Of course there are some older rare records I know I want to find, but I keep my mind open to each record.You never know what you are holding until you listen.
Q: Do you travel to find records? Where? How often?
A: I will go pretty much anywhere I hear that there are records; I don’t really want to elaborate on that, as it seems kind of silly, like bragging. It is just something you do when you want to find records. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t find any good records, but I wouldn’t call it losing.New places, new people…….the good life.But I have been in some pretty funny situations. I have also met a lot of really great people through music, I guess as it applies to this interview, through going to find records at peoples homes and things like that, also other collectors that are now friends.Give thanks and praises.
Q: You mentioned that you go to people’s houses and buy records. Is that pretty common for you? How do know about these sales? Does it feel awkward for you to be at someone’s house and go thru his/her records?
A: I do it whenever I can, which really means whenever I find someone selling records. Sometimes it is not their personal collection, they are antique collectors or something and they came up on a lot of records cheap so they took the lot. Sometimes it is someone’s personal collection. I am yet to have an awkward experience with that. I understand how much my music is to me, so when I am around someone else’s I step lightly. Every single time so far, by the time I am leaving with the records the people are happy that I am the one who is taking them. I don’t buy records to resell records. I am their new home, I am going to air them out to people for as long as I live. God willing. People can dig that, it makes them settled. I think this applies to anything someone passes on. Regardless of the money. I do my best to carry the torch, it is amazing really. I have even picked up some people’s collections who have passed away. Maybe I am there with their brother who is obviously grieving their loss. They say that this person would be glad to know the music was going to someone who will love it, and share it.
Q: What are the most records you bought in one go?
A: show me a bunch of records; I’ll build more shelves. I have taken them in by the thousands. I’m always open to doing it again. When I go to some of my spots I always get like two to three crates. I have my work cut out for me, but I will accept more, with records, it is on their schedule, when they show up, well, that’s when you have to get them. If I come across an interesting collection that is in good shape, and they only want to sell the whole thing (this happens a lot) and the price is fair, I’m calling my guy Adam with the van. He is always down to help me out.
Q: How do you organize the collection?
A: my collection is organized different ways depending on genres. Some just plain old alphabetically, some based on how they connect to each other in my mind. Some regional, sometimes I change the way I do it. Funny enough you think you are the only fool, and then you find out there are many more of you. I saw a real funny thing in that movie hi fidelity, where the dude is down and out so he rearranges his record collection. I can relate to that, it is nice going through everything, rediscovering things. It brings up a lot of memories, and it takes up your mind
Q: Have you ever battled (not physically) for a rare record? What happened?
A: outside of getting outbid on the Internet, no. I am not that hard up for records. Besides, most places that I look for records there is no one to battle with.I really believe that records find you, or at least find me.There have been a few times that I learned about a record, and I really want to have it.I go digging somewhere that I would never expect to find that type of record, and it is in the first ten records I look through.Also sometimes I am working on a mix, and I need a record to get from one place to another, and there it is.The record I never knew that finishes the sentence.
Q: Tell me a particularly sad record story!
A: not really sad, but I just missed 10,000 dead stock unplayed funk and soul records by a few days a couple years ago, the guy had them in his attic since the eighties. He bought a commercial space in Connecticut back in the day and all these records were in there. He then kept them in his attic for years. I went up there to look through the records he had, (10,000ish rock, and doo wop 45s) and it was cool,I was finding stuff. I asked if he had soul 45s, he said no, he had just sold the whole lot to a Canadian who had a record store. This guy was a collector himself; he knew what time it was for the most part. He said it was 40 percent common funk and soul, but dope stuff, like james brown and such, but the other sixty he said was deeper stuff, less known, you know, the goods. Turns out he sold 10,000 mint soul 45s for a real small amount of money. What can I say, ships pass. That would have been a sweet one to catch.
Q: What’s your partners’ reaction to this obsession?
A: could I really even hang with a woman that didn’t get it?
Q: Is there an album / 45 that you are trying to find, unsuccessfully? What would you give for it?
A: there are a few records I am always looking for. What would I give for them??, I guess more patience until we meet.
Q: Out of your great collection, there must be a few records that you like going back to at any time. What makes them so special for you?
A: I am stuck on all kinds of records. I can hear a lot of the same things over and over. Some artists that never gets old to me, gangstarr, Curtis Mayfield, Bob Marley, Nina Simone, Sade. A bunch though. A lot of times I come up on a new record and it takes over for a long time. Usually just one song, and I play it over and over.By now I also realized the value of going back to things, this is why I rarely get rid of records.One day I listen to it and don’t really like it, a year later I check it out again and I like it very much.
Q: This is your question…. Anything you want to say, add, observe, criticize, compliment…
A: I can trace almost everything important in my life back to music, whether it made the introduction to a person, a place, a thing, or taught me something about life. To the people who made/make the music that has made me who I am, your life has helped mine. Give thanks and praises. Thank you buckets. I hope I can give something back that will continue that.
D.J. Akalepse plays:
1. Spanish joint – D’angelo
2. Maskaram Setaba – Mulatu
3. He needs me – Nina Simone
4. Hardcore Composer – Gangstarr
5. I’m the Man – Gangstarr
6. The Mad Lads – Nothing Can Break Through
7. Do You Love Me (like you say you do) – Lee Fields & the Expressions
8. You’re daddy loves you – Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson
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