James, record collector from Bristol – UK

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For our first article about the record collectors from all around the world, we had the chance to interview James. Based in Bristol, UK, he is a DJ and a big fan of Hip Hop, RnB and Prince! He is definitely one of the most passionate record collectors I have ever met. But enough chit chat, James, the floor is yours!

Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Yes team! So, I’m James from Bristol – UK. I DJ under the name Felix Joy and I’m part of Sip The Juice (shout out to Peazy and the gang!) which is a collection of DJs and promoters in Bristol that puts on Hip Hop nights, although I also host other parties playing different styles of music.

It doesn’t matter if you have 10 or 10,000 [records] as long as you enjoy them

How and when did you start you record collection? How many do you own today?

I first started buying records when I was around 12 or 13 when I got my first set of decks. I got some very shitty belt drive turntables and a terrible mixer. I only tried to learn how to DJ for maybe a year and gave up mainly because buying records at that age is too expensive. I relighted my fire for buying records again around the age of 20 and have been going strong since then! I’d say I have around 2000 records in my collection, however, I’ve never counted. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 or 10,000 as long as you enjoy them.

What started your interest in music?

I’ve been super interested in music from a very young age, I can clearly remember getting a cassette player around the age of 4 or 5 and got 2 tapes with it, The Blues Brothers soundtrack (my Dad’s influence) and the Pretty Woman soundtrack (my Mum’s influence) both albums are full of bangers! I’d watch The Blues Brothers most weekends at my Dad’s house and clearly remember all the larger than life musicians who all cameo in the film which definitely helped my interest. From there I’ve always been into learning about new artists and genres and it took another step up when I got into hip hop around age 11.

mobb deep record signed

What was the first record you ever purchased?

The first two records I ever bought were Pharoahe Monch – Internal Affairs and Mos Def – Black On Both Sides from Rooted Records (record shop in Bristol, ed) back when they both came out. I was 11 or 12 and had just got decks and used my Christmas money to get them. They’ve both been signed by the artist after we’ve had them to play at Sip The Juice. I even told the story of how it was my first record to Pharoahe Monch when I sat down with him after the show.

What is your musical background?

I’ve never been able to play an instrument but when I turned 30 last year I made it my mission to learn the piano and have been teaching myself ever since. It definitely gives you a new appreciation for what these musicians can do.

What kind of music was playing in your house when you were a kid? Did your parents have records?

Both my parents always had music in their houses. My Dad has a record collection too which I’ve managed to nab a few of over the years. Everytime I play on the radio or do a new mix he always texts me to ask if it was his copy of whichever record I played and to say he wants it back! There was a lot of James Brown and motown artists always playing but other artists like Van Morrison. My Dad would always play a cassette of Loose Ends – Hanging On A String in the car and my Mum must have played Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill a million times in the car too!

Do you collect a particular genre of music?

The main bulk of my collection is Hip Hop and RnB mainly from having the records to play out in clubs. I’ve also got quite a few Boogie and Disco 12s which is more of what I prefer to play these days.

What is your best find ever?

A few of my best finds might be some rare Aaliyah 7 inch singles I found for 50p each at a charity shop. I also bought a copy of Breakbot and Irfane – Baby I’m Yours when it came out for around £5 and now that easily sells online for 10 times the price. I also recently found out that the Erykah Badu – Honey 7″ is reselling for silly money, there was a box with maybe 10+ copies in a shop I used to go to for 50p each, only bought one copy which looking back now was dumb…

Any regrets about a lost record or about records you did not buy?

Loads of lost records I wish I’d bought! The main thing I’ve learnt is that if a song comes out and you like it, buy it when it comes out, you never know if it’s going to be rare in the end or add value so you don’t want to get stung 6 months later paying stupid prices on Discogs. This happened to me with EKO – Funky Disco Music EP which was around a tenner on release and then people were charging £60 for it a month later. Luckily the price came back down and I paid £18….

An interesting / funny anecdote about your collection or about vinyl that you have acquired?

Luckily through playing and booking nights you get to meet real cool people. 2 guys that always hook me up with records are Jim Sharp (the edit king!!!) he’s based in London and DJs as part of Sip The Juice at certain shows. He always hooks me up with 45s he does. They resell on discogs for crazy money (not that I’d ever resell them). I’ve got a test press of the Pete Rock & CL Smooth – TROY edit he did as well as an OG copy, he also hooked me up with an OG and test press of the Tribe Called Quest edit he did. I gave the test press away to E Da Boss aka E as he’s the 2nd person who always hooks me up with records. I met E after we booked his band Myron & E (check that record!) and I played some Boogie records after the show. He gave me some rare records from his other project, The Pendletons and we’ve kept in contact since and even had him over to stay and DJ shows a few times since too.

What was your latest purchase?

My latest purchase was a 45 by Brenda And The Big Dudes – Amahlahle b/w Bongani, I’ve been getting a lot into Afrobeat and African Boogie at the moment!

I love when a record has good artwork, you can definitely know the vibe of the song from the artwork being on point!

Is there an artist or label in particular that you are trying to get the full discography?

I’m a huge J Dilla fan and way back ago was buying the J Dilla Anthology bootleg records. I now have 5 out of 6 but the discogs sharks started selling them for way too much money so I’ve settled with 5.

j-dilla anthology

It’s the end of the world, you can only take 5 records from your collection with you! Which ones and why?

DAAAAAAAMN!!! If I had to only pick 5 records from my collection I’d probably just let the world end around me… I’d probably pick out 5 albums rather than worry about getting the rare ones from my collection. First record I’d grab is Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest. From there I’d grab some Prince records and then whatever else was first in my hand.

Album prince do me baby

Original pressings or re-issues? Why?

I’m happy to buy an OG or a reissue. If it’s a reissue from the original recordings then great, you can save a lot of money but recently they’re pressing them up from MP3 copies and they sound like trash. My other beef with reissues is that the artwork is never the same or as good. Mainly I’m going to buy and playing the records out so if some drunk idiot spills a drink on a £50 OG record, you’re gonna be pissed off.

What kind of digger are you?

There’s good record shops in Bristol so I try and make it to them regularly but there’s also new music coming out a lot on sites like Juno that you can’t find. I’ve slowed down on buying things on Discogs, it’s great because you can get a good price but you can easily also get ripped off.

Do you think that collecting records helps to preserve our musical and cultural legacy?

100% !! There are soooooo many songs and records that you can’t get on MP3 and will easily be lost in time without people searching them out. It definitely helps preserve it too because when a rare disco record that only had 300 copies pressed starts selling online for serious money, labels take notice and then hunt the artist down and reissue the song for everyone to have.

record collection of james

What attracts you in a record?

I love when a record has good artwork, you can definitely know the vibe of the song from the artwork being on point!

snoop dog signed record

How do you organize your collection?

My collection is perfectly organised to my own crazy system. It’s broken down into genre then sub-categorised into sub-genres, crews, record labels and artists. It took a long time to do but I know where every record is supposed to be. It’s a total ball-ache to put the records back after a party so I usually end up having records everywhere until I can be bothered to properly organise them again. All my albums are also separately organised in alphabetical order.

What does your record collection say about you?

My collection definitely says I’m a big fan of Hip Hop, RnB, Boogie and Prince! It also says I’ve been able to meet a lot of amazing people through DJing!

What’s your current setup at home?

My current setup is Technics 1210s, mine broke so Peter Storm (shout out to Peter Storm!) has let me borrow his along with his mixer as mine stopped working too (HA!)… I’ve got a Cambridge Audio amp and I inherited some really nice speakers from my Aunty’s Dad when he passed away a few years ago.

Want to add something about yourself?

I post loads of pictures of records on Instagram → @felixjoy
My mixes are on → Mixcloud.com/felixjoy
Sip The Juice Facebook

More pictures from James’ collection

Photos credit: Courtesy of @felixjoy

Thank you very much James for this interview! It was great from you to share your story with us!