In our trip around the world to meet the record collectors, we made a stop in the Washington DC area to talk with Jenn. Working for Furnace Record Pressing, owner of the blog Women In Vinyl and huge fan of Black Sabbath, Jenn was kind enough to take the time to share her story with us. We talked about music, her project, record collecting and what is like to be a woman in the vinyl industry. She shared with us her very interesting point of view on the matters. It’s now time to discover her very fascinating interview!
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hey! My name is Jenn D’Eugenio, I’ve lived all over but have settled back in the DC area with my partner Ray (@rayblev on IG) where we work at Furnace Record Pressing (@furnacemfg on IG). I’m an account representative there so if you need records pressed, let me know! I also run a blog called “Women in Vinyl” (@womeninvinyl on IG) that works to empower women working in the vinyl industry.
How and when did you start you record collection? How many do you own today?
I’ve been around records all my life but I started buying and “collecting” records of my own when I was in high school. Ray and I merged our collections and have about 3000 or so last time we checked not counting 7in / 45s, but neither of us have stopped buying them either.
What started your interest in music?
I can’t pinpoint one main thing that started my interest in music; it’s just always been a part of my life. When I was young we lived in San Francisco and went to a lot of festivals where I was exposed to music, and I always remember my parents and grandparents listening to music. When I was three, I was put into ballet because I was shy which ended up being something I pursued for many years so a lot of my life was led by music in a way as well.
“I prefer the sound and ritual of playing a record over other formats
What is your musical background?
My Dad played guitar, my Mom played music and sang, we always had a piano which my sister played, and I played the clarinet in middle school (yep, band trips were reason enough for a bunch of us to join) but otherwise I don’t make music in any way. That side of things just wasn’t really my passion; appreciation as a listener has always been my place.
What was the first record you ever purchased?
Led Zeppelin; true to form when I go digging now, I didn’t buy just one record. Houses of the Holy though is the one I always say was the first from that day.
What kind of music was playing in your house when you were a kid? Did your parents have records?
All kinds of stuff, and yes my parents did have records. They played everything from The Temptations and other Motown to Willie Nelson, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. My Dad also enjoyed Jazz.
Do you collect a particular genre of music?
I collect all types of music, and listen to all different genres. Most of what I share with the public via my Instagram is Stoner Rock, Doom and Psych type stuff but that isn’t the extent of what I own or my taste, it’s just the largest piece.
What is your best find ever?
Finding any of my Black Sabbath “Master of Reality” variants, old Sabbath comps, and Ray and I found Coven, “Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls” original press at a garage sale so that was pretty crazy.
Any regrets about a lost record or about records you did not buy?
No regrets, no. I’ve never lost a record unless it got put away in the wrong place in the shelf (true story, haha). I try and keep the mentality that if you see it and if you have money for it buy it, because you might not see it again. Typically when I’m out digging I try to have a budget set aside for things that may pop up like a holy grail so I don’t have to leave a good record behind. That being said, sometimes I’m priced out and do have to leave it, and in that case I can’t let myself feel regret about it.
An interesting / funny anecdote about your collection or about vinyl that you have acquired?
I try and collect every variant of “Master of Reality” that I can find. Even if they look the same on the outside if they are a different pressing I want to own copy. I love to research them and I’d love to be able to catalogue them all. I think it’s so interesting how many variants got pressed and how the cover and label art changed with certain releases, it’s obviously also my favorite Black Sabbath record.
What was your latest purchase?
They were actually two live records, one is Monkey 3 – Live at Freak Valley Limited Edition and My Sleeping Karma Mela Ananda – Live both via Napalm Records.
Is there an artist or label in particular that you are trying to get the full discography?
I collect the RidingEasy Records discography, I’m close to having all of it, and I’m on my way to do the same with El Paraiso; such good stuff from those two labels.
It’s the end of the world, you can only take 5 records from your collection with you! Which ones and why?
I am actually the worst at this type of thing it feels too definitive and I’ve got no idea what I’d want if the world was ending! That said, not to sound redundant, I’d definitely grab all my Black Sabbath and throw it in a big suitcase. Aside from that most likely some Causa Sui, Elder, Earth, Earthless and Uncle Acid would be among the ones that would be important to have.
Original pressings or re-issues? Why?
Either or both. I love an original press and for some things I feel it’s the one I have to have. For other things I’m ok with a repress it just depends on the release.
What kind of digger are you? (online, record shop, thrift shop, garage sale…)
All of the above. I shop online for some new releases especially when it’s direct from the band or label. A lot of the music I like doesn’t often show up in local shops and this way I can support the bands and labels directly. I use Discogs when I want something I can’t find locally or I found out about too late, I also use it for specific variants I’m after. That said we always check out and support local shops. Sometimes when we travel that’s the main reason we go somewhere and the first thing we plan. We’ve always loved flea markets. And when I was in high school the Salvation Army was a gold mine but not so much anymore.
Do you think that collecting records helps to preserve our musical and cultural legacy?
Yes! Records to me are similar to books in that it’s a time capsule, a story, and an experience… like when you were asking about a repress vs original press; each variant may tell a story, maybe the record is an original pressing passed down with someone’s name written on the center label, or a certain plant scribed into the deadwax; or maybe the record has been reissued to share with a new audience, vinyl preserves music in that way that it is passed down and held with care and importance differently than other mediums.
What attracts you in a record?
The music on it! I prefer the sound and ritual of playing a record over other formats.
How do you organize your collection?
Genre → Alphabetical → Chronological
Black Sabbath | Riding Easy | El Paraiso and Soundtracks are all in their own sections due to the quantity; and then the comps go at the end of the genre they’re a part of. It seems crazy I know, I’m an organizer, but you can always find what you’re looking for.
What does your record collection say about you?
Everything if you look hard enough, all the records I own represent a time in my life or a song that I love.
What’s your current setup at home?
I had one 1200 and an Audio Technica before Ray and I merged our collections, with him being a DJ we now have five 1200s and have also added a portable Numark. We use Klipsch speakers in our main listening space. None of our equipment is too fancy, and we’re not hi-fi aficionados, a solid quality turntable that does its job, along with good speakers, is fine by me.
“[…]vinyl is a medium that should be celebrated and we should respect all those that are participating no matter who they are and how they take part[…]
You said on your IG story that and I quote: “Sometimes being a vinyl collecting woman is hard, not everyone takes us seriously!”. Why do you think that?
Well I’ve had people comment that I must be posting my “boyfriend’s collection” which isn’t true, while we have crossover our interests for specific types of music are different. I’ve been collecting for over 18 years, and so has Ray (plus a few years, he’s a bit older than me). The part collecting vinyl that is new is the social media aspect, not the buying records part.
I’ve watched people in shops treat me differently when I ask about something than when Ray does; and I’ve had people actually message to quiz me about things I post as if I don’t know about or listen to them. Once a guy called me names I’d never type here and said: “…you don’t deserve to listen to Alice Cooper, you probably just got that record to post on instagram”.
I’ve also had someone tell me they can’t wait until I die so my variants of Sabbath can go to people who deserve them, which I can only imagine a comment like that could stem from jealousy. I got a ton of support from the community when these things happened, but it’s still disheartening. It runs deeper than social media too, but those are some easy examples that come to mind. I realize this doesn’t represent the majority but it is an issue.
On your IG account, you also talk about your side project @womeninvinyl who is about to give power back to women in the vinyl industry! Can you tell us a bit more about it and why this initiative?
This is going to be a long answer…
Record collecting is a pretty male dominated hobby and field, I can’t honestly tell you why. Girls collect things and women go into fields like audio engineering too; so I’m not sure where the divide really comes from other than just the innate male vs female roles we’ve learned.
That said I’ve always been “one of the guys” but with the “resurgence” of vinyl I think it’s been more evident and more largely felt, maybe people feel like they have something to prove, I really don’t know.
A few months ago there was a ridiculous meme going around social media, it was non-stop, everyone was posting it. It was of a 1950’s couple sitting in their living room the guy’s holding a record and in his speech bubble it says something about a nerdy version of the record he’s holding. The woman knitting is replying “Honey, I don’t give a f**k”. It really annoyed me, a lot… normally things like this don’t. I think it was because I understood the sentiment; if I said some fact about a certain pressing’s deadwax etching for example to some friends they’d reply that they don’t care, but the fact it was a woman knitting and no one felt it wasn’t a good image to represent that and kept reposting it irritated me. Come to find out I wasn’t the only woman out there sick of seeing it and so I thought let’s change that and talk about the women out there working in the industry behind the scenes who are nerdy about the nuts and bolts, and actual creation and preservation of the medium in one way or another.
I’m so thankful that the crew at Furnace took a chance on me with no experience in the actual making of vinyl prior to working there, other than the fact that I did eat, sleep and breathe records (which is the type of person they said they were looking for in the job description). They told me several times before I started manufacturing isn’t glamour, and while they were right, every single day it’s not lost on me that I’m helping people press their music on vinyl. Some days I’ll go to work, come home and keep working until I go to bed because I want to make sure their project is as they’re envisioning it and I know a lot of other women out there are working that hard too.
So for that meme to be one of the ways we were represented didn’t feel right. For what it’s worth, because there are people that have said negative things about Women In Vinyl as well, it isn’t about guys vs girls or girls are better than guys it’s just about the fact that vinyl is a medium that should be celebrated and we should respect all those that are participating no matter who they are and how they take part be it manufacturing, selling, or collecting because without a part of that it can’t thrive.
Want to add something about yourself? Now it’s the time 😉
I think that about covers it! Come say hey and talk about music with me on Instagram.
Photos credit: Courtesy of @jennn_erator
Thank you very much Jenn for this interview. It was very interesting and I sincerely hope that your project “Women In Vinyl” will help men to change the way they look at women who are sharing their passion about collecting records or working in the vinyl industry! 😉