Monday 25 March 2019

‘We don’t listen to albums the way we used to’ – The Vinyl Festival celebrates record revival this weekend

The Vinyl Festival takes place in Dun Laoghaire this weekend - Friday November 16 - Sunday 18.

Neil Goodman and Brian O'Flaherty of The Vinyl Festival
Neil Goodman and Brian O'Flaherty of The Vinyl Festival
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Oscar nominated director Lenny Abrahamson and actor Adrian Dunbar are among the high-profile guests sharing their love of vinyl at The Vinyl Festival this weekend.

Taking place in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin from tomorrow, Friday, November 16 to Sunday 18, the festival aims to celebrate all things vinyl from writing, recording, producing and performing, to sleeve design and liner notes.

Born out of a conversation between local record shop owner Brian O'Flaherty and graphic designer and fellow vinyl enthusiast Neil Goodman last year the three-day event also boasts guests including Bronagh Gallagher, Don Letts, Joe Jackson, Gavin Friday, Julie Feeney, Steve Averill and more, with 2FM's Dave Fanning and Today FM's Tom Dunne moderating.

It's clear the vinyl revival is thriving in Ireland.

For co-founder Neil, the festival is about remembering a time when albums were tangible entities, savoured over and played as they were intended, and the artwork was as much a part of the ritual as the music.

“We’ve all had so many years of just playing tracks, and we all do it, on the iPod.  You play half a track and skip to something else.  You don’t listen to albums the way you used to," he says.

"Albums are set out in a particular way.  The artist wants you to play them in the order they’ve put them down.  It means something that track four is where it is.  Even turning the record over and having that break is part of the experience.

It’s about more than music.  It’s the touch and feel and smell and everything else."

As he speaks he's surveying his own collection of albums laid out like a mini exhibition in one of the festival venues. The nostalgia element of record collecting is very powerful.

"I'm looking at them and remembering where I bought them," he says, adding that Dexys Midnight Runners' Searching for the Young Soul Rebels was the first album that had a real impact on him as a child and ignited his interest in music and records, "That album completely blew me away.  I was 11 or 12 years old and I thought 'oh my God, this is music'."

Streaming, he says, is not "the enemy" although he does not have a Spotify account and buys his music from Apple Music. 

“I think there’s room for both,” he says.  “If you’re getting to listen to music it doesn’t matter how I suppose.  I just prefer to listen on vinyl.  I don’t think Spotify is the beset way to listen to music because we tend to listen to compilations and we don’t listen to albums the whole way through anymore.”

Although vinyl sales still account for only a tiny fraction of music sales, many artists are once again embracing old school records.  Irish artist Roisin Murphy recently released four 12” records via The Vinyl Factory.  Earlier this year Sony Music began producing vinyl records in-house for the first time since 1989.

Murphy has spoken about the artwork being an extension of the music, and just as important, and it’s an element that’s not overlooked in the festival.  Graphic artist, art director, writer and musician Steve Averill, who has designed all U2’s album covers, will be talking through five record sleeves he designed.

“It’s a side of it that’s kind of fallen away,” says Neil.  “Now you might have a little jpeg.  But with records you had sleeves and liners.  Back in the 90s the 4AD record label put so much work into their covers, for bands like the Breeders and The Pixies.  The artwork was just beautiful.”

Lenny Abrahamson will be joined by his long-time collaborator Stephen Rennicks to talk about the soundtracks to Room, What Richard Did, and Frank while Bronagh Gallagher and Stanley Townsend will talk about Conor McPherson’s play Girl from the North Country in which they performed last year in London, and which is based on the music of Bob Dylan. The play’s soundtrack was recorded in Abbey Road and released on vinyl. 

Enniskillen actor Adrian Dunbar, best known for his role in Line of Duty and most recently seen in Virgin Media Television’s Blood, used to be in a band, and he’s doing a ‘Devinish Island Discs’ talk about the albums which most influenced him over the years.

Author Andrew Cartmel will talk about his Vinyl Detective books while film director, DJ and musician Don Letts will discuss the history and importance of Trojan Records, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and will play a DJ set in The Purty Kitchen on Sunday night.

For more information on the line-up and tickets check out Tickets are also available on the door for events that are not sold out.

Read more: 'It's an antidote to streaming culture' - meet the people reconnecting with vinyl

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