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Dave Haslam talks vinyl with Seth Troxler

Hallam's wax records receive Troxler's needle treatment

“I had a Zen-like feeling that I wanted to resist having materialistic things,” was how Dave Haslam began the Vinyl Exchange talk at IMS 2016 with his vinyl collection's buyer, Seth Troxler. The former Haçienda resident flogged the entire lot after rationalising he wasn't as emotionally tied to his colossal stash as he once was. Having a vinyl vault lying in a dormant state - while it could be revived at the hands of another beat enthusiast - seemed to him a bigger loss and a Facebook announcement was quickly made. His plea for a new home went viral and after Troxler got wind of the pending sale, he pounced in his typically forthright manner with an email that read: “I don't know if you know who I am, but I'm one of the world's biggest DJs.” Haslam didn't know of Troxler's crowned global status, but his children's reactive excitement at the prospect of Troxler getting the lot, confirmed the statement as fact.

Troxler and Haslam's beat control triggered different generations, with Troxler breaking into earthly existence across the Atlantic in Michigan the same year that Haslam kicked off his Haçienda residency. There might be two decades between them, but when the age gap is bridged by an emotional bond - and secured through a mutual understanding that relics of rhythm are collectable treasures - age fades into insignificance. IMS was only their first real meeting since Haslam personally scoped out Troxler's intentions in Amsterdam before sending the goods, but their natural rapport pitted them as two buddies reunited, buzzing off their shared love for stashing beats in all their shades. What they'd originally planned for IMS was a discussion of the deal, their love of vinyl and the play of 10 classics taken from the collection that had been amassed from over 450 gigs at the Mancunian Mecca between 1986 and 1990. What transpired was such an in depth, engaging discussion that we only got wind of two of Troxler's favourites from the few boxes he'd found time to dig into between his manic touring schedule. Nostalgic dives into the UK's raving past and a common affection for vinyl, as opposed to characterless digital downloads, were some of the topics touched on. Troxler and Haslam are two naturally witty characters with a lot to say, which could have kept their dialogue dancing for hours beyond their allocated slot. Between them, they answered some burning questions, but they also opened the lid to more, so we were lucky to grab a chat with the former Haçienda DJ for another Q & A session.

Now, I've taken days to decide whether I can commit to selling a few pairs of battered Nike trainers online and I didn't do very well, but I'm well aware I'm still a materialistic monster. Haslam's bold, big sell decision was impulsively made in just one day, and some thought he was downright delirious - while he stood by the opinion that not selling them could have had a sadder outcome. “Who knows how things might have turned out”, he joked. “In 35 years' time on my 85th birthday, I get hit by a falling mirror ball and maybe at that point my kids might have gone into the cellar and thought 'we've got to get rid of this junk', and I'll be like, why did I hold on to it?” It'd be a cracking way to go, but he's right, it would be a coffin-turning alternative to having a fellow music collector giving them a spin to both educate and entertain dance pilgrims.

Predictably, some friends, family and the public weren't having any of it and the Facebook post's comments section was filled with pleads of “DON'T DO IT”, and the like. Not perturbed, he admitted this reaction was probably what pushed him to go for it, and in true definition of reverse psychology, said that if there'd been support, he might have backed out. Another interesting offer came in from an art gallery in Italy, which proposed to exhibit his sleeved collection with the hope that Dave would also make an appearance. He also received some serious, yet cracked, requests from people asking that he dig out one specific record from the mountain of 12" singles. In the end, it was the ever-charming and eccentric Troxler who won Haslam over with his “original way of thinking and real love for the music.”

The heirloom of over 30 boxes contains big tracks from Manchester label, Factory Records, and sounds that stretch across funk, soul, electro, industrial, alternative, and early acid and house horsepower. An “I LOVE TECHNO” t-shirt might be an indicator for what an individual prefers pumping through their headphones, but even then you can't guarantee they could tell you where The Belleville Three burst from. Haslam refrained from falling into the assumption trap and decided against fingering through the tracks to remove any he deemed might fall into Troxler's 'NO' file. He felt that he owed it to the Michigan maestro to give him the lot complete, which gifted him a sonic adventure that's only actually just begun. One of the biggest rewards from Haslam's end of the deal is hearing that those records he thought wouldn't be a spinner for Seth, are actually the ones to have turned him on the most. With that unexpected reaction to a small selection of indie tracks, Dave predicted that his head will explode once the other 30 boxes have been given the needle treatment, especially as, unknown to Troxler, there's a “mega surprise box” waiting to be turned inside out.

A vinyl collection of that magnitude, with the wax cuts having found themselves thrust through the formative years of the UK's rave scene, is bound to be mottled with distinguishing imperfections. Back then, DJs and clubbers didn't initially have the foresight to realise they were dancing to a groundbreaking beat that was already revolutionising the UK; they weren't thinking about it; it was just happening. One box of 85 records was wrecked by a beer spill, some records will be in the wrong sleeves, and others will simply show signs of wear and tear from rapid states of play and being tossed to the side as another meets the needle, because, as Haslam recalled, “You weren't thinking about preserving them.” Preservation might not have factored in during the Haçienda's heyday, but it's now the word spun into rotation in Troxler's mind as he unpacks the pile to add a load of newly discovered material to his sets. Haslam's instinct, before Troxler made his appeal, was that he knew he and his collection were on the beginning of another adventure. So far, with interviews in magazines from Italy and France and of course the IMS exchange, it's been exactly that, and it's only the beginning of a new chapter. He added, “I kind of feel that weirdly the collection is still part of me in a way, but the vinyl is with Seth. The story of selling the records to Seth is the story that will somehow keep it going.”

One final question that spontaneously popped up was what he'd say to Troxler if he proposed they grab a B2B session together with his recently exported vinyl stash. I was glad I asked because it was an instant yes, with him admitting he'd love to, and wants to tell him that, but he's not very pushy. “He'll say, 'How are you Dave?' And I'll say 'Great, but I could do with a few more DJ gigs.'” The hint might have bounced, but it may well be in the pipeline already as the people behind Park Life festival in Manchester have already told Troxler they want them both on board to do a B2B at an after party. Haslam joked that he'd do anything for a half litre bottle of vodka, but let's treat that as fact and propose that the Grey Goose is ordered in and we see this gig become a dance trippin' reality through the decades.

WORDS | Aimee Lawrence PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman

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