For the love of vinyl: A chat with Australia’s new record subscription club, Waxx Lyrical

In an age where the sheer magnitude of music coming out every week – every day – can be overwhelming for even the most persevering listener, any chance to have new tunes selected and curated for you is one that should be taken. Enter, Waxx Lyrical.

Waxx Lyrical is a brand new vinyl subscription club based in Adelaide. How does it work? You sign up, and each month the ‘record of the month’ is delivered to your door. You can also access the Waxx Lyrical online community where you can chat and trade with other members and explore info on all things vinyl.

The featured records will be diverse in range and genres, from classic records from golden eras, to new Aussie bands and everything in between, handpicked by the team themselves.

Just weeks away from revealing their first record of the month, we caught up with Sam Flinn from the Waxx Lyrical to ask about their thoughts on vinyl’s comeback, why crate digging is still important, and what it is they love about wax.

Waxx Lyrical

Australia’s freshest vinyl subscription club, Waxx Lyrical, is just weeks away from launching its first record of the month. We caught with Sam Flinn from the team to find out what to expect.

HAPPY: Hey Sam, how’s it going? For those who aren’t across it yet, can you explain what Waxx Lyrical is?

SAM: Hey, so far so good! Waxx Lyrical is an online vinyl record subscription club and social community, where members join up and for each month they’re a member they will receive our featured ‘record of the month’ plus access to our online forum where they can chat and trade with other music lovers or explore heaps of news, interviews, reviews and playlists! The idea is that we build you an exciting and diverse record collection with more than a few gems whist involving you in a community where everyone’s got something in common!

HAPPY: Waxx Lyrical is such an intriguing name for the club – it almost sounds like a band. Where did it come from?

SAN: It’s funny I actually remember saying to my brother a while ago that if I ever owned a record store that’s what I’d call it. He said he’d call his 12” Discs but I wasn’t sure that was appropriate myself. The Waxx part comes obviously from wax which was used to make records way back in the beginning and from that point on until present day people have often referred to records as ‘wax’ or ‘hot wax’. Particularly during the funk and disco era, dancehall DJs would use those terms a lot. Lyrical of course needs little explanation, we know most songs contain lyrics! Also, if someone were to ‘wax lyrical’ about something it means that they’re raving about how bloody good it is. So hopefully people will wax lyrical about Waxx Lyrical! Put all that together and it seemed like a name perfect for us.

HAPPY: With so much great music coming out every week – how will you guys choose your ‘record of the month’?

SAM: Every record we will feature is a record that we would want in our own personal collection and because we like a diverse range of genres from way back when to the present day we’re spoilt for choice. If there’s a record due to be released that we’re excited about then we’ll work our hardest to try and get it as a feature but perhaps the following month we want to share a classic or influential album from a different time then we’ll work hard to source that also! I mean, how will we choose it? Depends what mood we’re in.

HAPPY: What are some records that you guys have personally been gushing over lately?

SAM: Oh, one in particular for me is Perth band Methyl Ethel’s record Everything is Forgotten, which was released earlier this year. I remember before I got hold of it on vinyl I was in the car with my girlfriend driving through the Adelaide Hills, winding between the trees on the narrow roads as the sun was just setting and I put this album on from front to back, I just remember feeling completely blissful and in awe of the tracks on that record, it was quite a perfect moment. Definitely my favourite album of 2017, it’s been out a few months, but it’s still on high rotation at my place.

HAPPY: I think the vinyl resurgence came as a bit of a shock for everyone. In your opinion, what do you think the catalyst is behind a renewed interest in the format?

SAM: We’re at a time now where creativity, quirkiness and personal expression is being championed more so than ever, particularly in younger people. I think vinyl went through a stage of being out of fashion and people didn’t want to be considered behind the times or labelled unfashionable and couldn’t wait to move on to the next thing. I don’t think that’s the case anymore, vinyl is in my and many others opinion the best platform of music and younger people are discovering that, of course with that, the original pioneers and pushers of vinyl (our parents) have found an excuse to dig out their old wax and experience the new stuff too!

HAPPY: While vinyl continues to go from strength to strength, there seems to be this perennial question of ‘how long will the bubble last?’. Obviously you guys are convinced it’s here to say (and we totally agree). Why?

SAM: Yeah look that’s something that people question me about all the time, for me it’s definitely here to stay. It went under the radar for a while but it didn’t go away, it’s stood the test of time and unlike fidget spinners (they still a thing?) it’s a multi-generational interest. I don’t know who likes spinning records more, me or my Dad! Now we’ve gotten over the millennial mid-life crisis we globally suffered we can go back to enjoying the things that make us happy, like drinking wine and spinning records!

HAPPY: What is it you love about vinyl?

SAM: Oh gosh, lot’s! The thing with vinyl is in some cases the album artwork is as desirable as the record itself, they’re so aesthetically pleasing. You walk into a room and first of all you hear the sound and the character in that sound and then you see a stack of records lined up like a library then the turn-table with a record spinning on it – it’s just cool as fuck. The feeling of pulling a record out of the sleeve, placing it on the table and dropping that needle and waiting for it to start, it’s cinematic, there’s no better feeling, there’s no better sight and there’s no better sound!

HAPPY: You guys are based in Adelaide, right? What’s the city like for crate diggers? Is there a lack of good record shops – and was this part of the reason you wanted to start an online, subscription-based service?

SAM: No to be honest, the idea is to cohabit with record stores, I’d never want to discourage people from going for a dig – I kind of see it as a separate entity. Go to a record store, have fun there and then come to us and let us dig for ya! Enjoy the best of both worlds. I think, the beauty of Waxx Lyrical is that you don’t know what you’re getting until a couple of weeks before, so you’re experiencing things you might not normally, and if you already have it or you know it’s not your thing we do allow swaps but we’d encourage you to try new things. Adelaide’s got two or three good stores. I reckon though that every record store you enter, there’s something in there for you, you just have to find it. That’s the best bit of going digging, searching for gems, the thrill is in the chase. Adelaide does have an awesome vinyl nightlife community though, there’s a few regular vinyl nights at different venues around the city, nights like How Soon is Now?, Jackie Wilson Said and Mod vs Ska are always packed and have been some of the best nights out I’ve had. They’ve been spearheaded by vinyl DJ Mark Yusef Wilson and these nights have definitely provided a catalyst for my vinyl love.

HAPPY: The vinyl resurgence seems to be driven as much by an interest in buying new records from local indie bands as it is by nostalgia – buying old classics. You guys will be dabbling in a bit of both right? How are you going to balance this?

SAM: Yeah you’re exactly right and that’s for sure what we’re aiming to do, it’s about expanding your collection and exploring and experiencing records you might never have thought you would have, so yeah maybe that’s learning about an old classic you’ve never had the opportunity to love or something brand new that you hadn’t heard of until now. In terms of balancing it, each month offers a new experience, it’ll be interesting to look back this time next year and see the records side by side!

HAPPY: To finish, I wanted to ask about your own record collection. Have you been a long time collector and do you have any all-time treasures?

SAM: You know, my personal collection hasn’t been going that long really. When I was a kid my parents had stacks and stacks of records, so we all listened to them together, then in my adolescence my brother (who’s just a year older) began collecting, so more recently it’s been my turn to take the baton. Between my parents, my brother and myself we all have similar tastes so we listened to records together and we still do even now.

All time treasure? I thought a bit about this one, I toyed with a few, maybe an album from The Smiths, Wu Tang or The Specials. But the one that keeps sticking out when I think about it isn’t a limited edition release, an exclusive and isn’t autographed by the lead singer it’s actually a standard release of The Avalanches’ Wildflower and the reason is I waited soooooo long for this, it was 16 years between albums and the anticipation built up inside to bursting point, particularly when a release date was announced. Then when I got hold of it and played it for the first time, it was amazing. Worth all those years, the production quality is exceptional and the way the album flows is majestic. If you haven’t got this record on vinyl I recommend it with every fibre of my being, sit back with your feet up, close your eyes and just listen!