Last Collector Standing: DJ Power Couple Nick Openlander and Brittany Browers Talk Skinny Jeans, Vinyl Scores and If Gender Affects Their Craft
The number of chain record stores nationwide has dwindled. However, St. Louis has become an unlikely safe haven for indie record shops as well as for DJs who prefer to spin the black circle instead of scrolling their iPods. In this weekly column, we'll focus on personal portraits of St. Louis' record aficionados and the rooms where they store their treasures. Meet the last collectors standing. (Know a collector who deserves the spotlight? E-mail us. Miss any previous ones? Read 'em all here!)
Some couples meet and fall in love over music. Nick "DJ Nick O" Opelander and Brittany "Trash Talk" Browers have made careers out of their mutual appreciation. The couple can be seen DJing together every Monday night at Atomic Cowboy. Though they're not spinning vinyl live, the pair still enjoys the black wax. We met at Openlander's Tower Grove apartment to talk about the Strokes, the difference between male and female DJs and the cultural significance of skinny jeans.
Last Collector Standing: When you're DJing, do you spin vinyl?
Brittany Browers: We mostly use digital just because it's easier to carry around -- not as much equipment. Also, I've found a couple of times [that] when I have a show it's limited space, [and] I didn't know was going to be limited. It's really nice to just have a laptop and a controller to hook into a mixer, instead of having to have turntables and crates of records.
Nick Openlander: Likewise. I use a Hercules console, Brittany does, too. It's basically like an external hard drive that can store a ton of music. It's just easier to carry around rather than loading crates around. You have a broader selection to choose from.
Is there an advantage otherwise? Is there something unique about spinning vinyl for you, even at home?
Openlander: I found that it's more of a tactile thing. I don't really spin vinyl [live]. The Mac control can simulate turntables for the most part, which kind of simplifies things for me. I still really like to buy records.
Browers: Yeah, I like the physical aspect of vinyl. There is something about listening to a record in your living room on a turntable and having to get up and switch it to the b-side, and having an a-side and b-side. There is something really nostalgic and cool about that, which you don't get with MP3s and CDs.
What was the first album you ever bought? What was the first album that you had on vinyl?
Openlander: I was actually musically stunted. My parents didn't really listen to music when I was a kid, besides from just the radio; soft rock and oldies. I remember one time my dad bought my mom a Bee Gees cassette and they put it into the player and it started spewing tape everywhere. I was probably four years old. They were like, "Well, that's that." They didn't really buy any music after that.
I finally bought my first CD well after CDs were commonplace, when I was seventeen, which was 1997. It was Sublime, the self-titled Sublime album. I heard that song "Santeria" and I was just like, "Man, that's a good groove." After that I went through a Dave Matthews Band phase for a really long time...
Thank god the Strokes came out, and Interpol. It sort of changed everything. Finally it was acceptable to wear skinny jeans. The aesthetic behind it was much more appealing to me, and identifiable.
I actually didn't buy a record player until maybe two years ago. I was working at Urban Outfitters, and I found a pretty sweet one for a cheap price. I think my first record after that was Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. I was trying to build up a library of different music. Most of the CDs and the music I download is electronic music or hipster indie rock, so I use [vinyl collecting] as an outlet to pick up different things that I wouldn't normally find. After that I bought every Strokes album on vinyl. My best vinyl experience was at Euclid Records, because I had worked at the Starbucks down the street. We would get tipped out once a week, like 70 to 100 bucks, and I would just blow it all there. I picked up a few Rolling Stones albums. It's probably where I got into more classic rock.
It really is such a great experience to through a record store and search. As convenient as it is to download music, there is something that gets lost in the experience.