Plates Records Workshop Puts Us In a Spin
Since setting up shop in Nottingham back in 2014, Plates Records have been leading the way in Nottingham’s vinyl revival. Two years on, and one move to the Malt Cross later, Plates are continuing to keep the city’s music scene exciting.
In a world where Spotify and YouTube give access to practically any song in a couple of clicks, sometimes it’s nice to slow the pace a little, and enjoy the simple pleasures of listening to music the old fashioned way.
While it was tempting to spend a few hours flicking through the great collection of rare and interesting records, the EN team arrived at Plates a couple of weeks ago for another reason – to make some music!
The Malt Cross hosts regular arts and crafts events for a variety of interests, but we were looking forward to the first of Plates Records’ creative workshops. Rather than making our songs with instruments, however, we would be using Plates Records’ natural assets – their massive vinyl collection.
Sampled music is everywhere, with most chart hits recycling and re-purposing old songs and vocals. The idea is simple, take a piece of music, take it out of context, and then chop it up and reapply it to make something fresh, original and new. Generally, sampling fans like to defy genres, and use their samples to introduce their listeners to new music and styles, which they might not ordinarily have given a chance.
If that all sounds a little complicated, you probably understand why we were feeling a little anxious ahead of the workshop – even though we’d been reassured it was for beginners!
The workshop room was held in a great space, with some comfy sofas and plenty of room to set up equipment. Nick and Tom did a great job explaining the ideas and philosophy behind sampling, before letting us loose on their presumably priceless vintage sampling gear.
Once we’d gotten accustomed to hitting the pads to trigger samples, and play back drum beats, we headed down into the record shop, to browse for some obscure records that we could use to make our own songs. With everything from forgotten blues records from the 30s to Postman Pat theme tunes under our arms, we were soon back upstairs creating our masterpieces.
I enjoy making my own background music in my free time, but this was the first time I’d ever tried sampling, and the workshop has certainly inspired me to explore the world of sampling even more.
The introduction to sampling workshop got us using old-school analogue equipment, the kind that ‘you can’t check Facebook on’ as owner Nick put it. The sampling machines feel like a cross between a Casio calculator and flight deck and there was something really satisfying about using the clunky manual processes.
We started out by learning a bit of a background to sampling and listening to a few examples of famous sampled music before being let loose on the shop downstairs to choose some records. We were purposely only given a few minutes so that we wouldn’t over think our choices and hopefully give us an interesting mix.
I panic grabbed covers I recognised – Portishead’s Glory Box and an Iggy Pop single – though when it came to listening back to them, it soon became clear that using such well known and processed tracks would be tricky. We were looking for short isolated sounds that we could cleanly re-record. I had more luck with an electro-house record that I chose for its fluorescent sleeve and an unknown reggae track, from which we were able to pick out like a simple drum beat and some interesting vocals.
Some of the selections from the rest of the group turned out to be great – brass instruments, and sounds from Bollywood and even easy listening music – by the end of the two hour session we’d started to get a really cool sounding intro together. I’ll be keeping my ears to the ground to see what they get up to next!
I’ve never made music before but I always wanted to try and see how it’s done. The workshop at Plates Records was both educational and great fun. It made me want to buy my own vinyl record player, which I’m in the process of sourcing at the moment.
It’s amazing how after the workshop was finished and we went outside everything around us, from road works to the water in the Old Market Square fountain, sounded like music to me, and I was putting all of those sounds into patterns in my mind.
While, it’s unlikely that the music we created in this two hour session will be threatening the charts any time soon, this was a great introduction to the world of sampling – and it certainly whetted our appetite for more of these fun, hands on workshops. Which is fortunate – because Plates are planning some follow up events, and some more chances for beginners to get involved and get the bug.