Stephen Varanko III, The Man Who Introduced Me To Vinyl

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

Stephen Varanko III is around the same age as me yet growing up he always just seemed to be way ahead of the game. Stephen was the first to start his own business, he was the first to have a smartphone, and to be honest, almost everything that he did, I wanted to do as well. I appreciate that it is not healthy to wish to copy someone and that you should have your own thoughts and ideas, but there was one great benefit of wishing to copy all that Stephen did, and that was collecting vinyl.

I have to say that this was certainly of my own volition, but here is how I fell into this beautiful trap.

Heading to the Store

I was a big punk fan when I was a kid and that is pretty much why Stephen and I started hanging out. Stephen had a friend who owned this record store and so we went in there on a Saturday, with no money of course, and just used to dig through those collections and see what cool albums there were. Because Stephen’s friend owned the store, he would let us play records if it was quiet and this is where I first fell in love with vinyl, and where I learned a lot about records.

The Right Questions

I had never really asked myself what it was about this format that I enjoyed, and this was at a time when the iPod was really taking off. The owner of that record store wanted to check my credentials as a potential collector, and I remember him asking me what it was that I loved about it. Nobody had made me think like this before, and it was at this point that it just all flowed out of me. I told him how much I loved the artwork, the fact that you listen and enjoy full albums, plus the kind of ridiculous nature of it all. I had passed the test, and as a young adult, this was all I needed to catapult me into a world of record collecting.

Sharing The Love

Once Stephen and I got some part-time jobs pretty much every penny that I had gone on buying vinyl, and we would try to make sure that we didn’t buy the same so that we could swap discs. I had some of my best days with Stephen when we’re younger, playing vinyl to each other and chatting about the music and the production, I learned a lot from him.

Stephen and I still stay in touch from time to time, and of course chat about music, something that I have always found to be a great subject for us both. The point of all of this is to say that collecting anything, be it stamps, records, or anything else, is always better done with others. In fact, it is for this reason that I spend so much time on social media, chatting to others in the vinyl community.