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Why Long Islanders love their records

These Long Islanders have created sanctuaries for listening to music the old-school way.

Amanda Schutzman with her record collection in the

Amanda Schutzman with her record collection in the living room of her East Meadow home. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Vinyl is back in a big way. Of course, for some, it never went away. Long Islanders talk about their favorite sources, their favorite bands, and the rooms they curate as carefully as their collections.

The club comes home

In the Huntington Station home Andrew Schipper, 47, shares with husband Joe, 57, there is a 10-by-15-foot room with more than 4,000 records. Andrew, a vintage and antiques dealer, says that his collection totals more than 6,500 records, but he tries to limit this room to just the ones he most needs to have immediate access to. It's not unusual for him to come home with an additional haul of more than 100 records, and so space is sometimes at a premium. 

"I believe music is a mood alterer," says Andrew. "That's why I want to get back to the sound of vinyl. It's better than the sound of a CD, and listening to it is more of an experience."

A former club promoter and visual merchandiser, he says he loves the way he's able to create a mood room in his house that reflects and echoes his tastes. "The whole interior in my record room is globally based," he says, noting that he burns incense in the space, which is decorated with maps of Africa.

In order to create that kind of experience, Andrew is willing to go to extremes. "I just invested in a very expensive vintage system," he says. "It was a refurbished, $800 Pioneer vintage 1970s piece, and it's housed in wood." But the price is worth the benefit. "It's about the reward of listening," he says. "Instead of having a glass of wine at the end of the night, I come here."

Vintage flair

Collecting has always come naturally to Norm Morales, 47. He has more than 1,000 vinyl records, all of which are stored in a kitschy, lounge-inspired basement den in Huntington filled with vintage finds.

Norm's love of records started early. "My parents had their records, and eventually I started buying my own," says the graphic designer. "And I was always into old music, like stuff from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. That was always easier and cheaper to get on vinyl, anyway." He began with surf bands such as The Ventures, plus old rockabilly and the Detroit sound. He also says that, coming from a Hispanic family, he loves old salsa music and 1960s bugalú. By the 1980s, his tastes had expanded into punk rock. "I liked the Sex Pistols and all the CBGB's matinees, and I bought all the 7 inches," he says. "I still have those. And being at those shows in the mid to late 1980s meant I had a lot of first pressings from the New York City scene." 

Norm lives with his wife, Thea, 42, who owns a vintage shop. The oddball chic room where his collection lives is full of vintage Tiki mugs and religious ornamentation. "I was trying to get that old 'wood paneling basement' type of vibe here, with tchotchkes everywhere," he says.

Norm's overall aesthetic is midcentury kitsch, with a bamboo Hawaiian-style lounge chair and a fireplace facade he turned into a small bar area. He also added a collection of religious items that remind him of his childhood. "I'm not a heavily religious person, but in Puerto Rico every household had a shrine in the corner," he says.

A room of her own

When Smithtown's Veronica Sayers, 35, was a child, she was drawn to her father's record collection. "When I was little I would steal them from my dad and play them," says Sayers, who is the program coordinator at Sweetbriar Nature Center. "But the first records that I really acquired were when a hurricane caused my parents' basement to flood. There were, like, 500 or 600 records there, and according to my dad they were all ruined" and destined for the garbage.

Sayers, who was 10 years old at the time, had another plan. She cleaned off a small selection of records from bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie, and claimed them for her own. A few years later, she began buying records for herself. "When I was a teenager, I started getting records from the local music scene," she says. "I got into punk and ska music and hardcore, and I would go to local shows and buy records from the bands playing there. They also sold cassette tapes, but I hated the way tapes sounded. So if I could get a record, I would." Sayers traveled and found records from The Clash and the 101ers, as well as indie rock bands such as Fleet Foxes and The Decemberists. "I like bands where you can hear things on the records that you won't hear on a tape," she says.

Sayers owns about 100 records, a small but finely curated collection. She houses about half of her records in a wood-paneled room that used to be a carport that is attached to the house she shares with her husband, Robert, also 35. She has filled the space with framed vintage parks posters, as well as her own photography and paintings. A sombrero on the wall was a wedding gift.

The space has become a retreat. "I mostly sit on the floor and listen to records," she says. "It's a relaxing room to hang out in. Sometimes I just seriously sit there and zone out. . . . I want to hear every voice crack and every guitar string. And I love to listen to records I can blast."

Organizing your collection

There are countless ways to organize a vinyl collection, and Amanda Schutzman, 28, has seen them all. She grew up around records because her father, Mike Schutzman, owned Valley Stream's legendary Slipped Disc Records, which closed in 2008. Her father continues to sell records online and at record shows, and Amanda carries on the family tradition as manager at the recently opened Needle+Groove record store in Lynbrook.

She lives in East Meadow with her boyfriend, Kevin Murray, 28, guitar player in the local math rock band It Came From Space, and keeps her personal collection small and carefully edited. "I have a baby collection of 450 to 500 records," she says. "I span punk, metal, oldies, classic rock, and '90s alt and indie."

Organizing her collection is an art in and of itself. "Record nerds everywhere have their own way of doing things," she says. "In a store, everything is by the last name of the band. But with personal collections, some people do alphabetical, or alphabetical and then chronological, based on when it came out. Some people separate originals from reissues. And some people do all chronological, which is probably the weirdest. You'd have to be a dictionary to do that. There are also people who do it by price. And some people file records by first name, but that's [almost] unheard of."

For her own collection, she's methodical. She sorts alphabetically, then chronologically within a band. But that's only the beginning. "I have red and blue shelves, and the reissues are on those colored shelves," she says. "Originals are in black shelves, and it is kind of easier to find." Then she has separate sections for recent acquisitions. "I have a section of just new stuff that I haven't filed yet and that I haven't cleaned or put a new sleeve on," she says. "That holds 50. The only other thing I separate is my soundtracks and compilations."

How people sort is very personal, she says. "People will have arguments about sorting all the time. Sometimes they yell at you online. And people tell me we misfile stuff at the store all the time." But she admits it's not just other people. "I go into Newbury Comics and find myself refiling stuff all the time."

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