Chicago born and bred, Lee Collins is a an icon of Windy City dance music. After its inception in 1983, his Disco Madness radio show became essential listening for any disco heads and his work moving dance floors has been just as notable. He might be the lesser-known founder and resident of the Soul in the Hole parties alongside Sadar Bahar but he’s no less formidable. Here he answers some questions about life as a record collector, alongside an hour mix of vinyl treasures.
Catch Lee on tour in Europe, at Prince Charles (Berlin, 25th Aug), Dimensions Festival (2nd and 3rd Sep), ADE (Amsterdam, Florence and Lux Frágil (Lisbon, 31st Aug)
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
My mother played music everyday when I was young and I wanted my own copies of the records she had. So she always took me to the record store.
People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
Collecting records was a bi-product of being a DJ. I am always looking for something interesting to play so I keep shopping.
Where do you store your records and how do you file them?
I keep them in various places where its cool and dry. I normally arrange them alphabetically by artist.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
I visit Hyde Park Records frequently because they are always getting new collections. For newer music I usually go to Gramaphone – they have a lot of music that I don’t see everywhere.
Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?
Too many to name. I tend to have a conversation with some other shopper every time I go.
Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?
Not really. When I can’t find a record its usually because I don’t know the artist and/or title.
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search for strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?
I shop alone mostly. My son, David, has been going with me lately.
Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?
That’s easy – 2 questions – “Where is the Soul and Funk section?” , “Do you have 12 inches?”.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
Not much. If its nice and the record is really cheap I may get it for the art but that’s rare.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us
There was really no idea. Myself and the Soul in the Hole crew where just hanging out and I was playing records then I started recording.
Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?
I love that ‘Holdin On’ (2nd song).
As someone who started your DJing career on radio 25 years, what do you make of the recent resurgence of independent radio stations?
I think its great! We need more of it.
Keeping with the forward-looking theme, what are some recent discoveries – labels, DJs and producers – who are really exciting you at the moment?
Nicole Willis, Yam Who, Opolopo, Glen Underground, Anthony Nicholson, and Star Creature Records.
Have you and Sadar got much planned for Soul in the Hole in the coming months?
Work on more original music. I have a couple of parties to play coming up soon.
And beyond SITH, what else are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?
Spending time with my family and maybe finishing an open-source software project if I have time.