Diggers Directory: a new mix & interview series that salutes the diggers, record enthusiasts and music lovers. For more in the series, browse through the archive.
Volcov, real name Enrico Crivellaro, is an expert on all things soulful and jazz-indebted, whether it is funk, disco, deep house or broken beat. While he doesn’t consider himself a digger of vinyl fanatic per se, his dedication and broad musical understanding in the format, has seen him win a diverse range of admirers from Theo Parrish to Tama Sumo and also made successes of his various labels (including Neroli and Archive). We spoke to Enrico about his relationship with records, some favourite spots to go digging, his new compilation for BBE and plans for his various labels. He’s also put together a stunning 90 minute, vinyl-only mix focussing on his jazz and soul collection. No tracklist so get digging!
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?
I started going clubbing at a real early age and I found myself fascinated with the DJing and interested in buying records. Luckily there was a great store (Le Disque) in my city so I started going there regularly to buy Chicago and New York house imports in 89-90.
Mr Fingers – Introduction and the whole B-side of Lil Louis’ Journey Through The Lonely were the records that really influenced me the most. Discovering soul tracks inside the albums of your house heroes opened my mind to search for more.
People buy records for a multiple of reasons; they love the analogue sound, the physicality of having something that they can collect and share, or maybe it provides them with a way to build relationships with likeminded people. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
I don’t consider myself a digger or a vinyl fanatic. I am a music lover. I have a good amount of records but I am not an accumulator. I’ve always been a bit picky but at the same time when I liked one artist or label I wanted to find out and possibly own as much as possible from his discography. The name of my first label Archive comes from that. I tried to do a label that made people want to collect in the same way I was doing with my precious A.R.T., Alleviated or Retroactive records.
I think I bought with a bit more pace in early 2000s, also with the help of eBay, to fill gaps in the collection. The search for good music never ends and I find that the more you know the more you want to find out, but I try to keep a balance.
Where do you store all your records and how do you file them?
Nothing really special, just a bunch of Ikea shelves at home and at my parents basement. I file them between artists, producers, labels, genres and some connections that make sense to me. So i might have big Larry Heard, Trent or Blaze sections, and also a Mizell Brothers section or a Gospel section or a Baby Grand or ECM section.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
I like to look for music every time I travel. In each city I go, I try to hit a store or two. Also I try to search for local stuff in general. I’m not really a flea market kind of guy, I love to go to places and hear the local guys suggestions too. I guess my favourite digging experience is to go to Bologna at Luca LTJ Trevisi’s Hotgroovy Records, where he has incredible quantity and quality and we pull out stuff randomly looking for the undiscovered B-sides or album tracks.
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?
I always have some kind of titles exchange with Federico Grasso, he has great taste and knowledge of soul and, at the same time, he is quite a naïf character. I am glad to see he has a forthcoming compilation with his brother Gino out very soon.
DJs and producers often talk about a number of records that never leave their bag. Do you have any records like this?
Fingers Inc – Music Take Me Up
Is there a record (or records), which you’ve wanted to own but cannot afford or find in print anymore?
Starcrost LP on Fable but I think they might reissue it real soon. There are many, many more..
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search for strange sounds together?
Depends on the mood really, but in general I like to go with some friends like Patrick (Twice) and Matteo (Native), gets the whole thing more like fun and less serious. We did quite a memorable expedition in Switzerland years ago. I also like to go to shops like Heartbeat in Paris where you have nice conversation with the people from the store (Melik in this case) and also hear their suggestions.
Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting process, with some many different genres and formats. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after? Is it about patience, diligence and a bit of luck or are you more methodical when you enter a record shop?
If the store has some kind of organisation I go straight to certain sections, usually the jazz one. Otherwise I just jump randomly between sections, sometimes with more patience sometimes more quickly. Depends on the mood really.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging, esp. if you’re not familiar with something you pick up?
Of course they get your attention straight away, so they are essential. I always loved to read the credits and also linear notes on albums. It’s the reason LPs are my favourite format over 12s or 7s. We worked on this point on the BBE compilation, having Patrick Forge writing amazing linear notes and Jake Holloway doing wonders on the artwork.
This also works for DJing. It’s definitely more inspiring to look at some covers during the night than just at the CDJ screen.
What are you 3 favourite examples of album art?
There are so many, but off the top of my mind now: As One – Planetary Folklore, Archie Shepp – The Way Ahead and Stanley Cowell – Regeneration.
You recently compiled From the Archives for BBE, which features some pretty obscure artists like Manfredo Fest, Bembe Segue and Chanan Hanspal. Is there a common thread that unifies the collection, and are they all a result of digging deep into your own crates?
Well the common thread is a certain type of sound or jazziness that links most of the tracks. It’s a collection of various songs from different eras that, in my ear, deserved some light. Some are very cheap, some like the Bembe Segue one or the Shannon Harris remix for Chanan Hanspal never came out on wax. Some are a little bit more obscure, some just very respectful edits of mine to extend certain sections of the songs I liked – like the Manfredo Fest one for example.
Is there a lot of work that goes into digging and licensing for compilations? Did you have much of a journey to pull this one together?
We did actually. I did some compilations in the past (like the Soul in Motion one for example) and I learned that you’ll never be able to obtain and license all the songs you want in the first place, especially if the songs are on major labels or major label controlled catalogues. So you have to be able to slightly change direction within the planned framework. But i am very pleased with the result we came out with. It’s not really a modern compilation but follows more certain logics from the ‘90s.
Thanks for recording this mix for us. Where and how did you record it and what was the idea behind it?
A nice journey through beautiful emotional songs really, with emphasis on the vocals with a touch of jazz.
We asked you to keep the tracklist secret (to get listeners to dig deep for their IDs!) but are there any standouts from the mix you’d like to shout out?
Charles Sullivan – ‘Now I’ll Sleep’ is a big favourite, Dee Dee’s voice is so touching. Also Amina Claudine Myers – ‘Have Mercy Upon Us’ might be an interesting one.
You have been running Neroli for over a decade now, a label that many associate with flying the flag for soulful broken beat. Has it been nice to see the resurgence of the sound, with K15, Dego and Henry Wu all enjoying a fine run of form.
To be honest the label started in 2000 as the house sister of the broken beat [or broken techno??] label Archive. Along the years Neroli has become more musical and diverse where you could find artists such as Trinidadian Deep, Ricardo Miranda, Shannon Harris, Jenifa Mayanja more on a housier tip, as well as diverse producer like Dego, Skymark or Stasis [Soul 223]. So I see it a bit wider than just being tagged in one sound. To answer your question yeah these guys stand out in market full of sophoriphic, so-called deep house and disco re-edits.
What plans have you got coming up with Neroli?
We have a very uncompromising EP by the talented Italian producer Marcello Napoletano in May. We’re also working on a Kemetic Just release and a follow up Dego & 2000 Black Family Don’t Stop 12”. And a lot more….I’ve never been as happy with the label as I am now.
And how about yourself? Any tours coming up or new compilations?
We’ll see if there’ll be the opportunity to do Volume II of From the Archive. I think first I need to finish some of these tracks I started few years back with Gerald Mitchell that also feature other talented Detroit musician like Paul Randolph and Pirahnahead.
Diggers Directory visual concept designed by Emily Dann.