Lauren Hansom is a selector who’s been on our radar for a while. She cut her teeth stepping up on FBi’s Spin The Bottle show, alongside Johnny Lieu, and more recently she’s graced the waves on Amsterdam’s Red Light Radio and Amila’s Altered Soul Experiment show on NTS. While she’s not behind the decks she helps to run Condesa, alongside Mehdi El-Aquil, who specialise in crafting homemade rotary mixers.
Her RA Live set at the end of last year gave us another glimpse inside her record bag, but now we get to get to dive even deeper into Lauren’s relationship with vinyl, her search for songs that challenge her and how, when it comes to music, it’s important to just do you.
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?
Yes and no. Music is in my family for sure, but I wouldn’t say my musical education came just from their record collection alone. My dad used to play in bands and was a drummer, which I suppose naturally lead my brother and I to play instruments – both of us on the drums and I’ve dabbled with a few other instruments.
My mum’s not that musical nor is she coordinated at all… haha, sorry mum! However my grandmother on my mother’s side is a wonderful singer and my grandfather on my father’s side was an amazing accordion player.
I can’t say there are particular records that lead to a turning point for me, but growing up I recall my parents smashing out Aussie bands like INXS, Pel Mel, Rockmelons and Flash and The Pan on road trips, and at home artists like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Boz Scaggs. So I suppose having that mixture of rock, synth pop, new wave, funk, boogie, disco and whatnot was pretty much my first insight into music and then my own taste developed – and is still very much developing and changing as I learn – from there. Ha! I still listen to those Aussie bands, and in fact, there is a Michael Hutchene produced track in this STW mix ;).
I think one thing in particular that has really influenced the way I listen to music and what I purchase is my background in dance and film. I never really thought it had much of an impact, but I guess it makes sense as I tend to look for music that tells a story, challenges me or takes me by surprise, irrespective of the genre/style.
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?
My parents had records and I grew up with them being played at home. For a long time though, I didn’t have my own collection because everything was moving into the digital world. At one point I had a cassette and CD collection and I remember walking around with first my portable cassette player when I was in primary school. I then later upgraded to a blue Sony CD walkman, which was so sleek and streamlined! I can’t remember exactly what I was listening to at the time, but it was probably something pretty silly, when I think of early teen me, haha!
I guess what motivates me is probably just the same thing that motivates most record collectors. The physicality of owning a piece of history, rather than just 1s and 0s on a computer/drive. However, what motivates me more than a dusty piece of wax is the music. I’m not just collecting records… I am buying CDs, tapes, files from Bandcamp etc. Music is music and why miss out on some incredible work just because you’re restricted to one medium?
Where do you store your records and how do you file them?
A portion of my records are at home in my room. My filing system isn’t consistent, but it makes sense to my brain. I’m sure it’s quite a dry subject, but the basics of my filing is either by style, genre, country and then sometimes by label. The rest of my records are still scattered across Europe… I still have to work on collecting those.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
I don’t have any favourites spots in particular, because it usually comes down to chance or luck. I really like going to places I haven’t been before as they’re exciting and you never know what you might find. Flea markets are fun too because if there are no records, there is usually good fresh food!
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?
One hundred percent. For me personally, the best thing about music is the people you meet and the moments you share with each other. My list is quite long… I recently did a post on Facebook, something I rarely do, and got told off for tagging so many people so I don’t want to get caught out again ;). They all know who they are anyway and I love and respect them all very much.
Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?
Yes, many. BRB, let me print out 200+ pages of wants. Haha!
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 often become overwhelmed by crowds, so I prefer to look for music by myself. Saying that, it is super nice to have some company and go on digging trips from time to time. Sometimes you can learn a lot more when you’re with someone else, it all depends.
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?
Yes, and it can be even more daunting when the shop is hectically disorganised with junk stacked to the ceiling and dead insects in the crates, but then that can also be oddly exciting.
I usually start from the first crate and just make my way through until the last or visa versa. It is time consuming, but it’s quite meditative and I love looking through everything. Who knows what you could find in a classical box! For instance, I recently came back from Japan and found this crazy classical CD with a breaks track and some other techno thingy on it. So bizarre…. it’s rather funny. I suppose the key is patience and having an open mind.
Another thing I like to do is talk with the owner. Sometimes they can give you some recommendations if you tell them what sort of sounds you look for and if not, then it’s just a nice way to make new friends with similar interests.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
An album or even a single’s artwork is the first thing you see and are often fooled by. There have been so many great covers I’ve come across where the music is just… haha, not so nice for me to listen to. Although, if the artwork is great, I’ll buy it anyway. Artwork is a good starting point, but it’s good to just check everything… perhaps there will be something amazing on a plain labelled/sleeve record.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?
Well, it’s definitely a bit of a mixture of a mix! I’m not really sure what I should say about it, other than it’s just a varied selection of records that I like and I hope you can enjoy it. Most of the music is from my travels in Europe and Japan, aside from the one courtesy of my mum’s early 20s heartthrob Michael Hutchence, this other French tune by Nanuo Giuly and one or two others.
Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?
I hope this doesn’t come across in a funny way but I like all the tracks! Hmmm, there is this funny German record from 1988 by this artist Wolf Znidar that I picked up last year when I was travelling. The album is absolutely woeful, aside from the first track which is pretty cool. It even has “cool” in the name, hehe.
Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?
There are countless collectors from the older and younger generations of music lovers that I admire. Some of them you’ve already interviewed in this Digger’s Directory series. I don’t particularly want to name anyone, but I really respect people who just do their own thing and “look” outside of the crate, so to speak. I think it’s really important for music lovers, collectors, DJs, whoever you are, to be honest with yourself, your taste and just do you, as lame as that might sound. I sometimes get teased for the music I collect because it’s cheesy or a bit weird or whatever. I’ve even had a friend joke they’d make it their ring tone – cough cough, you know who you are – but I don’t care because it’s something I like and for me personally, that’s what matters at the end of the day.
And are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?
Yes! Too many and not just emerging and not just young. Ha! Sorry ;).
Ok, so in no particular order and not naming everyone as there are too many: DJ Vegetable, Nosedrip, Satoshi and Pierre from Okonkole Y Trompa, OKO DJ, the lovely ladies from Strange Boutique, Curtis Barber, Bianca Lexis, Fergus Clarke, Donna Leake, Poll Valls, Captain Starlight, James and Sidney from Red Light Records, the Bayetë crew, Hani Hanbali, Mike Who, Amila from Altered Soul Experiment, Daniel Lupica, Jamie Bennett, Mijke from Rush Hour, Joscha Creutzfeldt, Max and Daan from Bossoyo Radio, Izabel Caligiore and of course everyone’s favourite, Robert Bergman <3… and so on and so on and so on… I could keep naming them all day!
Outside of DJing, you help run Condesa, who specialise in custom built rotary mixers. What sparked your interest in handcrafted electronics?
My dad is an electrical engineer, so I guess the love for handmade products runs in my blood. I started working with Mehdi after I bought a mixer from him. We became friends and then he needed some help and I needed some work, so it just blossomed from there. It’s quite funny, I’m not really an audiophile. Mehdi and I see guys buying mixers like there is no tomorrow and showing them off in these forums and then see that they’ve got a million mixers and no records to play with. Makes us laugh, but hey, each to their own.
This took you on a little tour around Europe recently, showcasing the mixers in several record shops. We imagine you did some successful digging along the way! Can you let us into a few of your favourite finds?
Well actually, it started out as a digging trip for myself and then Mehdi and I decided it would be worthwhile to do some Condesa events in Europe. From there it grew into this giant trip and I’m still overwhelmed by the whole experience to be honest. A lot happened that I never could have anticipated and I am very grateful of such a surreal time. Oh gosh. Yes, I bought lots of records and had to ship back around 66/67kg to Australia…. Poor couriers.
I don’t have any secrets at all, but it’s hard for me to think about which records are my favourites. One that I’ve loved for a long time and finally picked up at Utrecht Record Fair is Ströer Duo’s first LP which has this beautiful track titled “Vietnam” on it. It’s quite cinematic!
Another LP that I finally bought and wanted for a long time is Brian Eno’s “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts”. It’s neither elusive nor expensive. I just hadn’t come across it here in Australia and didn’t want to pay shipping for a record I’d eventually come across. It’s a fantastic LP and I also included it in my mix.
Come to think of it, one of the standouts from my travels last year is this Canadian record I bought when I was in Germany. The whole LP is great! Drum machine central and it’s a bit new wavey/experimental with some interesting vocals. I’m not sure whether or not I am breaking any “mix/DJ rules” here, haha, but I also don’t care… I put a few of the tracks in this mix ^.^
And finally is there anything else coming up on the horizon that’s getting you excited?
I’m heading back to Europe this year, yay!