Diggers Directory: Flo Dill

If you’ve ever listened to one of Flo Dill‘s NTS shows or caught her joining Charlie Bones on the breakfast slot, you’ll know she’s someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously, which is bloody refreshing in a world full of music elitists and chin strokers. Her monthly shows cruise through soft rock, new wave, synth pop, indie and much more, and has become a go to for us on the NTS waves. Also working behind the scenes at the Dalston radio station, she helps with programming and managing the bookings for their in-house agency.

Her mix for Sanpo Disco was probably one of our most played mixes last year, rightfully earning a spot on Resident Advisor’s top mixes of 2018, so we couldn’t wait to see what she had under her belt for this one. And boy it doesn’t disappoint. Trust us, the world really is better in flo motion.

Alongside an interview about her dad music taste and her relationship with records, she’s recorded a vinyl-only mix of 80s alt-pop in loving homage to Elegant 80s, a CD that changed the way she listened to music.

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 definitely learned to love music at home, but I’m not sure it was so much an education. My dad loves good stuff like Talking Heads, Ry Cooder, Fleetwood Mac, but also mega DAD stuff like Hootie and the Blowfish. I have pretty dad taste though so I guess it makes sense. My mum loves soul music, Motown, classic disco. So generally all good influences, but I don’t think my crucial formative musical experiences were really at home, though it was always around.

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?

I’m only 25 so all these years is really not so long. I’m still motivated by discovery – there’s so much I don’t know, that I haven’t heard. But it came initially from wanting to cement my musical interest I think; like with most hobbies, or passions, you kind of crave a physical manifestation of them. It’s just materialism I guess. I like records from a historical perspective too, in the way I like anything old with a story. I also find that I remember and connect to things better if I own them. I don’t use Spotify and I am a bit slack with downloading stuff – I just ‘like’ things on YouTube and you can forget things once they get so far back.

Where do you store your records and how do you file them?

I store them in my living room and I do not file them. Which is stupid! I have a pile of recently bought stuff usually on the floor. But apart from that there’s no filing system. The main desk which my turntables are built into was a birthday present years ago from my dad, who built it for me. A very treasured possession.

What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?

This is always changing! I think a year ago I’d have said LA, but at the moment it is firmly the outer reaches of London. There’s a mad spot my boyfriend found in deep south London recently which we’ve been going to, plus I love Little Record Shop in Tottenham, and Wanted down in Beckenham. There’s tons if you get on a train for half an hour, and I really love trains. I tend to only go to second hand record shops, because there’s more for me there but also mainly for financial reasons. I never really buy new vinyl – anything new that comes out I can usually get digitally for radio or DJing or whatever.

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?

Oh definitely. David in Little Record Shop is so nice. He’s the antithesis of that bad record store guy stereotype – I was put off buying records for a while when I was younger because of condescending men. But David is the best. From travels, I really liked Superior Elevation in NY, and I loved Tropicalia Discos in Rio (especially lovely staff) and Red Light in Amsterdam. I’ve spent some time in LA for work, and I find it really inspiring there. I’ve been lucky to meet so many people there who put me on to stuff, especially my friend Jonny. For record shopping there, my favourite spot is XL Middleton’s store Saltbox in Chinatown, and Burger Records out in Fullerton. There are some very fat cats that live at the store and it’s got this very classic stoner American atmosphere – for a British tourist it ticks loads of Americana boxes. I loved it there.

Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be elusive over the years?

I guess – I really want that Sjunne Ferger LP which is so pricey now. I think it’s getting repressed. I’ll never find it in the wild so I guess I’ll just wait for that. But I don’t care so much for rare stuff. All my ‘elusive’ records are just pop records that I don’t want to buy on Discogs because I know I will eventually find them out there in a shop –  like at the moment I’m waiting to find this New Muzik LP. I like a lot of English 80s pop so I’m in the right place to find them without much trouble.

Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?

I like to go alone because I like to do the whole travelling/walking bit alone listening to music or eating a sandwich or something. I do go with Bruno sometimes which is great because he knows so much about music, but I generally prefer to be solo. This is really just because I like to shop in general alone – it seems to me an experience designed for one – this isn’t to say I like to experience music alone or not to talk to others about music. In the end the best way to discover stuff is for a friend to tell you about it, so in that sense music discovery is best done socially. That is why I love doing radio, too, to share and chat about music.

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?

Generally I do 12″s first and then it kind of depends on the shop and how they have stuff organised. This guy in south London for example just has piles and piles on the floor so we just sit and look through it all for hours. If I’m somewhere organised I do genres I like first (never the named artist sections though) like new wave or indie or whatever and then move on.

How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?

Quite big – if it looks like a weird private press thing or something then cool. Though I once bought this record in Rio that looks like the perfect mid 80s synth gold but the music is terrible. So obviously the information on the back is more useful than the cover art. I buy a lot of stuff online so in those instances the artwork is really secondary.

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?

It’s mostly 80s pop. There’s this CD that Zach Cowie and Andrew Cabic did which really changed changed the way I hear music, called Elegant 80s, so it’s a kind of an ode to that I suppose. It is significantly less smooth though.

I recorded it at home on two Technic 1210s and my terrible mixer that I bought in Hounslow for a fiver and never upgraded.

Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?

Not really. The Jean Michel Navarre track is cool – I put it on Youtube and somebody commented telling me he is St Germain’s dad. But that is TBC!! I thought he was Canadian. If anyone reading this can confirm if it’s true let me know. The Desmond Coke song also holds special meaning because we went and met him to pick up the record – he made this weirdo music in the 80s and now works in local government and for the church. And the Kraftwerk cover – I was DJing a friends birthday with legendary DJ Kenny White and he played it and told me it’s never let him down, which I believe – so good.

Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?

I’m not sure if I really admire record collectors as such. It seems a bit weird to me to admire people for their possessions; I’m conscious of the financial barrier in the vinyl fetishist world. I really have zero interest in format snobbery or whatever, I think it’s nonsense. Since I work in radio I find I just listen to people’s radio shows the whole time so radio hosts have ended up my most formative and influential people:

Charlie Bones, Otis Pipe Down, Sofie, Lord Tusk, Jen Monroe, James Pants, Tim Koh – recently Josh da Costa too from LA. Also Bullion and his Pop not Slop series of course.

I admire them all for their dedication and impeccable ear. I also really admire my colleague’s attitudes to music and its consumption, and they all have insane taste, all so varied.  Seeing them everyday – they are really my biggest influences. Femi, Sean, TTB, Ony, Rory, Padraigh, Fergus, Chantal etc. I’m very lucky to work with the people that I do.

And are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?

Yeah there are so many, but I don’t really have time for the obscure record DJ competition world. It can feel a bit soulless and at times just elitist dick measuring to me. The only ‘record collector’ as such that I really am into is Jack Rollo, though he has definitely emerged! He’s a legend. But yes – there’s this great DJ called Tilly who does a show on Bristol based radio station Noods – she is my go to at the moment. She’s indirectly put me on to loads of amazing stuff, she’s wicked. It would be remiss not to mention Bruno here for sure, and Bianca, Mishka, my fantastic friend Gabi… and I love the mixes Castro & Nemo put out.

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