You may have seen T-shirts bearing the Vinyl Militia insignia at Radio-Active Records and mistook the actual Vinyl Militia for record-lovers like yourself. It’s not a completely incorrect assumption, considering longtime vinyl fanatic Mike Kennedy is the founder – but it is a proper online forum for true audiophiles, not simply a local, loose collective of fans. Access to the full Vinyl Militia website even requires a registered account (it’s free to join). “By establishing Vinyl Militia, I hope to create a club that allows the virtual community to network; [it] gives one an avenue to discuss their passions for vinyl recordings,” Kennedy explains.
Because of the simultaneously minimal and members-only nature of the site, the roots and purpose of the Vinyl Militia were shrouded in some initial mystery. But the name alone is time-relevant: Vinyl is experiencing a resurgence (though the medium never really disappeared), interestingly timed with the ease of downloading and the agency of self-produced albums. “Listening to your favorite sounds on a vinyl recording is the next best thing to witnessing a live performance,” Kennedy says, a statement that’s not so defiant, considering the importance most music-lovers place on the tangibility of albums, their cover art and soft, crackly sound. It’s fair to feel as we become more plugged-in, simplicity, it seems, grows more desirable.
Kennedy agrees. “CDs and MP3s make your music portable, easily accessible, and convenient, but records sound better. I think that as a society we have become so comfortable with the fact that we are able to access information at a moment’s notice … Now, we long to appreciate the simple life – people are turning back to the things some of us appreciated while we were young, while others are experiencing those very same things for the first time.”
This might sound like an ephemeral, romantic ideal, as if Kennedy is imagining young people in a nonexistent living room, bonding over an album. But he’s has seen it for himself: “I have two 18-year-old boys – twins – who love of a variety of music,” he explains. “One day I saw them come in with a record and they asked me if I still had a turntable … We sat in the living room for hours; listening to the vinyl recording they just purchased, [and then] to those I had on a shelf collecting dust. It was then that I realized what I had been missing for years.”
That said, an actual Vinyl Militia, particularly one established by someone who’s collected records for decades, is a useful tool to unify vinyl-lovers from across the board. When you sign up to join the forum, “you will have exclusive content directed to vinyl record-listeners’ passion for music,” says Kennedy. “This emergent community will allow for the free-flowing exchange of information – whether it is an interest in finding that rare record currently not available in their local record store or providing an avenue for like-minded individuals to collaborate, discuss, and create.” By fostering very real communicative efforts – potential record trades, tips about where to find a particular item, and meeting fellow musicians are possibilities – the Militia, explains Kennedy, “seeks to inspire and encourage music lovers to return to the method which captures an artist’s true essence: the warm, rich sounds only vinyl can provide.” It’s a dream that, luckily, has already come true.
“New and innovative techniques for producing vinyl are emerging,” he says. “The industry has awakened a sleeping giant – and thankfully so.”