DJ Jonas knows a thing or two about loving vinyl

Jonas Visti is part of our Summer Read - a series of interviews that celebrate talent and that may challenge, shed new light on or even re-ignite common truths about how we bring out the talent in ourselves and others.

Told to journalist Kasper Steenbach.

Jonas Visti, born 1991, is a DJ and TV & radio host on, amongst other things, 'Visti's Vinyls' for P8 Jazz and the DR documentary 'Satan's Black Vinyls'.

When did you get your first vinyl record?

I did that for my 16th birthday back in 2007. It was Pink Floyd's 'The Dark Side of the Moon', which I got as a present from my friend. At this time in my life, I had been collecting CDs for a long time, but my friend could see - possibly before I could - that once I got into the world of vinyl, there would be no going back. In the following years, I didn't really buy vinyl myself, but I felt like I was getting the momentum to start my collection. Because if it had to be, it had to be serious. To this day, I'm happy that I didn't spend all my money on the records I would have bought as a teenager, as I probably wouldn't listen to them today. When I was in my early twenties and went to my first record fair, I bought thirty records in a few hours. These are all records I still listen to today and enjoy. For example, the 'Nancy & Lee' record from 1968 (Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, ed.) and the Donald Byrd record 'Fancy Free' from the following year are still in A-rotation in my house.



When did you become aware that vinyl was a tool you could work with?

In my childhood home in Lolland there were both lots of instruments and a large record collection. But the philosophy was that instruments were played and records were listened to.

“My father was a hi-fi enthusiast and audiophile and has given me at least ten reprimands for putting a record on incorrectly or playing it back and forth.”

So, it was actually my half-brother, who was a vinyl DJ, who introduced me to the fact that you could rip and rip the records without getting scolded. I thought that was pretty cool. So, when I started building my own collection and got DJ jobs, it was therefore a completely natural and very belated teenage rebellion to use my vinyls as DJ tools that were allowed to get some scratches.



How big is your collection?

I have a fairly dynamic collection, understood in the sense that I try to the best of my ability to also sell some from time to time. I have around 1,500 records, and it's actually quite a good size considered that I'd like to have an overview of the collection and be able to hear them all once in a while. I don't like 'padding' and find it annoying to have records around that I know I'll never get to hear. That's why I'm rarely impressed by people's gigantic collections, if they aren't fairly well-stocked, and if there aren't only cool records that you want to sample or listen to at one point or another.



Do you have a jewel in your collection?

I now have many jewels in the collection that I would not be able to live without. But if I have to name one, it's a very, very nice first pressing of João Donato's record 'Quem É Quem' from 1973, which I, along with my photo albums and my girlfriend, would try to save as the first thing if my apartment burned down. The record is a milestone in music production and simply raised the bar for how good a Brazilian record can sound. It is a really good stereo mix, where the level of detail is unheard of. All instruments stand out razor-sharp individually, and at the same time it all appears as a perfect symbiosis that lines up like pearls on a string.

“Rarely do I experience so much depth and many layers in music – it appears long-lasting and more sustainable than, for example, both wind and solar energy.”

The instrumental performances are completely and utterly unmatched and balance perfectly between everyone being wildly skilled technically on their instruments and making some incredibly tasteful choices. João Donato has written the best songs of his career for this record and sings sublimely with his subdued and calm voice, where there is both a sweetness and a great pain at the same time. Huge A-plus!

How do you maintain your collection?

I take care of my collection by having it organized by genre, and then I have registered it on the internet-based record exchange Discogs. Besides that, I have – I think many would percieve – a somewhat anal relationship with my record protection. When I get a new record, I usually run it through my record cleaner. It is actually just a completely simple and manual Knosti record cleaner that you run by hand. If it is some of the really heavy and rare records that need cleaning, I take them to DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation, ed.) and have them washed in their high-tech ClearAudio Smart Matrix Silent. When it is dry, the record is placed in a new anti-static inner sleeve, where the original inner sleeve is then hidden inside the record cover. Around the record cover I have a very thin transparent sleeve with an open/close function, which in practice means that you are never in contact with the cover. Finally, I have a thick sleeve, in which I place the record with the new anti-static inner sleeve and the record cover, together with a piece of hard cardboard at the back, so that the record does not bend. I admit that it almost sounds like the recipe for a dish that can make you a little hungry.

Why is the sound of vinyl the best for you?

The sound of vinyl is of course one of the reasons why I love hearing them. I love this fabled warm sound that is so often talked about. But it's just as much the ritual of finding them and putting them on the record player that I like. It all has to be a little bit difficult.

“That several years may pass from the time you've set your sights on a record until you've saved up and traveled to the other side of the world to find it. There is something very beautiful about that.”

And I often have the feeling, even though it's terribly difficult, that it's the least I can do for the artist, who has put both body and soul into making it sound exactly the way it does. It also makes you want to stage the listening of a record to a much greater extent. So, the first time you hear the record you've been looking for for four years, your three best record friends must sit in your living room, their glasses must be full of wine, they must also be well-groomed, and the windows cleaned. In other words, if you just put in a little bit of effort yourself, you can quickly improve the listening experience quite a bit.

Watch the reel with Jonas Visti at @madsnorgaard here