Small But Mighty - DJs and Selectors Championing 7 Inch Records

Small But Mighty - DJs and Selectors Championing 7 Inch Records

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

by Tat

We have 313 Day (Detroit Techno) on the 31st of March, 303 Day (TB303) on the 3rd of March, 808 Day (TR-808) on the 8th August; so it should figure a day celebrating seven inch records should take place on the 4th May every year. So to celebrate it we tracked down a few champions of this format and the man who kicked off 45 Day to chat about a format that often sits in the shadow of its bigger siblings the 12 inch and LP Formats. We chatted with the brainchild of 45 Day, DJ Criztoz based in the UK, alongside one of the champions of the festival of vinyl, Klaus Dähn from Germany. We also spoke to fellow DJs and collectors, Lovely Jon, Sam Tweaks and Martin Lovegrove. Lovely Jon’s knowledge of rare and sought after records and VHS movies knows little parallel and he has just joined some of the most respected DJs and producers on the new ROVR radio station. Also supporting 45 Day is Sam Tweaks, who was the Vinyl Streamer of the Year in the 2023 Twitch Awards and is a keen protagonist of 7 inch sets which take in everything from hip hop to funk, soul, disco and beyond. On top of being a talented graphic designer, Martin Lovegrove, who whilst favours LPs, is behind the excellent DIG Magazine which he says celebrates: ‘musical discoveries of delightful diggers’. I started by chatting to Criztoz about 45 Day before delving into the wider passion for the 45 inch single.

How did 45 Day come about?

Criztoz: I conceived the idea for 45 Day back in 2019, envisioning it as akin to Record Store Day, but centred around celebrating the iconic 7-inch vinyl, also known as the 45, which I and many others consider to be the greatest musical format ever made. Originally, the concept involved coordinating events with DJs, promoters, record shops, and venues featuring exclusive 7-inch vinyl DJ events. However, COVID had other plans and forced me to reconsider my plans and transition the project online. 

This adaptation led to me inviting DJs to craft 45 minute mixes of 45s. The aim was to gather 45 mixes but I managed to reach 52 mixes, a special two-hour radio show by 45 Live, and a live stream hosted by Breaking Bread.

Klaus: I started sharing all vinyl mixes on Mixcloud in 2020, after a long absence from my turntables. After a while my interest in 45s increased, I just fell in love with them. Some of the people I met were releasing mixes for 45 Day, so in 2022 I asked whether I could join the community and surprise surprise, there was a person behind all of it: Criztoz. He welcomed me to the community and sent me all I needed to participate.

It’s a fantastic idea and what’s the reaction to it been like?

Criztoz: The response has been truly overwhelming. The inaugural year revealed a genuine interest for recording mixes, fostering a sense of community among DJs who engaged in sharing, commenting, and reposting each other’s mixes, amplifying their reach. This prompted me to produce the 45 Day Radio Show and venture into live streaming on Twitch, organising 45s raid trains worldwide. 

Unexpectedly, this journey intersected with DJ Double P reaching out about his mental health struggles, inspiring the inception of my mental health talk show “Part of my Journey”. Through this platform, I engage in conversations about mental health, primarily with male DJs, challenging the stereotype of men being reticent about such issues. It’s incredibly rewarding to witness this platform facilitate these crucial discussions.

You’ve built up a community of like minded DJs and selectors, it seems like you have a really inclusive ethos as part of this festival of vinyl?

Criztoz: At its core, 45 Day embodies inclusivity over exclusivity. Participation, viewership, and guest appearances are open to all. We have consistently championed DJs of all ages and genders. With a modest platform, it’s immensely important to ensure that we promote and include  men, women, and the next generation the 45 Kids in our events. In a world rife with discrimination, our shared passion for 7-inch vinyl serves as a beacon for the importance and necessity of inclusivity.

You are very active all year round with interviews, charity events and live streams. Clearly 45 Day is growing, where do you see it going next?

Criztoz: In 2024, we are celebrating the 5th year of 45 Day with grand celebrations, including a 45-hour live stream on Twitch and the release of a special 45 from Echo Chamber Recordings. Additionally, live events are taking place on the day itself 04 May 2024 in Cambridge, Manningtree, Reading, and Worthing. 

Looking ahead, we’re committed to fostering collaborations for We45s events both in the UK and internationally, building on the success of recent endeavours such as the Panama City event in April 2024 and an upcoming 45s weekend in Hamburg in July 2024. 

In August we also have the second year of our Joy Revolution weekend. A family friendly music and camping festival in East Sussex and I have plans to grow that event for 2025. Moreover, I’m constantly crafting new Twitch shows and live stream collaborations slated for later this year. 

Exciting times lie ahead!

Any record collector who has kids hopes that they’ll pick up the baton and start their own music journey. Your daughter has just done that and started 45 Kids and has delivered her own sets and mixes, you must be massively proud?

Criztoz: I’m filled with immense pride for my daughter, Zizi45, and all the other 45 Kids. Witnessing the bond between parents and children flourish over music, especially 7-inch vinyl, has been truly heartwarming. It means that our records will hopefully be cherished long after we are gone by our kids. 

While it’s been a joyful journey, what’s truly significant is at the same time through their live streams they have been able to raise awareness and funds for our chosen charity, Jessie’s Fund. This is a UK music therapy organisation aiding children with disabilities communicate through music. Watching children empower other children through music has been nothing short of beautiful and fulfilling.

Yourself and 45 Day has a strong connection with mental health awareness, which is really important. What do you see as the connection between the act of playing records and mental health?

Criztoz: Indeed, mental health has always been a crucial issue, particularly magnified in the aftermath of the impact of COVID on our lives.  During my live streams, I often emphasise how playing records can serve as a form of music therapy. The act of spinning 7-inch vinyl demands focus and complete engagement, providing a temporary reprieve from external stressors and personal concerns. 

Furthermore, within the context of live streams, the ability to share records with a like-minded community fosters a sense of camaraderie and companionship, which is also beneficial for mental well-being. These interactions often move on from initial discussions about music to more profound topics, such as mental health, facilitating open dialogues and encouraging mutual support and check-ins among participants.

Martin Lovegrove
Dig Magazine captures the labour of love behind music and record collecting. Why are so many people obsessed with hunting down records?

Martin: Oh man… It could be any number of reasons. If you ask most collectors to really delve deep into why they collect anything I suspect they will struggle to find the true reason behind it. It’s a weird thing. As far as records go you’re either spending a lot of money or time searching for music that either means something really special to you or feels super obscure and you may have discovered something a lot of people haven’t heard of. Every collector will have their own reason why they are driven to it, and I guess not many of them will be rooted in logic.

A by-product of the magazine and accompanying mixes must be that you’ve been exposed to lots of other great records you were not aware of?

Martin To be honest, I’m not the world’s greatest digger - honestly my own expertise and knowledge is nothing compared to most of the people that have submitted contributions to the magazine, so the majority of tracks featured I have not heard of and are a surprise to me. I have my own personal taste in music which a lot of the time doesn’t align with the submissions, but I always wanted to approach the contents of the magazine much like digging through any random box of second-hand records - not curated - you get what you get. Every now and then one really ticks the box for me, like in the most recent issue of the magazine there’s a track called ‘On The Move’ by The Mifflin Ensemble, a nice bit of 1982 hip hop from Columbus, Ohio.

The magazine captured two of your passions, record hunting and design. It must be nice when you combine talent with a hobby?  

Martin: Absolutely. Pretty much all of my design and art-related passion projects have a link to music in some way. I just wish I had more time to dedicate to it.

Is there one particular record that someone has written about for DIG Magazine that has become a personal favourite?

Martin: If I had to pick a fave, then the Portishead cover of ‘Executive Party’ from the movie Rollerball springs to mind. It was a B-side to a show disc that the band used during their 1998 tour, and a copy was given to Sir Beans OBE who wrote about it in the magazine. They only pressed ten copies and It’s never been released.

What was the first seven inch single you ever bought?

Martin: I’m struggling to remember. Once I got to the age of buying my own music I was more of a cassette kid. When I was little we used to have one of those massive stereogram things with a turntable built into a cupboard. My parents had a bin bag full of 7’s, no sleeves so they just slid around getting scratched to buggery. They had no respect ha ha! However, the 7” that had the biggest impact on me from that stash was ‘The Earth Dies Screaming’ by UB40. Mad to think I was only nine years old probably - I listened to it over and over.

Klaus: If I can remember right; Boney M. - Rivers of Babylon / Brown Girl in the Ring.

Criztoz: While I can’t quite recall the first 7” vinyl I bought, likely due to my age, I do vividly remember the first one I was gifted. It was Saint Étienne’s “I Was Born on Christmas Day.” The significance lies in the fact that it was gifted to me by my good friend Hami, who coincidentally designed the 45 Logo. The record has an extra layer of poignancy, as he gifted it to me as my birthday falls on Christmas Day!

Sam Tweaks: First 45 was Pet Shop Boys Always on my Mind from Boots in January 1988 with my Christmas Record Vouchers as an 11-year-old.

Lovely Jon: King of the Cops (Penny Farthing Records) by Billy Howard in 1975 (year of its release). That’s the first ever 7” I bought myself with my own pocket money - records (including 7”s) had been bought for me before (for Christmas, Birthdays, ect).

Following on, what was the last?

Martin: Peter Brown - Dance with me. Picked it up in a charity shop for £1 for the B-Side ‘For your Love’ which I was aware of from the Clara Hill cover. Great tune

Criztoz: The last 7” Vinyl I picked up with the absolutely superb DJ Koco Brazil 45 box set on Mr Bongo. 

Sam Tweaks: It was this morning - I took delivery of an early 80s Italian proto disco outlier - Shiver by Marie Laure Sachs

Lovely Jon: Roberta - Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated (1965 - Parlophone). (Tat: note, I was with Jon when he picked this rarity up at the popular Lincoln Record Fair). 

Klaus: Die Ärzte - Demokratie

In the age of convenience where Spotify playlists and YouTube are so accessible, what is so endearing about the act of putting a record that might only last three minutes onto a turntable?

Sam Tweaks: The most endearing thing about 45's for me is the tactile feel and excitement of having a song in your hands that you drop a needle on to release the treasure contained onto your ears. There's something ethereal about holding a song, more than on a 12" or LP as that it is one specific thing containing someone's dreams and feelings. You can't hold an mp3.
Sam Tweaks

Lovely Jon: The Digging - flicking through your record box and having that physical relationship with a physical remnant - lining the cues up and watching the vinyl play out - and the sound - pure unfiltered/un tampered joy free of ‘modern’ technology. I love records from all eras but vinyl represents ‘the now’ of the recording.

Klaus: It's the direct control, the visibility of how the dynamic of the song evolves and the act of selecting the right song at the right time.

Martin: It’s a deeper connection. Don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of online listening. I use it everyday, and without it I think I’d lose touch with music. But the expense of vinyl - the fact you’ve gone out of your way to either put your hand in your pocket and support the artist or discover something surprising in a bargain bin; you’re more invested in the whole thing. I know there’s been a massive scene around 7” vinyl in recent years (personally I’m an LP kinda guy), but I respect the commitment to putting out just two tracks on vinyl.

Criztoz: The beauty of a 7” vinyl track lies in its perfect duration of 3 to 4 minutes, precisely tailored to captivate the listener’s attention. Each track is meticulously crafted to maintain engagement throughout its brief lifespan. 

There’s not many things in life that can still bring pleasure to people that are over half a century old, perhaps art, a good book, a vintage whisky. Yet records do something else, they can invoke memories and emotions, do we appreciate their power to do that enough?

Criztoz: Beyond the music itself, playing a record offers a tangible connection to musical history. Each vinyl, pressed at a specific moment, carries its own unique journey, having been played numerous times and gradually evolving with each spin. This organic degradation adds depth and character, forging a deeper connection between the listener and the artist or song, a sentiment that transcends the convenience of clicking a track on Spotify.

There is a sense of ownership and pride associated with having a record in your personal collection that streaming simply can’t replicate. Owning a physical copy lends a tangible value to the music, making it more than just a fleeting digital file. It becomes a cherished item, an artefact of musical appreciation that holds sentimental significance.

The recent 75th birthday celebration of the 45 underscores the enduring significance of this format. The continued enthusiasm for buying, playing, and discussing 45s within the 45 Day and vinyl communities is a testament to its enduring appeal. We do recognise the profound ability of records to trigger memories, whether it’s a concert, a meal, a journey, or moments spent with loved ones. It’s truly remarkable how a particular song can transport us back in time, evoking vivid recollections. Numerous studies have also highlighted the therapeutic effects of music, particularly in aiding individuals with Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions.
Klaus: As we can see, the vinyl market is the only physical format that is notably growing. That means something, doesn't it? Although my oldest son has not invested in a record player yet, he is buying vinyl though.

Lovely Jon: Always - you look at a coveted 7” (either the label or picture sleeve) and it takes you somewhere else - outside ‘normality’ just like the magic of a movie.

Lovely Jon

Martin: I don’t think people should over-analyse that appreciation, that’s when there’s a danger of turning into a show-off of what you own. There’s definitely a fine line between the value of new discoveries vs stuff that reminds you of the good old days. I try to tread both paths and think that a good balance of the two will see you OK.

Digital and 12 inch focused DJ sets allow for more time between records, how much of a buzz do you get from the pressure of a 7 inch set. Knowing that more effort is needed to play them especially when they are the least easiest to cue up?

Lovely Jon: It’s a top buzz - maintains a consistent connective energy (essential for any DJ Set).

Sam Tweaks: As a lifelong 45 spinner I always loved and revelled in the peril of playing 45's - there's a genuine joy in pulling off blends and dropping tracks fast and inventively. People respect 45's DJing more than any other format in my opinion. It's not for the faint hearted.

Is there one record that still eludes you?

Sam Tweaks: There are loads of records that elude me - Khruangbin Maria Tambien (cos I ain't paying a stupid price for it). Dicks Beat Market - Saturday Love (same reason and it's a bootleg) these two spring to mind right now.

Martin: Hmmm, it’s pretty much possible to get anything you want these days if you’re willing to drop enough money on it - that’s not me. I’m most definitely a ‘right place, right price’ sort of buyer. I don’t have a wants list, that would drive me crazy. So really there’s nothing that eludes me, I’m happy with whatever I find on the way.

Klaus: At the moment: Tower of Power - Only so Much Oil in the Ground.

Lovely Jon: Psychotrons - Death is a Dream (BCP Records 1968) - super obscure psyched out garage punker which never shows.

Criztoz: Surprisingly no. If I can’t easily get a record then I will just wait until it comes up in the wild. I don’t have a holy grail wish list. 

What is that one killer, secret weapon record you like to drop that you know will always make a big impact?

Sam Tweaks: For me it's Inspector Norse (Todd Terje cover) by Japanese Jazz / House act Cruisic (which is just having a remix 45 release too). Everytime I play it someone asks me what it is or Shazam's it. I've put it on quite a few Twitch DJ's wantlists.

Criztoz: I am a huge fan of cover Versions. It is not really a secret anymore but the Boogaloo Assassins’ cover of Dawn Penn’s ‘No No No’ always goes down well and surprises the crowd. 

Klaus: It probably depends upon the audience. But I'd say: Bee Gees - Night Fever or Michael Jackson - Billie Jean

Lovely Jon: Guido and Maurizio De Angelis - Goodbye My Friend (RCA Italia 7” 1975) - immense angry psych rock killer from the Italian soundtrack legends (taken from the classic Enzo G Castellari Italo crime movie The Citizen Rebels aka Street Law). Every time I’ve played this out people immediately stop and get sucked in.

Martin: Well… I’m not a DJ, so ‘dropping 7”is not something I really do, but as cheesy as it sounds I don’t think I’ve ever not seen a great reception to Ollie & Jerry’s ‘Breakin’ (There’s No Stopping Us).

45 Day 

Criztoz - Part Of My Journey - Mental Health Talk Show

DIG Magazine

DIG Magazine - Digging 4 Victory shows

Lovely Jon on ROVR

Klaus Mixes 

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