Crate Diggers: Synkro




Illustration: Laura Breiling

Our Crate Diggers series profiles record collectors around the world. This month we meet Manchester’s Synkro who talks emotional records, sketchy bootlegs and unbelievable digging experiences.

Name: Joe McBride

Aliases: Synkro

Age: 27

Nationality: British

Size of Collection: Roughly 2000, maybe a few more
What are your early memories of records? At what age did you start collecting records? 

There was always a turntable in the house when I was growing up. My dad had a small vinyl collection but I remember him playing records to me from a young age. I have a vivid memory of him showing me how to put a record on the turntable, it was with a copy of Michael Jackson’s ‘Off The Wall’. The first record I claimed from my dad’s collection was Scientist Dub Landing when I was about 14. It’s still in my collection now.

What do you love about records?

I think I love vinyl so much because it was one of the first formats I was exposed to. We didn’t have a TV in the house until I was a teenager and my main source of entertainment was music either from cassette or vinyl. Aside from that I think if you have the right set up, the sound quality can be far superior to any other format and there’s something so beautiful about looking at the artwork on a full colour 12” sleeve that doesn’t compare to any other format.

What’s playing on your turntable right now?

I have been pretty obsessed with soundtracks recently. I’ve been listening to and buying a lot of stuff on Death Waltz and Finders Keepers. But something I have been listening to on repeat is the Schleißen series from Emotional Response, specifically 1 and 2. I haven’t put them on the shelf since I got them a few weeks back.


What does your setup look like?

At home I have two Technics 1210s and a Pioneer DJM400 in the living room for mixing on. I’ve also got a cheap USB turntable in my room for lo-fi sampling. If I want a clean sample I’ll use the setup downstairs.

Do you clean your records?

Yeah I’m pretty anal about keeping my records clean. Most of them are in plastic sleeves on the shelf and I usually give them a quick brush before i put the needle down. I don’t like people playing damaged records on my needles either, I have a spare needle for playing fucked records, haha. I live close to a really good record shop & they have a proper vinyl cleaner, I sometimes bring a record up to them if it’s really dirty.

Are you a future seller or a keeper?

I don’t buy records to sell but if I have had my fun with a record and it’s worth money then will get rid of it, usually to buy another record that I want. There’s no point having loads of records that you don’t listen to when other people want them. I got rid of a bunch of old D&B records recently and replaced them with a couple of soundtracks i have been after for a while.

What’s the most you’ve paid for a record?

I think the most I have spent on a new record is the Muslimgauze box set, but I have forked out for a couple of early Aphex and Boards of Canada records in the past.

If money were no object, what one record would you buy?

There’s a few on my list, especially the recent bausatz noto boxset on VF – I am a massive fan of Carsten Nicolai and have a few of his previous locked groove releases. It would also be cool to get the limited binder edition of Analord 10 by AFX as i have got all the records in the series but not the binder. I think it last sold for £399 on Discogs which is a bit crazy.

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If your house was burning down and you could only save one record what would it have to be?

I actually have a bag full of my own TPs next to the front door but if I had to grab one from the collection it would probably be Telephasic Workshop/Roygbiv 10” promo by BOC or my white label copy of Bobble Hats in Summer by Xela.

Is there a record that makes you cry?

It might sound a bit cheesy but something that always makes me feel deeply emotional is ‘An Ending (Ascent)’ by Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno. There is something even more beautiful about it when you listen to it on vinyl, the crackle really brings it alive. This is a record I stumbled across without knowing the history behind it and when it came to this track I really felt like I had been there before. After a little research I realised Burial had used a section of it in one of his early tracks, and then it all made sense.

Favourite album cover?

That’s a really hard question. I love all the Tangerine Dream sleeves, especially Zeit and Force Majeure, but there’s so many I love, it’s hard to choose. I’m really happy with the artwork for my album on Apollo by Yasmin Lever. Initial vinyl copies come in a foil embossed sleeve with white vinyl and it looks amazing.

Do first editions matter to you? Do you own any bootlegs?

I’m not to fussed about first editions to be honest. If I find one for a decent price then it’s a bonus but otherwise I will go with a repress. I have got a first pressing of Selected Ambient Works by Aphex Twin on Apollo Records as it’s one of my favourite albums ever, and a couple of early Boards Of Canada EPs on Skam and Warp. I have got a sketchy bootleg of E2E4 by Manuel Göttsching but it’s got two Eddy Grant tunes on the other side for some reason, haha.

Favourite record shop?

There’s quite a few to be honest but one of my favourite stores in the UK is called High Street Books. It’s in a small town called New Mills just outside of Manchester where I grew up. The guys there are really great & some of the stuff that comes through the shop is mind blowing. One of the reasons it’s my favourite store is that it’s literally 3 minutes up the road from where I live but aside from that I have found some absolute gems in there.

Strangest digging experience?

One of my greatest digging experiences was actually in High Street Books. I was in there dropping off a few dubstep records I wanted to get rid of and another guy was there doing the same thing. I went in the next day and checked through the records this dude had dropped off, thinking that I wouldn’t be interested as I was trying to whittle down my dubstep collection at the time. There was a few interesting bits in there but nothing special, so I left it.

I came in the next day and for some reason decided to go through the same batch of records and there was one in a plain white sleeve with no cut out for the centre sticker that I had overlooked so on a random one I decided to pull it out. I lifted out the record & nearly had a heart attack as it was a white label with a little sticker saying DMZ002. Its probably the holy grail of dubstep records and I never thought I would find it, let alone in a small record shop on the outskirts of Manchester.

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