STEVE KOUTA - COLLECTOR

In recent years there’s been a resurgence of popularity for the vinyl record format. For collectors and enthusiasts such as Sydney-based Steve Kouta, listening to music on wax has always been an essential constant in his life – it’s never been out of style. Inheriting his father’s collection and growing his own over the past decade, kouta shares the passion creatively on his popular Instagram account, making it art in itself.

Words: Bianca Valentino / Photography: Hannah Blackmore

“Music is an extension of someone’s personality. Music is one of those things that touches everyone. I’ve never met someone who doesn’t like music (be it death metal, classical, folk, soul etc). To me, it’s an outlet, a therapy session, and a chance to really interpret an artist’s message,” he explains.

“I think all genres contain something special. If I had to choose [the music that moves me most], I’d say 60s and 70s folk – artists like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, James Taylor etc. They’ve got a way of delivering lyrics so honestly and convincingly. I get the chills whenever I hear ‘Diamonds and Rust’ by Joan Baez.

“My Dad had great taste in music. Whenever we were watching a movie, or listening to a TV commercial and a song familiar to him came on, he’d say ‘I have this on vinyl’. I was so intrigued by his collection. As well as having the typical ‘Dad’ albums by the likes of Rod Stewart, Cat Stevens, The Eagles etc, he was a huge fan of British Blues bands from the 60s – John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, early Fleetwood Mac (the Peter Green years), Blind Faith, early Clapton etc. I loved discovering these artists with him. To date, they’re still some of my favourite albums in my collection.

“I love the tangibility of vinyl. The fact that you can touch and feel something an artist has put together, as well as listen to it, is pretty great.

“I also love the album format, and I think artists do too. In a market that’s so singles driven (Spotify, iTunes etc), I think vinyl is one of the best ways to experience an artist’s message in full.”

Kouta’s collection currently numbers around 2,000 records. His very first purchase being the sophisticated funk joint ‘Pass The Peas’ by the JB’s, which he still spins regularly. Getting into the specifics of the collection…

His most prized: Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton. “It’s an album given to me by my Dad, and it was one of his favourites. On a musical level, I think it’s one of the best blues albums around, and it played such a HUGE role in influencing household names like Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, and Cream. I get nervous whenever I give it spin, hoping I don’t accidentally drop or damage it. Memories like that can’t be replaced.”

Most expensive: Janet Jackson- janet. “As most Janet fans know, this album is extremely hard-to-find on vinyl as only original presses from 1993 exist. I was searching for this album forever, and I was so thrilled to find an original, unopened copy in the store window of a tiny country town I was driving through. I just had to get it. It set me back $200.”The holy grail he’s yet to find: Prince - The Black Album. “There’s so much folklore surrounding this album. It was recording during Prince’s most prolific and creative period, and was set for release in 1987. It was cancelled a week before it’s release date, as Prince had a religious epiphany and was convinced the album was possessed by the devil. The result? Some of the funkiest and experimental tracks in Prince’s entire catalogue. Whilst the album was eventually released on CD in 1994, and is due for a re-pressing later this year, I’d love to get my hands on an original pressing. 

“Music is a great accompaniment to life, and my love of vinyl has definitely changed the way I go about my music consumption,” he muses. “The first thing I do every morning when I get out of bed, and the first thing I do when I get home from work is play a record. It’s a very ritualistic hobby that I can’t get enough of. Whenever I have a spare hour here or there, I sneak down to my local record store to see what’s new. I find record collecting a therapeutic and relaxing escape from reality, and no matter what your taste in music is, I think there’s something for everyone to enjoy.”

You can follow Steve Kouta via his Instagram page: @stevekouta

 

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