by PB Hermoso
Firsts, no matter how spectacular or odd, are never easy to forget. In a pile of concert setlists, worn out sleeves, and restringed guitars lies Diego Castillo. He’s either banging his head to Sandwich, grooving to the beat of The Diegos, or constructing the next best burger at Sweet Ecstasy. Behind a trophy is a great (and at times, surprising) success story. This artist tells us all what keeps him foaming at the mouth.
What made you start your record collection?
It started around 1995. My parents are big music buffs. They bought records in the 60s, 70s. So, growing up, there were records in the house. Records were being sold then through Pari Press. It’s like Philippine press records in the stores since there were no CDs yet. I would ask my parents to buy me New Wave stuff. At that point, my brothers were buying records too so there’s a lot of records at the house—New Order, The Smiths, Cure, etc. I love those bands, I still do. Then CDs came in, so I started buying CDs, but the truth is—I tell this to every person that asks me that same question—I was in college and working in NU 107 with my own show called Not Radio. Then, I got to New York for the first time in 1995, and I realized that CDs cost $14.99 or $13.99 and the LPs cost $9.99 to $10.99. I was doing the math in my head; I was still living with my parents and we had a turntable at home. Tapos may auxiliary ‘yun sa cassette so ma-rerecord ko naman (It also had an auxiliary output for a cassette so I could record it) and bring it to the car. I told myself, “plaka na lang bibilin ko kasi masmura (I’ll buy the vinyl record instead since it’s less expensive) and I really like it anyway.”
I started buying The Superchunks, The Pavements, etc. Then lo and behold, while going around New York, I found the secondhand record store. But, I’m not gonna tell you that back in ’95 that I knew it sounded better. The rig that we had at home was a plain Sony, and it wasn’t a state of the art thing. I just liked vinyl records for the cost, music, and it reminded me of my childhood kasi noong bata ako malaki yung art (because when I was a kid, the album art was huge).
It’s always a different experience that awaits whenever you open a vinyl record.
Yung smell nga gusto ko, eh (I like the smell). It’s like the smell of new books. I love the smell of new books.
There’s one more thing that I love because I’m a musician myself. I play in a band and I’ve always done so since I was young. When any band makes a record, the order of the songs have a certain method to the madness. Hindi yan jinumble jumble for you to listen to (They weren’t jumbled up for you to listen to). There’s a story that’s why the flow starts off with a strong and faster song then it mellows down in the middle, then it becomes faster again. With records, it forces you to listen to the album as a whole which is what I like. So generally, you let it go. I like to cook when I listen to songs, and you feel the whole flow and then it ends. It’s like when the side ends, it’s like an intermission that you have to flip.
Do you have any specific criteria whenever you go around looking for records?
Sometimes, it’s because of the label, the year… I like a lot of funk records because I also DJ a lot of funk stuff. Sometimes, hindi ko kilala ang banda (I don’t know the band), but if I find the producer alright or the album art looks kinda funky, I buy that. But generally, I look for older records that I never got to buy. And there’s a bigger thing—the ones that are never re-released. There’s a lot of bands that never re-release, like Beck. Beck’s Odelay, a great record, a super great record. You also have “Devil’s Haircut” among other things; it has never been re-released. If you go to E-bay, it’s $300 to buy it. I was able to find a single here in the Philippines. Na-dig ko lang (I dug for it). It’s not the album, but it’s the “Devil’s Haircut” single. That’s important to me—to search for stuff like that. I just like going to a record store and seeing what’s there. But I really don’t have anything in mind, that’s why it’s super exciting when I go. I shop there when I have money on hand. Kasi delikado yun eh, pag nahanap mo yung gusto mo kaso wala kang pera. Kasi chances are kapag umalis ka tapos bumalik ka two days later, baka Diego Mapa got it (It’s risky if you find something that you like but don’t have any cash at hand. If you leave and come back two days later, maybe Diego Mapa got it). You’re all the same people looking for it.
On that note, are there any records you could label as “The One That Got Away?”
Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of OPM stuff that I constantly look for like The Dawn’s first album which came out in ’87. I have their 2nd album which is I Stand With You. It’s very important to me because you can’t find it even in New York or LA. These are bands that mean a lot to me because they’re my friends and influenced me. Once, I already saw a copy with “Envelope Ideas.” I saw it already and said, “Ah, ang mahal” (ah, it’s expensive), and I let it pass. To my dismay, when I went back, it was gone. Now, it is even being sold for like P4,000-P6,000 and rightfully so, because you can’t find it. But when I saw it the first time, it was P1,200 like 6 or 7 years ago. Who else is going to complete Filipino records except for us? I don’t expect somebody else to do it. Sayang. I like to archive anything local. Like I have all Eraserheads singles, signed. Siyempre kabanda ko yun. Buti di ko napalampasan yung mga ganyan (One of them is my bandmate. Thankfully, I didn’t let the opportunity pass).
What’s the story behind your comfort record, or a set of records that instantly pick you up on any day?
I like to play Yo La Tengo. It’s very atmospheric and it has great guitar-playing. It’s also very intricate and puts me in a relaxing state. I sing along to the lyrics. I like to listen to David Axelrod. You know DJ Shadow? Shadow samples a lot from Axelrod, and that’s how I discovered him. It is what I call the Sunday Lazy Playlist. Yun ang gusto ko kasi pag masyadong rock and roll, nakakahyper o ‘pag masyadong electro na band which I love ah, that’s what I spin (I like that kind of music since rock n’ roll. Or rather any electro band, which I love actually, is what I usually spin). These are what I like: Yo La Tengo stuff, spinning stuff, Miles Davis, and Beach Boys rin. Nakaka-relax siya. Parang Motown Records on a Sunday is perfect (It’s relaxing. Playing Motown Records on a Sunday is perfect).
What’s the weirdest/most memorable situation you’ve been in while looking for records?
I guess it’s the thrill sometimes of just digging that is memorable because you have absolutely no expectations as to what’s at a store at any given time. Other people’s trash could be your gold. I like the idea that it’s gonna be cheap and it might be something I’ve never heard before. Remember, it’s a fallacy to think that everything is on the internet. That is not true. There are a lot of bands that I started to like when I was in college like, “Nasaan na kaya ang Hopper?” (Where’s Hopper?)
I looked them up on Google recently. They’re not even on Youtube, but I have the record. Inorder ko yun (I ordered it). It took me 4 years to look for it. It’s that obscure. There are records like The Ronnettes’ Be My Baby that took me 3 years. Like scouring everywhere, so yun ang mga weird experiences ko (Like scouring everywhere; those are my weird experiences). I looked everywhere! I even have a message board with fellow crazy people. They all saw it but it was being sold for $75. Hindi ko kaya yun. Parang hindi na niya ako bibigyan ng joy, eh (I can’t afford that. It’s as if it won’t give me joy any more). It has to be in that range that I can still afford and not break the bank. Not that I’m saying records aren’t worth buying if they’re expensive. If I had the money, I’d buy it. Like Beck’s Odelay, $300 so P15,000. That’s too much.
Sometimes, you come across people who will trade records at meet-ups at their little trade-a-record thing or so. I don’t like Dave Matthews Band, for example. I’m not a big fan of them, but I found their record and I got it and find out that it’s so hard to find. So I was able to trade with somebody else, so we’re both happy.
What did you get?
I got like… weird jazz records. Many weird jazz records. But for me, we were both happy. Because ang barter namin hindi pera, pero mga plaka. Kasi sayang, eh (Because we didn’t exchange money, but records. It’s going to be put to waste). None of the records I own are for display. I know exactly where they are and I listen to them. It makes no sense to me if I buy a record just because it’s hip. Somebody else should have that or I should buy something that makes me happy. I have records that people would ask, “What’s this?” I have a weird Japanese record where people are just talking. Pero, trip ko yun eh (But then, I like it). That makes me happy.
How do you categorize your records?
Okay, so, because I just moved in… it’s a work in progress, ha. It’s technically by genre. Another thing I’d like for you to add is that people shouldn’t be ashamed of the kind of music they love. They also shouldn’t listen to music just because so and so likes it too, or because it is what’s cool nowadays. They should know why they love or hate a track, and it’s okay.
Photographed by MV Isip
Video by MV Isip