Story

Randy Ellis: Playlist Project

Representation Through Music
Randy "Hotthobo" Ellis, Co-owner and Label Manager of Voltaire Records

While it is rare that I ever have much extra time or money at my disposal for a variety of seemingly fun and important things, I do find true solace in the fact that I get to chase music daily, and enjoy newly discovered cuts with my seasoned, battered ears. Tracks are stumbled upon through an odd community of close friends, people I kind-of know, people I want to know, people I don’t know, people I’ve known yet no longer want to know, people that I cyber-know and don’t want to cyber-know, and then the media is obtained or garnered via shops, vinyl peddlers, or through transactions in front of the glowing screen.
 
I get to have amazing moments, even hours sometimes, in the graces of new and classic sounds—the ones where you actually feel that pulsing right in the thorax (that region between the neck and the abdomen, and generally accompanied by the rush of endorphins). While those times are lovely and life-affirming, there are also horrendous and agonizing times that can come out of the vinyl junkie lifestyle, so as a precaution, please make sure to never lift any of your crates with your back and make sure that you hold onto enough money to keep those bills paid (two things I definitely forget from time to time).
 
In searching for records, the devotee develops a palate and a style, a specialization in some cases, and perhaps a well-roundedness too. From the constant viewing of assorted records, a self-taught education in layout, graphic design, and product design occurs by default. One begins to comprehend trends regarding musicians, studios, record labels, and content. The record dabbler unwittingly becomes a historian, be it amateur or professional, well-regarded, hated, praised, avoided, feared, mystified, misunderstood, ignored, or the like. One gets sucked deep into unearthing a sacred and often spiritual aspect of human culture that is chock full of oddball rules with basic similarities to any convention that enthusiasts seem to be drawn into.
 
My choices here are an attempt to represent where I’m at and have been musically. It’s tough to come up with a better explanation, but the majority of these cuts have really stood the test of time both in terms of what I personally like to listen to and what I like to play for other people. What I dig about the songs I’ve chosen is that they help me to achieve a “vibe” or “rush” over and over again. Some songs evoke a type of intangible personification or hybrid fantasy imagery culled from past experiences and re-interpreted by my conscious/subconscious. Others have ties to real life events, people, and places. Some simply give me the "urge to move" and may also fit in somewhat with those aforementioned categories.
 
I’m a pretty uptight guy, so it’s nice when something actually has the power to reduce or eliminate those defenses.  Each track has its own outcome which can change entirely when meshed with whatever the hell it is I’m going through at that moment, getting me further into, or conversely out of those sentiments. Many of these songs give me a palatable way to experience and embrace the less desirable emotions in life.  Perhaps this explanation is a bit much, so aside from attempting to be academic and analytical about it, there is something to be said for just listening to and enjoying music, and that being that. So do that and enjoy it, pronto.

Randy "Hotthobo" Ellis is a co-owner and label manager of Voltaire Records in San Francisco, CA, and a frequent contributor to Loose Shus and Chautauqua. As a DJ, he strives to create an immaculate vibe, treating the woofers and tweeters with a sonic diversity, and jacking up the audience with a uniquely curated selection. His 100% vinyl sets journey deep into an abyss of new, classic, and obscure 12" and 45" records, with a focus toward high-end boogie, disco, two step, sweet soul, italo, house and funk.

Find out more about Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records, open through July 27, 2014.