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Getting In-depth with Robert Haagsma



Robert Haagsma is Netherlands’ largest vinyl connoisseur. He shared several moments with all the great artists of the world and has a record collection that a department store could not accommodate. As a Dutch freelance music journalist he works for various media such as Algemeen Dagblad, Aardschok, Aloha, Record Collector and Revolver’s Lust for life. In addition, he published books about André Hazes, Rob de Nijs, Pink Floyd and he wrote the book Vinylfanaten. In 2012, “Golden Earring, the American Dream” rolled off the press, which Haagsma wrote together with author Jeroen Ras.

Robert latest creation is the incredible book “Passion For Vinyl part 3, Tales from the groove.” This book offers close to 30 interviews with a very diverse cast of characters. They have in common a deep love of music. Passion for Vinyl shares the unique experience of making, buying, collecting and enjoying vinyl. It’s about the records that inspire people. The way they shaped their lives. How they sparked them to pick up an instrument, become a DJ, or start a label, pressing plant or YouTube channel.

The Nocturnal Times: Hi Robert Thank you for your time. You wrote another fantastic book “Passion For Vinyl Part III: Tales From The Groove”. Since you already wrote 2 parts, what made you write a third part?

Robert: Thank you. I wasn’t really planning on writing a third book, but I was asked to do so again by the publisher, Record Industry in Haarlem. I enjoyed working on the first two parts so much that I said yes almost immediately. I love music so much, but it’s almost as much fun talking about music. Especially with people who are as crazy about vinyl as I am. I also really had the feeling that there were still many stories that deserved to be written down. There have been so many new people, especially in recent years. Especially young people and women; in record stores, as YouTubers, at pressing plants, and so on.

The Nocturnal Times: What is different about this one compared to the other 2 books and why should people read this book?

Robert: Good question. Of course, they are all completely different interviews in the first place. What also makes a difference is that the time in which I made this book is different from the previous two. Part 1 was released ten years ago when the vinyl revival was just beginning. There were a lot of questions. Is it a hype? Who buys all those LPs these days? And why? Should the industry respond to this? When I started part 2, most of the questions had already been answered. Vinyl was really back. I also spoke to people who had just started a record pressing plant or record store, for example. Now, five years later, we know for sure that vinyl is not going away anytime soon. So I took a slightly more personal approach. Do you come from a musical family? What records made you love music? Are there any albums that changed your life? What does your musical life look like now?

The Nocturnal Times: Since you did lot of interviews for this book, who was the one you where most excited about interviewing and why?

Robert: It was crazy that Robert Trujillo took so much time for me when the latest Metallica album had just been released and the band was about to go on tour. He had also prepared himself specially by selecting a whole stack of records. The conversation with Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine was also very cool. Not just because he rarely gives interviews, he had a very interesting story. I also really enjoyed talking to Gilad Tiefenbrun, owner of Linn, because I have been the proud and satisfied owner of a Linn LP12 turntable for more than 25 years, haha!

The Nocturnal Times: And a follow up question. You traveled the world and met many interesting people. Who would you like to interview who you haven’t interviewed yet?

Robert: I don’t really have a wish list, but it is a bit frustrating that I have never managed to speak to Pete Townshend of The Who. I admire him very much and think he is a very interesting man. I would also like to interview Elton John one day, but then I only want to talk about his immense record collection, haha!

The Nocturnal Times: Tell us a bit more about the process. How do you prepare yourself when writing such a book? And do you have any advise for aspiring writers?

Robert: Together with Anouk Rijnders from Record Industry, a list of interview candidates is made. That’s where it starts. Then it’s up to me to prepare. Which I do as thoroughly as possible. Then it is a matter of conducting and transcribing the interviews. It is difficult to give advice to someone who wants to write a book, because no book is the same. In general: make sure you have a good idea and make sure you have a good publisher. Write about something that really interests you and it will never become a job. Furthermore, my motto when it comes to interviews is very simple: prepare well, be genuinely interested and be on time. Writing is often hard work, but few things are as satisfying as seeing an article published or holding a book in your hands.

The Nocturnal Times: How happy are you seeing that vinyl is making its way back in to the mainstream? And what are your thoughts about colored vinyls and all the other limited editions that are being sold these days?

Robert: I’m extremely happy with the return of vinyl to the mainstream. I am especially happy that young people are also discovering that the LP is the most ideal way to really listen to music. Purchasing and playing an LP requires a certain commitment, while the music is divided into pleasant chunks of about twenty minutes. LPs also often have memories attached to them, because of the store where you bought it or because of the person who gave it to you. I really enjoy seeing how young people build such memories. Last Saturday was Record Store Day. In a store I visited I saw a girl of about 10 euphorically dancing away with an Olivia Rodrigo single. My heart jumped. That’s the future of vinyl! Well, and about colored vinyl. I know people are complaining about it. It’s a bit much, but I think the market will eventually correct the industry. I remember that there was also colored vinyl in the 70s. The very first pressing had a colors. The early buyers were lucky. It would be nice if it went back to that, instead of 10 different color variants.

The Nocturnal Times: If you where staying on a lonely island for 1 year which 3 vinyls would you take along and why?

Robert: Ah, that always difficult question, haha! It changes every day, but here we go: Air with Moon Safari, because it’s a perfect pop album. Great songs and beautiful production. I like a good sound. It also brings together styles – pop, lounge, 70’s rock – which I really like. A timeless classic. I also choose the Ramones’ first album, because that band blew away the cobwebs of the 70s. For me it is still the ultimate rock & roll album. I have seen the band live many times and those concerts are still in my Top 10. Just as I am glad that I ever interviewed most of the original band members. For the third album I choose Judas Priest with Unleashed In the East. It is typically a live album with songs that are all better than the original studio versions. It is also mainly the album that ignited my love for metal in the late 1970s. But then again, tomorrow it could be different choices. The jazz and classical department is the fastest growing department in my collection, to name just one example.

The Nocturnal Times: In your book you say it all started when your sister gave you the “Blue” double album by The Beatles. Do you still listen to the that album?

Robert: Ha, well noticed. The ‘Blue’ double LP that I received a long time ago was already second-hand. Apparently my sister was too frugal to get me a new one – just kidding. But seriously: I traded it in a long time ago for a mint Japanese pressing from the 1970s. I’m not sentimental about that. I also have the re-issues that came out later, such as the 3-LP version from last year. For me, there are still few albums that bring together as much good music as that blue compilation 1967 – 1970 by The Beatles. I still put it on regularly. The Beatles are never boring.

The Nocturnal Times: Would you share another career defining moment with us that made you the music loving man you are today?

Robert: In the early 80s I saw the band Golden Earring live. My first pop concert. It was an extremely impressive experience. It was a world I wanted to belong to, although it took a long time for that to become reality. Funnily enough, my first serious interview was with Rinus Gerritsen, the bassist of Golden Earring. It was such an inspiring experience that I thought: I want to continue with that. Not much later I took care of his archive, which much later resulted in a book: Golden Earring – The American Dream. Written together with Jeroen Ras. There have been many experiences and encounters that have given me pushes in the right direction. Music has meant a lot to my life, both privately and professionally.

The Nocturnal Times: Thank your for your time. It was a pleasure talking with you. Anything you want to share with us?

Robert: Thanks. Your welcome. Famous last words: support your local record store!

If you are interested in more stories and insights by Robert, you can buy his latest book “Passion For Vinyl part 3, Tales from the groove.” here.