Nearly 17 years ago, Discogs, a digital database of music created by over 355,000 contributors, bridged the gap between the worlds of online and offline music appreciation. Already connecting buyers and sellers of vinyl through their website, Discogs wanted to create a more intimate and engaging setting for music-lovers to meet. And so, Crate Diggers was born, a combination record fair and music festival featuring the best local DJ talent. Originally a one-off event, Crate Diggers has exploded into an international musical phenomenon. For the very first time, Discogs is bringing Crate Diggers to the Phi Centre, giving Montrealers the chance to discover new music with a record fair and (free!) after party.
Founded in 2014 by Discogs' Liz Maddux and Zernell Gillie of Grimy Edits, Crate Diggers was born out of a desire to bring more opportunity to the vinyl community. But rather than just host a run-of-the-mill record fair, the duo decided to create an event that would speak to their similar interests, and to the overall vinyl and digging communities.. Bringing their respective backgrounds together, Maddux and Gillie developed the Crate Diggers concept: one-part vinyl convention where local vendors can sell their musical wares, and one-part concert featuring local DJs spinning until the wee hours of the morning.
From Portland To Montreal And Across The Globe
Originally, Crate Diggers was supposed to be a one-off musical affair. First held in Portland, Oregon, the hometown of Discogs, Crate Diggers became an instant hit. The Discogs team took note, deciding once simply wasn't enough. The vinyl community simply wanted more. "What's different about the vinyl community is the depth of love for the format...[a] thirst for a deeper connection" says Jeffrey Smith of Discogs. Given Crate Diggers' massive expansion, the thirst is real. Quickly expanding to Los Angeles and Miami, Crate Diggers crossed the Atlantic Ocean to reach Berlin, Germany last year. 2017 will see Crate Diggers grow even further, with fifteen cities on the horizon, including far-off Tokyo and, of course, Montreal.
Maintaining a homegrown, authentic feel to Crate Diggers is hard to do when heading into new, international markets, something Discogs openly recognizes as a major challenge. Music, however, is the great connector, and no matter where it's held, Crate Diggers sticks to its core concept: a love of vinyl and local DJs. Montreal's inaugural Crate Diggers will be no different, as Discogs promises "some of Montreal's best purveyors of vinyl represented... all slinging records to the soundtrack of local DJs spinning throughout the day." Once the sun sets, Crate Diggers Montreal will transform into a massive after party, with sets from Egyptian Lover, Rich Medina, and Montreal's very own Lexis of Music Is My Sanctuary, a "no-brainer" choice for Discogs.
Vinyl Vs. Digital: The Future Of Crate Diggers
Looking forward, Discogs plans to keep expanding Crate Diggers across the globe. "As the vinyl community continues to grow so will Crate Diggers" says Smith. And rather interestingly, a love of vinyl is a growing trend, even in the face and music-streaming platforms like Spotify. Discogs itself is a contributor to the digitization of music, bringing a near-exhaustive catalogue of music straight to your web browser. That doesn't stop "diggers" (what you call a frequent searcher of vinyls, just so you know) from heading to their local record store or events like Crate Diggers. Despite all odds, vinyl sales are steadily increasing. That's because there's a connection to music that one can only experience when listening to vinyl. Holding wax in your hand is entirely different from hitting a button on your phone to play the next song. Discogs knows that's the reason for the continued success of Crate Diggers. "When I want to listen to an album, when I want to connect," says Smith, "I, as many do, pull it from the sleeve, drop a needle on it, and soak it in."
A connection to music isn't the only driving force behind Crate Diggers. The event is also founded on the purpose of connecting people, through music. Crate Diggers is Discogs in the flesh, a physical manifestation of the online vinyl retailer. The event is Discogs way of giving the vinyl community, in any city, the opportunity to connect with each other in real life. That is the ultimate goal of Crate Diggers, to bring people with a passion for physical music formats together and experience new music, together. From a young kid discovering an old album to a seasoned digger finally finding a rare vinyl to someone swaying to a local DJ on the dance floor, each and every moment is brought about by a love of music. "Those moments are gifts" says Smith, speaking for the entire Discogs team "and we're all incredibly honoured to provide an environment for people to have more of those moments."
Crate Diggers Montreal is on June 10th at the Phi Centre. The record fair will run from 12 PM to 6 PM, with over 30 record vendors on-site, and a slew of local DJs playing all day. The 18+ after-party starts at 9 PM until 2:30 AM, with headliner sets from Egyptian Lover, Rich Medina and Lexis.
Interview by Michael D'Alimonte
Photos courtesy of Discogs