Collector's Corner: Alexandre Travessas

Hi there! We're back after a relaxing holiday vacation with a new edition of Collector's Corner! As we're 2 weeks from the beginning of this year's Reverence Festival Valada, we brought yet another member of the Reverence family (and record collector) to our little corner: Alexandre Travessas, one of RFV's programmers/organisers. He's also agent/promoter/ road manager/you name it, with a career path including stops like Lisbon's Sabotage Club or Évora's mythical SHE. On this interview, Alexandre reminisces about his time as his parents' DJ, explains how to handle hazardous records in NYC and reveals his personal choices from the Reverence Valada 2016 roster.

What led you to become interested in music and records?
When I was 6/7 years old, my parents bought a stereo with a complimentary package of various vinyl records; though they weren’t that connected to music, those platters fascinated me instantly, so I became the house DJ until the day I moved out to my own place. I grew up listening to Neil Young’s “Harvest” and “Old Ways”, the Beatles’ “Sgt. Peppers” and “Abbey Road” and also Queen, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Stranglers, Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, etc.. As my parents were also Reader’s Digest subscribers, there were also some compilations around the house, so I had some access to stuff from the 50's and the 60's. Then afterwards, during my adolescence, I discovered a whole new world of alternative rock, post-punk, indie stuff, some extreme genres and the 90's scene: fanzines and the first concerts. From there to starting bands and getting inside the scene organising gigs was an instant.

How was it for you to start dealing with musicians in person? Does the mystique fade away or you get to add the human component to the artistic?
I face it as a natural thing, I think it depends of the person in question and the empathy at the moment, they’re just people like us. I’ve met teenage idols who were absolute surprises given the humility and support they’ve shown, but I also shared some moments with artists which I wish I hadn’t. I had the pleasure to work some years with [the portuguese band] GNR; [vocalist] Rui Reininho, which I knew from tabloid controversies, has become one of the most fantastic persons I’ve met until today, for his huge heart, humility and a certain kind of “madness” that only some geniuses have. So, the human component is always there, be it good or bad, but the mystique, you can feel it from certain individuals, while some others reveal themselves disappointing.

What is the size of your collection?
Between CDs, vinyl records and cassettes, it should be around 4000.

Format of choice: vinyl or CD?
Vinyl for the piece of art it is. I’m not a fundamentalist of any specific format, I believe they’re all important – what’s really special is music.

What is the most important album of your life?
I don’t know, it’s difficult to elect one. I remember the first one was [Queen’s] “A Night at the Opera”. Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” had a huge impact in my life, as well as “Aenima” by Tool or Nick Cave’s “Murder Ballads” and many other records, from the Beatles, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Jesus & Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, REM, Ride, Swans, 16 Horsepower to Black Sabbath, Pantera, DFL, Cypress Hill, RATM, and even Miles Davis or Chet Baker. I don’t believe that there can only be one “album of my life”, there are several of them for several moments of our lives.

What was the last record that amazed you?
“Chinese Fountain” by The Growlers, but lately I’ve been hearing some new stuff by the Fat White Family that completely grabbed my attention. Also, Radar Men from the Moon, 10000 Russos, Claypool Lennon Delirium and Orelha Negra.

What is the one record that you don't have and you're most looking for?
Hard question, there’s a lot of them, but perhaps George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass”. It has a lovely edition, several friends of mine have it, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to find mine yet.

Tell me an interesting story about buying records, either because of the purchase process itself, or for the importance (commercial or emotional) of the records in question.
My first visit to Rebel Rebel in New York, a very small store with so many crates spread across the floor that me and the owner barely fit in! After digging in some crates, I find a vinyl copy of Tool’s “Salival” – an unofficial but very cool edition in colored vinyl and a silvery wrap like tin-foil with a sticker stating “This package is contaminated, open at your own risk”. The owner grabs the record, he looks at it thoughtfully for an instant and asks me if I really want to take it. I say I do but he insists, so I ask him if he really wants to sell it. He says he’s worried about the inscription and that I should be really careful, so he hands me the record and says “Since you’re a courageous guy, I’ll make you 10% off. Not everyone would take a piece of art with this inscription”. I don’t know if he did it out of relief or for being in a good mood, but he was really nice! When I got home, I discovered that it was a numbered edition, limited to 350 units - mine is number 13.

Which are the concerts that you are not going to miss (or at least advise everyone not to miss) at Reverence Valada 2016?
Though I’m not going to have a lot of time to see concerts, I strongly advise you not to miss both Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Damned’s Portugal debuts, it should be motive for pilgrimage for any music lover; also Dead Meadow, Blaak Heat, Radar Men From the Moon, JC Satan, Papermoon Sessions, FAT WHITE FAMILY (this one I won’t miss for sure, because I believe it’s going to be the coolest thing that will happen this year in Portugal). And then there’s Thee Oh Sees, Killing Joke, A Place to Bury Strangers, Raveonettes, stuff that you already know that’s going to be very good.

Reverence Valada Festival 2016 starts September 8th (Thursday) and ends on the 10th (Saturday). Tickets are still available so you don't have any excuse.

Have you enjoyed this article? Then take a look at the previous editions of Collector's Corner with Paulo Coelho, Rui Miguel Abreu and Nick Allport.