I interviewed Hugo the writer of “The Walkman Archive” and one of the administrators of the forum “Stereo2Go” a year ago. Hugo lives in Barcelona, Spain and is a very dedicated Walkman collector and analogue enthusiast.
The Walkman Archive is a site I recommend wholeheartedly if you enjoy vintage portable gear.
This interview was made in beginning of 2019 but life has a way to delay the best things.
1. Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?
Well, I suppose that all of us who have a collector’s passion for something is due to some reason, typically nostalgia or some lack or even a trauma as a child. That last one is my case: I am a boy who had a very hard youth due to the death of my mother in a traffic accident when I was 11 years old. This was the beginning of a whole series of family misfortunes that led to the darkest period of my life. In about 1985 I was given a very simple walkman (a SAISHO) with which I discovered that music could bring me the happiness I really needed. I often locked myself in my room, put on my headphones and devoted myself to recording songs from the radio or listening. The intimacy that the headphones gave you, which was something I had never experienced before, really was my true refuge of well-being.
From there, my passion for walkmans and many other HI-FI devices began, but especially those related to the cassette. Little by little I changed my Walkman, improving, but always with the little money I could save. Years later I jumped to the Minidisc, then to the mp3… until today. In 2010 I suddenly realized that I could use eBay to search for all those Walkmans I was pining for, and that’s how it all started…
2. What music do you enjoy and why?
For many years in my youth I listened only to commercial pop and disco hits. I lived in a small town in deep Spain and there wasn’t much of a variety of stations either. Let’s remember that in those times there was no internet and the only way to keep up with the latest music was through the radio or magazines. One day the radio station I was listening to played AC/DC’s Highway to Hell, and I was really impressed by how good it sounded. I took what little savings I had and ran to a nearby music store asking about that record. I came home with the newly purchased cassette and I didn’t stop listening to it. That’s when I discovered that hard rock wasn’t what I thought it was (or, rather, what adults sometimes said it was: noise, distortion and dirty hair guys screaming). I had formed a false image based on the comments I sometimes heard from older people and also based on the look of the album covers. But all that changed from there. Since then I consider myself a real rocker, an enthusiast of many different types of rock: from the hard rock of the 70s to the modern alt. rock (Alter bridge, Sevendust, Shinedown…)
3. Why are you enthusiastic about audio?
I think that’s something that can’t be explained. You’re enthusiastic about something because you’re passionate about it, but you don’t really know why. For some reason, I discovered that quality devices allow you to appreciate many more details of the music and once you try it, you don’t want to go back. And the good thing about this hobby is that it combines two things that I love: technologically advanced gadgets and music.
4. What audio gear do you use?
When I work on the computer I usually listen to Spotify but at night or on weekends, when I’m in my free time, then I do take out the vinyls and cassettes and enjoy listening, watching the tape spin, equalizing, and often combining it with a glass of good wine.
5. What would be your perfect audio gear setup?
I think I got what I wanted. I just hope I have more space and can get a lot of equipment out of the storage room…
6. What is your favorite format for audio and why?
My favorite format is cassette, for the reason I already explained before. Followed by vinyl. There’s no musical experience that non-physical formats like digital can give you over the physical one like cassettes or vinyl.
Feeling that you are in possession of your music so you can enjoy them even if you stop paying your streaming service subscription can’t be compared with possessing a cassette. Plus the experience of touching and looking at it while it’s moving, it totally a different thing.