Stories About Records – Skeme Richards

20 April 2021

Welcome to the 10th interview in our series, ‘Stories About Records’ where we ask our members and some of our favourite Djs about their most cherished 45. 

This is not about perceived or discogs monetary value but personal value that is tied up in memories, stories, love, loss, life, family and a passion for this particular 7″ vinyl record.

We want to know what the record is, what it sounds like and why it is so important to you. 

If you’re interested in being apart of this series drop us an email or sign up for our Newsletter to be informed when these wonderful stories drop.

Now to the interview and it’s great to present Skeme Richards from Philadelphia, USA.

Firstly, tell us about yourself as a Dj and Collector of 45s, how long have you been playing and collecting, why 45s, what was the first 45 you were given and also the first 45 you bought? Do you still have them?

My name is Skeme Richards aka The Nostalgia King, I’m from Philadelphia and I’ve been DJ’ing since 1981.

Music and records have always been around me since childhood and like most Black households in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, my parents always played records around the house and of course FM radio.

On any given day you’d here funk, soul, jazz and R&B while at my grand parents house you’d hear a lot of jazz and gospel (on Sundays) being played.  

Another source of my connection to music began in the late 70s going to block parties and hearing DJ’s playing. This was the beginning of really seeing and understanding what DJ’ing and DJ culture was about.

It wasn’t until 1981 in elementary school when a couple of my friends older brothers had turntables and we’d go to their house after school and practice and it was that year that I got my first pair of turntables and mixer.

That was also the beginnings of being a “collector” which I never considered myself as because it was just buying records to play which later became a collection.  

I would buy 12” of course but there would be the occasional 45 that we would glue to a 12” to rock if it had a break on it.

Probably the first 45 or at least one of the first that I remember having was Rufus Thomas “Funky Penguin”.

Throughout the years 45’s would make their way into my possession but it wasn’t until around 2002 when I would shift gears both in my ears and musically and I started buying more 45’s because Funk, Soul and Rare Groove became more of what I was listening too.

Plus DJ’ing in the B-Boy scene, there were a lot of funk 45s (both old and new) that fit the sound that was perfect for dancers.

I never abandoned 12” and LP’s but for those b-side cuts that were only on 45, it was important to make sure to add them into the rotation.

From there on out, 45’s have been a regular staple in my rotation and sets.

So I’ll say it’s been right about 20 years of me loving and playing the format which really started to take flight when I started doing my Funk & Soul night called Funky Drummer, then in 2007 I started doing my all 45 night called Hot Peas & Butta which later transitioned to my Butta 45’s party.

With the exception of family members, I was never really given records. I would take my school lunch money and at the end of the week I would hit the record shop to buy.

The first 45 that I do remember buying which is funny to think about, was Buckner & Garcia “Pac-Man Fever”.

Arcades and video games were starting to explode so I needed to have it!

I still have both the Funky Penguin and the Pac-Man somewhere around here scratched up and abused of course.

Why 45’s?

Well for several reasons. As a working class DJ both locally and internationally, 45’s are just more convenient to travel with.

I can get multiple nights out of a bag of 250 without playing the same records which is great.

The second reason is because a lot of the music on 45 isn’t available on any other format and that’s a major factor for me. So many of those artists never had an LP and the 45 makes is just that much more special because they were independent and regional releases which makes them more rare.

As a collector, the rare side plays a major factor for me because not everyone will have those cuts so that makes DJ sets more unique and personal and you’ll never hear most others DJs play the same type of sets unless they dig deep.

  • What is your most cherished 45? Why is it so important to you? What is it’s story (label, year, artist, musicians), where did it come from? Is the B-Side any good?

It’s impossible for me to list just one record as the most cherished because most of the ones that I love all have stories attached to them, either of how I obtained them, an experience while playing them or something else.

Out of all of the ones in my collection, there are a bunch that fit the cherished criteria as well as have become heavy spins for me so I’ve racked my brain to whittle that stack down to one record that checks all the boxes which is Communicators and Black Experience Band.  

“The Road” b/w “Has Time Really Changed” is the record I chose for multiple reasons but first and foremost because it’s a great freaking record, both the A and B side. The thing I love about this and plenty of Funk 45’s is the playability of not just one side, but double the pleasure.

I love a good 45 where both sides are heavy funk joints but getting a double-sider with a heavy Funk side and a beautiful Sweet Soul side might top it for me and this fits the occasion.

As a traveling DJ, records like this are perfect for touring because you get your bang for your precious real estate space of your record bag.

As a funk collector, “The Road” is an absolute monster with all the right elements. It’s an instrumental track that’s got drums, bass, guitar and horns and is really well produced but not overly produced and still has that raw ghetto feeling like a bunch of brothers went into the studio and put it down.

The flip side features “Has Time Really Changed” an amazing soul tune that I play often and use as an end of nighter track when I’m winding down the night before the lights go on.

I love playing my last 1/2hr of the night with records like this, it’s when couples cuddle up and slow dance, when people who met at the party become intimate and exchange numbers, hang out later or even go further than that.

Sides like that also remind me of when back in the day going to house parties and there would only be red light bulb on in the room and you would slow dance with girl at the end of the night.

I bought this record while on tour in Japan probably 10 years ago and it’s been around the world and back with me and unlike a lot of other records that have been rotated in and out of my bag, this one is a mainstay and never gets old. 

Find Skeme Richards at the following site:

https://nerve.fm/skemerichards/

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