Ghostly: Talking Vinyl Care with AM’s Jacob Moesgaard
Originally posted by Ghostly.
A great record collection begins and ends with its health. Copenhagen-based company AM knew this in 1971, and they’ve delivered ‘clean sound’ ever since. The heritage brand just relaunched their line of high quality products — which eliminate dust, dirt and static build-up — reviving its original design concept of clean lines and minimal Danish styling. Find AM’s record cleaner set at the The Ghostly Store, and some considered answers from the founder’s son and current CEO, Jacob Moesgaard, below.
AM and your family have been keeping records clean since 1971. What has it been like growing up with the business?
My father started AM back in ’71. It’s easy to argue that since then, technology’s force has been pretty disruptive – vinyl had it’s heyday, then it was cassettes and CDs, until MP3s came along and threw the industry into a whole new dimension.
Adapting to these innovations, the importance of good design has always been really central to AM. This background definitely informed my “no bullshit” kind of approach to design when I started my old headphone company, AIAIAI. Our vision back then was to first create something that looked good, and then to figure out how the design was going to deliver in terms of sound quality.
Being brought up in a Danish design tradition, it’s always been about stripping away unnecessary ornament and identifying what’s important.
Since leaving AIAIAI, together with my brother, we’ve founded a creative design agency, Thank You For Clapping, based in Copenhagen. Working collaboratively with AM, TYFC occupies the intersection of design, culture and technology to build physical and digital products. It’s hard to say what the future holds, but I can definitely see some music and technology driven projects on the horizon.
From the beginning AM products have looked just as sharp as they are effective. Define the approach or guiding principles behind the product design and branding.
Starting in the 50s with design legends like Arne Jacobsen and Jacob Jensen, Scandinavian, and in particular Danish design, has become synonymous with this idea of a timeless aesthetic.
We’ve always tried to reflect this side of our Danish heritage in our product design.
Combining minimalism and the importance of clean lined functionality, 45 years of focused product development, has today brought us back full circle to some of our original designs from the 70s.
There’s a great quote on an AM poster: “Machines may not have feelings but they do a pretty good job of making us feel.” How would you relate it to AM’s philosophy?
Music technology has always been at the heart of what we do. Which is cool because few industries are as dynamic.
The everything-at-our-fingertips era is very obviously changing the way we listen to music. Back in the day, we’d have turned on the radio to discover new songs. Today, machine-learning algorithms can power discovery and recommendation tools to help users figure out what they want to listen to on these huge, open-ended music platforms.
We’ve got machines with more control than original artists over the narrative of our musical experience, generating playlists specifically geared towards making us feel a certain way.
When it comes to cleaning and maintenance, what are some basic tips for any person who owns a record player?
I think the best advice is probably don’t let it get it dirty in the first place. Maintaining a healthy record collection is all about prevention: store your vinyl vertically without over-crowding and then when you want to play a record, take it out of its sleeve and give it a quick brush with a carbon fibre or velvet brush to dislodge any loose particles or dust. Before playing new or second-hand records for the first time, I’d also recommend a deeper clean with a lint-free cloth and some record cleaner solution – this way you can really work those grooves and remove any oily, sticky or greasy residues that might have built up under somebody else’s watch.
Something else that can also be very damaging to your vinyl, are the increasingly popular faux-retro entry-level turntables that have hit the market. These turntables use ceramic cartridges that track at around 4.5 grams; that’s about three times the weight of a decent quality magnetic cartridge by Ortofon. To give some idea as to just how heavy that is, cartridges on DJ turntables track at around 3 grams to allow for scratching and better tracking in an environment where you’re going to experience a lot of vibration.
These turntable are especially being targeted towards young people who are just getting into vinyl – kids who don’t really know anything about record player technology – they’re the ones being duped into buying record players that will carve up their brand new record collections.
It’s therefore really important to look what stylus is sitting on your turntable because these kinds of cartridges, although cheap, will result in you paying more than they’re worth when you have to rebuy your favourite records over and over again.
AM goes beyond records now, into the world of computer screens and gadgets. What inspired the expansion, and can you hint at any plans up ahead?
Our expansion into touch screen tech felt pretty natural; our phones, tablets and computers have become important formats, not only in the music industry, but in our every day lives. When Apple launched the iPod and kick-started the digital era of music, we had to adapt. Most of our competitors didn’t weather the storm, but we saw the digitisation of music as a great opportunity to leverage our heritage, and experience and create cleaning products for today’s devices. We’ve been continually adapting to new and different medias for 45 years, so the move to screens just feels like a natural step.
We also really enjoy teaming up with other creatives when we do new projects. It’s a great way to be inspired, generate attention and create exciting content. With our screen cleaning range we worked with both Geoff McFetridge and Todd St. John to create some fun and relevant content, and we’re currently exploring potential collaborations in the music and sound engineering industry, again with our sister creative agency, Thank You For Clapping, to work in show pieces such as crates, speakers and a record player.