The Complex World of Digging

I vaguely recall first hearing the term applied to DJ Shadow with Endtroducing, which came out in 1996. And then it seemed to be around all those Bay Area DJs like Scratch Pickles and Q-Bert and Cut Chemist, who may not have actually been BA. Long time ago. There’s a slight blur.

Anyway, the real point is that the concept of “digging” being invented at any particular time is rubbish. The word may have been coined in the ‘90s but the practice has existed for damn near as long as there’ve been records. I’ve been at it since the late ‘60s. Couldn’t pass a record store - sorry, shop - without going in. Riffle through all the racks. Obsess over weird sleeves and unknown artists. Go to obscure parts of town and find junky places with no organization at all, but 7” everywhere. Stake out shops and visit again and again, searching for new items and buying up what I could as cash was on hand. I had a circuit in San Francisco in the ‘80s with about 15 places I’d check out every week or so, usually on my bicycle. When it got to the point of the notorious road trips to pokey little towns and ripping the relevant pages out of all the phone books I lost interest. Too damn competitive. And, of course, I knew that by some people’s standards I was a rank amateur, and loving it is the point.


The Art of DJing: CCL - Expansive digging methods for Discogs

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I like to imagine that RA might consider commissioning a video of me wandering vacantly around North London charity shops and rifling through local record shop bargain bins, with occasional close-ups of my face as I ponder the labels and sleeves of the few bits of obscure euro-pop that I come across. Plus maybe a few scenes of me exchanging slightly awkward record-related banter with record-shop staff and record producer types as I attempt to convince them to accept my break-laden finds in part-exchange for some obscure underappreciated 80s Brit-boogie 12" with a cool dub mix on the b-side.

Working title: The Lost Art Of Digging.


I’d watch that!

I really miss Mack Stevens’ regular record hunting videos since he moved to Argentina :cry:


their secret to using discogs is… using discogs?

Kind of disappointed as someone who writes scripts to comb through discogs more efficiently and in a way that fits my needs more. This one I’m doing now sorts sets of records by the ratio of people who want it to people who have it. Which sometimes has zero to do with danceability, but in some subgenres correlates strongly to danceability.

Also working on one to find the best compilations based on my favorite tracks in a style.


That is very impressive, have you found some good gems this way?

The takeaway i took from this is that by adding a different style than you’d normally look for to the search (in her case “abstract”) you end up with things that are harder to classify and therefore might end up with more interesting tracks. Not really something i had considered, but i think everyone on this forum probably has their own way of finding gems on Discogs.

Intrigued by this. How many variables does it throw up? What’s the strike rate of crap to good? How does it even work?!

The script accesses Discogs’ database via an API (to do this, you need to fill out their form that you’re making something on their developers site to get a pass-key). I then make a query for music releases by year, style, and country. It calculates a ratio of how many people want versus own each release, then sorts and displays these by desirability. They set rate limits for using their site like this, so I made it it processes slowly, taking a second per record.

The ratio of good to crap isn’t miraculous, but its better than randomly gong through Discogs. It can also only do 100 records at a time. which means you only get a complete ranking if your query produces 100 results or less.

example of a track I got doing one just now.


That is ingenious, mate! Top marks.

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I was just reading the Keb Darge interview on here and noticed this bit.


About ten years ago i was being shown around that hotel and they mentioned they had a club in the 70s that was still downstairs, being used as a store room. They took us down and there it was, red velvet on the walls (peeling off now) dancefloor etc. They couldn’t tell me when it closed, but it certainly looked pretty untouched since the 70s from the decor.

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Ha ha good to hear it was still there up to ten years ago. Prob still there now, do you reckon?

I messaged someone who works in the industry up there the moment i read that sentence, so i will report back when i know.

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