The Collector Series is a photography and interview project documenting vinyl records collectors in their most natural and intimate environment. 

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Name: Clive (C.Live) Williams

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Size of Collection:  approx 2000 LP’s / 500 45’s

Tell us a bit more about yourself?

I was born and raised in London and moved to New York in my twenties. I felt that New York had more film making opportunities and the fact that at the time it was a Mecca for record stores was also a major plus. I never really DJ’d when I was in London but when I arrived in New York I started booking gigs. I had all these records and was broke so I thought I’d put them to use. This eventually led to me curating music for hotels and clothing brands. DJ Aka Suga and I partnered up to combine our musical knowledge and it’s just kind of taken on a life of its own. I never lost my passion for cinema and my feature film Mr Obscure is available on Vimeo On Demand. In fact a lot of it takes place in a record store but that’s another story. Literally!

How long have you been collecting?

I’ve been collecting for approximately 30 years. when I was very young my mother would send me to the record shop to buy albums that she liked, Ray Charles, Harry Belafonte that kind of stuff so by the time I’d developed my own taste I was pretty familiar with the local record store. The first record I bought was the 45 of  Hey DJ by the World Famous Supreme Team. I’ve no idea what happened to that record I need to track down another copy.

What’s your philosophy behind collecting records and how has that evolved since you started collecting up until the present day?

I’m interested in records by that other artist. By this I mean I was raised on the greats Your Earth Wind and Fire, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley etc and I have some key records by those artists and others of that ilk but I’m constantly looking for that musician or vocalist who put out good music but perhaps never got that break or that push. It’s a thin line between greatness and failure and when I discover a great body of work by an artist who never received any acclaim I feel like I’m extending their legacy in my own little way. Being passionate about records is like a never ending journey of discovery there’s no dead end you just discover something you like and it takes you in a whole other direction. When I first started collecting records I was pretty much focused on reggae and soul. My parents are Jamaican so I naturally gravitated to what I was exposed to. On the other hand my brothers and sister were heavily into the soul stuff of that era so I’d also be getting into a lot of funk coming out of the U.S plus UK soul. Cameo, Loose Ends, Fatback Band, Soul 2 Soul that sort of thing then along came hip hop and through their use of sampling I discovered a whole world of music beyond my comfort zone and here I am.

Understand that you’re a DJ. Describe the process of going through your records and picking out samples to make a track. (if you do)?

When I do a DJ set I like to challenge myself and the audience but in a way that anybody can understand. I try to find the common thread between records maybe mix some, brasilian psych with a madlib track. Seventies bohannan with contemporary French house or Ethiopian afro jazz with Hiatus Kaiyote and so on. I’m not necessarily a retro guy I just like the narrative of music. I can hear a seventies psych rock record from Zambia and have it remind me of a contemporary New York garage band that I discovered on Soundcloud, this intrigues me. If I do cop some breaks it’s usually to pass on to Aka Suga to use as inspiration. With that said I am close to completing a remix of her entire album using nothing but Asian breaks and samples. So I guess I’ve caught the bug too!

If you could only take three records from your collection to listen for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

Hard to answer this one but here goes..

Fred Locks / Black Star Liner:

Being of Jamaican parentage this record was a soundtrack to my childhood that still holds up to this day. Every time I play it memories come flooding back of yesteryear but regardless of all that it’s an exquisite album from beginning to end. Roots reggae at it’s finest.

Ghetto Reality / Nancy Dupree

In 1969 in upstate New York a public school teacher named Nancy Dupree Organized a music assignment for her students where they would get together and record music, all original songs. Some are protest songs others pay homage to icons such as James Brown or Martin Luther King, Some are just plain quirky. She was eventually fired for her radicalism and passed away soon after. Armed with a piano and a whole lot of soul this album contains such a powerful innocence and purity that I get goosebumps talking about it.

A Love Supreme / John Coltrane

Simply one of the greatest recordings ever. I’ll never tire of it

Do you have any regrets about not buying any particular records?

I once saw an original pressing of the stooges first album at a record store in NY going for something ridiculous like $15 dollars. The thing was I’d already purchased quite a few albums that afternoon and not wanting to over exert my frugal budget decided not to buy it rationalizing that i had it on CD and MP3 already. Of course I woke up the next day in a cold sweat thinking I have to head back to the store and grab that record! As soon as the store opened I ran to the bin where I’d seen it but of course it was gone. You live and you learn.

Any tips for other record collectors out there?

Explore records and open yourself up to different genres there’s two types of music good and bad. look for visual cues, I have found countless great records simply off of the art work, If I see a record cover with a dude wearing a black turtleneck, an extreme close up of a woman’s face, a nerdy looking dude from an exotic country seated at a keyboard or a multi racial group I’m going to stop and investigate. Finally.. It’s not the size of the collection it’s what’s in it that matters.

Find out more about Clive Williams’ collection via his instagram:



Mr Obscure:


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