Artist Tips: Motor City Drum Ensemble

Danilo Plessow talks us through his five top tips for record diggers worldwide.
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Due to the massive amount of people getting back into buying vinyl, the effects of eBay, Discogs and co, and the competitiveness of diggers worldwide to come up with the few things left that haven't been touched yet, it seems that the days of randomly coming up with something good on your usual stroll through record stores are over. But it's not all bad—it just requires way more work to get to the goods these days. Here are a couple of rough guidelines I have followed throughout the years, and they are still very relevant today!


Knowledge is power in this game—so, if you are not ready to spend endless hours in expanding yours, then you might be better off paying the extra and getting stuff on the net. After that, you will also need to tolerate a high frustration level if you are to spend hours and hours without finding anything and still be cool with it. One more key thing: never expect to go somewhere and find the stuff you are actively looking for at that moment. You will always need to have a very open mind with regards to genres!

On the other hand, a lot of the stuff being heavily sweated right now has been sitting in the cheap bins for the better part of the last decade, and it took some big-name DJs to play it in order to make it desirable. If you want to find good records on the cheap, forget about hunting for the same stuff everybody is after already: trust in yourself and develop your own taste instead.

Always start local

I cannot stress this one enough. Whether it be flea markets, junk shops or record stores, always try to get a feeling for the local records in your area (or the place you are visiting) which are interesting, because these are the most likely to slip through the cracks of shops and dealers, meaning you will get them cheaper! Try to stock up on local goodies to trade for other stuff too.

"If one person seems to have decent stuff, always ask if there is more at home. Four out of five times it won't be worth the effort, but the one other time it will make up for it."

Flea markets

Flea Markets are one of the most likely places to still come up with stuff, although things have changed now that the internet is on every phone. It never hurts to be as early as possible though—the good stuff won't last long.

Secondly, have cash ready: small change and some emergency cash in case you really come up big. Don't haggle forever over one record; instead try to be somewhat quick and reasonable—this always works for me. If one person seems to have decent stuff, always ask if there is more at home. Four out of five times it won't be worth the effort, but the one other time it will make up for it!

Be patient—there is always a lot of junk around, but there is no way around it if you want to find stuff cheap. Try getting a feeling which market in your area is the most worthwhile and hit it constantly and as early as possible. In my experience, smaller cities tend to be less competitive and thus more rewarding. Record fairs are not that much different to flea markets in regards to what I just said here. Come early, have cash ready and be patient (the bigger ones tend to be overly competitive).

Thrift shops

Some of my best finds came from thrift shops, and whenever I pass by one, I'm sure to check it out, no matter how gruelling it may look. I have learned one big thing from these experiences: It's better to find out which local thrift has the most turnover and best records coming in and hit this one as much as you can, as opposed to checking 10 different ones but always being a bit late on stuff. It takes too much time as well. It's very helpful to instead have a good relationship with the local owners as well and show them that you are ready to drop cash for the right stuff.

Record shops

Like I said before, never expect to actually find what you are looking for at that specific moment, but try to have a spectrum as broad as possible.

Secondly, always check new arrivals and the dollar bins. One thing that used to work well, but has also changed, was to go to genre-specific stores to check the stuff that they do not specialise in. For example, you want to find cheap house 12“s: don't check at the electronic music shop; check the store that specialises in Beatles albums and '70s rock instead. This used to work very well for me, particularly in smaller cities in Holland and Germany. In many shops like this, 12"s or cheesy looking '80s stuff in general went straight to the dollar bin until not that long ago. Try to find stores that apply this method to particular records and check those.

Other record stores that tend to be worthwhile are the ones with a high turnover rate, that don't have the time to Google every record to death. Flea markets and record stores in smaller or rural areas tend to be less busy and may be worth a trip. So, the next time you visit your parents, check whats around.

Oh, and one more time: Patience!


Motor City Drum Ensemble will release his Selectors compilation with Dekmantel is out now. Buy it at the label's store.

You can also catch him playing at Soenda Festival on May 21.