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Record Stories is a series dedicated to shining a light on the weird and wonderful stories, characters, and places behind the world of record collecting.
Ryan Rousseau has been a fixture in the Arizona underground music scene for years, most prominently with the psychonaut punk group Destruction Unit. When he’s not crafting twisted sounds he spends his time DJing and combing the desert to find rare music for both his personal stash and his shop Cactus Man Records inside the Double Nickels Collective in Tempe. Ryan has always been on his own wavelength, which has led him to a lot of weird and rare finds for next to nothing. We asked him a few questions about record digging and the story behind finding Pauline Anna Strom’s holy grail debut Trans-Millenia Consort for a dollar!
How did you find the record?
I got up late one Saturday morning to go to the Phoenix Record Swap. I usually would get up early and get there right when they open the doors. This time I was in no rush and just wanted to check a couple of the cheap 45 dealers. The last few shows there has been an old timer with tons of interesting records… $1 and $5 boxes of all random stuff. I knew the heavy hitter record store dudes already went through it, so I was in no rush going through it…
When I pulled Trans-Millenia Consort out of the packed U-Haul box I was amazed by the cover! I immediately knew it was special, though I had never seen or heard of it at the time. Once I flipped it over to check the back, I was blown away and knew it had to be at least a $20 record. I got home and played it and was even more blown away how amazing it sounded! Of course, I had to keep it.
How long have you been digging for records?
I’ve been out digging for records, tapes, CD’s, and equipment since I was 15 pretty much…. I’m 42 now. As I get older, I learn and grow, as a human does (should anyway), and love to discover new sounds. Whether it’s vinyl (preferably), tapes or CD’s… It brings me joy to find these wild lost sounds that should be heard once again.
What got you into New Age and ambient music?
I got into New Age and Ambient music early on because of my love for synthesizers. I’ve played extremely loud music my whole life and learned to love to just chill out to a synth drone.
Do you think Arizona has more to offer than other places when it comes to looking for records, tapes etc?
I think Arizona is a great place to find weird and wild lost music in all formats. There’s no moisture or mold here really, just a few warped records here and there and plenty of weirdos seem to flock here from all over the country.
Do you ever buy music on Discogs or do you only find stuff out in the wild?
I never really order records or tapes online. I always seem to find really good stuff for really cheap out in the wild. I guess I do spend quite a bit on gas, but I love to gamble (Goodwill gamble that is). Every time I go out on the hunt, I expect to find nothing (like going to the casino) and somehow seem to come up on some amazing stuff!
Any other crazy finds you want to talk about?
My latest amazing score was finding 3 copies (2 sealed) of an Arizona synth tape grail, Mindspace’s Distant Shores, at a local Goodwill.