Gal­lerist Jay Amante un­veils his record-break­ing vinyl col­lec­tion

A look into Jay Amante’s melodic sanc­tum

Red Magazine - - Editor's Note | Contents - WORDS BELLE O. MAPA PHO­TOG­RA­PHY PA­TRICK DIOKNO

Jay Amante has been mak­ing waves not only in the con­tem­po­rary art scene but also in the re­vival of record col­lect­ing in the metro. A lit­tle drive down from his gallery, Blanc, and across the street from his own record shop, The Grey Mar­ket, is a clan­des­tine bar called 78-53-86. The name hon­ors his fam­ily’s old tele­phone num­ber. The space calls out to lovers of smooth whiskey and even smoother acous­tics.

Push the in­con­spic­u­ous wooden door aside and en­ter a sanc­tu­ary where the warmth of jazz re­ver­ber­ates against pol­ished wood and con­crete. It’s a grat­i­fy­ing respite from the racket out­side. Hang­ing Edi­son bulbs wash the nar­row space a cozy yel­low. To the right, a grow­ing col­lec­tion of over 9,000 vinyl records lie, wait­ing for their turn to bring the place to life. The down­ward slope of the ceil­ing then guides your gaze—if you can take it away from the sight of the records—to­wards two hand­some speak­ers. Be­tween them hangs a paint­ing by artist MM Yu, al­lur­ing in its ab­stract si­lence.

Wel­come to 78-53-86, home to Jay Amante’s mighty record col­lec­tion.

What are your fa­vorite items in your col­lec­tion?

I am not sure if I have fa­vorites, but I en­joy the phys­i­cal medium. I love records, art, pho­to­graphs, fur­ni­ture—any­thing I can get my hands on, lit­er­ally.

How long have you been col­lect­ing records? Do you re­mem­ber the first one you ever bought?

I have been ob­ses­sively col­lect­ing records for more than a decade. The first record I had was Styx’s “Mr. Roboto” when I was five, but the first record I bought was ei­ther Steely Dan’s “Gau­cho” or Weather Re­port’s “Heavy Weather.”

Did you over­see the de­sign of 78-53-86? And how does the over­all lay­out of the bar af­fect the acous­tics?

Yes, I de­signed it. I was also in charge of

over­see­ing con­struc­tion and wood­work. The slant in the ceil­ing came with the space, but I re­ally like the slanted ceil­ing so I kept it as is. The idea was to trans­fer some­thing that would work [in the] out­doors in­door. The space came first so I needed to work around the given con­straints of the space to get the best pos­si­ble sound­ing au­dio sys­tem.

Can you also tell us more about the au­dio sys­tem? How did you come up with the setup?

The source is com­prised of two turnta­bles; both are Gar­rard 301. I wanted the quiet time when I trans­fer to an­other record as quick as pos­si­ble, thus the two turnta­bles. The speak­ers are vin­tage Al­tec 511 horns, driven by Al­tec 806 driv­ers. The woofers are Al­tec 515b. The speak­ers are cus­tom-made by our very own Joey Abad San­tos of Harana Au­dio, while the am­pli­fier is a Dy­naco ST70 tweaked by au­dio­phile and vi­o­lin­ist Joseph Es­milla. At [the age of] 14, [Es­milla] stud­ied at The Juil­liard School of mu­sic, but that’s an­other story.

My cousin and I have been or­ga­niz­ing the An­nual Novem­ber HiFi show for more than a decade, and that’s how I met those guys. The love for mu­sic and records some­what made the friend­ship click.

What makes lis­ten­ing to records, as op­posed to con­tem­po­rary dig­i­tal mu­sic con­sump­tion, more en­riched or spe­cial?

I would rather lis­ten to mu­sic in any form (live, dig­i­tal me­dia, CDs, tapes, or records) rather than not have mu­sic at all. I think it’s the process of play­ing a record and the sound that fol­lows that make the ex­pe­ri­ence of lis­ten­ing to records very spe­cial. It just feels dif­fer­ent—it’s hard to put into words—but a record col­lec­tor would know ex­actly what I’m talk­ing about. •

78-53-86, 2nd level, West, 42 Katipunan Ave., Que­zon City. Open 3:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.

A space to ru­mi­nate over a well-fash­ioned drink and vin­tage mu­sic. Op­po­site page from top: A wide se­lec­tion of whiskey and gin com­ple­ments the jazzy mu­sic; MM Yu’s ab­stract paint­ing hangs be­tween vin­tage Al­tec speak­ers.

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