An Interview with Dillon Smith of Noble Records

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Dillon Smith may seem humble and that’s because he is, but don’t be fooled or take his channel for granted. In a short time, Dillon has managed to grow his channel to over 40,000 subscribers and make a real impact on the VC. His genuine style and delivery gives viewers a very real insight to the person behind the camera. During Dylan’s initial run as a YouTuber, he has put out dozens of excellent videos which prove that he is here to stay. With loads of records, endless musical knowledge and an actual brick and mortar store, you can expect Dylan’s channel to continue to grow for as long as he wants to keep at it. That’s right, you heard right, Dillon has his very own record store. After years in the vinyl game selling online and locally, Dillon finally opened Noble Records, which is named after his son. If you want check out his store’s website, head here. That said, next time you’re in Matthews, NC be sure to stop in! In the meantime, head over to Dillon’s YouTube channel and check out his latest videos here. Don’t forget to hit subscribe before you leave. With all of that being said, Dillon is a great guy. It was nice getting to know him a little better. I know you’ll feel the same way too. Let’s do this.

Andrew:
Dillon, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Tell us about your back story. How did you get into records?

Dillion:
Well, when I was a kid, my aunt had a record player. When I would visit my cousins in the summertime, I would have a lot of time to play around with it. I was fascinated by how it worked. Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited was the first record I ever really fell in love with. When I was about 10 years old, I got my own turntable and a handful of records. Since then, I have been digging in thrift stores, garage sales, attics, storage units and wherever a record can hide.

Andrew:
You’ve been running Noble Records in all its forms for around ten years now, and you finally opened a brick and mortar store this last year. Tell us about that journey.

Dillion:
It’s been a wild ride. It started as just a way to flip records to buy more records. As life evolved, it became a side hustle, and when I got tired of working for someone else, I opened the shop. That’s the short version, but it’s always been something I’ve been passionate about. Not just the records but the community; that’s what fuels me.

Andrew:
I’m from New York, so I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting your store – yet. The way I actually discovered you was through YouTube. I was watching another video, and I had left the room. YouTube had apparently shuffled to a similar video while I was gone. I came back and my wife, Angela, was intently watching. She said, “Wait, don’t turn him off!” Needless to say, we’ve become big fans. How did you get your start on YouTube?

Dillon:
It’s a really funny story. I used to watch YouTube all the time, searching for people talking about records. This was back when records weren’t cool again, and I had nobody to talk to about my passion for records. I found this whole community of people talking about the records they loved and I was sucked in. I watched people on YouTube for probably 5 years until I finally decided to start uploading my own videos. I never thought anyone would watch my videos. It has become something that’s been a huge blessing and has introduced me to a lot of cool people like you! So it’s become a fairly big part of my life.

Andrew:
Do you feel the YouTube channel has impacted your experience as a store owner? If so, how?

Dillon:
YouTube has heavily impacted me as a store owner. It has brought a lot of people my way, and it gives people the opportunity to get to know me and get comfortable with me before ever walking into the shop, which helps the community aspect I think.

Andrew:
Your business is named after your first son, Noble. Can you tell us more about why you chose to name the store after him?

Dillion:
It was late at night, my wife had been in labor all day. We had a name for our online store at the time but we didn’t like it so we were looking for a change. Right after Noble was born, I was holding him and realized my life would never be the same. He meant everything to me, that’s when I decided to change it to Noble Records.

Andrew:
You often talk about how you want to foster a family and community-centered atmosphere in your store. I find that very refreshing. Can you tell us why that’s important to you?

Noble:
It’s important because I found records as a kid. I want kids to get into it. I want it to be a place that parents are comfortable bringing their kids. Husbands are comfortable bringing their wives. Most record stores cater to a thin demographic of adult men, and I want it for everyone, because it’s not just about the records or even the music. To me, it’s about the connection. Music is meant to share emotion; I think a record store should facilitate that.

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Andrew:
As a store owner, obviously you buy collections. Your site refers to it as, “Rescuing records from basements, attics, closets and garages.” I don’t know that a lot of store owners have that take on it. What led you to have the perspective of “rescuing” them, rather than just acquiring and selling them?

Dillon:
I can’t help it. That’s what gets my blood flowing. Last year I went to look at a collection at this old dude’s house. He took me to his attic. He’d pulled out all the coats from the closet and there in the bottom of the closet was a dusty stack of records. In that stack was a lot of amazing stuff, one being a promo copy of The Stooges – Funhouse. That blew my mind that it had been there for so long, and it was such a treasure. I love giving records a second life. It’s spreading history.

Andrew:
Is there anything within the industry that you would like to see change for the better? What improvements would you like to see that you feel would beneficial to us all within the vinyl community?

Dillon:
The main thing I would like to see change is record collector snobbery. I see a lot of collectors that turn their noses up at kids who are trying to get into it. It’s not a very welcoming spirit, and it hurts the community more than anything.

Andrew:
I know this is a broad question, and many of us who watch your videos will know this, but for those who might be new, who are some of your favorite artists? What’s your favorite genre and why?

Dillon:
Oh man. That is indeed a broad question. My favorite band has always been Led Zeppelin. I like all genres, truly I do. I listen to a very wide spectrum of music. This year, my favorites have been Townes Van Zandt, Betty Davis, Tyler Childers, Bulbous Creation, JPT Scare Band, Joni Mitchell, Gaston, The Stooges, Curtis Mayfield, The Sonics…it’s just so much stuff. But I love discovering new things. If it’s got a groove, I like it. If it’s a well-written song, I’m hooked.

Andrew:
We know you collect records, but beyond the collecting, what do records mean to you? More so, what does music mean to you in general?

Dillion:
That’s something I could talk about for days. The short answer is, it brings people together. A songwriter can convey feeling, emotion, sorrow, joy, anticipation, angst, excitement and pain through a lyric like nothing else. That makes the listener feel known, like they aren’t the only person in the worth that feels that way. It’s a special thing. In the same way, people who collect records bond over talking about an artist they love. Like, if I know you’re a Townes Van Zandt fan, I know you’re like me, and you see the beauty in pain. It’s so vast.

Andrew:
What are some albums you don’t have, but hope to find one day? Are there any albums you’ve given up that you wish you hadn’t? Are you like some of us who purge records only to rebuy them again? 

Dillion:
My main want is an album called Farm from 1971. It’s a Hard Rock rarity I’ll probably never find but I’ll keep looking. I purge stuff all the time. I hardly ever regret it, but I have a wider access to records than most people because I have a shop. I buy around 5,000 record a month, sometimes more, so if I want something again, I usually can wait ’til it comes around again.

Andrew:
What is one album that means the most to you and why?

Dillion:
That is a real tough one. I hate to talk about Townes Van Zandt even more, but his self titled is huge for me. It opened me up to exploring so much more in music and songwriting.

Andrew:
I’ve seen some pictures of what looks like an old-school yellow school bus parked next to your shop. Can you tell us about that? Is it a mobile record store?

Dillion:
That’s the Vinyl Van. It’s not a school bus, it’s a 1986 Ford Econoline. It used to be a news van. That’s it’s original paint, and it only has 16,000 original miles. I found it a couple years ago when I was doing pop-ups. I was looking for a memorable vehicle that could transport lots of records. This was at a junk yard. It was formerly owned by the state, and the guy who ran the junkyard said nobody wanted it because it had a giant, 30 foot antenna on it that telescoped down into the van. The antenna was enormous, about 3 feet in diameter and weighed about 600 pounds. It was incredible but was useless and made the van pretty much useless. I bought the van and my dad helped me remove the antenna. It also had a news desk inside. We gutted it out and used it to haul records. It still can be used to haul records but mainly serves as our mascot.

Andrew:
Once COVID-19 calms down, what does the future hold for Noble Records? What’s next?

Dillon:
Well, COVID has made this last year pretty unpredictable, but people need records in all seasons, so we have stayed afloat. When it’s over, it’ll open up the world again, we would love to have more live bands in the shop and also travel more to buy more records nation-wide.

Andrew:
What drives you? What inspires you most?

Dillion:
What drives me most is my family. What inspires me most is the love I share at home. My career has been molded around that. Truly, the main reason I wanted to have my own business is to have flexibility to be home with my family more than a regular job, and this has enabled me to be more part of my kid’s daily life. Building something for them is why drives me most. Secondarily, the community drives me. The joy of others drives me. Seeing people get music that inspires them.

Andrew:
Last question. Is there anything else you want all of here as well as the general record consuming public to know?

Dillion:
I guess to just refer back to my comment about vinyl snobbery. Be generous, be forgiving. We all had a Crosley at some point or something close to it. The more people who are into records the better for all of us. Keep searching, keep digging, keep spreading the good stuff you find. That’s it!

Want to learn more about Dillon and Noble Records? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, USA, Andrew has always loved writing, music, drumming and collecting music on CD, tape and vinyl. After losing his life-long vinyl collection in 2014, Andrew began his vinyl collection from scratch again when he met his future wife Angela in 2015. Andrew’s love of music only further blossomed as his collection spanned all genres possible. After amassing over 3,000 albums in under two years, he knew it was time to finally follow his dream of being a music journalist, and thus, Vinyl Writer was born.

Andrew’s not only the go-to friend for music trivia, but his intricate knowledge of the ins and outs of the music industry allows him to develop engaging questions that really tap into each artist and individual to deliver insightful and enjoyable interviews. He’s proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict, for fellow music addicts.

Andrew lives on Long Island, NY, with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin. Andrew’s collection of over 4,700 vinyl albums, plus several hundred tapes and CDs, tells the story of his passion for all that is music. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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