Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, Sam Valenti IV developed an interest in techno music spun from the city’s Motown roots. Recognizing a lack of options for electronic musicians, he launched Ghostly International in his dorm room in 1999 while studying at the University of Michigan. It began as a “genre-less” record label with musician Matthew Dear and over the years it’s grown into an innovative platform for not only music but art, clothing, and design objects that come about through collaborations with various artists and brands, some of which you can see here. In this week’s Friday Five, Valenti delves into five of his favorite things.
1. My technics 1200 turntables
A standard that will never be beat. I learned to DJ on “belt drive” decks, which are super fragile and wobbly but once I upgraded to these tanks you can never go back. I see them as beautiful objects but mainly as tools. We listen to records in the office most mornings and when I have time, I record live mixes on them. They are the first thing unpacked whenever I move to a new space.
Apart from records I love books and the act of going to used bookstores when I travel. You never know what you’ll find or who you’ll meet. I studied Art History and felt a communion with the library and the way that the story of images was the story of humans, namely their inner lives.
For me, art is a defining snapshot of the moment, of the world and the individual. I love collecting pieces at different or pivotal stages in an artist’s career, it’s deeper than a photograph of them. The first piece I have was a painting my sister gave me for my post-college apartment from a friend of hers. I love sketches and renderings, napkins, the stolen moments between the work.
Couldn’t narrow it to a city but I find a lot of joy in being there, whether it’s in Detroit where friends are making music or building small businesses. There is a vast part of that state which is some of the most dramatic nature in America. I try to get “Up North” at least every summer. Michigan is also a modernist haven (Herman Miller, Cranbrook, etc.) where there are a lot of hidden treasures.
I’ve found the act of talking through the moment in time has been a huge part of my well-being. It’s a luxury but I place its value above most anything, apart from exercise and sleep in the self care category. I try to talk about this stuff to make it less of a big deal, that everyone could use someone to talk to. We need a health care system that brings this option more in reach.