Crayons To Perfume: An Interview with Glynis Ward

Girl group enthusiast, record collector, writer, and DJ Glynis Ward has been championing her favorite ‘60s (and modern) garage, girl group, + psych records for years via various fanzines, books, events, and—most recently—Crayons To Perfume, a weekly internet radio show on WFMU Ichiban dedicated to ’50s + ’60s girl-pop. I had actually interviewed her for Cha Cha Charming back in 1998 (when Cha Cha was a print fanzine), but somehow I never got around to publishing it. I reconnected with Glynis recently and got the scoop on Crayons To Perfume, her favorite records to DJ, and the most prized 45 in her collection. Where do you think your love of the ’60s comes from? I grew up at the very tail end of the ’60s, so I was exposed to the fashion, and much of the music. When we visited Swingin’ London in 1968, my mom made the three of us matching mod plaid pant suits! Being Canadian, our radio had (and still has) a Canadian content requirement so I got to hear a lot of local ’60s garage bands on the radio too. If you look back at all the wonderful things you’ve … Read more

Sh-Boom with Sampsa Vilhunen!

Sampsa Vilhunen—Sh-Boom’s special guest DJ from Helsinki, Finland has touched down on US soil, and will be joining me at this Friday’s Sh-Boom at Baby’s All Right in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sampsa + his DJ partner Vesa Yli-Pelnonen run a titty-shaking club night in Helsinki called Big Shake, where they spin R&B, doowop, surf, popcorn, mambo, rock n’ roll, Northern Soul + jump blues. They invited me over to DJ Big Shake in June 2011, and I remember thinking at the time that no other DJ gig will ever top this one. And I was right! It’s where I first heard Jo Ann Campbell’s “I Changed My Mind Jack” and so many new + exciting sounds spun by Sampsa + Vesa. The crowd was enormous and ultra-enthusiastic, and the club put my name up in lights! The post-Big Shake crowd spilling onto the streets in the bright 4am sunshine only added to the surreal thrill of it all. This is Sampsa’s first time to the states, so I’m super-psyched that he’ll be joining me at this month’s Sh-Boom! You can find all the event details here: Sampsa + Vesa recently contributed a … Read more

Mama Spank Mix
© Joel Meyerowitz

Mama Spank is the result of some serious eBay action, digging time, and flipping over records that have been in my collection for ages. Case in point—Irma Thomas’ “Hittin’ On Nothing” (flip of “Ruler of My Heart”) and Dorothy Berry’s “Ain’t That Love” (I’d only ever played “You Better Watch Out”). Of course now I feel the urge to go through every single record to make sure I haven’t neglected more dazzling flips. I remember having this chat with fellow collectors Matt Weingarden and Rebecca Birmingham. They’d asked if I ever checked out the flip of Little Eva’s “The Locomotion.” Nope. They suggested I do, pronto. And so thanks to them I discovered what might be Little Eva’s coolest record—”He Is the Boy,” writtten by Big Dee Irwin and Gerry Goffin. “The Locomotion” may have been one of the first girl-pop 45s I ever purchased, and I never bothered to flip it over. Folks, let this be a stern warning! ; ) I DJ’d recently with Phast Phreddie (New York City’s bossest DJ!) and whilst tag-teaming we got chatting about sharing our favorite vinyl finds and the silliness of covering … Read more

Sukiyaki + Cocktail Mix

As New York prepared itself for the historic winter storm that never was, I drank cups of tea at the Crosby Street Hotel with a few folks from Sony Music Japan who were in town with a man named Rikimaru Nakamura. His father, Hachidai Nakamura was a hugely prolific and well-respected songwriter (and jazz pianist) who wrote Kyu Sakamoto’s 1963 worldwide smash, “Sukiyaki” (originally titled “Ue Wo Muite Arukou”). To this day, “Sukiyaki” remains the only Japanese language song ever to top the Billboard charts. It has sold over 13 million copies. Rikimaru gave me a box-set of his father’s work called Hachidai Song Collection, released by EMI in 1999, which features cuts by some of my favorite girl-pop stars like Mieko Hirota, the Peanuts, and Sachiko Nishida. He explained that he’s currently working on a play about his father’s career and “Sukiyaki” and how it became to be such a legendary record. He said he had so many stories about that one song that it was difficult to know which ones to focus on for the play. Unfortunately my very poor Japanese (I dedicated my life to learning the … Read more


Friends + music lovers! After many months of wishin’ and hopin’ (and thankfully, very little hustling) I’ve been given my very own party at Baby’s All Right, a gorgeous, beautifully lit venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I’ve christened the party, SH-BOOM and the first date is this Friday January 2nd. Joining me behind the booth will be Josh Styles—drummer of Daddy Long Legs, co-founder of NYC’s greatly missed ’60s party, Smashed! Blocked!, husband of English goddess Sophie Thunder, and man of exemplary taste in rock n’ roll, soul + garage. We’ll be spinning in the front room, whilst the Detroit Cobras and Jonathan Toubin entertain in the back. Party starts at 10pm and it’s FREE! You can expect Japanese pop, French Yé-Yé, American R&B, British freakbeat, soul, easy listening, popcorn, soundtracks, doo wop, and mooooooore. Here’s the Facebook event page: I’m so excited…! xo-Sheila

Vinyl Mourning

Over lunch at a midtown diner, my friend Mick Patrick of Ace Records told me about a worrying discovery—the PVC (poly vinyl chloride) sleeves he used to protect his 45s had caused visible and audible damage to his vinyl. As I listened to the bad news, I pictured my own record collection, so much of it housed in the very same sleeves he was speaking of. The urge to dash home to check on my collection’s condition was delayed by a combination of denial (“Not my records!”) and disbelief. But memories of the conversation continued to irk me, and recently I decided to take the plunge and investigate. What I discovered was heart-breaking. As I pulled my 45s out of their PVC sleeves, I found the black vinyl surface sheen had turned a dull, matte dark brown, and worse, many looked like they had been splattered with an oily liquid that no amount of washing or cleaning could remove (see the Dana Gillespie 45 above). I spent day and night listening to the records, trying to hear if the visual decay had actually affected playback, but I just can’t tell. Sometimes I think I … Read more

On the Radio + 20 Girl-pop Essentials

British vinyl champions and record label, The Vinyl Factory asked me to compile a list of my top 20 sixties girl-pop 45s and to put together an accompanying mix. I steered clear of the girl-pop mega-hits and focused instead on some of my lesser-known favorites (many of which I’ve gushed about on Cha Cha Charming). You can read the list and listen to the mix here. You can also listen to the mix via the Mixcloud widget below. I’ve gotten a whole lotta love for Nippon Girls 2 so thanks to everyone for the rave reviews + support. Check out this Nippon Girls 2 display at Disk Union Records in Tokyo! Some guy on Twitter suggested I come to Tokyo and throw a “Nippon Girls” party. Yes please! I’d kill to be back on Japanese soil! Tonight I’ll be spinning an hour-long ’60s girl-pop set with Eilon Paz of Dust & Grooves on the WNYU/ 89.1 FM. You can listen live from their website. xo-Sheila Essential ’60s Girl Pop Mix by Thevinylfactory on Mixcloud

Nippon Girls 2

When news of a possible second volume of Nippon Girls reached my inbox, I was genuinely worried that I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything as good as the first compilation. I couldn’t bear the thought of using half-decent songs just to fill space or having to go on a mad hunt for more top-of-the-line material. With ’60s Japanese girl-pop, you’re dealing with quite a lot of mind-numbing and generic beat ballads, and I had no desire to include songs that were anything less than awesome. I can spot a bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping compilation from miles away, and I wasn’t about to succumb to it myself. No siree, Bob! So… I decided to return to the very first “dream list” I put together when I first came up with the idea for Nippon Girls. It’s the list you compile when you have all the freedom in the world—before record labels and master rights owners and publishers and address-unknown e-mails get in the mix and crush your hopes. It’s a list of 50+ titles that are the cream of the crop. And as the music business wheels begin to spin, that list slowly, painfully gets whittled down. … Read more

Miriam Linna: Nobody’s Baby

The back cover photo of Miriam Linna’s Nobody’s Baby LP says it all. She’s squeezed in between a wall full of carboard boxes of alphabetized 45s, a portable record player, paperbacks with titles like Girl Gangs and The Lolita Lovers, and what looks like hundreds of boxed-up CDs from Norton Records, the label she founded with her husband Billy Miller. Her musical partner Sam Elwitt has just enough space for himself and an acoustic guitar, but this is clearly a place that’s barely able to contain Miriam’s boundless love for “stacks of wax” and pulp novels. She is an enthusiast of the nth degree. She co-runs Norton, plays drums in the A-Bones, heads up her own publishing company Kicks Books, DJs, and rarely goes a day without publicizing her affections for Bobby Fuller and the Ramones, Sun Ra and the Shangri Las. She pairs every venture with a palpable passion you can’t help but get swept up in. On the occasions that I’ve gotten to see her DJ, she’s always dancing behind the decks, shaking her signature fringe and mouthing every lyric to every song, as if they’re all her favorite records of all … Read more

I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy

It’s hard to imagine anyone bettering the What Four’s storming “I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy” on Columbia from ’66. It is a girl-garage cult classic. But big-time soul collector Matt Weingarden (aka Mr. Fine Wine) has dug up a less-frenzied yet far cooler version (dig that organ!) on an acetate given to him by his uncle Morris Last. We know nothing about the artist singing this spectacular rendition; not a single name is listed on the acetate. All we have to go on is “a typewritten song title and the name of the company in New York’s Brill Building where it was cut,” writes Mr. Fine Wine in the accompanying sleeve notes. B-side “Watch Out” is an even greater mystery, apparently sung by the stunning gal featured on the cover. But this acetate offers even less information on the label. Mr. Fine Wine could’ve easily just given us these two fantastic rarities from his vast collection and left the stories well alone, but instead we’re taken on a detective’s trail, stumbling upon clues that lead us not to the names behind the songs, but to a more personal place—the story of Matt’s … Read more