Featured photo: Crystal Fulp hoping a Police record (courtesy photo)
The new wave sounds of Duran Duran blast through Logitech speakers connected to an Audio-Technica LP-60 record player. R.E.M. posters are plastered on the walls and doors, the white wall color barely peeking through the spaces between them. The smell of the hairspray used to create those large,80s hairstyles wafts through the air. A 12-inch vinyl of Teena Marie’s Starchild is the first to be seen on a record rack. A VCR rests in the cubby of an entertainment center. Crystal Fulp, aka Calliope, has a bedroom like a time capsule, and it’s, like, totally gnarly.
Fulp is a product of their environment. They sort of attended their first concert on November 8, 1997 at 6 months in the womb when their mom attended her favorite artist Prince’s Jam of the Year concert in Greensboro. As a child, car rides with Fulp’s mom were defined by ’70s and ’80s tunes coming from the radio.
“We basically listened to oldies radio more than anything,” Fulp says. “’Cause she didn’t want me and my sister hearing all the bad words in popular music at the time, like the early 2000s.”
Eventually, Fulp realized they wanted physical copies of the music they enjoyed as a child. On their 19th birthday, they purchased a 12-inch vinyl of Prince’s self-titled album, which remains their most prized possession. It was then that their throwback knickknacks collection began: vinyl, cassettes and videotapes. Hall & Oates is prominent in Fulp’s collection as they own every H&O record up to 1990 and then some. A few cassettes they own include Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers’ One Bright Day and Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl. They attended a George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic concert in 2018 and kept the ticket.
Fulp listens to various genres, leaning heavily towards new wave and alternative rock. Each Wednesday on Instagram, Fulp participates in #NewWaveWednesday where vinyl collectors post new wave music they own. Fulp’s shown off their 7-inch singles of Mirror Man by the Human League and What You Need by INXS. Michael Stipe, the lead singer of rock band REM, is someone Fulp adores.
“He’s just one of those guys I would like to have a conversation with to pick his brain and see how he thinks,” they say.
They continue, “His voice is also just really unique. I feel like he’s got one of the more unique voices of the 20th Century.”
Calliope turns to REM when they’re in a low mood, opting for acoustic, slow songs.
“Their album Automatic for the People is probably the album I turn to the most when I need to just wallow in my emotions,” they say.
At the opposite end of Fulp’s mood spectrum lies Duran Duran, The Police and anything disco or funk. They listen to songs with prominent bass and drum when they’re feeling upbeat.
The ’80s also inspire Fulp’s fashion sense. For almost every vinyl they own, there’s a corresponding T-shirt. In addition to the records that don’t fit in the open bedroom space, in the closet lies a vast collection of high-waisted, acid-wash pants, color-block coordinates, plaid and metallic pieces. Multiple pairs of glasses — some with clear lenses, some with black lenses like Ozzy Osbourne used to wear — sit in different locations around the bedroom. Fulp even wears their curly, blonde hair in frizzy, voluminous styles reminiscent of the time. They proudly rocked a mullet in 2018.
Fulp visits Earshot Music in Winston-Salem on the weekends for most of their vinyl. Singles are a favorite, as Fulp tends to be more familiar with them.
“For a long time I didn’t listen to albums a lot, so I know more singles than albums,” they say.
They estimate owning about 500 albums and 600 7-inch singles, and while such a large collection may seem expensive, Calliope keeps a tight budget unless the record is rare or they just really want the record.
“I try to keep my collecting really cheap,” they say. “I rarely spend more than $10 on a record.”
Before COVID-19, Fulp would try to attend 20-30 concerts a year. A Culture Club concert they attended a few years ago stuck with them for one reason.
“There were so many people cosplaying as Boy George and it was very strange!” Fulp says while laughing.
At just 22 years old, Fulp tends to be one of the youngest members in the audience at the concerts they attend, like Bon Jovi or Guns N Roses. They’re constantly quizzed on the artist or their music. Despite that being a recurring thing for most of their life, Fulp doesn’t let underestimation faze them, remaining confident in their knowledge of the time period.
“It’s just what I know,” they say.
Until Fulp can attend concerts again, they plan to chill in their bedroom with their over-ear headphones and enjoy what they call their “quarantine band” Duran Duran. Sounds like a bitchin’ good time.
To connect with Crystal, follow them on Instagram @CrystalCalliope.