First united by a single rare song, Anthony Perez and Stephanie Ramirez, known as Flipside Lovers, are on a mission to share California’s oldies story with the globe.

The genesis of analog DJ duo Flipside Lovers can, coincidentally enough, be traced to a single 45 record.

Anthony Perez began playing “You’re Acting Kind of Strange,” a rare soul single by the Chappells, one evening while DJing at Caravan Lounge in downtown San Jose. Stephanie Ramirez, a regular at the soul and oldies nights where Perez played, was in the room and immediately approached the DJ booth, singing along. She asked how Perez knew about the record. He had the same response. This was a song you had to dig to find. How did she know it? 

“I met Anthony collecting records,” shares Ramirez, known on the decks as Ambitious Outsider (she’s a gigantic Morrissey fan). While they had orbited similar circles, it was their deep mutual passion for collecting vinyl that kick-started their connection, and eventual relationship.  

In the years since that first encounter, they’ve built a reputation for their deep collection of sweet soul 45s. Some of those records have traveled the world with the couple, helping them share the famous West Coast sound with listeners in Paris, northern England, Mexico, and throughout the US.
Asked if they classify their sound as oldies, both are quick to say yes. Defining that sound, however, can be tricky to those not familiar.

“To me, ‘oldies’ is specific to California. It’s not defined by a genre, or even a decade. Call it a collective playlist that’s been growing since the 1950s,” explains Perez. “My dad listened to these same songs. I can’t think of another genre or movement where it’s so connected generation after generation. The classics are the classics, and we never get tired of them.”

The two pay tribute to that distinct tradition through the records they collect and play. They also take part in events where oldies are still a staple, cruising around San Jose with other lowriders as they show off their recently purchased white 1962 Chevy Impala named Blanquita.

“That’s inherently a San Jose culture—Lowrider magazine, King and Story,” points out Perez. “We’ve traveled the world and been able to show that culture to other people. I feel it’s important for us to try to do that.”

Their individual stories as collectors start at San Jose’s flea markets. While in elementary school, Perez remembers driving up from Gilroy and begging his parents to buy him rap tapes. His DJ name, Akro1, stems from his days as a graffiti writer. 

Ramirez started her collection by picking up records, five dollars a box, from people who were simply trying to get rid of them at the Capitol Flea Market. “I never knew collecting people’s trash would later be something you played out for people,” she shares. “I feel very lucky because if I tried to start collecting records now, there’s no way I would get a lot of stuff I have.”

“I’ve had the bug since I was very young,” notes Perez. “I would take anything and everything that anybody was giving away.” When his dad noticed his collecting habits, he gave Perez lists of records to track down. Once he did, Perez would record tapes for his father to play in his car.

Surprisingly, both admit they never collected records with the goal of becoming DJs. 
“I always just bought records because I loved records,” Perez says, though he adds “eventually it almost becomes a responsibility to share them.” After a few sets on local college radio, knowledge of his collection spread, and his gigs picked up.

Ramirez started by recording vinyl mixes purely to share her music collection with others. “For me, every single 45 that I own means something to me. It’s very personal, which is why I don’t like saying I’m a DJ. I’m a collector at heart,” she admits.

While they’ve performed together under their individual names for years, a few years back they coined themselves Flipside Lovers, an ode to the often slower “flip side” of a 45 record single. The two recently returned as resident DJs at Park Station Hashery, where they perform twice a month as part of the restaurant’s Two Wheel Tuesdays. They also play monthly at True Brew along The Alameda.

Their drive to share history and celebrate San Jose’s local culture seems to ground their pursuit of the next elusive 45 they’ll add to their collection. It also inspired an idea to upload some of their rare records to YouTube during lockdown. That gesture allowed them to directly connect with the families of those artists, some of whom had never even heard the music before.

“It’s like a piece of history we own,” says Ramirez when speaking about her reverence for the records in her library. “We’re archivists. We care about what’s out there,” concludes Perez. “You might just die tomorrow, and it could be trash, but I feel some weird responsibility to build this library. At this point, we’re 20 years in. Hopefully, there’s another 20 or 30 to go.”