By Ashlyn Bruni
Imagine walking into a small independent record store, sitting on the ground in front of stacks and stacks of dusty records, and searching for hours in hopes of finding one record that means the world to you. If this is something you can imagine yourself doing, or have done in the past, then you are part of the vinyl culture.
Back in November, DIG published a cover story about the resurrection of vinyl, but what else is there to the movement? There is an entire subculture surrounding vinyl records and those people who still listen to them today. Step into the Atomic Pop Shop or Lagniappe Records and you’ll realize that these stores hold more than just records. From intimate live performances to social mixers to even a new indie record label, BR’s vinyl shops have become hubs for music lovers in the city.
Lagniappe Records, one of BR’s fastest-rising names in indie music, first began online, then out of the owners’ home, then finally to their brick-and-mortar storefront last summer. From a DIY French press to a resident cockatiel named Agnes, Lagniappe offers a homey feel, and local music entities like KLSU have already made themselves at home with in-store community events. Locals visit the shop for new tunes, but also for in-store and afterhours performances and lessons. Lagniappe recently launched their own record label for local indie musicians, promising to bring an even stronger connection between the city and the store.
Owner Tess Brunet wants to ensure a community feel, and quotes musician Daniel Johnston (one of Kurt Cobain’s favorite musicians) as saying “Man, you guys have really good vibes here.” She wants live shows in her store because she loves live music and knows others do too.
“It just makes sense,” Brunet said.
Brunet believes that every art medium has its own culture attached.
“Art has an ability to make you feel, but music hits you in a way nothing else hits you,” Brunet said. Brunet has worked in many record stores all over the country, and one thing she learned is to always ensure that the customer feels like more than just a number or a dollar sign.
So what exactly defines vinyl culture? An acolyte of vinyl culture frequents independent record stores for the experience, not just the product. People of all ages can be a part of it — Atomic Pop Shop’s youngest customer is a 9-year-old girl. People who collect vinyl have a special something, and they don’t just collect records because they think it will make them cool. The folks at Atomic Pop Shop call these type of people of insincere collectors “Snipsters.”
People who love vinyl understand that one song can change your life. They have a passion for music. This is why Kerry Beary, the owner of Atomic Pop Shop, believes it is a duty of record store owners to have events where people can meet and bond over this shared interest. Atomic Pop Shop frequently hosts in-store performances, movie nights, and even award show screenings in order to bring these people together.
Beary believes that the idea of vinyl having its own culture was born out of the existence of digital music. She makes the point that before CDs and MP3s, the only way to get music was to go to a record store; it wasn’t anything unique. She also believes that people took vinyl for granted back in those days, and that people who listen to them now appreciate them more. The same goes for the artists who produce their music for a vinyl format; they are more likely to put more effort into it because they are producing something that will last.
If you’ve never been inside of an independent record store, don’t base your impression on the popular movie High Fidelity. Not all of the workers are as pretentious as Jack Black’s character, and the staff won’t yell at you for insulting them with your crappy taste. Independent record stores are a big part of the vinyl culture because they offer an escape for many people. They have a more personal touch than corporate stores. The workers have more knowledge, they offer vintage records, and their inventory is based off of what their customers want; it isn’t influenced by top 100 charts. Independent stores offer previews of the records you are buying, and they help everyone discover new music. If you ask Brunet or Bear, they’re tell you they’re not in it for the money or the popularity; these independent record store owners are solely interested in the music and what it can do for people.
If you’re looking to get a taste of this rising subculture, National Record Store Day is coming on April 18. This year’s ambassador is one of the biggest names in rock music: Dave Grohl. On the official Record Store Day website, Grohl talks about the importance of independent record stores.
“I’m here to talk about how wonderful it is discover things at independent record stores, bring them home, and have them change your lives,” Grohl said.
Atomic Pop Shop and Lagniappe will both be having sales and celebrations. So next time you pass up an independent record store, go in and check it out. Maybe you’ll learn something new