Carhartt WIP x Relevant Parties Editorial + Interview
Ft. Beat Street Records
Tell us about Beat Street Records — what is it?
Beat Street is a store born out of a love for music, art, and culture. We preserve history, showcase underground talent and spread music and art. We find new homes for unwanted artifacts. We provide a community hub for local and visiting Musicians, DJs, Music Lovers, and Artists.
Similar to Japan’s Jazzy Sport music shop, you guys have recently introduced a distribution side to Beat Street. What has this changed for you, and what do you think it will change for us, the consumers?
As much as possible, we buy product directly from labels and get it directly to the customer. More money to the artists, less cost for the consumer. For the customers, we just want to provide the records that you can’t get elsewhere. We have a unique relationship with FlipNJay records, we get to give back to the culture that helped form our identity.
Regardless of whether the music sucks, what’s your favourite record cover of all time?
Cover art is an integral part of what make records the best format. It’s the ultimate combination of art and music together. Many of the biggest names in Graffiti/Street inspired art, helped gain notoriety with the art on record covers. Futura, Delta, Doze, She One, and Banksy (just to name a few) all have great record art out there.
All of the record labels and collectives included in the Carhartt WIP x Relevant Parties collection have eclectic and diverse catalogs. As a record store owner/buyer, how do you interact with all the different genres and releases when ordering new records?
It used to be the ‘record store’ knew about new music before everyone else. Everything is so accessible to everyone now. We often hear about releases from customers before the labels even pitch them to us. There is so much information and access now it’s so hard to stay on top of every genre.
Outside of their “Golden Era” releases — like Charisma & Peanut Butter Wolf, J Dilla and Madlib — what are some of Stones Throw Records’ more recent releases that have caught your ear?
The new Quakers record!!
Ninja Tune is another legendary record label featured in the WIP x Relevant Parties collection. How were you first introduced to Ninja Tune, and did your initial thoughts line up with where they’re at today?
Ninja Tune bridged the gap between hip hop and electronic music. At the time, it allowed me to DJ hip-hop to a new audience who didn’t understand rap. One of the best logos in music.
Would you agree that one of the benefits of vinyl 12” singles — where lesser known, hard to find remixes live — are the B-sides? Is there a place for B-side-type remixes to flourish in the digital streaming world?
We used to sell so many copies of a new big single. Now we are lucky to sell a few. It really is an LP market now. I still love singles: alternate artwork, remixes. The B-Side wins again!
Have you noticed any major trend shifts in recent years, when it comes to the popularity of certain genres?
The Vinyl market has become more popular and more diverse. The more people buying records, represents more variety in people’s tastes. It creates a fun experience for people to come with their friends and pick out and share the music they love.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about record stores in general, and with yours in particular?
People still think we are a hip-hop/DJ store. We are rooted in DJ culture, which means we support all music for all different types of people.
What is the most frustrating or most frequent question you get from customers? Music-related and in general.
“Do you guys sell Cannabis?”
Someone comes into your store and asks for a recommendation. What are your go-to records?
Instead of giving people the same records all the time, we try to get a sense of what the person is looking for. Are they a new vinyl buyer? Are they looking for something that reminds them of the past or something new they haven’t heard? Do they want something rare or familiar? People can listen to the records here, so we try to provide a range of sounds for them to decide for themselves.
Can you tell us about some of your most cherished records? Either in the store or in your personal collection.
My most cherished records are the most unique ones. I like records with one of a kind artwork - either hand painted or modified.
What is your personal holy grail? Have you found it?
I let the records find me.
Since the introduction of Spotify, Apple Music, digital downloads, and so many other online specialty stores, how has the current role of the local record shop changed compared to what it was in the ‘90s?
We no longer ‘break’ records like we used to. We still expose lesser known music, but it is more about finding things people are already looking for and making sure we have it. People still come to discover things here, but it certainly isn’t their only source for information.
Online markets such as Discogs have recently created a platform for record collectors and shops to buy and sell records. Do you see this as an example of new technology benefitting indie record shops, or not really?
Sites like Discogs both help and hinder business. It creates a standard for value (which isn’t always accurate), but also makes people realize just how expensive it is to order and ship a record versus buying it in store. It used to be that experts had all the knowledge, but the knowledge is so much easier to gain now.
Do you find that there are genres that do better than others in Beat Street?
We try to carry something for everyone, even the smaller niche genres still have fans. Since the vinyl resurgence we have sold more classic rock than ever before, but we still carry more Hip-Hop and Electronic music than anyone around here.
What were your favorite record shops growing up and how did they influence your decision to open up your own spot?
I love record shops. Whenever I travel, I make sure to go to every record store possible. I take a little something from every store I like, and try to incorporate it in someway. I started record shopping in the 80s, I used to go the Seymour stores (Track, Odyssey, A&B, A&A, Sams, Collectors RPM), as well as Zulu & Black Swan. Then in the 90s Bassix, FWUH, and Rhythm Zone provided me with DJ Records. The Flea Markets (What’s up Ty!), Thrift Stores and Swap Meets were a goldmine in the early 90s (pre-internet).