In collaboration with Kaneshii Vinyl Press
Who are you and your current job :
My name’s Matt and my role in the business is a content creator (website/social media/marketing/reviews/blogs) and I’m also responsible for all the vinyl purchasing. I began with VR almost from the first opening days. It was started by a guy with over thirty years experience in the hi-fi industry who’d noticed that with the resurgence of vinyl record salespeople were again purchasing new record players and systems to play them on. It was his idea to open a one-stop vinyl shop: equipment and records. We’ve been around for three years now and over that time we’ve climbed out of obscurity to open a second store, take on a team of six vinyl junkies, and become the number one seller in the country for some of our leading brands.
In which city are you located?
We’re located in the most liveable city in the world – seven years running, Melbourne. It’s Australia’s arts & culture capital, home to more record stores per capita than any other place in the world, and a live music mecca. Also, our two stores, Brunswick St, Fitzroy and Sydney Rd, Brunswick, are both located within Melbourne’s most renowned live music districts.
What musical styles do you specialize in?
Our specialty is actually in analog audio equipment, specializes in turntables and hi-fi. However, our music range rests comfortably within the pop/rock department with considerable emphasis on new releases and up-and-coming artists (vinyl only, of course). It’s pretty diverse, though. If they’re dope tunes they’re going in the bins.
Can you give a small tour of the music scene in your town?
Melbourne is Australia’s home to live music. The most iconic of those venues are without question the Corner Hotel, an 800-person strong band room that’s been showcasing live music since 1940 and hosted some of the biggest names in the game (Mick Jagger, The White Stripes, David Gilmore); Melbourne’s premier rock music venue, Cherry Bar on AC/DC Lane, responsible for the decade-old Cherry Rock festival; and, the most intimate of Melbourne music venues, The Gasometer Hotel, with a fully retractable roof and a mezzanine level with balcony views of the stage. It’s gorgeous. But this is a highly contestable top three. There are literally hundreds of band rooms and bars hosting live music around Melbourne with extremely devout followers loyal to their own local spots. Any visitor on any night wishing to catch a gig is in for a real treat. The options are endless.
What's it like working in a record shop?
Like being Liv Tyler or Anthony Lapaglia from Empire Records. Extremely fun times. It’s just the way you’d expect it: hours of in-store conversation about music, fresh wax every week played very very loudly in store (sorry to our neighbours, Mark & Jenny), regular nock-off curb-side street parties with the crew and friends, usually capped off by the habitual sing along (drunken shouting) to Bohemian Rhapsody, often joined by passers-by. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. And, look, it’s definitely hard work. We’re an up-and-coming small business; every week is a slog. A lot of us put in big hours or take work home in order to keep the momentum going. But the rewards are well worth the effort because we feel like we’re building something special.
What mind-blowing album are you listing right now?
Oh, god, too many to pick just one. I’m in love with a young French producer by the name of Oklou at the moment. Her recent EP, The Rite of May is just stunning. It’s like this dark, electronic, kinda neo R&B collection. King Krule’s The OOZ has been on high rotation since it dropped in October. That man is a genius. But loads of local stuff, too. Caroline No’s Swimmers EP, produced by Mick Tuner of the Dirty Three, is a gorgeous reverie of romantic longing. And when you accompany that train of thought with the delicate but discordant notes of Mick Turner’s signature guitar work you get pure beauty.
What does it take for an indie record shop to survive?
Passion, humility, a shit-load of hard work, local support, and a lot of respect for your community. Fitzroy and Brunswick, our two store locations, play host to very passionate local communities. As an independent record store, you need to respect and support that community. In Fitzroy, we’re one of four record stores within a hundred meters. These guys have been around a lot longer than we have so when we came in we were very conscious about not stepping on anybody’s toes. We recognized that we had something unique to offer, because nobody else was specializing in the equipment specifications, and therefore we made an effort to not encroach on their music specialties. But being passionate is above all our most valuable commodity. It’s the difference between a salesman and a specialist, the difference between us the major retail chains. We’re crazy about analog music, especially what you can do with it when you begin tweaking your equipment. You can push the quality of your LPs very far and we love nothing more than showcasing that to newcomers. We don’t just sell records, we play them – in store – very loudly and very often. Why not, right?
What does Record Store Day, mean to you and your business?
Everything. It’s the biggest day in our event calendar. There’s usually a line of people waiting around outside for the doors to open. We sell tons of records on the day, not just the RSD specials, and lots and lots of record players as well, which is really cool. It’s nice to know that someone is going home with a limited edition pressing to play on a brand spanking new turntable. It is so well supported by the strong community of vinyl enthusiasts around the country and it’s a great day for music. There are loads of life in-store performances, and because there are over a dozen different record stores in the area the party usually spills out into the local live music venues that night. We’re all so ragged by the end of it but it’s definitely our favorite day of the year.
Tips for musicians launching an album
Look into, at the very least, a small run of vinyl pressings. It’s a lot of effort but the indie music stores are more than happy to push your tunes on new listeners. And there’s a certain fealty listener have to your success when they own a physical copy of your music. It’s a way for people to feel like they’re involved in your success, that you’re in some way tethered, no matter how small. They’ll go to your gigs, tell all their friends about you because they feel involved. Streaming is great – it’s where a lot of us find new tunes – but there’s nothing more special than owning it on black wax. And the smaller releases, the limited runs, they’re the most precious titles in any collectors assemblage of LPs. It’s rare that I don’t see a small stack of records at the merch table when I go to a gig these days, and that’s such a promising thing to see. So I certainly suggest giving it a shot.
5 local musician to check out
OMG, Didiri Didiri Didiri – he’s going to be huge! Google the name, stream that shit, and bask in the glory of telling all those who didn’t know. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Didiri play a rooftop set, three doors up from the shop as the sun waned, looking out at the Melbourne city skyline over a beer. And I’ll tell everyone because when he’s packing stadiums it’ll have been one of those once in a lifetime moments. Alice Ivy! My god that girl is blowing up and I’m so proud. She ran the coffee machine in the cafe across the street from Vinyl Revival before she started shredding major festivals. She’s so down to earth, so talented, and a true ambassador for women in the music industry here in Aus. One of the few female producers in the country, but forging a path for future ladies to come in and shred. The Teskey Brothers. Get. On. That. Train people. It’s like Otis Redding was raised from the dead. Their debut album Halfmile Harvest is a piece of soul music mastery. And they slaaaaay a live set. Honorable mentions: Cash Savage and the Last Drinks, Angie McMahon, and Hvncoq.
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Melbourne [Australia] city guide x Matthew Richter
Café | Archie’s All Day on Gertrude St. I grab a coffee from the gang every morning, provided they’re not closed for day shoots of a certain Australian television drama (kills me when I can’t get my flat white). It’s the halfway mark of my walk to work, their coffee is the best and the menu, stunning. All the crew are super lovely folk and regulars around the community. When in town, go there.
Restaurant | The Catfish, also found on Gertrude St, for Philly cheese steaks and blues. Muddy Blues Roulette every Wednesday night at 8. Scott and Benny work drum and bass and rotate lead blues artists from all over. It’s so much fun. Great food, killer craft beer, and sweet sweet blues tunes. Definitely one of my favorite places to eat.
Shopping |Dang. Not really my forte. But if I’m ever shopping it’s only two men’s (sorry ladies) specialty clothing stores, Pickings & Parry and Godspeed. They specialize in Japanese denim, apparel, and traditional American workwear. Plus, P&P has the most beautiful barber shop area. My hair is four-foot long, so it’s only ever a beard trim and a chat. But it’s gorgeous. If it’s shopping in general, Fitzroy is great! More vintage clothing stores than there are people to fill them. It’s a bit of a destination.
Grocery | South Melbourne markets by a country mile. It’s a little more of a trip for me being in the West. But the place is an institution for local produce. Butchers, delicatessens, coffee bean roasters, vegetables galore. You name it, they’re slinging it. They’re open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and they’re an institution. You’ll fall in love with the food.
Other | Rooks Return. It’s a local bar on Brunswick street a couple of blocks up from the shop. The bar staff is like family to VR. There’s a ton of live music, Wednesday jazz night and Thursday country; plus, they sling a bunch of vinyl on the decks all through the weekend. As the name suggests, there are a bunch of chess boards and other games to play. You can always pull up a pew and play the bartender in quiet times (quiet: mon/tues). It’s a gem of a place. Super friendly staff. Come have a drink with the locals.