Echo Park – Elle Rasmussen stood between The House of Spirits and the burrito stand on Echo Park Avenue. Her guitar playing was unaccompanied by any amp, so the acoustic notes had to make do with traffic, people chatting on the street and the rest of the neighborhood. But Miss Elle, as she had painted on her guitar case, sang on, and her voice lingered between the pauses. It was the softest voice in the city at the moment, what with a music festival drumming up its own sounds down the street, but it was Miss Elle’s soft notes that lingered like falling feathers. It’s ridiculous what sonic vibrations can accomplish. Godspeed, Elle.
Echo Park – Summer music festivals can be tiring. I have at least a thousand shots from the three-day weekend. I’ll be sorting through those for some time, and wondering, “Why did I take this? These are horrible.” In the meantime these are some of the photos that accompanied the story that ran with my article over at The Eastsider LA.
Origami Vinyl, in its narrow slot on Sunset Boulevard, uses all available space to its advantage. Records flank from all sides, origami cranes hang from the ceiling and up those steep steps sits the loft.
The shop’s one and half story setup was nonexistent when they moved in says Origami Vinyl’s proprietor Neil Schield. Providing a stage was a real magic trick says Schield. Either they built one on the ground or up on top. Fortunately for all of us bands play from the second story, thus proving that Origami Vinyl elevates music.
With my last visit Schield convinced me that China’s P.K. 14 is putting out some solid post-punk material. The whole continent might not be putting out music of this calibre, but it’s comforting to know that the Fugazi wave has crashed into that part of the world.
Like most vinyl shops I have to contain myself from spending all my money. But, and this a big butt, Origami Vinyl curate a specific selection of both local, hardcore, shoe gaze, and probably everything that was written on a high school notebook in the 1990’s. That curation means that Origami Vinyl aims for quality and not quantity. I’m not going to find Astrud Gilberto, but I will be able to support local bands like Dunes, Roses, Deap Valley and plenty of local labels. Here are the deets from Neil.
What does it mean to you to sell records for a living?
It’s a dream come true! Something I’ve been wanting to do since I was 17 years old. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world
Your last job?
My last job was the head of mobile business development for IODA, which at the time was the largest digital distributor of independent record labels.
Some people say that records made a comeback recently, others would argue that they never really left. How do you see it?
I see it both ways. For us that are old enough it has always been a part of our lifestyle. For the younger generation its discovering an entirely new medium and hearing music differently than what they had been accustomed too.
What does your personal collection look like?
Its small by collectors standards. About 3000 records. I am constantly weeding out things I don’t listen too. I’m not a completist or collector. I’m more of an enthusiast. I don’t care if a record is worth hundred of dollars, I’ll DJ the crap out of it. For me it’s meant to be listened to, not sit on my shelf. From a genre standpoint I have lots of pre wwII blues LPs, late 70’s post-punk, mid to late 70’s LA punk records, 80’s Synth and New Wave, 90’s hardcore, post-hardcore, grunge stuff, and modern everything. There’s a little of classic rock, jazz, weirdo stuff all mixed in too. I can be all over the place really.
Rarest or most prized record?
My newest prize is my Yuzo Kayama LP. Sweet 60’s Japanese Surf Garage Rock.
What makes your shop unique?
That’s hard for me to answer. It’s an extension of myself and all the people who work here. We’re all friendly, easy-going, ambitious people. We host a bunch of free in-store performances, boast a huge local band section, are very involved in our Echo Park community, and take pride in our curated stock. Oh and we have a shop dog named Ali, that is pretty famous these days and love giving people high-fives!
What is your background in music and how do you think it helps in the record selling business?
It starts with my parents taking me to concerts and playing records for me at a young age. When I was a little older my mom would take me record shopping and that became one of my favorite things to do. In my teenage years through college years I played in bands and went to tons of shows. Once out of college I started to throw my own shows, became a booking agent, then jumped in to the label world. Music is in my blood, it’s all I’ve ever known or done for a living. I think those experiences have allowed me to put this all together to make a cool, fun, and different type of record store than what many are used to.
Could you recommend an album that needs to be listened to on vinyl?
One of the best sounding records from the modern era has got to be Beck’s “Sea Change”
Now some record labels include a free digital download with their LPs. Do you think this defeats the purpose of selling a physical copy?
No I think that is a huge reason why vinyl has enjoyed an overwhelming resurgence.
Will cassette tapes ever see a rise in popularity?
I don’t think so. They’re totally fun and economical. I’m just not so sure they have the long term appeal as an LP does. We’ll see though…