DEKMANTEL SELECTORS 2018
Even though we’ve only been putting on Dekmantel Selectors for two years now, it feels like our annual end of summer get-together has already taken root. Granted, it would be hard for anyone to argue with the prospect of a week on the Croatian seaside, chilling and partying with a choice crew of music lovers and DJs from around the globe. We mentioned last year that the response to the first Selectors festival was incredible, and the 2017 edition was equally as memorable. Seeing so many people, dancers and DJs alike, losing their minds to oddball jams and records that even the bravest artists wouldn’t usually bring out of the house… well, it was an incredible reminder of why we started throwing parties in the first place.
Text: Shawn Reynaldo & Glenn Jackson | Photos: Kasia Zacharko
As such, it’s no surprise that Selectors will be returning to Tisno, once again inviting a slew of our favorite DJs to show off the gems hidden deep in their crates across four stages, multiple boat parties (each one proving to be a highlight of the festival last year), and three days of late-night-into-the-early-morning after parties. At this point, we can all agree that the term “selector” has come to mean all sorts of things, but in our mind, it refers to a certain breed of DJ with a true sense of dedication to the craft. True selectors buck convention, take chances and, yes, even tell stories, all in service of the dance floor.
Of course, even the finest DJs couldn’t accomplish any of that without their records, and there’s no question seeking out quality tunes is an art in itself. And although it doesn’t usually take much to get a good DJ talking about records, it’s far less often that they discuss the details of where and how they find their most prized pieces of wax. That’s why ahead of the 2018 festival, we’ve asked a handful of the artists taking part to tell us what makes a quality record shop and describe how they personally approach the bins. In the process, they also share a few valuable tricks of the vinyl-hunting trade.
Nosedrip: "What makes a good record shop is the people who run it."
"When I'm in a record store, I will usually start solo and then maybe talk with the staff about some of the records I selected later on. Though, if the music the shop if playing is something up my street, I might ask the staff about it first, and then naturally move on from there. For me, what makes digging in a physical record shop so special is the surprises you encounter in the bins and the anecdotes you exchange with the people working there and with your fellow diggers. I like taking my time in a record store to really explore as much as I can, especially in shops I don't know. Usually, I will quickly browse through some sections when I step into a store and then come back for a second look later, checking the highlights on the walls as well as the bargain bins along the way before ultimately coming back to the records that first caught my eye when I walked in."
"I've found that Japan and Germany are the best countries for digging, one reason being their economic miracles in the '80s and '90s—people could afford to buy lots of records back then. The first thing I do when I step in to a record store for the first time is look if there is a record player where I can listen before buying. If not, my way of going through the sections and what I focus on will be quite different. If I'm somewhere (for example Medellin or Osaka) where I would like to get to know something about the local scene, local producers and small local labels, I will always ask for recommendations. Otherwise, I'll start in the experimental section, which is where you often find stuff that is just hard to categorize, but always good and usually pretty surprising. If I can't listen to a record, I'll go by the cover art, the price, and even the smell of a record."
"What makes a good record shop is the people who run it, although it also helps when a man or woman who lives nearby either dies, stops collecting or chooses love over records. When I go digging I want to be surprised, not buy stuff I know already, which is why I always make a point to dig in unexpected places and ask for recommendations.. I think it's good to have input from different sources, and to keep in mind that there are always records below the counter, in the back of the store or at some guy’s place in the neighborhood. I try to listen to everything before I buy though; records are expensive these days, and even the euro bin has somehow become the four-euro bin most of the time."
Orpheu The Wizard
"My favorite section of a record shop is private press. That box is usually filled with both the worst and possibly the best music in the store. Pop/rock/wave is another good section, because it can basically be everything. When store employees don’t know where to put something, they will often dump it there. Plus, most people don’t have the patience to flick through boxes full of boring records they have already seen a million times. When I can’t listen to something, I check out the artwork and the people involved in the record. The label, country, and year can also give you quite a few pointers. That said, sometimes it winds up being what you think it will be and it’s great, but other times you wonder why an off-key schlager record has spaceships and meditating lizards on the cover."
Palms Trax: "I’m not sure who’s depositing large amounts of South African music in this tiny Brexit stronghold, but God bless you."
"I prefer to dig on my own, because I’m British and therefore far too embarrassed to ask for help. One time I tried to hide records in the wrong section of a shop so that I could come back for them later, but when I returned, the crates had been had been packed away and replaced with a Brockleby’s pie store. That said, this little adventure did lead me to discover their Beaver Ale variety, which I then gifted to Young Marco, so it was still a fruitful trip! Thinking geographically though, Amsterdam probably has the best shops for modern electronic dance music, but I always find going through random French stores to be the most rewarding—they’re often teeming with cheap zouk and Afro since so much of it was recorded there. I also love this market by my grandparents’ house somewhere in middle England—everything there is £4. It’s mostly metal and classic jazz, but there’s also a 'world music’ section that always has at least one killer record. I’m not sure who’s depositing large amounts of South African music in this tiny Brexit stronghold, but God bless you."
Sassy J: "Sometimes I'll listen to a record three times just to make sure I am only picking up something I really need. Thanks to that, I've kept my collection tight."
"First of all, a good record shop has to have a bit of everything, and it especially needs to have a proper stock of used and vintage records. In general, I usually start out in the bargain bins, and more specifically in the Rock & Pop or Independent sections of the store. Of course, it isn't always worth it to dig through the bargain bins, but when you've gone through all of it and then come out with something you have never heard of before or—if you're really lucky—find a record you have been in search of for a long time, it makes it all worth it."
"It’s hard to say what section of a record shop has the most surprise gems. You just have to be lucky. I never really ask for recommendations though. Of course, if you visit a shop regularly, people get to know what’s interesting to you. I remember Lena Willikens was always suggesting records to me back when she worked at Groove Attack. I also don’t listen to everything before I buy it. Sometimes I even stop listening after one track if it’s really good, just to keep the rest as a surprise. If I can’t listen at all, the cover might convince me on rare occasions, but above all I check producers and musicians, the year a record came out and even the instruments that were used. This can be a pretty effective approach, but it can also fail really badly."
Steele Bonus: "I like to visit record shops when I’m travelling, and I think it's always nice to try and look for local stuff."
"When I’m playing abroad, I try to always touch down in record shops or meet somebody that is selling music, and if I have time when I’m home, I go digging in the area. Every shop has its speciality: some have a really good selection of old music, some specialize in new music, some just have great prices, and so on. If a shop has an outstanding amount of records in good condition and at the right price within a certain "genre," then I will focus on that. But I'll explore all sections of a good record store because I love good music and collecting all the different dynamics in rhythm, sound, harmony, feel, tempo, vibe, tone that I can use on my journeys in sound. I also love musical hybrids—records you can not put into generic sections, the undefinable—because they are like the bridges in those universes. Those kind of records could be sitting in any corner of a store. I'll also usually try to listen to a record before I buy it, just to make sure it sounds right. I have always been picky, and sometimes I'll listen to a record three times just to make sure I am only picking up something I really need. Thanks to that, I've kept my collection tight."
"The first thing I do when I walk into a record store is head straight to the used new-arrivals section. Depending on the shop and who’s working, I may talk with the staff, but record shops and the people working in them can be a bit intimidating, so I usually will dig around for awhile until I find a few things I like and then try to get some recommendations based on those. Really, there are so many good records stores and just as many that I have not been to yet, but Redlight Records in Amsterdam stands out as one of my favorites. It's the kind of place where the staff is super knowledgeable and you get the sense that they are always out digging and hitting record fairs to find stuff for the shop. It’s hard to leave there without spending all your wages, but you will always leave with some unique, wild music."
"I like to visit record shops when I’m travelling, and I think it's always nice to try and look for local stuff. It’s like with food, when you're visiting a new city for the first time, you want to try the local cuisine and the dishes that are special to that region. I think records are no different. While it's hard to pick just a single favorite store I've encountered over the years, one that comes to mind is Meditations in Kyoto. It's a special shop, not just for the excellently curated selection of new and old records, but also because they have a nice range of incense, books, and candles—plus the entire store has a very tranquil atmosphere filled with lots of lush indoor plants. You don’t even need to be a record freak to appreciate it."
Strange Boutique: "99% of the time when you are digging in the bargain bin, it really isn’t worth it, but it's those one-percenters…"
"When I walk into a record store, I always say hello first and try to make contact with the record dealer, which is not always easy. Sometimes I'll ask for recommendations, but it really depends on the people behind the counter. To me, a record store should be the kind of place where you finally come across that record you've been trying to find for a long time, but also the kind of place where you can make new discoveries. Really, there has to be a diverse array of musical styles, and, of course, decent prices—the kind of place where the bargain bin isn't usually worth your while, but sometimes it just might be. Though it's not strictly a record store, my favorite place to buy records is Les Puces de Clignancourt, a flea market in Paris that is like a record fair every weekend. It's also a place where you will find loads of international DJs digging between sets in Paris."
"A good record shop is always one with a friendly staff, and ideally people who see what you bring to the counter and start to recommend more records. When I first walk into a shop, I usually take a deep breath—that moment can say a lot about the place. Then I prefer to do some digging on my own and hopefully I am able to discover something that I don’t know (I can always ask for suggestions later). Still, I don’t have a certain way of looking for records. If the store is organized by genres, I usually skip the ones that don’t have much to do with my life. A few years ago, I might start first with records on the floor (if there were some), but I do that less now. Chronologically, the last shop where I felt really good was Discos Paradiso in Barcelona. Gerard and his crew are such a friendly and relaxed bunch of people. The store has an excellent mix of new and old records, and the staff always gives great recommendations."
"At the risk of stating the obvious, Redlight Records in Amsterdam is our favorite place to go digging. It's not only the carefully curated selection of the records there, but also just the way the store functions as a hub of sorts. You go in for a morning chat and hear all the latest rumors from other folks who also came in a for chat. You bring some drinks on Friday afternoon to celebrate the weekend and hang out in the courtyard with whoever is in town, all while someone is doing a radio show next door. Whether we're digging at Redlight or any other store and I am looking for records beyond the ones from the musicians I know, it's usually the cover that gets my attention. An attractive record sleeve is always an incentive, although the chances that the record itself isn’t great are relatively high, but as long as they are reasonably priced, I think it's worth taking the risk. 99% of the time when you are digging in the bargain bin, it really isn’t worth it, but those one-percenters…"