For this week’s Record Store of the Week, we give you Other Music (New York, NY)! Other Music is an essential stop on any NYC trip (hey, it’s an essential stop online too!!) and a part of the daily routine for tons of New Yorkers. Their selection is stellar, the staff is knowledgeable and helpful and their in-stores are not to be missed. Co-owner Josh Madell was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to have a chat.
So Josh, tell us some stuff about Other Music.
We are a NYC-based LP and CD shop, open since 1995 – we’ve been on East 4th Street in Manhattan for 15 years now! We also do mailorder and MP3 downloads.
Some Other Music alums have gone on to have success making records as opposed to selling them. I remember hearing that Animal Collective was one such case…any current employees making killer sounds?
Yeah Noah and Dave worked here, and we’ve had so many staff go on to successful careers as musicians, DJs, label jobs, fine arts – we’re a great temporary thing until you hit it big! And there are, of course, several talented musicians on staff right now.
In 2007, Other Music was one of the first independent record stores to create an online digital music store. How has that been going?
Though I can’t say that our download store completely takes up the slack from shrinking physical sales, it has been great for us, and we definitely feel like we need to have a foot in that world to stay relevant if we want to carry new music.
What records are on heavy rotation in the store right now?
The Psychedelic Aliens Psycho African Beat on Academy LPs is amazing. Alva Noto & Blixa Bargeld‘s new project ANBB has been spun a lot the last couple of weeks. And the Gonjasufi remix record has been in heavy rotation for awhile now. Dam-Funk‘s Adolescent Funk keeps popping up too – so fun!
Other Music is known for its awesome and well attended in-store shows. You’ve hosted so many bands/artists over the years, do you have a favorite?
That’s tough, we have had so many special shows. Tinariwen was pretty incredible. I was just reminiscing about the Elliot Smith/Softies show. The very first Digital Hardcore show in the States, when Alec Empire and Shizuo kept blowing our circuits. The Breeders was pretty crazy – in so many ways! Boredoms!!!! It goes on and on, I always forget all the great bands that have played our store. Bill Callahan on Record Store Day a few years back was really beautiful. Ya Ho Wa.
Also, in the last few years, you’ve started filming select in-stores and streaming them for free on the Digital Music Store site. How did that come about?
Out of the blue I was approached by Natalie Johns of Dig For Fire, which is a music film production company, because she loved our in-stores, and within a month we had filmed Vampire Weekend, No Age and St. Vincent. Those films are really fun to make, because I sit down and interview all the artists, and the final product is a really intimate and special document of these tiny shows by some pretty big names. Natalie’s work is just beautiful, great sound, 3 or 4 HD cameras. But they can be quite expensive to produce because of that, so we’ve been taking a break from filming as we look for sponsors. Other Music and Dig For Fire also collaborate on a couple of big SXSW events every year, great big outdoor shows – this year our two days were headlined by Thurston Moore and The xx, with a ton of other great bands.
OK, shameless self-promotion time! What is your favorite Light In The Attic release…and why?
Oh there are so many, I often think Light In The Attic is making records just for our customers; Serge Gainsbourg, Betty Davis, Rodriguez, Monks, Karen Dalton, The Free Design… the list goes on and on. All of those artists were huge sellers for us as expensive imports or even more expensive rare LPs. LITA is doing a public service making great albums available in great packages, for the whole world to hear!
Any funny/weird/strange encounters with customers over the years?
Um – all of them – have you ever met any record collectors? We get all types here, crazy collectors, industry types, all of our favorite musicians. We love them all!
How about celebrity musician sightings?
Yeah, we get all of them, and besides all the great musicians who shop at our store, it turns out a lot of actors have pretty adventurous taste in music too. But recently Laurie Anderson was performing in the shop, and she was having some trouble with her gear – all of a sudden Lou Reed slinks in in his sweatsuit straight from the gym. He couldn’t really help Laurie with her pedal, but he gave her some sort of pep talk. Lou’s love – inspirational! [ed. - OMFG!]
What are your thoughts on the record store scene in NYC right now.
It’s rough – the collector’s spots like Academy and A-1 seem to be holding up, but so many great shops are gone.
And lastly, Other Music has been around for some time, how do you see your role in the greater NYC music scene?
So many things have changed in New York in the 15 years since we opened, and as far as the music world goes, many changes are for the worse, but there is a great scene of young bands right now – we support each other I guess. They keep making great music, we’ll keep telling people about it!
15 East 4th Street NYC