I decided to pay Vinylrock Café in Mejlgade a visit. The shop’s been around for one and a half year. I’ve been there a few times, bought some decent records, but haven’t seen much in the local media about the shop. I thought this was a shame, so I went there to interview Lars, owner of Vinylrock Café.
When I first walked in, I noticed the lack of life on the coffee tables and behind the obscure amount of old milk crates filled with vinyl. Lars told me the last few days had been kind of slow, which emphasizes the need for more articles like these – or at least some more attention brought to our local record stores.
Lars put on a Ramones record, poured me some coffee and started talking.
Why did you choose to open up a record store?
“(Laughs) It’s been a dream of mine since I was in my twenties. I didn’t have the courage back then – or the money. It just wasn’t meant to be. I started selling a lot of records online on Discogs, especially to the Norwegians. Then I went back to the idea about opening up a store, just a small shop in Aarhus where I would have the opportunity to still sell some records to the Norwegians and to the people of Aarhus. Nowadays, I don’t have the time for online sales anymore. A lot of things are happening online; you can sell a lot if you put a lot of time into it.”
What’s unique about your shop – what are you bringing to the table that you can’t get in other local vinyl shops?
“It’s a different atmosphere. People come here to grab a cup of coffee, play a game of backgammon and browse my vinyls. I can’t be the best vinyl shop in Aarhus, but I have some atmosphere and coziness that you just can’t get anywhere else.”
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I can see that you have a lot of live music going on at the moment. Did you have any interesting experiences recently?
“Almost only interesting experiences! A lot of people have been playing their very first gig in here. Something really special happened about a month ago, though. I got in touch with Aske Jacoby via Spinning Vinyl online. I complimented his music and he contacted me. He asked me if I wanted to sell some of his new records in my shop, and then he asked me if he could come to my café and play, here in Aarhus! I was like – “what?! I don’t have the budget for that! I usually let people play for a bottle of wine! – Obviously he couldn’t do that, but we managed to settle on a good price. I swiped the basement completely for records, got permission to sell wine and beer for the day, contacted two other bands, and made it a day-party! Over a hundred people came; it was a fantastic experience that made me realize I can do a lot of things down here. I recently established a blues-jam every Friday. This is actually a huge success.”
Stardust Records recently closed, Stereo Studio shut down their department in Copenhagen, streaming services are all over the place – how are you keeping your head up at times like these?
“I live a very humble life, I don’t spend a lot of money on myself. I know that this dream about opening up a store is about having as few personal expenses as possible. I didn’t start up borrowing a lot of money but kind of went the other way. I mean it takes two-three years to make sure that you have some customers who are willing to return. I don’t mind eating cheap food, and I don’t mind the fact that I don’t have expensive couches or inventory. Unfortunately, I don’t have the biggest budget when it comes to buying collections. I’ll have to decline huge collections with a lot of rare stuff; I simply don’t have the money.”
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What does vinyl do? What is special about it that I can’t get when streaming a single on Spotify?
“I think kids nowadays have taken in a huge amount of old stuff. Online, it’s like “the latest single”, “the five top-hits”; you just don’t learn what he [the artist red.] made ten years ago. Vinyl’s got a story to tell. They can tell you about the time when Beatles went from rock and roll to psychedelic. You get a wholeness that you just don’t get when you shuffle through singles and top-hits online. The cover art is also interesting – you see the art of the century it was made. I also think young people are starting to rebel against the online movement. Just a couple of years ago, everything needed to be online. Now, I think time has been moving too fast for young people. They want some of that nostalgia back. I think they long for the kind of party where you could just put on a record, sit on the couch and just have nice conversations without constantly being online, searching for the next track. There’s also the obvious one: it just sounds better on vinyl. I mean, I have kids coming in here and going like: “jeez, does it sound like that on vinyl?!”. There’s a different kind of warmth to it.”
I bought Juju by Siouxsie and the Banshees. One of my favorite albums for only 60 kr. Pay Lars a visit, have a great, black cup of coffee and support your local record store.