Photo: Courtesy of artist
Record Store Recs: Salt Cathedral Talk Favorite Brooklyn Indie Shops & How To Support Artists Of Color
With the unprecedented global disruption of 2020, it's important to support the music community however we can. With our series Record Store Recs, GRAMMY.com checks in with vinyl-loving artists to learn more about their favorite record stores and the gems they've found there.
Finding inspiration from tropical, danceable rhythms of their native Colombia, Bogotá-born, Brooklyn-based electropop duo Salt Cathedral create breezy, joyful music that's impossible to not dance to.
The band, consisting of Juliana Ronderos and Nicolas Losada, first met in the U.S. while attending Berklee College of Music. They first released music as Salt Cathedral in 2013 and were signed to the legendary electronic label Ultra Music in 2018. Their name is a nod to their shared hometown, inspired by the Catedral de Sal in Zipaquirá, an underground church built 200 meters underground in a former salt mine in the small town outside of Colombia's capital.
Preceded by three self-released EPs, their sunny debut album, CARISMA, featuring Ronderos' angelic vocals in both English and Spanish, dropped this May on Ultra Records. Originally slated to play SXSW and other major festivals and shows this year, and without these spaces to share and evolve their new music live, they decided to reimagine the tracks, with the help of some virtual collaborators, on the forthcoming CARISMA remix album. Their latest release, "CAVIAR *isolation mix*," offers a fun taste of the project.
For the latest edition of Record Store Recs, we caught up with the pair to get the scoop on their favorite record stores in New York and some of the gems they've found there. They also share useful tips on how to better support artists and business owners of color.
Please pick three to five record stores you love. (The links below have online shopping options.)
The Mixtape Shop in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Human Head Records in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Face Records in Brooklyn, N.Y.
What do you love about these shops? What kind of goodies have you've found there?
Most of our favorite record shops are around where we live (in New York). The first one is The Mixtape Shop. It's in Bed-Stuy and you can find eclectic and new records of every style of music. The place is amazing and it's one of the prettiest record shops we've ever encountered. The curation is very selective, so when you pick a record there, it's because the owners believe in it. We love their Brazilian and African selection.
Our second favorite record shop is Human Head Records. Overall, it's a great place to find good records but, what's remarkable about them is their Latin section. It's pretty big and you can find records from Fania or Discos Fuentes to a really obscure Cuban santero record. In my experience, I don't very often see record shops with a big Latin section so, for a fan of that kind of music it's great.
Our final recommendation is Face Records. It's a record shop located in Williamsburg and it has a big selection of Japanese music. If you want to go further with and beyond [Haruomi] Hosono, [Ryuichi] Sakamoto or Yellow Magic Orchestra, this is place to go deep into Japanese music.
Sun Ra vinyl | Photo: Salt Cathedral
For at least one of your favorite shops, share a recent record or two you bought there and what you love about the record/artist.
I got Sun Ra's Astro Black (1973) and Mariah's Utakata No Hibi (1983) from The Mixtape Shop. Those two records opened my mind about the possibilities and perspectives of music. With those two records, I realized that you can challenge people's views with music. That's pretty powerful.
What's an upcoming/recent release you have your eyes on picking up and why?
Nothing particularly, but we always check what [London's] Soundway Records is releasing. They have been very instructive to us and we pretty much love everything they had released.
A growing vinyl collection | Photo: Salt Cathedral
How would you describe your record collection in a few words? When did you first start collecting?
I started collecting just a year ago. I wasn't into collecting at all [before]. I love music and I realized that collecting is one of the many ways to discover new music, from the past or present. I would describe my collection as eclectic; all over the place and driven by curiosity.
What was the first CD and vinyl you remember buying?
What can music fans do to better support artists and business owners of color?
One of the most useful resources to support Black artists directly is Bandcamp. There is an incredible site called blackbandcamp.info offering a crowdsourced list of Black artists on the platform, which music fans can search by genre and location. The beauty of Bandcamp really helps you find and buy directly from these artists, making sure that you're not supporting a big corporation or label but the actual musicians.
This article from Brooklyn Vegan is a great resource to find Black-owned record stores—it doesn't just list the record stores but speaks about their story. And the best way to support Black business owners is to research what is local to you, to your city or your neighborhood. We live in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, for example, and Black-owned restaurants and stores have signs that say so. Pay attention, and make sure that when you have the option, you choose to support a Black-owned business. The times are changing and the Black community needs all our support. Look to support local because small, family-owned and independent businesses need it the most.