[ Alabama Tapes is series of mixes and interviews curated by Easytiiger Records for Alabama Hotel Vintage Shop. ]
ET.: You remember how was your first real impression with music, specially at that point you had a sparkle and thought “hmmm I might try doing this”?
Ben: I was always into music growing up. My dad would make me mixtapes and I was obsessed with 80’s pop music when I was very young. Michael Jackson, The Bangles, Tears For Fears, etc. When I was 11 years old, my friend let me borrow and record his cassette single of Nirvana “Come As You Are” and that was probably the first music that felt like it was my own thing. Within a few years I was learning guitar and playing in a band. I didn’t really get into DJing or dance music until much later, but the music obsession started very young.
ET.: How and when did you start playing in a band and what was the most amazing times you had playing in a band?
Ben: My first band started when I was probably 13 or 14. We were into grunge and 90’s pop-punk. We were not very good. Much later I ended up playing in an emo / hardcore band that toured all over the world, and I had some amazing times playing in Europe and Japan, even though I was not that excited by the music by then. Some of the early Lemonade (photo) shows were my favorite, where we were playing tiny bars and parties and everyone just danced like crazy. Also playing Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona was incredible.
ET.: How did Co Op 87 started? Who are the people behind the store?
Ben: Co-op started when myself and 2 other guys, who had all worked together at another store, had the opportunity to take over our space in the building owned by Mexican Summer. One of the guys was Mike Sniper, who owns the label Captured Tracks, and the other guy is Mike Catalano AKA Mike Hunchback, who’s played in a bunch of bands. We had all talked about opening our own store at some point, but when the space became available, we all jumped at the chance. Mike Sniper has since left, so it’s just 2 owners now.
ET.: How do you see the store in the NYC’s vinyl scene today? Who are your costumers in the most?…djs, hardcore collectors, casual shoppers?
Ben: There are a LOT of record stores in NY right now. There’s been a lot of press about some of the older Manhattan stores closing, but a ton of new stores have since opened in Brooklyn. They’re all a bit different. I think we try to have a little bit of everything. It’s tough to run a store that focuses on one particular type of music, so even though it’s a small space, we try to have something for everyone. Our customers are a big mix. Everyone from very serious collectors, to people who just got a turntable and are starting their collection. Lots of tourists too.
ET.: As an expert digger, what are your golden tips for first-time collectors?
Ben: Take chances. Don’t assume that cheap records are bad, or that expensive records are good. Hunting for the records that are well known and that everyone else is looking for is not going to be very rewarding. Don’t walk into a record store looking for something specific. Let the records find you.
ET.: Do you have connections with brazillian music? Could you name some artists you might like?
Ben: When I was a bit younger, in the mid-2000’s, there was a lot of interest in tropicalia. Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, etc. I definitely spent time listening to that stuff, although not as much anymore. These days I always listen to 80’s Brazilian pop records that pass through the store, looking for the more funky or balearic sounding songs. I just discovered the song “Doce Misterio” by Fafa De Belem (photo), which I love. It has an incredible bass line. I have no idea if it’s well known in Brazil, but it definitely isn’t well known here.ET.: What are your favourite spots in WBurg to: play; drink; shop; get away from everything?
Ben: Williamsburg is so crowded with tourists and rich people, I tend to avoid it. I spend more time in Greenpoint (the store is right on the border), and go out to spots in Bushwick a lot. For playing, partying, and dancing, I really like Good Room, Trans Pecos, Bossa Nova Civic Club, and of course parties that happen in “secret” lofts and warehouses. I like eating at Greenpoint Fish (photo). Transmitter Park in Greenpoint is a good place to chill and doesn’t get too crowded or crazy. Of course The Lot Radio is one of the best things to happen in the neighborhood, and a fun place to hang out even when I’m not playing.