A Chat with the Creators of The Record Store Book
By Mike Spitz (photographer)
Q: Did you know right away you wanted to use film vs. digital photos?
A: Film definitely was my first choice because the theme was nostalgic, about records and tapes and everything analog — so to shoot stores about the tangibility of music in a digital format — did not make sense. Looks better on film too, more grain, more imperfections. Vinyl records and record stores are not slick, perfect, clean things like a digital image.
Q: What are you most proud of within this project?
A: I am most proud of being able to come up with a marketable and popular concept that’s never been done before and develop it and follow through to the end, make it become a reality, and that there is interest from people outside myself — that the project was an easy sell. I did not have to twist arms and hold a gun to people’s head or spend ten minutes trying to convince them of the value of the project, they got it right away.
Q: What would you say is the overall theme of this book?
A: The overall theme is about not allowing the new world of digital technology, cell phones, computers, robots, machines and the increasingly impersonal and distant nature of our lives and our culture take over and consume us. That the past, and the things we can touch, feel, hold in our hands, have value. That people, interpersonal connections, community and works of art — be it a record, the cover art, a tape, the time spent writing the songs and recording them — cannot be overlooked and dismissed.
rebecca Villaneda – writer
Q: What was one of your more favorite interviews?
A: I would have to say my favorite was with Richard Sneed of Norwalk Records. He was so open and told me a love story. He began working at Norwalk at age 14, and Lillian was one of the owners. He left for the Vietnam War, and when he came back to California, he began working at Norwalk again. Well, Lillian was no longer married, and fate took its course and they married and worked the store together until Lillian died in 2012. When he shared this with me he began to cry and I’ll never forget how I felt when he opened up to me. That’s one of my favorite things about journalism and interviewing people: I feel honored that people allow me into their lives and open up to me.
Q: How did the collaboration work?
A: Mike, for the most part, made the first introduction. He went in, did his thing and then let the store owners know to expect me. He made them feel comfortable with the project, let them pose for him, or not, when he was taking candids, and then I called and let them know I wanted to hear their history. Each interview is documented — whether recorded or via email. If I recorded it, I then transcribed every word, and then created their story to accompany Mike’s images. He also gave me notes on stores I couldn’t get to, which helped when describing the store’s interiors and life line, i.e. customers, music genres, décor, and personalities.
Q: From your perspective as a writer and journalist, what makes this book unique and different?
A: The book is a first of its kind. No one has delved into the lives of these 50 independent record storeowners like we have. A lot of research went into this book and the history of vinyl in Los Angeles is threaded into this book. Anyone who is interested in vinyl records, L.A., music, entrepreneurship, collecting and everything in between will enjoy this book.