Digging for ‘black gold’: Lukas’ guide to Copenhagen’s best record shops
In my first guide for CBS WIRE, I would like to share my passion for discovering music on vinyl by inviting you to a virtual tour of my five favorite places in the Danish capital that are devoted to the sale of black gold. I have been collecting records for approximately five years now and the music I’ve bought on vinyl has far outnumbered my digital purchases in the last three years.
Without a doubt, vinyl records have experienced a massive comeback in the last couple of years with sales surging and many classic albums being reissued. The reason I visit record shops frequently though is not related to that trend at all. Personally, I like to discover a pre-screened selection of music that the owner of a shop considers interesting, which therefore mirrors her or his personal preferences. As I am always trying to find novel tunes for my DJ sets, I got frustrated doing this online.
I often found myself caught in a loop created by the algorithms of YouTube or Spotify with suggestions being very similar and repetitive and thereby preventing me from going deeper and finding really interesting music.
In a record store, however, this is unlikely to happen. Especially if there are crates of unsorted, second-hand records. Also, the decision-making process of picking a record and listening to it are influenced by factors like the cover, hand-written remarks on the label or simply the fact that there is no text at all on unofficial promos or test pressings.
My first encounter with Can Family was after I’d been at the CBS International Applicants Day in February 2017. Having read about the shop before, this was the perfect opportunity to pay it a visit. When I arrived, I entered a very cozy space that can be described as a hybrid of an art gallery and a miniature record store. On my first visit, Martin and his kids hung out in the store enjoying take-away Asian food while happily mingling with customers. I felt comfortable immediately and started browsing through the crates. I saw myself confronted with a selection of music that was limited in number but very deep in terms of the different genres. Disco and Soul albums to hard-to-find Detroit Techno records, as well as everything from World music in the broadest sense, to Italo records and obscure and experimental music can turn up here. What adds to the experience of digging at Can is the beautiful interior of the shop. Ceramic sculptures, illustrations, posters and pictures spread across the colorful walls. Hidden details, like the hand-written price tags on the records and the presence of Martin, as a very welcoming music enthusiast who is not shy to share his knowledge, makes every visit a special one. My most recent purchases include a mini-album with only five tracks by Strange Affair, this is one of them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkGJY7cRXTo.
Tullinsgade 5, 1618 København V
One of the shops that specializes in electronic club music is Dorma 21 in Vesterbro. The owner, Jacob, is very knowledgeable about Techno, Dub Techno, Minimal and House music. Beyond that, Dorma is always good for finding interesting second-hand records: A remix EP of some Sugarbabes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb5yfWRJ6Ps) tracks that have been transformed into club-ready breakbeat and UK-style dancefloor weapons is just one example. The shop is meticulously ordered and the well-labeled price tags, often with a personal comment about the release by Jacob, provide a personal touch. Also, sometimes, if you’re lucky, there are some hard-to-find records for sale: My personal favorite is a limited press of a split EP on the Detroit-based label NDATL (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_20Wt0kNas) with the label being hand-written. When you plan to visit Dorma, make sure you calculate enough time to dig. Speaking from experience, one hour is often not enough.
Oehlenschlægersgade 70, 1663 København V
This store in Nørrebro is my latest discovery for digging. I found the store by randomly running into Anton at one of BTF´s (http://www.backtofuture.dk/) events at Carlsberg Byen this summer. On my first visit to Palmspree I found myself in a relatively small, classic Copenhagen-style semi-basement store in Stefansgade filled with loads of different items for sale. From books to clothing, pictures, posters and records – there’s a lot to discover. Like most of the other shops, the selection of records was limited. But it doesn’t mean there are slim pickings: Afro, Latin, Hip Hop and Beats, local Techno, House, Ambient, Jazz and one crate filled with mixed second-hand records – that´s what to expect in Palmspree. One record that definitely stuck out was an EP on Fuego International, a Parisian label with four rather mellow, yet infectious Electro tunes with housy flavors (https://soundcloud.com/fuego-international/sets/automatic-tasty-confessions-of). The shop recently celebrated its fifth anniversary with free coffee for everyone. I’m already looking forward to celebrating Plamspree’s 10th anniversary.
Stefansgade 10, 2200 København N
Percy Records is without doubt the best choice for digging for club music from Denmark. Recent releases of Danish and Copenhagen-based artists as well as new international releases are available there. Also, a small but well-curated second-hand section can be found at Percy’s. The selection is quite limited, yet broad, comparable to Can, but with a different focus. You can find nice Afro records next to Ambient and experimental electronic music. In a nutshell, the appealing interior and the chill atmosphere guarantee a nice digging experience. From time to time there are in-store sessions by local and international DJs or release parties with cheap beer and pølser. My favorite purchases from Percy are a recently released reissue by Future 3 (https://soundcloud.com/oencph/sets/future-3-the-boy-from-west-1) on Øen Records, a local label – and one EP by Århus-based House wonderboy DJ Central (https://soundcloud.com/help-recordings/help011-dj-central-liud-ep-previews).
Heimdalsgade 6B, 2200 København N
Last but not least, Sound Station caters for almost every musical taste out there. The shop stocks a huge bandwidth of records, starting from Classic Rock albums to African and Latin music. The focus is more on new records and LPs, but nonetheless some electronic stuff and a good selection of second-hand Soul and Disco records are waiting to be discovered. A funny coincidence happened when I visited the store the first time: I discovered a certificate for a music award given to a Danish artist during the ARS Electronica Festival (https://ars.electronica.art/error/de/program/), an annual event that takes place in my hometown, Linz (Austria). When I asked an employee about it, he replied that the artist was a friend of his who wasn’t too interested in winning awards and he handed the certificate over to the store to put on the wall for decoration. My favorite record that I bought there is without doubt an EP by the Gibson Brothers featuring the track ‘Oh what a life’. Fun fact: An edit of this one was released by Gerd Janson and Shan on Gerd´s label Running Back shortly after I discovered the original track: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23dZye0-AyM).
Gammel Kongevej 94, 1850 Frederiksberg