Thursday, February 9, 2012

Getting To Know You: Som Records

Record Stores. Record labels. We all love them, obviously, but just how much do you actually know about your favorite merchants of vinyl and signers of your new favorite bands? In Getting To Know You, we'll all get good and cozy with some of the coolest folks around, both in greater DC and beyond. Trust me, these are definite persons of interest, y'all.

Gamely kicking off the series is Som Records' fearless head honcho Neal Becton. I absolutely love to go paw through Becton's carefully-stocked bins for goodies, and more often than not end up leaving the place with a much lighter bank account (but a much healthier record collection). In the humble opinion of yours truly, Som is exactly what a record store ought to be, and the record-buying public of DC should consider ourselves very lucky to have that little basement gem in our clutches. Not to mention that given its' stellar location, it's the perfect place to peruse either before a show at the Black Cat or before drinks at any number of the 14th Street watering holes. And so, let's all pull up a chair and get to know Neal and his place a bit better, shall we?

Fuzzy Logic: When did Som officially open its doors?
Neal Becton: 2005.

FL: What made you want to open your own record store?
NB: Records were taking over my apartment! I had them in my living room, in closets, in my bedroom as well as in my storage unit. Something had to be done before "Hoarders" came calling. That and I wanted to be my own boss.

FL: What do you most love about your store?
NB: I love the variety of great music we carry and the selection. I don't just sell dance records, or just punk records, or just new releases, or whatever, I sell it all. Also due to our smaller size we're forced to edit what we put on the shelves which means you don't have to dig through crates and crates of chud to find something interesting. There might only be 75 records in our reggae section but they're going to be 75 really good reggae records!

FL: You're a buyer of used records. What's your buying philosophy/what are you always most eager to buy and keep the store stocked with?
NB: I'm always eager to find (1) good records and (2) good records that people actually want to buy. Some times I find good records that people don't know they want to buy (yet) and those are OK too!

FL: What makes Som special, in your humble opinion?
NB: Our passion. I spend at least five days a week (usually more) actively looking for records. I hardly ever turn down potential collection calls, even ones that sound terrible. Somebody might have 1,000 trashed records but if I find 2 or 3 good ones in the pile then it was worth it.

FL: When you're not in DC, where do you most enjoy shopping for vinyl?
NB: For straight up record stores - New York, Sao Paulo, San Francisco, Sydney, Chicago, Richmond (VA), and Los Angeles are my faves. The shopping right here in DC (Metro area) ain't bad either! For flea markets and thrift stores I'd say Baltimore, Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, Ft. Lauderdale/Miami and Rio de Janeiro. Medium sized cities in the Midwest always seem to turn up surprisingly good records.

FL: What would you say to someone who hadn't ever been to Som to lure them in?
NB: "Try it you'll like it," and "if you don't see anything you want today come back tomorrow and they're will definitely be new records for you to look at."

For more on Som, be sure to peep the official site, stop by the store on a regular basis, and look out for Neal at various record fairs in the greater DC area.

[photo by Megan Petty]

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