ANTWERP VINYL LOVERS
Apparently, vinyl record sales hit a 25-year high in 2016. But what about Antwerp? Always wondered where suave Antwerp people find them vinyl bangers and classics? And what they listen to? We asked three vinyl collectors - two DJs and a record store worker - about their favorite go-to places and what they think about the vinyl culture in Antwerp.
Number of vinyl records: ca. 1.000
Genres: House, Techno, Electro, Dubstep, Drum & Bass, Jazz, Hip Hop
Location of collection: Living room
TIA: What’s your favorite vinyl record store in Antwerp?
Arne: Wally’s Groove World, close to the Roosevelplaats. Mostly because I worked there, so I have inside information about how the store works. The collection you will find there, is mainly second hand dance and obscure records, so you gotta dig dig dig! When I discover new electronical music online that I want to have on vinyl, I always check the Wally’s Groove World website first. If you’re lucky, you'll find a good copy. Not always in a perfect state, but definitely good enough to fully enjoy the record when you play it at home. One thing’s for sure: at Wally’s Groove World, if you dig deep, you’ll always find a golden record.
TIA: What are the good spots in Wally’s Groove World’s neighborhood?
Arne: The store’s close by the Rooseveltplaats, not exactly the most attractive neighborhood. So it’s cool to see how people make an effort to come to the shop. On the other hand, the store’s between the shopping street Meir and the student area, so you can go shop some more or hit a cool student bar for a drink.
TIA: What’s your favorite record in your collection and where did you find it?
Arne: Various – Invasion Of The Mysteron Killer Sounds Vol. 1 & 2 (Soul Jazz Records). Two compilation records full of digital dub and futuristic dancehall. Most tracks are instrumental or repetitive fragments of the 80s, 90s and 00s. It’s not everybody's style, but it always brings me in the mood before I head into the nightlife.
TIA: Why should vinyl lovers have to come to Antwerp?
Arne: Antwerp has record stores for everyone: different genres, both second hand and new releases.
TIA: Any tips you can give visitors that want to shop some records?
Arne: The nice thing about Antwerp is the fact that the city center is rather small, which makes that all the record stores are within walking distance. So you don't have to spend too much time walking around town. If you want to find real treasures, you better reserve a day to really search through all the records. Antwerp has a great amount of second hand record stores, so you have to have some persistence to find the really good records.
ERIK DE BEUKELAER
Stage name: böky bros
Number of vinyl records: ca. 1.200
Genres: jazz, elektronic, funk, world music, 60s, 70s, 80s
Last record you bought: Nicolas Jaar – Sirens
TIA: Where do you buy your records in Antwerp?
Erik: Tune Up, Coffee & Vinyl, Wally’s Groove World and actually: mostly the internet. I am a lazy record junkie. I buy the latest releases online.
TIA: What would you never buy on vinyl?
Erik: I’m not a big fan of remastered records. I go to record stores especially for original releases of older music.
TIA: Do you still hit the same stores as few years ago?
Erik: I used to go USA Import, but unfortunately they closed their doors in 2009.
TIA: What kind of records stores do you find in Antwerp?
Erik: Most of them have a lot of second hand music and then you have just about two boxes of new releases. I think we have very few stores who only sell electronical music on vinyl. The only exception is Wally’s Groove World. So that’s why I buy my records online. I also like vinyl stores like Coffee & Vinyl where you can just relax and drink a cup of coffee before or after the record hunt.
TIA: Are there any parties in Antwerp you would recommend to vinyl lovers?
Erik: Most parties in B a g g e r, at the Kattendijkdok, are with DJs who only spin vinyl. One of the next first B a g g e r parties coming up is actually my own: In the year XXXX - Psycho Killer. It’s the launch of a new party concept. Each edition, we play music of an other year. On the 27th of January we'll go to the year 1977. Indeed the year of Psycho Killer, the Talking Head’s number one hit. Feel free to join!
Stage name: Arno Lemons
Number of vinyl records: ca. 700
Genres: House, Disco, Funk, Soul, Afro, Reggae, 80s Synth, Electro, Experimental, my auntie’s Belgian records and Gaston & Leo (famous Belgian comedy duo, peaked during Belgium's golden age of television)
Last record you bought: DMX Crew - Escape-MCP
TIA: Why do you work with vinyl records?
Arno: Because I used to lose all my CDs and USB-sticks when I had to play. Nowadays, I also get masters of records that still have to come out, so I can’t make it to let them steal my things. You don't want those records to pup up online. A lot of records in my collection you can only find on vinyl. Independent music labels are fighting against the unfair streaming services and the way they pay the artists, so they only bring out music on vinyl. For me, it’s simple: if I think the track on a record doesn't compare to the cost, I buy it. Vinyl is, in a way, more personal for me than just a Spotify or Apple Music account, because you own the records, you're not just streaming them.
TIA: What are your go-to places in Antwerp to buy records?
Arno: I used to go a lot to Wally’s Groove World, but their latest offer has disappointed me somehow. I just think they don’t offer my genres anymore. I recommend Chelsea Records in Kammenstraat, but only if the owner is in a good mood. He sometimes looks a bit frustrated and his store is a bit chaotic. I also go to Coffee & Vinyl, but there you’re not aloud to listen to the records you want to buy and things can be overpriced. I also recently discovered a new record store called The Vinyl Touch.
TIA: What’s your favorite record?
Arno: That’s a terrible question! You won’t ask a mom to choose between her kids, will you? I will say that every record lets me think or dream about a situation, a moment, person or place and that the record that reminds me of my girlfriend is therefore worth mentioning: Idris Muhammad's Could heaven ever be like this. It’s not my favorite, but my girlfriend definitely is.
TIA: Would you describe Antwerp as a good place for vinyl lovers? Why (not)?
Arno: Whatever my personal issue with the city’s vinyl stores is, Antwerp is definitely a must-see for vinyl lovers. Antwerp still has a great nightlife where a lot of club residents keep playing with records or at least try to combine vinyl with mp3. Also, most clubs provide you with a nice DJ booth, ideal to play spin vinyl records without breaking the needle, feedback or monitors above the booth. You still have some exceptions, but if I look to other Belgian cities where I play, Antwerp stands out.
I don’t want to whine about it; a record store tour in Antwerp can still be fun, but I don’t find what I want anymore. You also have vinyl markets in Antwerp, but then again, the records are second hand and you will never find a lot of up-to-date records.
TIA: To which parties do vinyl lovers have to go?
Arno: The organization in Antwerp that tries its best to honor vinyl, is without doubt Abondance, our colleages in the niche of funk, boogie, disco, soul and house. Also Lucid Festival residents Flo ris and Tenor are doing their best to collect some good vinyl. The A-tower (Klub Goud and Bar Gloed), Bar Rodin and Ampere are also places where you'll find DJs playing vinyl. Last but not least, I want to mention my own party concept: Vice City, my baby I share with Tim Vandewalle. Our last resident Lil Lawaw is trying to build up his vinyl collection. I must say, he’s doing a great job and sometimes I’m even feeling jealous of some of the records in his collection.
Addresses of the mentioned record stores
Wally’s Groove World: Lange Nieuwstraat 126, 2000 Antwerp. Open 11 am – 6.30 pm.
Tune Up: Melkmarkt 17, 2000 Antwerp. Open 11 am – 6 pm.
Coffee & Vinyl: Volkstraat 45, 2000 Antwerp. Open 11 am – 6 pm.
Chelsea Records: Kloosterstraat 10, 2000 Antwerp. Open 11am – 6 pm.
The Vinyl Touch: Sint Katelijnevest 35, 2000 Antwerp. Open 11 am – 6 pm.
Vinyl party concepts & clubs
Text by Helen Van den Poel
Pics by Anders Vranken (Arne Geysen), Erik De Beukelaer (himself) and Michael Lombarts (Arno Lemmons)