Photo: Thomas Powers
Record Store Recs: Luna Shadows Invites Us Into Her Los Angeles Vinyl Daydream
With the unprecedented global disruption of COVID-19, it's important to support the music community however we can. With Record Store Recs, GRAMMY.com checks in with vinyl-loving artists to learn more about their favorite record stores and the gems they've found there so that you can find some new favorite artists and shops.
L.A.-based alt-pop and visual artist Luna Shadows has contributed her creative energy to outside artists like The Naked And Famous, assisting with writing, producing, engineering, vocals, and visuals on their latest album, 2020's Recover. On Feb. 12, she'll share a project 100 percent of her own making—her debut full-length album, Digital Pacific.
She envisioned the 18-track project as a California road trip, beginning at her home in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, across the city toward the ocean, into the desert, and back home. Shadows has stated it "explores the impact of technology on relationships." The album's lead single, "nite swim," recontextualizes Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, placing the star-crossed lovers in modern times.
For the latest Record Store Recs, the "malibu bb" artist takes us on a trip to her favorite vinyl shops across the globe, diving deep into the treasure trove of her two local L.A. digs. Read on to learn about the records she's picked up there and her approach to crate-digging.
What are three to five record stores you love?
Amoeba Music in Los Angeles. It's the most iconic record store in LA. and my go-to spot.
Permanent Records in Los Angeles. My neighborhood record store.
Rough Trade in New York and London. Classic spots for indie records.
Real Groovy in Auckland, New Zealand. An international gem and the former employer of my sometimes bandmates Thom [Powers] and Alisa [X] of The Naked And Famous.
Record: Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumors' | Photo: Thomas Powers
Why do you love these shops? What goodies have you found there?
It's been a while since I've been to a record store in person due to COVID-19, but what I miss most is the flow-state that you can get into while looking through seas of titles. I have so many amazing memories of times I went to record stores with my friends. We all split up, didn't speak for hours, ended up together at the check-out counter, and finally spent the whole car ride home talking about our finds.
Permanent Records, which is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 but taking online order, is my local record store in Echo Park. Previously, that space housed Origami Records. I go there all the time to buy records and buy supplies to ship my own records.
In non-pandemic times, I went there to see local artists perform. Additionally, the bar across the street, El Prado, used to host Origami's Record Store Night, which was always a blast. Past and present, the stores [Permanent and Origami] are both a staple of the Echo Park community and such sentimental spots for me personally that I included the store and a former employee in the lyrics of my song "Hallelujah California:" "Then we'll roll to Origami Record Night/ Talk about our vinyl lives/ Emily lends a beat…"
Records: Beach House's 'Teen Dream' & Vashti Bunyan's 'Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind' | Photo: Thomas Powers
Please share a recent record or two you bought at one of your favorite shops. What do you love about that record or artist?
When I moved to Los Angeles in 2008, I drove to the nearest Bed Bath and Beyond in Hollywood on a quest to get some sheets. While I was parking a few blocks away, I saw giant red letters lined with neon lights that read "Amoeba Music." It was one of my very first days in L.A., and totally by coincidence, I found myself—a musician—standing in front of what I now recognize as L.A.'s most iconic record store. Of course, I went inside and left with a bunch of records, posters, and other memorabilia. It was such a warm welcome to this city.
Over the years, Amoeba became my go-to spot whenever my favorite artists put out new records. Perhaps the most memorable day was when St. Vincent released Strange Mercy [in 2011]. I showed up at the store to buy the record, and the cashier handed me a ticket to a secret show down the street. This was pretty early on in her career, and I got to see her perform to a crowd of around 100 people or so.
It has always been a dream of mine to see my own vinyl in Amoeba. Sadly, the original iconic location just closed, but they plan to open a new Hollywood location, so perhaps my Amoeba dreams will live on.
Records: The Japanese House's 'Still,' Bon Iver's 'Blood Bank' | Photo: Thomas Powers
What upcoming or recent release you have your eye on?
Fenne Lily's Breach. I absolutely adore this record. She's an underrated, upcoming artist with a bright future. Her record has a warm, intimate sound that I know will sound beautiful on vinyl. Something I've noticed while collecting vinyl: my favorite music and my favorite records can be different. When it comes to vinyl, I tend to prefer warm, textured, and personal LPs. For "brighter" sounding records, I prefer digital listening. Fenne Lily is an example of where that Venn diagram overlaps: my favorite type of music and my favorite kind of vinyl.
Records: Broken Social Scene's 'You Forgot It In People,' SOMBEAR's 'Love You In The Dark' | Photo: Thomas Powers
What's your approach to crate-digging? Is it the cover that grabs you, or do you shop for specific artists?
It really depends! In the past, I spent more time just browsing—in that case, yes, cool cover art would have major sway over me. I used this method in the classical section in Amoeba. All the classical records are a few bucks each, so sometimes I would choose the ones with the most exciting cover art. I found some beautiful music that way.
As an artist, I often spend just as much time creating visuals as I do music, so I really appreciate when vinyl art goes this extra mile. I feel like half the experience of a great record is going through all the liner notes and finding all the Easter eggs.
These days, I tend to know what I want. I am definitely on a mission when I go into a record store; my dust allergy can't take hours of crate digging anymore. I get too sneezy! I also often enjoy ordering directly from artists when that's the best way to support them.