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Our visit to the L.A. record shop
words by Liz Pelly / photos by Faye Orlove

Last week I visited L.A. for the first time, with little agenda other than to see the Pacific Ocean, hang out with friends, and visit record stores. I had a pretty long list – Amoeba, Origami Vinyl, Burger Records – but Vacation Vinyl was my first stop.

Outside the store was a sign advertising “new and used vinyl” plus LPs by Pharmakon, Retox, Converge, and Alice in Chains. Inside, the shop was lined with wooden boxes filled with mostly “rock” and “heavy” though there were sections for “experimental”, “goth/industrial”, “beats”, plus folk, psych, blues, and more. In the middle of the shop is a table covered in over 100 tapes. Faye and I were particularly excited to see the new 7-inch by Slutever prominently displayed, and to stumble upon some tapes released by Ascetic House.

“One of our owners owns for the record label Hydra Head so we get exclusives through them and that means we have a pretty extensive metal, punk, and black metal sections,” said Greh Holger, the clerk who was on shift during our visit. He’s worked at the shop for two of the four years it has existed. “We also carry a lot of experimental records here.”

“Everything in the shop is something someone who works here would want to own,” he told us. “But we’re also a neighborhood shop so we try to carry stuff that people in the neighborhood would want to buy.”

Greh told us about a label he runs, Chondritic Sound, that has put out tapes by “experimental, industrial, noise and synthesizer projects from around the world” since 2001, like Pharmakon and Marshtepper.

“I think everyone who works here plays music,” Greh said. “One of the owners used to run a record label. And one of the owners currently runs a record label. There’s definitely a love for music here.”

Greh told us about some recent in-stores at Vacation, like one with Converge a few months ago, and others with Hoax and OFF. They were all pretty insane to imagine considering the size of the shop.

“We have a pretty long history of doing in-stores here,” he told us. “The Hoax show was probably the craziest show we had here. The Converge show we thought would be the craziest, and it was pretty nuts, but Hoax had kids flipping over the record bins. It was nuts.”

Before we left, our conversation naturally drifted towards the state of the L.A. music scene, and the city in general.

“I really like The Present Moment, Lee Noble, Silent Servant, Image of Life, Youth Code, and Bad News,” he told us, when we asked about his favorite local bands. “I lived in the Detroit area for 13 years before I moved to LA. Every day I wake up and am excited to live here. The weather, the people, the vibe. Everyone is pretty relaxed. The big complaint people have about L.A. is that people are pretty fame hungry and move to Hollywood to become famous. And you do run into some of that. But I feel like I’ve managed to avoid a lot of that because I don’t hang out on the Sunset strip. I work at a record store in Silver Lake and it’s really mellow. I love it here.”

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