Based in the heart of Brunswick, Victoria, Record Paradise is home to one of the biggest pre-loved and new vinyl collections in Melbourne. As the name suggests, Record Paradise is an exotic space where music lovers can escape and spin their favourite tunes. Co-owner Renae Maxwell chats with Mixdown about her most memorable encounters at Record Paradise, and reflects on the importance of community in the music scene.
How long have you been running Record Paradise? And how long has it been around for?
The store was established in 1955. Warren [Warburton] established the Record Store at 100 Chapel Street in St Kilda and that was during the transition of 78 records to LP records. He actually closed down that store and reopened it in the 90s. We took over in 2008, so it has been about 8 years now. From being a second-hand record store that was selling a few new CDs, we are now probably about 50/50 with new vinyl.
What is the most prized record in your collection?
The first record that I ever bought was a Boy George 7”. I remember going to Sun ower Records and buying a Boy George 7”, but I can’t remember which one. It might have been Karma Chameleon or something; I would have been about 13. The most prized record in my collection is a Rowland S. Howard Teenage Snuff Film that a dealer sold to me – he was actually a bookseller and Rowland used to buy books or trade records for books – and he had a couple of copies that Rowland had signed and he sold that to me.
Tell us about the most interesting encounter you have had in the store.
Things happen all of the time. People drop records off, so I guess a few stars drop in all of the time. I had Mikey Young [Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Total Control] lying down on the ground fixing a turntable with a soldering gun. To me that was a moment I would never forget. It was pretty comical and funny.
Joshua Homme once came in, that was pretty exciting! He filmed an episode of Rage here in the shop. He was great, a bit like a superhero... he had this glow to him. People like Marlon Williams have played here and just sung like an Angel. I remember it was an industry showcase with about 60 people here, and normally it is pretty chatty and everyone has a couple of drinks, and [his voice] just silenced the room.
How important do you think the idea of community is to record stores? And how important is you community of customers to you?
I gravitated towards this because mine, and my partner’s life has been surrounded by music. It’s how we express ourselves. It’s where we choose to spend the money we earn. Fortunately enough we have been able to combine our business with what we our passionate about.
We both do community radio, and have so for 15 years, and for us it is an important part of connecting. Even though doing a graveyard shift, your isolated from other people, there is this connection to people who are into the same thing as you. I guess I have always felt this isolation and connection at the same time, and use my love for music as a way to be able to break that down a little bit. It might sound weird because I’m in a room full of strangers, and somehow I’m feeling really connected.
The store, however as accidental as the name was, it is this sort of exotic space that we can go to where we are allowed to connect with art and literature through a different means as apposed to writing. I rely totally on people coming into the shop. I connect with people who drop records off. I don’t read press releases. I pick up on the influences from the people I talk to. For me, I feel like there are a lot of people like me, and this why this place can exist. It’s why I will dedicate my life to making sure spaces like this aren’t located only in a virtual realm.
You stock Audio-Technica turntables. What is it that you like about them, and why do you stock Audio-Technica?
When we first took over the store from Warren, he was a person who supplied styli and did some minor turntables repairs. He passed on some of the sacred knowledge to me. From that, Audio-Technica has always stood out as a good, solid brand; consistently producing quality styli over the years.
They released the LP120 about five years back, and that was recommended to us by one of the styli suppliers because we do community radio and some DJing, in fact the layout is virtually the same as the Technics 1200. It’s got USB, it can play 78s – which is important for us – and it is easy for us to get replacement cartridges for. Something that concerns me is the lower end turntables that use cartridges and needles that are sub-standard and can damage your records, and I wouldn’t recommend that. Audio-Technica is a brand we trust, and we have had our listening desks for 5 years now and it’s still going strong.