The Mindful Bard recently stumbled on record store par excellence Death of Vinyl (La Fin du Vinyle), a stunning reminder of the perennial cultural value of independent record stores.
“Record store people (the nice ones mind you, not the condescending music fascists) are among the coolest people on this planet. Take Steve Ludvik, a tall drink of water with hair half his height and a serene spirit that practically spews positive energy, who co-owns Montreal’s Death of Vinyl (La Fin Du Vinyle) with Dan Hadley . . .
A friend of Steve’s once described the store as ‘an oasis of cool in a world gone mad,’ which is completely apt. The place is dimly lit but somehow full of colour, atmosphere, and the most amazing collection of music– vinyl, cassettes, even CDs (no snotty purists here)– and books imaginable . . .” (Read the rest here.)
The rest of the interview with Steve Ludvik can be seen below. But first here’s a clip of Steve in the store being tested on both musical knowledge and coolness. (As you can see, he passed with flying colours.)
MB: So explain about the art on the walls.
STEVE: We came up with this about six or seven years ago. We feature local artists once a month. I love artwork, and I love supporting the artists. I know what it’s like as an artist trying to do a gig in a gallery where they take 50% as a commission, so we don’t take a commission here. It gives us an opportunity to have nice artwork up every month. It gives people something different to see when they’re visiting. We have a night to celebrate once a month.
MB: Tell me about your childhood. What conditions might have brought you to what you’re doing now?
STEVE: Music has always been something that I loved as a child, I wanted to go from listening to actually playing, just like the people on my records. Some kids go the sports route;I went the musical instrument route. Sports is competitive, something I dislike, but music is endless and much more rewarding considering its endlessness. I’ve also met so many wonderful people growing up from playing and listening to music, and still do!
My folks were already older when the ’60s came to fruition, so the hip factor was pretty low at my house in the ’70s and ’80s. We didn’t grow up with music– we grew up with Gerorge Balcan’s voice booming out of the radio every morning.
I have a brother who’s a couple of years older than me. We didn’t really relate musically; he was into Madonna, Eurythmics, etc. I was a rock kid. I loved the crazy images on the t-shirts of the other kids at school– Iron Maiden, Judas Priest . . . Heavy Metal was starting to become big in Canada around ’82-’83.
MB: Did you grow up here in Quebec?
STEVE: Yes. Not far from here, actually. I was listening to a lot of things as a teenager. In the early ’80s I was listening to Michael Jackson, like everyone else. I was also listening to a lot of electro music. Breakdancing was hot and heavy (I couldn’t do it, mind you, but I loved the music). I loved Iron Maiden and Motorhead and all these British Heavy Metal bands. They weren’t just making a racket, they were really playing it!
I really came into myself when I became a musician. While I was listening to all my records all I wanted to do was what they were doing. Playing along to AC/DC and meeting older musicians who knew a bit more and were willing to share the knowledge. All I wanted to do was jam and play; it’s what I do to this day.
MB: Do you see a difference between how musicians think about careers in music now, and what they might have felt in the ’60s and ’70s?
STEVE: In 1965, for example, there were not as many guitar players as there were in 1975, especially when The Beatles blew up and all that. Everybody wanted to pick up a guitar. Fast forward now to ’85; not only now do you have lots more guitar players and musicians, but they’re playing a whole bunch of different styles of music as well, where it used to just be A, B, and C back in the ’60s. Also, the world gets bigger and bigger over the decades, of course, and nowadays it’s so easy to record a record right in your own bedroom. You can do a full album and put it out online from there!
MB: Can you talk about your musical career?
STEVE: I’ve been playing guitar since the mid ’80s. A lot of my friends who were my age weren’t that advanced, so I started to hang out with musicians who were a little older than me, and that opened doors to playing in bands. I was playing clubs around Montreal at 15-16 years old. Presently I play in a rock group called “Eagle Tears” and another Heavy Metal band called “Mad Parish.”
MB: So did you work and play music, or was music your work?
STEVE: I’ve always maintained a steady job that would allow me to do a bit of touring. So neither would be compromised.
MB: Do you experience this as a creative process (collecting records and so on)?
STEVE: I listen to 8-10 hours of music per day at the shop. Perhaps 95% of it is stuff I’ve never heard before. I’m inspired constantly, and that stimulation carries on to my endeavors as a musician.
MB: Do you meet a lot of interesting people here?
STEVE: All the time! Having folks come up to the counter with their choices always brings light to a conversation either relating to their tastes or just chatting about life. Music brings everyone together.
I’m not that guy behind the counter who claims to know everything. If someone can tell me about something they’re purchasing that I don’t know about, then fantastic, I want to learn about it too!