What’s up Bag Messengers and music lovers everywhere? This is DJ Apt One reporting from Philly, just back from traversing the great cities of Europe – DJing in Paris and London and environs but also doing what DJs do best, stuffing my bag full of so much dusty vinyl in Berlin, Barcelona and beyond that I thought I might have to start throwing away clothing just to find a place to put it all! Figured I’d debrief with my buddies at Tucker and Bloom, since I lugged a crispy green North to South Messenger Bag prototype with me and took it to battle. So I’m here to give you a rundown on my favorite spots in the EU to find all the gems to put in your bag.
I hopped the U-Bahn from the artists paradise and warehouse-all-night odyssey of Freidrichshain over to Kreuzberg and after a quick stop at the Biergarten for a tall Hefewiezen, I spent almost a whole afternoon at the gigantic SpaceHall shop. This is the place for twelve inches – dance music specifically. Three big rooms of wax and an adjacent CD store to boot. Takes a while to get through. While the huge techno room is definitely the draw, for me, the draw here was the nice collection of pricey but hard-to-find German and Dutch disco 12 inches from the 80s.
My buddies Dee Dee Hey and DJ Moar of Venice Beach hipped me to Betino’s, which is as much a barber-shop style hangout for DJs as it is a record store. Tucked in the poppin 11th Arrondisement, this place is all about the funk and soul. Their selection of modern, vinyl-only re-edits is really hard to top.
Best find – Joubert Singers – “Stand On The Word Remixes”
I got rolled to Music Avenue after the crew from the shop came out to my show at Panic Room in Paris. I wasn’t planning on dropping by – at this point in the tour I was wondering how much more vinyl I was willing to lug on trains, planes and automobiles. I was glad I came through. Unlike most European record spots, this spot blended the “curated” shelves with some good bargain bin action. The 12s were pretty great too – good reggae and of course, my favorite digs – disco. For DJs on the road – they’ve got equipment in there as well, in case you need to replace anything you’ve lost or broken along your travels.
Best find – Firefly – “Your Door?”
Flashback (London) Essex Road has some good shops, and Flashback doesn’t disappoint, except when you find the “only 5 records at the listening station, one listening session only” direction by the turntable. I guess it keeps it moving but I wanna know what the hell I’m buying when you’re charging London prices. Anyway, well-curated selection at this spot, including lots of good funk and soul and some really nice English-pressed 12” 45 RPM disco joints. In case you haven’t figured out by now, I don’t even stop near the “Rock” section, so it’s anybody’s guess how good that stuff is at any of the places I’ve discussed.
Best find – Ganymed – “It Takes Me Higher”
Haggle Vinyl (London) Haggle, a bit north on Essex Road, is probably the European store I visited that is most similar to spots I prefer in America. It’s basically just a room stuffed with records, including huge dollar bin sections and an expansive selection of modern soul and disco 12 inches and LPs, most of which aren’t worth a listen. I love the experience of sorting through large piles of miscellanea to find what you came for because you inevitably stumble upon things you didn’t set out to find. The notable thing about Haggle is that all of the records are cataloged and stored behind the counter, and only the sleeves are on the floor. A bit annoying because you can’t check labels for information, especially with 12” hip-hop or dance records that have blank sleeves.
Best find – Monyaka – “Go Deh Yaka (Go To The Top) Club Mix”
Legendary DJ/author/b-ball sage Bobbito García has released his first children’s book Aim High, Little Giant, Aim High! The story is about Taína, a nine-year-old, Afro Boricua basketball novice growing up in Brooklyn during a pandemic who learns valuable life lessons from family, friends, and the community, both on and off the court. The narrative seamlessly weaves social-emotional learning with math, arts, social justice, identity, culture, and sports education, all in a fun (and at times goofy) manner. The pre-order for the book is already sold out but stay tuned to grab the restock on a hard copy which is on the way.
The Keo Project is currently bootstrapping on Indiegogo where, as of this writing, you can get a painting, a black book piece, or have a chat with the man over a vegan meal in Brooklyn (schedule permitting). Go support over here.