Vinyl sales are on the rise in Oslo; I’ve read as much as 30 times the sales in the last 5 years. Kind of like the sale of microbrew beer, quality in taste, look and smell seems to be more important to people than in a long time (and thank god for that!). Several new stores have popped up selling vinyl records to try to keep up with the demand and interest of the vinyl junkie.
Stein og Jord Platebar is a year-old record store located at the entrance of the tunnel just up the street from Tiger, an institution when it comes to record stores in Oslo. We decided to feature them as our April Issue as their emphasis on the outer limits takes after our own hearts. In other words, Stein og Jord focuses on releases the other guys don’t sell. The forgotten, the overseen, and the new and bold. This is an idealistic record store; ff they don’t like it, they don’t carry it; something that has upset some “hip” indie bands trying to peddle their shitty music there: “They don’t tend to come back to shop”.
Bad Sounds Magazine spoke with Anders, Svenno and Terje, the 3 guys running this little record store, which in size, in about no larger then a handicap bathroom.
So, who are you, and how did you come to the decision to start a record store?
Anders (mastermind) started it, then stepped back and recruited two of his best customers, Svenno (DJ) and Terje (collector). We had many similar interests in music, and wanted to have a store consisting mostly of records that we ourselves love and recommend, and some records that you don’t expect to see in every store.
Anders: Always wanted to start a record-store. But the closest I came in the past was applying for work at the warehouse of Platekompaniet and not even getting to the interview. Didn´t have the right haircut :(
What do you focus on?
In the store you find a varied selection of obscurities, forgotten gems and well known classics, from the 1920s until now. Genres like Rockabilly, surf, garage, beat, folk, country, blues, soul, jazz, psych, prog, krautrock, avant garde, punk, post-punk, hardrock, metal, drone, noise, electronic, dub and minimal wave are represented, and we have a shared love for far out ’60s and ’70s sounds from places like Indonesia, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mali, Brazil and Peru.
What do you tend to avoid?
We don’t generally stock emo, screamo, sludge, nu-metal and ballerock. You can buy that somewhere else. And we hate djent-riffs and triggered drums with whiny, self-hating lyrics, shouted in angry Pantera-manner, before shifting to overtly melodramatic pop-choruses.
Tell us a little about the history of record stores in Oslo.
Svenno: I’ve bought tons of records at Tiger, Big Dipper and Neseblod. Also Råkk & Rolls, Shadowland, So Real, Filter, Osloscope, Fete Spor, HS Records, Ringstrøms, Bennis Musikk, Platekompaniet. That’s all I know. I used to work at Hysj!Hysj! at Oslo City 13 years ago. That was the worst experience of my life! I had to give up all my self respect, but luckily they went out of business. As much as I don’t like the idea of big business, Platekompaniet are doing a much better job. But they have tons of money, so people should rather support the independent stores like Tiger, Big Dipper, Neseblod, Shadowland etc.
Terje: Ringstrøms has a special place in my heart, not only because I’ve worked there, but because they’re extremely knowledgeable, honest and nice people. They’ve been around forever for a reason. I’d also like to mention a cool second-hand store in Etterstadgata called Vinyl & Sånt, which is run by a super nice guy called Henning. Go there and buy lots of records.
Anders: Some memories: The liberal smoking-policy at Oslo Rock Antikvariat, Fredensborgveien, when the punk-dude worked there. Voices Of Wonder, Olaf Ryes Plass. Hearing about Helvete, Schweigaardsgate. The blonde trønderdame at Hot Records in Torggata. The boss at Råkk og Rålls, Sentrum Scene, drinking a lot of 1,5 l bottles of Coca-Cola. Wild Mind´s Groove In at the dismal shopping- center at Gunerius Parking (definitely one of the coolest stores in Norway ever.) Flipside Records in Rathkes gate. The Innova-shop (?) at second level near the bottom of Karl Johan. Shadowland in Pilestredet. Pretty Price in Dronningens gate. The brief outlet of Panorama Records at the Antikvariat at Frogner. Spøk & Spenning at Thorvald Meyers gate. Lucky Eddie, Trondheimsveien. Cheap and great CDs at Platekompaniet Grønland. Buying records when possible, often selling them at Ringstrøms, Ullevålsveien when broke.
Also, we’re located in a house and street which had many record-stores over the years: Tiger and Sound Of Noise obviously, plus a techno-shop in the 90ies and a hip-hop shop in the mid-00s.
How are you different from Tiger, Big Dipper and the others?
More old music and less indie/punk than Tiger, more obscure/personally curated selection than Big Dipper. For metal, obviously Neseblod is the best store in the world (according to Svenno.) We are different because we have a parrot, a disco ball and a bust of Ludwig van Beethoven. We love all those stores. We don’t see ourselves in much direct competition with either.
Is the marked big enough for everyone to succeed?
We have no idea. We are not exactly succeeding (if that means making money.)
Svenno: We just want to have a good time!
How do you deal with the post office? They seem to rip off small artists and labels trying to distribute their work. Do you believe the EU postal rules would help or hurt the business?
It sucks with the postage, but EU sucks a whole lot more!
We often use other carriers than Posten, but Posten sometimes have that nice aura of verna bedrift.
How can you compete with the internet and more corporate businesses?
We can’t, but some people (cheers to you!) enjoy an actual physical shop, and some people also think it’s refreshing not having to sift through Alanis Morissette, Muse and Bloc Party to find what they’re looking for.
What kind of customers do you have/What kind of customers do you want?
What would you recommend of unknown international artists?
How about Norwegian artists?
Svenno: Vomitor and Danava (international, not completely unknown) and Beglomeg (Norwegian, also not completely unknown).
Terje: There are lots of awesome new stuff coming out of Australia these days, people should really check out labels like RIP Society, Negative Guest List, Aarght and Bedroom Suck Records, and bands like Eddy Current Suppression Ring (well, fairly unknown in Norway anyway), Ooga Boogas, UV Race, Royal Headache, Raw Prawn, Bed Wettin Bad Boys, Chinese Burns, Mad Nanna, Fabulous Diamonds, Naked on the Vague and Total Control. Also, the french have had a good thing going for a while, with bands like Cheveu and Frustration obviously, but also lesser known bands like Immaterial, Teledetente 666, The Dreams and Scorpion Violente. Finally, I have to mention my favorite label of the last couple of years, NYC based Sacred Bones Records, who regularly releases new and unknown bands, like Psychic Ills, Föllakzoid and Holydrug People, as well as more established names, like Moon Duo and Human Eye. I really hope we’ll be able to carry more of this stuff eventually.
There seems to be a focus on foreign releases in small pressings which make up most of the store. Do you feel Norwegian releases have a way to go to compete with these releases?
Norwegians have low self- esteem, and try to be as good as foreigners. Therefore they suck. In the 90s Black Metal scene they didn’t try to be like foreigners, and succeeded in making foreigners try to be like them instead. Sadly it seems most Norwegian artists are fashion surfers who want to get hyped by Pitchfork or hipster- blogs. This is not the ideal way of conceiving music. If they work with no compromise it will serve them better in the long run. Don’t listen to the record companies. Do it yourself if you have to!
What do you see for the future of vinyl?
Vinyl records are heavy and take up a lot of space. But they have very nice sound quality and big artwork.
What do you see as the future of Stein og Jord?
Better selection and coffee+tea machine.
Ask yourself a question and then answer it.
What are the best albums you ever heard?
Svenno: Funkadelic – Funkadelic, Dr. John The Night Tripper – Gris-gris, every Can record until (and including) Future Days.
Terje: The 15 best albums I ever heard (in no particular order): Ave Sangria – s/t, Don Cherry – Brown Rice, Hackamore Brick – One Kiss Leads To Another, Circuit Rider -s/t, Cold Sun – Dark Shadows, Os Brazöes – s/t, Walter Wegmüller – Tarot, Träd Gräs och Stenar – Mors Mors, Bob Lind – Since There Were Circles, Judee Sill – s/t, Neil Young – On the Beach, Pharoah Sanders – Thembi, David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name, Relatively Clean Rivers – s/t, Derdiyoklar Ikilisi – Disco Folk
Anders: I don’t know.
Any advice to musicians or labels that want to sell their music?
Make timeless music, make what you want to hear, don’t worry about sales.
Any advice for new collectors?
Svenno: Don’t believe the hype!
Anders: Remember there are second- hand stores too, you don’t HAVE to shell out for represses of Bob Dylan records.
What essential releases should they pick up at Stein og Jord?
Erkin Koray- Elektronik Turkuler & Arap Saci
Conrad Schnitzler & Bjørn Hatterud- Hirschgebrüll (big up Fysisk Format, [OHM] Records, Synesthetic Recordings and TIBProd.)
Vomitor- The Escalation.
LP is the best format ever, LP is bestest, but with the current vinyl-fetish sometimes getting a tad too silly, here are a few good CDs we have: Los Saicos- Demolicion, Group Inerane- Guitars From Agadez,
C.O.B- Moyshe McStiff and The Tartan Lancers Of The Sacred Heart, Endwarfment- The Paralympik Sessions, Jon & The Nightriders- Surf Beat ´80, The Mobsmen- Scelerats Syndicate, DePress- Block To Block, James Blackshaw- Waking Into Sleep, Peaking Lights- 936,.
With your last in-store festival (No sleep ‘til Stein og Jord) there seems to be an interest in having live performances on a regular basis. Are there any plans for more in the future?
Yes. There have been concerts in the shop on a regular basis since the beginning, and it’ll continue.
Any final words?
Svenno: Support your local dealers. Turn on, tune in, drop out. Do what thou wilt. Hail Eris!
So if you need some Brazilian funk or some Iranian dance music for your party, something new and fresh, a forgotten classic or something to expand your mind, this is the store for you. All releases are hand picked in small quantities by three knowledgeable and passionate music enthusiasts. Stein og Jord Platebar is a little bit different than the other guys and is a welcomed site in Oslo. Visit them at the edge of the dark tunnel and come out refreshed and lightheaded from purchasing quality vinyl.