Doubling as a vinyl-only DJ, Som Records Owner Neal Becton grew up consuming vinyl records before CDs and MP3s were a thing. While everybody adapted to the ebb and flow of the industry, Becton held strong and kept his records in the hopes of a revival. Now with another Record Store Day on the horizon (on Saturday, April 22), we spoke to Becton about his relationship with music on wax.
On Tap: How did you get into vinyl?
Neal Becton: I started buying records before there were CDs, so it’s the format I started with. Even when CDs came around, I never sold any of my records and still preferred them (except in my car!) Loved records then, love them now.
OT: What’s the vibe at Som? How would you describe your core customer base?
NB: I like to think the vibe is hip, but not too hip. I want folks to feel comfortable, not intimidated. My “core customer base” is all over the place – DJs, record collectors, hipsters, tourists, bands playing Black Cat and 9:30 Club, etc.
OT: How do you think the vinyl scene has shifted in recent years?
NB: For someone who has always played almost exclusively vinyl, it’s gotten way better. CDs and laptops/Serato almost shut down vinyl in clubs, so it’s nice to see it come back.
OT: What’s the best part about owning a record store in DC? What about the most challenging?
NB: Best is hanging out in a record store all day listening to music and talking to people about music. Most challenging is probably keeping your overhead low enough so you can continue to hang out in a record store.
OT: What goals do you have for your shop in the next several years?
NB: Selling more records and finding more good records for the shop and for myself. I’d like to see record companies not making the same mistakes they did with CDs (overpricing).
OT: If you had to put into only one sentence what you love most about vinyl, what would you say?
NB: Better highs, better lows!
OT: Why do you feel that Record Store Day is important to the local music community?
NB: It gets folks into the shop who you don’t see the rest of the year and gets folks talking about vinyl, which is always a good thing.
OT: High Fidelity moment: name your top five albums of all time.
NB: Jorge Ben’s Jorge Ben (1969), The Beatles’ Revolver, Big Star’s Radio City, Curtis Mayfield’s Curtis Live [and] The Clash’s London Calling. This list changes daily.