By Jaeki Cho (@JaekiCho)
Dal Basi thought about opening a record shop for more than 20 years. After working in various music-affiliated businesses since college, the 44-year-old Stockton native finally found an opportunity to open up his first store in Sacramento, California, last September with partner Nicholas Lujan. But why open up a record store when less and less people are buying physical music? Well, contrary to popular belief, Dal’s business hasn’t been noticeably affected by the economy. The shop’s LP-mongering customer base has a knack for left-field music mostly available on vinyl. And the shop’s Midtown location, where a mixture of residents and shopping clientele cluster, is the ideal destination for Phono Select’s (2312 K Street) unique identity as one of Sacto’s most sought-after record stops.
Dal, whose work experience range from working for big record chains (Tower Records) to small indie shops, has been in the game for years, and learned naturally the ropes of the trade firsthand. Having a realistic understanding that the business he’s part of relies more so on passion than money, he continues to push forth his lifelong dream of operating his own vinyl haven. Despite the shop’s bustling atmosphere, Dal gladly answered our probing Wax Nostalgic 7 Question Survey.
What’s the first record you ever bought?
Dal Basi: The first record I bought, huh? It’s hard for me to remember. The first record that made an impact on me would be easier. It was the Ramones’ Rocket to Russia. I liked it after hearing a song about sniffing glue. [Laughs.] That was kind of a little popular thing when I was younger. Sniffing glue, sniffing paint, I always thought it was funny. And I liked a lot of oldies radio. I didn’t really like contemporary music. So I would listen to the Ventures, stuff like that. I was talking about it, and the kids were like, “Oh, you like punk rock.” And I was like, “What’s that?” We’re talking 1979 here. Punk rock was in California, but I was isolated. So he put me on to it. He put me on to other bands, and it just went from there.
What’s your favorite record of all time?
Dal Basi: Minor Threat’s “Out of Steps.” It was just the right record at the right time. It just felt like it spoke to me. It always helps me remember getting through high school and all the bullshit. Some really difficult times, you know? I grew up as a South Asian kid during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. You know what kids were going through after 9/11? Kids from those countries that were not treated right by people? I grew up around the same thing. So that record was just there for me.
What’s the most valuable/expensive record that you own?
Dal Basi: I have a really rare punk rock 7-inch that my friend gave me for my birthday. It’s called "Soundtrack for Trouble" by the Authorities.
If you didn’t own a record shop, what would you do?
Dal Basi: That’s a good question. I’d probably have a state job. [Laughs.] Just to get me home on time. If you can’t do what you want, you might as well do something that requires you the least amount of hours, and most benefits.
Why should people buy records?
Dal Basi: Because music is probably the most important form of art. Before humans do anything, they create music. You like rhythm. So no matter how primitive the society, they always have music. Things have been passed down orally since the beginning of mankind. There’s something special about sound. Records are the best way to listen to music because you get a big piece of art you can touch with your hands, and soothe your eyes, it makes you slow down and appreciate what’s going on.
Vinyl will never die because…
Dal Basi: I think it’s too special to people. It’s just real. You can feel it, you can touch it, and you can feel it. You can’t do that with a lot of stuff.
Have you ever played a certain record and gotten laid?
Dal Basi: I don’t know about that. [Laughs.] That’s a good question. Maybe a mixtape has gotten me that. If you get the right girl the right mixtape that might lead to something, but I don’t think a record has ever done it.