What I’m Listening To is a series where we talk to exciting artists and musicians and get a five song (or in this case, a five record) slice of their current playlist.
“I’m not there to tell you what’s good and what’s bad … Ultimately, I’m there just to help you find records.”
Dal Basi has always worked in record stores. “I don’t know if I’ve always wanted to work in a record store. I’ve always liked records. … I kind of fell into and you know, I kind of ended up loving it,” says the owner of Phono Select Records and this month’s curator of the WILT playlist.
Like working in record stores, music was something Basi fell into. “As a kid, that was my escapism, you know. … I love the way it makes you feel. …Out of all the art forms, I think it’s the best. It never gets old.”
However, Basi does not pick favorites with his music. “I like everything. I just like music. I only have two kinds of music: music that I’m really excited about and music that I’m just not into right now. I don’t waste energy hating things.” In fact, he refuses to label anything ‘bad art.’ “It’s all just subjective. I just depends on what, you know, makes you happy.”
Basi came up with the idea for Phono Select with his friend Nick Lujan when R5 Records, where he was working, closed. They opened the store in 2010 with the goal of”Saving the World One Record At A Time.” “We’re trying to find every orphaned record a good home. Every record belongs somewhere. … We’re not there to tell you what to like, our job is to help you find something that you like.” Eventually, Basi transitioned to being the sole owner though Lujan still “consults and helps out,” says Basi.
Phono Select is more than an in-person shopping experience. Basi is big on promoting local talent and holding concerts and community events in his store. His favorite memories of Phono Select include the art shows held in the store as well as the Mixtape Swap he ran with KDVS, Submerge Magazine, Insight Coffee and other sponsors. During the swap, people would come and trade mixtapes/mix CDs on a Friday night and hang out. Basi remembers it fondly, likening it to a “party” more than an event.
So what is Dal Basi listening to? “I went through all the records I got recently and these are the ones that are making me happy.”
KLEENEX/LiLiPUT-First Songs (Reissue)– “It’s just really beautiful. They were from Switzerland and they were like this punk rock kind of off-kilter DIY band, all girls. You gotta hear it, there’s like this weird magic to it. …I just love how it makes me feel. I’m blown away. In 1977 or 78, these girls decided ‘we want to be in a band. We don’t know how to play, let’s do it!’ They put out their first record by themselves. The DIY stuff has this really kind of simplistic beauty to it. The music that turns me off is the really produced modern music. It sounds really inhuman. So I tend to like stuff that’s really simple… or over-thought out.”
Manuel Göttsching – E2-E4– “A really early minimal electronic record. It was something that I totally forgot about but then somebody asked me to order and … they were like ‘I can’t believe you don’t like that record’ and I was like ‘I don’t remember it that much’ and as soon as I saw the cover, I was like ‘oh that record! Oh I remember that record. I told you about that record, I know exactly which record you guys are talking about.’
Buzzcocks- Time’s Up! (Reissue)– “Their first recordings from 1978. I kind of like that one because of how raw the songs are. They’re fast, they’re live in the studio. I think they’d only been together like six months, they’d just seen the Sex Pistols at their local college and they were like ‘that’s my band!’ They kind of don’t know what they’re doing, they’re kind of just going with it and I just really, really, really like that a lot. I just love when people are like ‘I don’t know what I’m doing. Do you know what you’re doing?’ ‘No, but how hard can it be?’”
Big Eyes- Stake My Claim– “My friend Dean just turned me onto this band … the girl’s got a cool perspective and … it’s like punky but it’s not, they still leave a lot of hooks in there. I just really like that record right now.”
Swimming in Bengal-Garden of Idle Hands-“[An] atmospheric, synthesized … thing, [that] came out of Sacramento … A lot of it might have to do with them being my friends, but I can’t get over how good the new record is. It, like, blows me away. I knew it was going to be good … when I heard it I was like, ‘oh my god! That’s it!’ It’s off the hook. … It’s like this beautiful sunset, early evening record. … One of those records that really help you travel, like when you close your eyes they take you away to places.”
Phono Select is busy, just having moved to a new, bigger location. “We’ve always wanted Phono Select to have a more community aspect, like community space, more shows, more events. We tended to do a lot of that over the years, we kind of wanted a place that was easier to do it in … This location has everything we’ve been looking for.” The store is accepting donations to help ease the reopening. If you’d like to help, Basi suggests calling, coming in for a visit, or sending money via Paypal. “We’re pretty much open to anything,” he says with a laugh. “We’re very easy going.”
The reopening is tentatively set for April 29th. They will also be having a show on May 20th from 4-7 pm as part of their Phono Fundays series. Trinidad Silva, Swimming in Bengal and the Krebtones will be playing. Get more information here.
Phono Select is located at 2475 Fruitridge Rd, Sacramento.