May 05, 2014Being a music guy myself, I always have always loved record stores. I can think back to when even the big guys sold vinyl. Over the years, while the appreciation and influence of vinyl has remained strong, its accessibility has swooned. There are many incredible shops doing great things in most of the major urban hubs, but you have to know where to find them. For Echo Park, in Los Angeles, that means Origami Vinyl. For this blog installment, we catch up with Origami's owner and founder, Neil Schield and talk inspiration, history, and the store's 5th anniversary. We hope you enjoy!
HEX: Where did the inspiration come from to open an independent record store? NS: As early as I can remember my mom would take me to Tower Records to go record shopping. It was a monthly ritual and I loved flipping through the bins and looking at the big installations and paintings they would have on the walls. Vinyl was a constant fixture in our house and I was given my first record player on my 11th birthday. When I was 16 I started going to Rhino Records in Claremont and Bionic Records in Fullerton and emerged myself in buying 45's of hardcore bands. In my senior year in High School my teacher asked all of us what we'd hoped we'd be doing 10 years later and my answer was owning a Tower Records. HEX: What were you doing before Origami Vinyl? NS: I was working at IODA. At the time they were the largest independent distributor of digital music content. I was heading up their mobile marketing and business development initiatives. Most of my background has been on the digital/online marketing side of the music business. HEX: Love the name - any significance there? NS: My dad worked for a Japanese company and would travel to Japan up to 6 times a year. Every time he came home he would bring back some sort of gift. Origami was one of those gifts. At 10 years old, my whole family traveled to Japan for vacation and I fell in love with the culture. The name is a bit of a reference to those things. About 10 years ago, I was considering starting a record label with a friend and we began jotting down names, around the same time another friend sent me an Origami mobile, and I wrote the name Origami down on the list. From then on I've used the name for my music projects. It just has a really cool ring to it and looks really neat. HEX: From your perspective, what is the current state of the music industry and where do you see it going? NS: I think it is in an awesome state of evolution. Music is available everywhere and is becoming even easier to discover and listen to. At home I just installed a Sonos system and am so happy with the interface. The fact I can put on a record and listen to it in multiple rooms without having to wire the house is a game changer. HEX: What is the main character difference you try to embody as an independent vs. the mainstream guys? NS: Origami Vinyl is a curated mom & pop shop that focuses on independent and local music. We don't carry everything nor will we ever try to. We don't carry tapes or CDs. We keep it very simple. It's hard for a larger store to manage that. HEX: The shop is celebrating its 5th anniversary - has it been all you hoped and dreamed it would be? NS: I had no idea what to expect. To be honest I wasn't sure we'd make it to year 2. I'm kinda flying by the seat of my pants. Everyday is a new challenge, a new idea or vision of what to do next. I love that. It's constantly changing and I'm not content with keeping things static. It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done so I suppose that that, in and of itself, is everything I'd hoped it to be. HEX: How do you balance the demands of the shop with the demands of also being a label? NS: Pretty easy. I separate the two in my head. The label is a hobby, and the shop is a business. HEX: What do you look for in bringing in talent to the label? NS: The label has always been about putting out a friend's album. So in a sense things happen quite organically. I've never gone out and met a random band and asked if I could release their record. HEX: What does the future hold for you and Origami? NS: In the very near future Origami will have a brand new website that I'm really excited about. It will allow us to create more content around the shop and our events. We've had the same site since we opened so we were overdue. We are also in the process of opening our mobile store so that people can buy records from us over their phones and tables. Our online shop has been doing extremely well so we're really looking forward to that expansion. In the long run we just hope we can be here 5 years from now giving high 10's! Origami Vinyl's Echo Park Neighborhood