Browsing vinyl records is a lost art that sends you on a nostalgia trip. Not only is each jacket more creative than the other, but it also transports young people like me to the past. Indeed, my generation didn’t have the opportunity to grow up with mullet hairstyles, bell bottom jeans, A-ha’s “Take on Me,” or — dare I say, the worst — shoulder pads. Sweat Records is one of those places that takes you back to a time that you can never know, but you’re curious about.
With lamps made of vinyl records hanging from the ceiling, some Wynwood-style art on the walls by Ahol Sniffs Glue, the shop is even more awesome than you might expect, with its modern take on the vintage music format. Last Sunday afternoon, DJ Richie Hell spun vinyl during the launch of their independent music label Sweat Records Records. Meanwhile, Iggy Pop is standing next to a giant poster of … Iggy Pop — yes, Iggy Pop was here — and one thing is for sure: Iggy Pop definitely looks like Iggy Pop in real life with even better hair.
It was at the store that Lolo Reskin, the owner of Sweat Records, met members Dracula and Las Nubes, two bands that will be released on vinyl by Sweat Records Records. “We interact with musicians, people in bands, music fans all day long,” says Reskin, “and we do end up discovering a lot of people. There are so many artists that we knew in the scene that we love that didn’t have vinyl yet.”
With their knowledge in quality records, and the fact that Sweat Records orders boxes and boxes of vinyl each month, Reskin and her partners, Emile Milgrim (who also plays drums in Las Nubes) and Vivek Jayaram, felt they could help facilitate the production of vinyl records for local artists. “We pretty much know exactly how to do it right in our minds, and we can’t wait to do it right for these artists,” says Reskin.
Somehow every single vinyl record smells a little dusty, but it’s part of the format’s charm. It leaves a dusty spell on you as soon as you flip the jacket to check the songs. “To me, vinyl records are the enduring physical format,” says Reskin. “They’re the physical format that has lasted and has continued to grow and have interest, and we feel that it is one of the most legitimizing things an artist can make.”
Reskin continues, “a record has artistry, and has to be cut properly, mastered properly, so when someone goes through that effort, it shows us that they’re serious about themselves. Thankfully, there are so many artists who are serious about themselves, and that’s where we can come in and facilitate the producing of the beautiful record.”
The party continues next door, at Churchill’s Pub. The pub is that kind of bar you promise yourself to go back to because of how cool it is. The stage inside is cozy but expansive. However, the first band, Dracula, composed of only two musicians, chooses to perform somehow on the far corner of it. The first acoustic guitar strums bring immediate silence from the audience. Reskin describes the band as an “acoustic two-piece that mostly does covers, and they’ll cover anything from American traditional to classic folk. They just have great taste, great influences, and their talent is undeniable, gorgeous harmonies and their song selection are incredible.”
Their set featured songs sung in Spanish, including a traditional Mexican folk song, “La Llorona,” but also a more modern Mexican song, Selena’s “Como La Flor.” Surprisingly, they also performed Princess Mononoke’s theme song by Yoshikazu Mera. English, Spanish, Japanese, nothing seems to stop Dracula from spreading a feeling of peace, their music strangely echoing to our hearts as if we were their beating metronome.
If you get closer to the artists, you’ll notice they’re singing facing each other, rarely breaking their eye contact with one another and rarely looking at us, their audience. “I can’t get their songs out of my head,” says Reskin.
An hour later, the next band performing is Las Nubes, a trio of women on guitar, bass and drums, with an entirely new music register. “Awesome three piece, girls band, super talented, musicians who are all in other groups,” notes Reskin. “To me they’re just very fun and relatable. I was walking around and talking to people, and people were comparing them to Throwing Muses to The Breeders, bands like that.”
Like Dracula, Las Nubes commands attention in the room but in a different sense: with powerful chords that can make one remember the sweet old days of grunge music. “I think that’s a great sound, with the 1990s being back. Their sound is a very right sound right now,” says Reskin. “They rock out, so what’s not to like about that.”
Singing their songs in Spanish and English, Las Nubes certainly knew how to inspire freedom of bodies — or dancing — in their audience. The need, which I didn’t know I had, of rocking my hair back and forth and making horns with my hands came to my mind. I tried to fight it, but it was hard. Certainly, Las Nubes brings the punk out in you.
Finally, I ask Reskin about the label’s future releases. There are no firm release dates just yet, but the first record will be for Dracula, which she says should be out by November. Then there is the first ever release of Debbie Deb’s “Everybody’s Jammin’.” Sweat Records Records joined Schematic Records to share the license from Pandisc Records in order to release it. The song was uncovered among Bo Crane’s archives of tapes for Pandisc. Reskin estimates it was recorded sometime in the mid-80s, played live a few times but never released on digital or vinyl. “It’s like the perfect third point of a triangle with ‘Lookout Weekend’ and ‘When I Hear Music’ — sooooo perfectly ‘80s,” she adds referencing earlier Deb singles.
There are plans for two more releases, all of which will have digital releases as well as physical vinyl. “We’re going to do Las Nubes’ whole album, then Richie Hell,” she says, referencing the afternoon’s DJ, “full length album, so those are the first four, and the rest is to be continued/decided. Four is a great number to start with. We are already well into progress in all of them, and then after that, we’re going to see what develops naturally.”
Hans Morgenstern contributed to this report.