Within the confines of Aquarius Records is a plethora of music both old and new; Strange and wonderful; Eclectic and disorienting. It’s nearly overwhelming when browsing.
One of the few remaining haunts of the San Francisco that once existed, Aquarius Records is one of the oldest independent record stores in the city. Displayed prominently on the AQ website reads:
The store that’s old enough to think it’s funny that we’re selling lots of tapes again.
This sense of humor and honesty is the kind of conversation that aQ co-owner Andee Connors lends himself constantly––a kind of brutal truthfulness sprinkled with jokes.
Connors first became involved with Aquarius when he started frequenting the Noe Valley location in his early 20s. Back then he was playing in bands, and making his living by working at a bagel shop. Now, over twenty years later he has found himself partial owner and embarking on a reunion tour to support the reissue of A Minor Forest’s Flemish Altruism and Inindependence to be released via Thrill Jockey.
The Bay Bridged: Tell me what Record Store Day means to you.
Andee Connors: Bottom line: Record store day is super cool. Who can argue with a day when people go out and support their local record stores. It’s an insane amount of work; Preparing for RSD is like preparing for an entire year’s work in one day. Leading up to it’s crazy, and you need to order so much stuff that it can be overwhelming. But then the day comes and it’s super fun.
RSD is kind of like how I wish all facets of music was like: A beautiful network of people who love music and playing music and buying music together. It’s like this utopian version of the scene, a kind of musical nirvana for one day.
TBB: What are the benefits to being an active musician and record store owner, is the crossover an easy one to manage?
AC: Well, first, there’s literally no reason to be doing any of this unless you totally love this. Especially in this town, where it’s so difficult for artists to survive. A Minor Forest is definitely not going to come back from tour with a bunch of money, but running a record store and playing music is the dream.
Running a record store is like making a giant mix tape for everybody. At its core, my job is to listening to cool music and being able to tell people about it. So far in my life I think I’ve been really lucky. For me its a perfect confluence of all the people I love and all the things I care about. Running a record store, playing in a band is all part of the this bigger thing that is just wonderful.
TBB: Being integrated in the San Francisco music scene for the past decade, how has the music scene changed in the past decade?
AC: Basically it’s been twenty years now. I think the obvious things that have changed is that it’s insanely difficult to survive in San Francisco. Half the people I know have moved out or been evicted. A lot of punks and artists have had to move to LA, Portland, or Oakland. There’s not as many affordable places to live and there’s less clubs and DIY spaces. Inherently now you need to have a yearly income of 80,000 or something to survive.
So in that way its changed, but in San Francisco we’re still in this cool little bubble and the record nerds and the people who remain haven’t changed.
People who love records, CDs, and tapes still love this stuff. Even if they have a ipod full of crap they still want to hold the physical thing, and in that respect not much has changed.
TBB: Being involved in music for as long has you have, do you think our relationship with music has evolved? If so, in what ways?
AC: In the early days word of mouth was a whole different thing. The spread of music was a lot more organic, and the process of making a tape for your friend and sending it to Chicago or whatever and having it spread from there was a whole different experience.
The internet is the major change, and it’s not necessarily bad, it’s just kind of overwhelming. Although I firmly believe the more music the better.
Recently we’ve been getting all this cool indie rock from China and it’s because we had this customer who spent part of the year in China and got into the scene. And now because of that there’s this huge community of people in the Bay Area who now are into these random Chinese bands, and I think that’s really interesting that we can still build this organic relationship.
That’s what I really aim for, exposure to new music. For me, being a kid and being a teenager I would hangout at the record store a lot and that’s how I met cool people who were also interested in music.
That’s what’s so cool about RSD day, it’s just an extreme example of the people who love music all coming together to support it.
TBB: Do you have any RSD releases this year that you’re particularly excited about?
AC: I’m super excited about Sean Smith’s new band Twin Trilogy, in which we’ll be releasing the first of a series of 12”. It’s sort of psychedelic space rock, they’re actually playing Aquarius the day after RSD day. The 12” will only available at Aquarius Records.
And of course there’s a new Oh Sees record and that’s always exciting. There’s also a Deerhoof single that people need to see. On the weirder side we’ll also have Adult Film Start Ron Jeremy’s 7” entitled Understanding and Appreciating Classical Music With Ron Jeremy. In which it’s just all these cool and weird recordings of this porn star talking about classical music.