Vinyl Trekking: Matsumoto Hisataakaa of VINYL7

WRITER
Hidesumi Yoshimoto

VINYL7, a solid presence in Kyoto’s vinyl scene, is a record store located on a street frequented by foreign tourists. The selection of music by owner Matsumoto Hisataakaa, also a well-known DJ, is mainly hip hop, with some soul and funk records: often the source material for hip hop. The store is decorated with signage handwritten by the owner himself, a display from rare finds to store staples, and a more recent pop and rock selection personally handpicked by Mr. Matsumoto—his newer direction to go beyond hip hop. We asked him to share his stories of the buying trips he takes to create his store selection.

— We heard that you go to the US for your buying trips. Which region do you visit the most?
As a town, I like Boston the most. I usually go to Boston first, and then I figure out where to go from there. I go as far as I can go. Like making it to Cleveland, Ohio or Buffalo, New York, and I like going to the outskirts.

— And you can find a lot of records in those places?
Definitely. There are record shops and there are flea markets. Unlike the Rose Bowl on the West Coast, the East Coast has its own flea market culture going on—I can sometimes find amazing stuff for unbelievably cheap.

A flea market in a warehouse: (top photo: picture of the outside) a mega warehouse on a huge plot that sells tons of items as well as records.

— It is my impression that most people (from Japan) go to the West Coast for their US buying trips.
The West Coast is way better! [Laughter.] It’s warmer and the weather is good. It’s also cheaper to fly there. But I happen to like the New England area, even without the record thing.

— How did you get hooked on the East Coast to begin with?
I first went there on my honeymoon. [Laughs.] That, and I know how to get around. Some parts are pretty provincial, but I find the traditional aspect of the area to be very alluring.

An ‘80s Run-DMC sweatshirt hanging from the wall of VINYL7—it goes for a lot online.

— How long is your stay usually?
I stay for 2 weeks. It’s because of the rentacar deal that’s offered by the week. Seven days is too short and 20 days gives me too much play room. I think the others (buyers) do it like that, too.

— So you dig in Boston and its surrounding areas.
Yep. I make the rounds in Massachusetts, then to Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and I also go to Rhode Island.

— What are the people like in those places?
Of course, there are a lot of different people there, but sometimes I meet very wealthy white people, like what we think of the Kennedys. [Laughs.] Lots of preppy people.

Some booth displays are meticulous—like a shop—and some booths stack boxes filled with records and things. Being there in-person is one of the joys of a buying trip!

— And you find hip hop, soul, and funk records in these regions?
Yes. I used to think that music would be more regionally separated, but really, America is such a melting-pot and people listen to all kinds of music there. Boston has a strong indies scene and some record shop owners run their own label—out-of-pocket—and put out music. There is an abundance, and students are part of the scenery—with Harvard and Berklee being there.

— It feels a bit like Kyoto?
Yes yes! Boston is similar to Kyoto. They are really alike. That is probably why I like it. It’s also home to undergroundhiphop.com, a major hip hop online magazine created by students. The Source also used to be a zine that Harvard students began—so you feel that energy there.

Go to Part2 of Vinyl Trekking: Matsumoto Hisataakaa of VINYL7

VINYL7
Location: (On Aneyakoji Dori) 492 Shimohon’nojimae-cho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8091, Japan
Phone: 075-221-3337 (International: +81 75-221-3337)
Hours: Open 12pm~9pm daily
Closed on Mondays
Homepage: http://www.vinyl7.net

Interview and article by Hidesumi Yoshimoto
Photographs by Masaya Yoneda
(Photos from buying trip shared by Mr. Matsumoto Hisataakaa himself.)
Translated by Mika Anami

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