Image credit: Dizonord
Interview with Dizonord in Paris, France
Story by: Neil Bopperson
Dizonord is a record store in Paris, France, run by Vincent Privat and Xavier Ehretsmann. Meet the people behind the crates (virtual and otherwise), get some insights into the life of a record seller, and learn tips on selling records from the best in the biz. Here’s a link to Dizonord’s online Discogs store.
Discogs: What are your first musical memories? What music was playing at home when you were both growing up?
Vincent Privat: One of my best memories is the Billy Ze Kick CD. My dad offered it to me when I was 8 years old. I’m pretty sure it’s this that gave me a taste for the more absurd side of music.
My dad exposed me to a lot of music. I remember him giving me CDs like Guru’s Jazzmatazz and some Hip-Hop Connection compilations. Then, when I got a little older, the Dead Kennedys album Fresh Fruits for Rotting Vegetables. This led me onto the French ’80s scene, punk, and new wave bands such as Stinky Toys, Marie et les Garçons, and Electric Callas.
As a family, we’d listen to Senegalese music, roots reggae, and some dub compilations, which certainly gave me the taste for the more exotic stuff. I was very fortunate to grow up in such an open-minded family.
Xavier Ehretsmann: I was born in 1983, so not exactly of the vinyl generation. The biggest memories came from the music I was hearing on the radio: Madonna, Phil Collins, Terrence Trent d’Arby, and Queen. My dad used to buy CDs from FNAC. We were both following the Top 50 on Canal+, so that sort of stuff mainly. He then started buying more jazz CDs, stuff like Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans
In the car, we’d listen almost exclusively to French music, except for the odd Paul McCartney cassette and — don’t ask me why — but Tina Charles’ “I Love to Love” was often played, too.
Image credit: Dizonord
D: So how did you start selling records? How did the two of you come together?
Vincent: I started selling records a good few years ago, mainly at flea markets … Eventually, I had built this up enough so that I could finally quit my day job as a waiter. As a result of me traveling a great deal, I could be a little more niche with the records I was selling. After some time, I stopped selling at flea markets and instead welcomed people, by appointment, to my apartment. This was a fantastic venture as it allowed me to meet some really high-end DJs and record collectors from all around the world.
I met Xavier at a record fair. We went to a few festivals together and became good friends. I was looking for a bigger place to sell my records and he was also looking for a new spot, too, so we decided to launch Dizonord together.
Xavier: Record selling all started for me around the age of 18. Here in Paris, I was selling at garage sales. Around the same time, I was going out to clubs with lists of records I had for sale, especially Detroit stuff, house, techno, and electro records. I eventually started working in a small DVD shop. This was sort of a test to see whether I liked the retail side of this business. From there, I bounced around various now-defunct stores and bars selling where they would welcome me and holding down DDD Records. Then from 2013 to 2017, along with Trax Magazine and Smallville, we opened La Source Record Shop where we sold mainly new dance records. After that, for two years I ran a record shop that was hidden in Club Mate. This was all loads of fun and all perfect preparation for this next step, which is Dizonord.
D: Dizonord is located in nothern Paris. Could you tell me a little more about the importance of this area?
Vincent: The north of Paris (18th district) is a very special area with a diverse population — young people, artists, various creatives. From a musical point of view, the 18th district is interesting because it was a [hot] spot for “Raï music” (a type of pop music with synths and drum machines from Algeria) … for many other African music genres, too. Barbès is a good example as it’s part of town with a huge tradition for the music of these diasporas. You can feel this energy when you walk around these neighborhoods.
Xavier: The shop itself is located in a social housing block. This element is essential to Dizonord. If I’m honest, I would have stopped working in record stores if it wasn’t this way … We’re working more and more with the locals and young children from the surrounding buildings. In only 18 months, we’ve organized many events for local kids … A local non-profit organization made up of people who were raised in this very block did an amazing job during this time organizing sports every afternoon. We continue to work with them. That’s something we’re really proud of and remains greatly important to us.
Image credit: Dizonord
D: This is fantastic. You guys have done so much in such a short space of time.
Vincent: Well yeah, it’s a reflection of the area we’re in really. We’re not just a record shop, we’re a hybrid living spot dedicated to music and the local community. The part of town where we’re located is poor, so the kids don’t have much to do. Each month we invite an artist to create a musical workshop for the children to attend. We finance this through our non-profit bar, where people can buy beers, wine, coffee, and Club Mate. Further afield, we also collaborate with LYL Radio from Lyon. We host them once a week for their live broadcast every Tuesday.
D: So is Dizonord a big team? Could you tell me a little about your colleagues?
Vincent: There’s the two of us, then, as for other staff members, we have Pierre-Etienne and Léa helping out day-to-day on the shop floor. Also, Alexandra is responsible for the monthly kids’ events. There’s also a bunch of ad-hoc helpers, mainly locals who offer up their time. Too many to mention — but they’re a crucial part of the bigger Dizonord family. After only a few months of existence, we feel a real community growing around our store.
D: Do you have a personal favorite record at the moment?
Vincent: Currently, I’m having a big crush on P.N.G. by Pierre Huguet. It’s a sound collage made up of field recordings from the ’80s in Papua New Guinea. A really unique dreamy soundscape type of record.
Xavier: Not one particular record no, but music in the Afro and cosmic style, yes. I like both the naïve and modern aspects of it. Dizonord released a compilation called Studiolo based on this in conjunction with Antinote
D: Any final words?
Vincent: We’re just happy and grateful to be where we are right now. At Dizonord, we’re not trying to be a concept store; we’re just doing a lot of different things and in the most natural way possible. We’re observing and contributing to the energy that is already in the local community. For the last 18 months, we’ve been curating three events a week and also running a record store … It’s hard, it’s become our whole life, but we wouldn’t change a thing about it.