Filmmakers in New York are trying to preserve the spirit and legacy of a record store that took a chance on some of indie rock’s biggest names.
Other Music, located in Manhattan’s East Village, spent 20 years providing a unique and highly-curated music selection for New Yorkers before it announced its closing in 2016. Immediately after the announcement, directors Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller began filming onsite interviews with its owners, employees and some of the store’s famous customers, including Benicio Del Toro and Jason Schwartzman.
The directors have now started a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the documentary, with donation rewards ranging from handwritten CD dividers to signed music and posters from Animal Collective, Mac DeMarco and Vampire Weekend.
“We started filming as soon as Other Music announced that they were closing. While they were still open, we spent six weeks filming in the store and filming interviews with all of the past employees and the owners in the store,” Basu told Amplify. “We also filmed the last day of the store and the big concert and parade that Other Music put on after they closed.”
Basu was a long-time customer of the store, while Hatch-Miller worked at Other Music for over three years. With permission from the owners, the directors began diving into the store’s huge VHS archive of in-store and event performances put on by Other Music.
“There were tons of artists that were championed at the store as local artists before they became huge, popular bands,” Basu said. “They wouldn’t just do in-stores at the store, but they would do parties outside of the store where they would have DJs and bands. They were always on the precipice of the next new, great thing that was happening in New York.”
Other Music hosted emerging bands such as Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Breeders, and were the employers of several members of Animal Collective as they formed their band.
“For Animal Collective, like many other bands, Other Music was the first place to sell their hand-made demo CDs before they were signed,” Basu said. “Especially for Animal Collective, the store was the reason their name got out there in New York.”
Members from Animal Collective, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, Interpol and other indie rock superstars sat down with the directors in the weeks prior to the store’s closing and can be seen in the documentary’s trailer. Several members also volunteered to sign posters, music, and merchandise to sell off as rewards to help get the film funds. On the Kickstarter page, there is singed vinyl from Mac Demarco and Mogwai, test pressings from Fleet Foxes and Wild Nothing, among many other options that are disappearing quickly.
“All of the rewards were donations. I guess that speaks to the good will of the store and how people felt about it,” Basu said. “We asked a few labels to help us out by sending us things, but since we launched the Kickstarter people have been reaching out to us.”
According to Basu, record labels and other artists have been contacting the directors to offer items to encourage donations. New rewards are continuing to appear as the campaign closes in on its July 27 deadline. If the campaign reaches its goal, the film is expected to hit the festival circuit in 2019.
Basu added “We know that not everybody who sees this trailer would have been to Other Music and possibly a lot of people have never heard of it. The reason we think it is an important film to make is because these sort of spaces are disappearing. We don’t want to say that it is a bad thing, but we do want to look into how you preserve the spirit of a place like that going forward in the digital age.”
You can check out all of the rewards on their page along with an extended trailer.