Music

Taz Records helps youth connect to the ‘roots of music’

Young Haligonians are rediscovering the 'warmer sounds' of vinyl

Customers spend hours mining Taz Records inventory for hidden treasures.
Customers spend hours mining Taz Records inventory for hidden treasures.   Josh Healey

Seamus Ryan, a longtime vinyl enthusiast and patron of Halifax’s Taz Records, is trying to think of his best record store find.

“There’s a great Elmore James album that I discovered there, a real blues artist. Honestly, there’s lots of treasures, even with the artists you know,” says Ryan. “You find these little known records that maybe aren’t being reissued anymore. But they’ve got them there.”

Many of Taz’s customers feel this way, says Skyler Macdonald, an employee at the record shop.

Taz is packed with mountains of undiscovered vinyl that threaten to spill onto Grafton Street, where the shop is located.

It’s this feeling of discovery, of stumbling upon treasures, that has kept Taz going for over 20 years. And it’s seeing and nurturing a resurgence of vinyl for a younger generation.

“You don’t get the same feeling streaming music online,” says Macdonald. “Being able to lay your hands on it, it is like touching the past, like you’re connecting to the roots of music.”

Taz is helping the younger generation connect to music in a way that streaming services can’t.

There’s a personal touch to the place, in the manner of doing business face-to-face. It is this sense of community that Taz Records strives for, not only with its customers but with the record industry in Halifax.

“We know all the local artists and all the projects we put out. We like to support everybody around the music community. And we have customers who come back every single week just to get different records and CDs,” says Macdonald.

Macdonald says by building a sense of community, it enables a positive and competitive atmosphere for the record industry in Halifax. An atmosphere that is, frankly, good for business.

Customers are enthusiasts who want to build their collection. It fosters a sense of ownership.

“It’s just really nice to get your favourite album on a record.”

This is a notion Ryan agrees with. There’s a connection.

“When you buy that record, it is your edition, your copy. There may be five or six editions, but this one is yours in particular,” says Ryan.

Steven Baur, a professor of musicology at Dalhousie University, says he believes record shops are offering new generations something that was lost.

“I like vinyl. I like the album covers, I like the sound better, even though it wasn’t as pristine. The vinyl has a warmer sound. I think that’s one of the things that this generation is rediscovering. There was a trade-off,” says Baur.

Furthermore, there is an attraction to the idea of the vinyl object itself.

Enthusiasts want to build their collections and see it visibly grow. Baur says this is something not offered by the digital recording and distribution industry.

“The size of an album is wonderful. It’s almost a ritual to take the LP out of the sleeve, to remove the inner sleeve and to place it on the turntable. You sit down for an album experience.”

His favourite album?

Baur grins.

“Something by the Beatles—which album is always changing. Sometimes it’s Revolver, sometimes it’s Rubber Soul. It’s been a battle between the two.”

And with the resurgence of vinyl, there’s a new generation to discover these treasures offered by stores like Taz Records.