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Travel to San Francisco


aQuarius Records, San Francisco

1 August 2014

Questions: Andrew Birbeck / Answers: Co-owner of aQuarius Records, Andee Connors

aQuarius opened back in 1971. How long have you and co-owner Allan Horrocks been involved?
I’ve worked here since I was 24, so 1994. Allan and I took over in 2003. Blondie and Elvis Costello used to visit. 

What a legacy. Who’s the most famous musician to walk through the door since you guys bought the business?
I think most famously, and hilariously, one of the aQ-ers, as we’re called, wouldn’t let Anthony Keidis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers use the bathroom. Otherwise, maybe Björk, Mike Patton, John Zorn, Henry Rollins... 

Tell us about the store’s music reviews. Who does them?
Is there anything you refuse to stock? We all write reviews of new stuff we get in. They’re posted on our site and sent out every couple weeks as a huge newsletter. There’s nothing we refuse to stock, other than stuff that’s terrible. 

You also run tUMULt record label. How’s that going and what are the plans for the future?
I’ve been running tUMULt since 2000, and have released more than 50 records. It’s on a sort of hiatus now, as I focus on the store, and on actually playing more music myself. I still have lots of plans for the future, but it’s unclear right now when that [tUMULt] will happen. Hopefully not too long. 

Where do you find the music, or does it find you?
Everyone who works here is super-obsessive about music. So even if we didn’t work in a record store, we’d all be hunting down new, cool, weird sounds. Our customers are a great source too. We get tonnes of recommendations from folks all over the world. 

How important is mail order and where’s the furthest you’ve shipped to?
It probably accounts for about half the business. We have customers spread across the world, many of which consider us to be their ‘local’ record store, since they don’t have one. Lots of them end up being way more than customers; we talk about their kids, their bands, their jobs and what’s going on in their lives. Many become friends; when we travel we visit them, sometimes stay with them. And when they come here we meet up for dinner, record shopping, shows, it’s a special, super-unique relationship. We’re very lucky. 

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you since you started working at aQuarius?
Hmmm, lots of weird stuff happens here. What springs to mind is when a lady from the Bravo TV Network came to observe us, hoping to make a reality show about record stores, or the time a huge pick-up truck came barrelling down the street towards the store, hit the curb, flipped in the air, and slid across the sidewalk, stopping inches from the front window. 

Finally, who’s your best customer?
Impossible to say. We love them all. We’re definitely lucky to have some of the coolest, weirdest customers in the world, with the best taste in music.