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Groundzero: The Best Independent Record Store In Paris

Will Hutchins writing for I V Y paris

GroundzeroGroundzero2 If you’ve failed in your bid to find that Senegalese 1969-1972 funk rarities compilation you’ve been searching for in your local Fnac, or the Virgin Megastore on the Champs Elysées didn’t have a vinyl copy of the new Au Revoir Simone album in stock, then you’ll have better luck at 23 rue Saint Marthe in Belleville.

This hidden treasure of a record store has a superb stash of independent music on vinyl and cd from around the world to get the taste buds of any discerning pop music fan watering.

Catering for the album loving anorak, Groundzero don’t bother with stocking the classics and instead just keep it to a well chosen selection of the latest and most interesting indie, reggae, soul, funk, African, hip-hop, jazz, blues and electro releases and re-editions. From compilations of West African music in 1920’s Britain to the latest SoMe designed Ed Banger picture disc single the shop keeps their collection intriguingly diverse but always high quality. 

On entering from Place Saint Marthe the shop has a chilled, homely vibe thanks to the wooden floors and bookshelves, the lava and table lamps, and in the back corner, a small kitchen unit complete with sink and microwave. It could almost be the living room of an obsessive record collector whose collection has grown so big they’ve had to chuck out the sofa, chairs and TV to make space for it all.

The relaxed atmosphere continues in the fairy-light lit basement below, where turntables and headphones are at you disposal to listen to the new, non-vacuumed-packed electro vinyls. Similarly, back upstairs you can take your time listening to tracks on the computer available for your listening pleasure or sifting through the pile of music mags from France and the UK.  

Of course, like all good record shops, Groundzero sell more than just records, but unlike bad record shops, that end up selling more DVDs than discs or books that have nothing to do with music, here they sell just a few great music DVDs and books, and also a rather nice line in locally designed t-shirts. And like any dedicated record store should, they host the occasional in-store performance.

They’re no anachronistic establishment losing out to the Internet in this digital download age either, as you can order on-line from their site. Handy if you can’t get there and it’s the only place selling that special record you’ve been after but totally missing the point if you’re in Paris. The whole marvel of this place, as with any great independent record store, is that they have handpicked what they sell because they like it, not because people will necessarily buy it in its shed loads and they have physically set it out for you to wonder around its splendour.

Going to record stores is not about going in to just directly purchase the debut Golden Silvers album then walking straight out again. It’s about the whole experience. It’s about leafing through some of the more bizarre and surreal album covers, 12 inch works of art, albums you’ll never buy but are interested in finding out exist, then coming across that record that you have absolutely no idea whatsoever about but think the dude on the sleeve standing in a pond looks cool so you do buy it.

It’s about shyly shuffling over to the girl behind the desk to discover the name of the eerie electronica track playing through the shop stereo, not because you like it, just because you wanted an excuse to talk to her but then are too embarrassed to say anything else and awkwardly trundle back to the punk section. It’s about enjoying being in an aesthetically pleasing physical environment dedicated to something you love, run by people who love it just as much as or, probably, even more than you. This is what Groundzero is about and that is why it’s the best independent record store in Paris.

23 rue Saint Marthe
75020 Paris

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