Interview with Dizonord

Xavier and Vincent are the brains and ears behind Dizonord, an exciting hybrid record store located in the Northern part of Paris. Since its opening in 2019, it’s become a hub for locals and connaisseurs alike to come and dig through stacks of unearthed gems and exotic oddities. We talked with Xavier about his journey and the first years of running the shop.

Photograph © Mathilde Ayoub | Published on Feb 25th 2021

Hi Xavier, can you tell us more about Dizonord and its team?Dizonord is a record shop based in the North of Paris, founded by Vincent and myself. It’s a record store for the people, a third place for the neighborhood selling new stock and more. Our catalogue ranges from electronic music to more traditional, folk, exotic stuff but the essence of the project is to inspire people, have a good laugh and share our passion – there’s no limit to it. At the moment, the two of us are working in the shop with regular help from Léa, Pierre-Etienne and other friends, together we manage the shops, ordering, shipping etc. At times, it can be up to 6 of us.

We met when you were still running DDD, can you tell us how it mutated into this new venture?DDD started off as a mobile record shop, selling in various locations and online while trying to promote the scene and its new releases. I used to trade in flea markets and yard sales but with time I moved on to bars and small venues from the Paris scene (Zéro Zéro, Bar Ourcq, Le Udo Bar…), where I would bring crates and sell the records I was playing. That way people got to know me and after a couple of stopovers at Le Troisième Lieu and La Source with Antoine and Jacques, I moved all my stock to the Club Mate HQ. The idea was still to sell new releases but in a slightly more alternative location, with no outdoor sign. It was a bit like Ali Baba’s cave and we had quite a few events there. Around that time, I met Vincent and found out that we shared the same passion for deadstock. So when I stumbled upon an ad for a small space in the North, I suggested we should go and check it out. It took us about 2 years to sort everything out but that’s how Dizonord came to existence.

You had a strong start, with a lot of in-stores and a few bigger off events. Can you tell us more?Yes, we always wanted to dedicate a whole shop to cheap, second-hand stock. Having bought so many second-hand collections, things were getting messy and overcrowded in the shop, it was spilling everywhere. So, with some friends from our network, we put together the idea of a yard sale that we pitched to les Puces de Saint-Ouen (biggest flea market in the North of Paris), 15 minutes away from here. We did it for five weekends in a row, starting price was 5€, going down 1€ every week-end, so for the last week-end everything was priced at 1€. The whole thing went very well from start to finish! We also organised something similar on a weekend in-between two lockdowns, at the Hasard Ludique, a bar, club and restaurant set along a former railway station. Everything was priced at 5€ and 3€, we had the same team for those two days, and again we had a great time. There were a lot of different genres, the vibe was brilliant all around and people really got into it: you’d see guys grabbing huge piles of records, a beer and a hot-dog, go and chill in the sun while listening to these records they were holding in their hands. It was surprising but it totally made sense.We were thinking of organising a third rendez-vous, but unfortunately with the pandemic, things turned quickly, as well as the public outlook. The idea of doing such events then became trickier and questionable, that’s why we decided to call it off, hoping this will only be a short halt.Since then the team at Les Puces de Saint-Ouen offered us a permanent spot, we set it up two months ago and it’s now open three days a week. And although it might have seemed like the worst time possible to do it with Les Puces relying so much on tourism, we’ve had a good start.

Talking about the pandemic and its consequences… How did you deal with it all?As surprising as it may sound, we managed to organise a trip to Africa last winter, as well as the store’s birthday in February, in fairly normal conditions. We’re feeling pretty lucky to start the year this way.With Covid, we’ve had to refocus on our core business, which is goods and stock. We had a lot of unsorted records in our basement and managed to go through these collections. But like everyone else, we can’t wait for it to start again. We’re keeping up by working double the amount. Most of our projects are still going on so we are financially stable, but day to day, it’s hard to tell – it really is painstaking work at the end of the day. It’s actually been tough for our association, since we’re financially relying on hosting events and having an audience.On the bright side, there might be an opportunity to do more open air events in the future, still depending on public opinion obviously. As an exemple, the huge illegal rave that happened near Rennes on NYD corroborates this idea. I’m glad France allowed the reopening of small businesses, which, in comparison to the big chains, seem to pay more attention to what’s going on. But we’re still in the midst of it and it’s hard to tell when bars and cafés will open their doors. Things need to change, people shouldn’t be just allowed to pile up in the metro, it’s inhumane.

"We’re trying to stay poetic without hitting the wall."

Last year you released the amazing Studiolo - The 90’s Afro/Cosmic Era compilation with Antinote. You previously had a similar venture with Knekelhuis, how do these co-releases come to life ?Yes, both kind of happened by luck. The first one with Mark Knekelhuis for Cold Front was Vincent’s work and since it went really well, we decided to do something similar with Zaltan from Antinote who was super keen to do this compilation together. Afro Cosmic is a movement, a fairly unknown style, that we felt like sharing and showcasing. We obviously have some of these original records at the shop but it will take a while to shift them, the compilation is a way to make them more visible while giving a good introduction to the movement, it’s all interconnected.

Are you working on other collabs? Some more releases on Dizonord?We’d like to grow the catalogue following the same principle, it’s great to do co-productions. Vincent is looking at more Free, Traditional, Néo-trad things for the future but for now, we’re kind of living in the moment as we are first and foremost a record store. Basing the concept around a record, a scene or an era, we build projects and try to push them as far as possible. We have a well-oiled dynamic in the team now, notably thanks to Common Ground, so we’re able to multiply our efforts and stay poetic without hitting the wall.

Since 2018, the store has also hosted the official booth for LYL Radio Paris?The project always had a social outlook, with the idea of a local community centre. With LYL, it was a great opportunity to gather some artists from the scene at the shop once a week, through a web radio that we felt musically connected to. We started hosting while at Club-Mate, but at Dizonord, we actually had enough room to set up a booth. We took a few months to settle down and build our identity as a record shop, before naturally resuming the on-going project with LYL. Lately, we had up to three events a week, which can be intense at times, but it also makes complete sense to make the most of the bar and the extra space. We also host our own monthly show Dizo Not Dizo, for which we invite customers, mates, locals and amateurs to come and dig the crates.

How’s 2021 looking for you guys?We’re planning to work on different projects, around publishing in particular, as well as on exhibitions and continuing to develop collaborations, like the recent one with ACNE Studios, which we really enjoyed working on. It gives us a chance to broaden our horizons and go further… We’re going to carry on that way, you’ll find out more soon so keep your eyes peeled!

Dizonord, Rue André Messager, 75018 Paris - Check out Dizonord’s selection:

(Built with Common Ground)

Thursday, February 25, 2021