Have you met STÉPHANE AISINBER?
Stéphane Aisinber is a hunter, though not an ordinary one. In fact, not only are his ways harmless, they also provide joy to music lovers from all around the globe.
In October 2016, Seymour Kassel Records was founded; a Brussels-based record shop dedicated to offering only rare and original vinyl. Since then, Stephane and Nicolas Fily have been exclusively digging for first pressing, early matrix and limited-edition vinyl records.
‘I’ve been listening and buying music for as long as I can remember. I didn’t intend to be a collector but, with time, I realized that I had built a collection. Parallel to the compiling of all my records, I spent 30 years of my life working in the E-commerce sector. Through my digital career I founded several companies. In 2012, I took the decision to put an end this work path and went for something which had never been taught to me, especially not in my business studies: to make a passion a profession. Today, I’m immersed in music on a daily basis and I love it.
It didn’t happen from a day to the next; when I decided to quit the corporate world it took me time to figure out exactly what I was going to do with my love for music. Having all these records around, I realized that I could do something with it. I started trading records online but, with time, I started feeling frustrated of being, for the most part, only around to-be-shipped packages. That frustration turned into a will; to open a physical space, which I did in 2016.
My retail store opened me up to a new but key aspect of doing business: sharing. Having people come in and out of the store with whom I can discuss and through whom I’m able to discover new music worlds is priceless. Music is all about sharing and having a physical shop enabled that. Now, as I said earlier, my career as record trader started years before, when I was doing it all online. While I was travelling in New-York I met a wealthy collector who owned a substantial set of records all sorted by alphabetical order. He pointed out the fact that, at the letter ‘G’ Serge Gainsbourg music was missing. One thing led to another; I was given a budget to dig for this man. Since then, I’ve specialized in finding very specific records for my clients.
One important thing about what I do is that I’m a hunter. In the record store business, you either hunt, fish or both. A hunter goes into the wild to find what he seeks, one who fishes waits for people to come in with good, or not, records. I specialize in first-release records and it’s not easy, they are obviously second-hand while having to meet series of criteria which makes them hard to put hands on. This is how I’ve differentiated my offer; I aim at being proactive rather than passive and, in this business, it’s rare.’
WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH EXTRA-ORDINAIRE?
‘I discovered Extra-Ordinaire through common friends with Jean-Paul (Lespagnard) and Xavier (Guenther). I visited the shop and it didn’t take long for a playful collaboration to take rise, playful as it’s what Extra-Ordinaire is about.
Jean-Paul selects pieces of my collection to be featured at Extra-Ordinaire. You can thus find some of Seymour Kassel’s rare findings at Extra-Ordinaire.
The relationship with E-O even took a turn for the better as I opened an art library, right in front of the record shop, in which I feature artists who happen to be creating close by Jean-Paul’s workshop in Forest. Small city/world.’
WHERE DO YOU LIVE & WHERE DO YOU COME FROM ORIGINALLY?
‘I was born and raised in Brussels and that’s where I live now. To be more precise, I live nearby Rue de Flandre where I founded Seymour Kassel Records and most things in my life happen in its area. I’ve known its streets since I was a child and I’ve always liked the neighborhood. Although, in my 20’s I had this idea that, to be someone, one had to have lived in LA, worked in NY, dated in London and lunched in Tokyo. That was the definition of freedom to me at the time. It obviously changed as I travelled looking for freedom but only really found it once I settled here in Brussels. My whole life now takes place in a 125-meter radius and I’ve never felt freer.’
NAME 1 PLACE AND 1 OBJECT THAT SHAPED YOUR PAST, PRESENT AND INSPIRE YOUR FUTURE.
> 1 PLACE: Rue de Flandre and its area
‘Since the opening of Seymour Kassel Records in 2016, I bought a house at literally 200 steps of it, I then opened Saint-Martin Bookshop between the two. As I said earlier, my world is now in a radius of 125 meters and I never felt so free. I like what’s multicultural and I find that in my area; cultures clash in a good way: people talk, share, etc. I realize my neighborhood is privileged as it is preserved.’
> 1 OBJECT: The turntable Thorens TD 124
‘My Turntable Thorens TD 124 MKI, built in 1964. The same model that was used by DJs at Studio 54. I use it on daily basis and I imagine that it will survive me; it’s unbreakable.’
HOW DO YOU FIND THE EXTRA IN THE ORDINARY IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE?
‘I always add an extra scoop on my ice-cream so when I find something or someone I love, 100% and more is a must, in give or take. Someone told me, at an early age, that it all comes down to the two extra percent you put in: you wake up 2% earlier than other people, you work 2% longer than everyone else, you tip 2% more and when you get a kiss you give it back with these additional 2%. Obviously, this percentage is made up, but what it means is that it doesn’t require so much more effort to make life extraordinary.’
WHAT MAKES E-O PHILOSOPHY SO EXTRA-ORDINARY?
‘The proof is in the pudding: you must see it to understand it. Visit the shop and it will speak for itself.’
Seymour Kassel Records is located Rue des Flandre 93 and opens from Tuesday for Saturday 11:00 – 20:00.
Interview and writing done by Richaad Kindts