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313 Vinyl Collective & Detroit Techno Legacy in Copenhagen

12 min read
313 vinyl collective

313 Vinyl Collective

morten 1 313 Vinyl Collective & Detroit Techno Legacy in Copenhagen

313 Vinyl Collective is a second hand record store specializing in Detroit and Chicago musical heritage. The high degree of expertise in electronic music and years of experience with vinyl records reflects the handpicked and carefully selected catalog of quality electronic music. The selection ranges from absolute classics in House, Techno and Electro to collector items and rarities of various dance music.

The traffic in the store is pretty high, records aren’t picking up dust and there are always surprises in the crates.Like nowhere else in town, music lovers can dive into label catalogs from Transmat, KMS, Underground Resistance, Metroplex, Axis, Synewave, Plus8, Dancemania, Trax, Fragile and many others. On top of that, be sure to find secret gems from early jungle or trance music, to IDM or ambient. RPM Records Team visited Morten Kamper to learn about his personal story and find out the motives behind opening a new record store in the heart of Vesterbro, Copenhagen.

The Beginning

I grew up in the countryside. As a lot of other kids, I learned about music from the radio. In Rødby, quite close to Germany we could watch German Television. Every Saturday afternoon there was a show playing Synth-Wave and Synth-Pop. That’s where I saw Depeche Mode, The Human League, Visage. I think it was in 1983-84-85. Naturally, my taste evolved around Depeche Mode, New Order and that kind of music. Because I didn’t live in the city, the imports from Chicago and Detroit were really not upfront at that time. It popped up just later on. I remember digging from Synth-Pop and Wave to Industrial and EBM – bands like Nitzer Ebb, Front Line Assembly and Front 242.

There was a record store in Copenhagen called Street Dance, where you could call-in, listen to records and order on the phone. I remember ordering 6 or 7 records and they got shipped to me. When my sister moved to Copenhagen I used to visit her and buy records in the record stores.

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Living so close to the ferry down in Rødby allowed me to travel to Lübeck or Kiel in Germany and buy records. And I did that in the late 80′ as well, when the Acid House was booming in Britain. Then my girlfriend’s big sister traveled to Ibiza in 1988 or 1989 and she brought a record for me, because it was played all over Ibiza that summer.

french kiss 313 Vinyl Collective & Detroit Techno Legacy in Copenhagen

That was Lil’ Louis – French Kiss. I must admit I didn’t really get it in the beginning, but more I listened to it, more I could feel the vibe. And then I thought “Ok, what is this?”. That is how I found out about Acid House, Chicago House, Trax Records and that kind of stuff.

And I think I bought my first Underground Resistance record in 1991 or 1992 – one of the Acid Rain releases. Since then I hunted down the records I could not get before and collected all that music.

acid rain 1 313 Vinyl Collective & Detroit Techno Legacy in Copenhagen

I moved to Copenhagen in 1993 to study, and obviously I went to record stores every week. Every Monday and Thursday, when they received imports, I was standing in front of the record store. It also became a social thing, because I used to meet a lot of DJs and we hung out.

Actually, all the way back in 1990 I started a techno club Lolland-Falster in my hometown and we were booking buses from Copenhagen for people to come over. There was also a big rave called “Sound and Vision 1&2” , where I took part as a representative of Lolland-Falster and we worked together.But only when I moved to Copenhagen it really started taking off and I started DJing. I’ve been DJing since 1995. That’s my story.

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In The Setting Of Concrete Walls

Kenneth Christiansen who owns Echocord Records came to our very first Lolland-Falster event. He approached me and said “Hi! My name is Kenneth. I live 40 km away from you. You don’t know me, but I love techno as well.”And we’ve been mates ever since. Of course, when I moved to Copenhagen, we started going out together and DJing. In 1998 we opened a club named “Simplicity”. It was me, Kenneth and Bjarke Jacobsen. Bjarke also ran a small record label called “Technology” where he released Bjørn Svin. At that time we thought Copenhagen needed to go back to the warehouse rave feeling that was not about the fancy club style, but just “bang-on” techno music in a rough warehouse.

We found a place at Islands Brygge, cleaned up four tones of garbage, and two months after we were ready with our first event. We used to book artists like Substance, Surgeon, Mark Broom, Steve Bicknell, James Ruskin, Ben Sims. We could not afford American DJs at that time. It was quite impossible because of expensive flight tickets, so we booked all English masters. They were not cheap, but cheaper than counterparts from USA.

surgeon 313 Vinyl Collective & Detroit Techno Legacy in Copenhagen

Ever since that day, I kind of wanted to open a record store again, one way or another.

We only ran a club for one year because the building had to be demolished, but I think “Simplicity” took techno music back to its roots in many ways. At that time Steen Kong also ran a club “Mantra” which was really cool. So there were things going on.

When we closed our club in 1999, Kenneth and I were still hooked on doing something for the scene. We opened a small record store called “Science Fiction”, not much bigger than 313 Vinyl Collective and we sold new records. However, we couldn’t make it work because at that time the Internet was starting to pick up. We tried to make it work, but finally we decided to close. The record shop LOUD  bought us. They called the shop LOUD 2 and Kenneth kept working there. I moved back to my job. Ever since that day, I kind of wanted to open a record store again, one way or another. 

I also think that records are the testament of the whole culture. On the contrary, digital files are not a testament because you can’t exhibit files in a museum.

Physical Media & Record Stores

I grew up buying the product. It is very simple – you buy a record and you can see who made it. You can feel it in your hands and see the artwork. There’s a lot of work put into this. When you buy a file or stream music, like a lot of people do nowadays – it’s just for the listening purpose. On the contrary, vinyl records are material products. Of course, the whole collector aspect surrounds this format, and to be honest, there are a lot of collectors looking for records.

I also think that records are the testament of the whole culture. And digital files are not a testament because you can’t exhibit files in a museum. I think it is so important to see the record, to feel the love put in it. I know a lot of DJs aren’t playing records anymore as they used to. Now they use digital files and I don’t even know how it works. That’s how old I am. When I am out playing, I only play records. I don’t play that often, but I only play records.

In the same way, I think physical records stores are as important. They bring people together. I like to go down and see the product, have a chat with the owner. I have a Discogs account, but to be honest, I don’t put that much on it because I prefer selling in the shop. And I see that I can sell in the shop. I’d much rather sell to people who walk in and have a chat with me about life and music. I am also here to give people recommendations. That’s how I think the record store has kept its existence nowadays. We don’t do that online and the social feeling is not the same.

313 Vinyl Collective & American Connection

313 Vinyl Collective & Detroit Techno Legacy in Copenhagen

The scene in Copenhagen is very small, nonetheless, there is a lot of people who really love this music. And I opened my shop for them.

I sell the majority of my records on commission. It means that I don’t have to invest in new stock. And that helped me a lot in the beginning. But it also helps other people who want to sell records and my record store is here for them.

I don’t own around 70% of the records in my shop. Some of them are mine, but most of them belong to other people who have really good collections. I clean their records, I put them out to the crates, and sell them quickly because it’s quality music and it will never go out of date.

313 313 Vinyl Collective & Detroit Techno Legacy in Copenhagen

I called my shop 313 and that is the postcode for Detroit. With doing so, I’m paying homage to the originators of techno music . But it is also more than that. I named the shop for people who know and seek for electronic music. It was the indirect way to say: “this is electronic music”. I could have named it 312, the Chicago postcode, but Detroit post code is something that was always fed into the narrative – Detroit Techno, Motor City.

I don’t think Copenhagen has any obvious connection to Detroit, of course. We had a lot of people coming over. A good friend of mine used to work for Juan Atkins and Derrick May, he lives in Copenhagen. We had parties with Derrick May and Juan Atkins over quite a few times. Underground Resistance played here in the early 90’s. I played with Jeff Mills two or three times and with Aux 88. And of course Jeff Mills is the Jimmy Hendrix of Techno music. But there wasn’t really any established work between Copenhagen and Detroit.

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On another hand, Berlin-Detroit connection has always been so strong, because when Berlin Wall fell, both cities were in decay, looking for the new identity. There were abandoned warehouses everywhere and you could do anything you wanted, nobody really cared. Police had other things to do and people were happy getting together again. So it was the perfect time and place for Detroit Techno to move to Europe. Even though, it had gained attention in London couple of years before with The New Sound of Detroit compilation, which was a landmark record as well.

At the end of the day, I think the history is very important. And I really like to have my Detroit records here. Never ever forget where you came from. That’s really important.

If you dig in all of the records at my store and you start with Detroit and Chicago, be sure that you will dive into the history lesson about how electronic music has evolved.

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Finally, it’s just quality music and that doesn’t have an expiration date. There are a lot of rock bands still relevant today. Bands like Joy Division and Nirvana. And I think, again it’s part of the history. It tells a story. If you dig in all of the records at my store and you start with Detroit and Chicago, be sure that you will dive into the history lesson about how electronic music has evolved.

I’ve met quite a lot of younger DJs in the store. I didn’t know them before. It has been very nice for me, an old timer, to invite them here and just have a chat. Some of them even knew my name. They came in to find the classics in electronic music. Some of them also write to me asking for records or track names. And I really like to contribute to the culture in this way.

There are a lot of collectors shopping here as well, because they know I have collector items and good gems to dig. And that gives me so much pleasure because I feel that I am also taking care of the heritage.

And there is still quality electronic music coming out from Detroit and Chicago nowadays. It is definitely not the same as it used to be, and you will have to wait for a new UR release. But artists like Gerald Donald or Keith Tucker are releasing decent amount of records still.

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And there is new generation artists such as Jeremiah Shaw, Shawn Tate and so forth. I’ve just received Our History, Our Heritage, Our Culture compilation from Detroit. It’s a completely mad record! I think one of the best records that has come out from Detroit in the last 5 years. So there is some music coming out. But obviously it’s not like in the old days when I could go the record shop and every Thursday there were imports from USA with new records from Metroplex, Axis or M-Plant.

At The Store

What gives me a lot of joy is people coming in from the street and saying – “Fuck me, you have really good records over here”. For example, I have a big pile of Relief Records from Chicago, Green Velvet’s label. It is hard to find them anywhere in Europe. Simply because if the store gets hold of these records, they sell immediately. And I have around 25 over here. To have an opportunity to sell these records and see people come in, dig into the music and find what they are looking for, makes me very happy.

mplant 313 Vinyl Collective & Detroit Techno Legacy in Copenhagen

I want to recommend few records, that I have for sale in the store. These records mean a lot to me, I have a personal connection with these records and they define what 313 Vinyl Collective is all about.

Robert Hood ‎– The Protein Valve [M-Plant, 1994]

313 Vinyl Collective & Detroit Techno Legacy in Copenhagen

That’s typical Robert Hood style minimal techno. In my opinion, he and Daniel Bell discovered the minimal term of music. It is really stripped-down, pure funk record. There are 5 tracks on the record and you can play them in all kinds of sets. Because it’s a record that has the funk and it is incredibly well made. I think I own almost every Robert Hood record up until 2010, so he’s a big inspiration for me.

DB-X – Bleep [Accelerate, 1993]

That is one of the records I bought when I started DJ’ing. I have never been into screaming acid. I like acid, but it’s not going to be too hysterical. I like more minimal music, with a lot of space between elements and funky. I’ve always tried to build that in my DJ sets. It’s not for me to decide if I was successful, but I always had a clear vision of what kind of music I would like to play. And I played a lot of USA imports, but as well Basic Channel and similar.

purpose 313 Vinyl Collective & Detroit Techno Legacy in Copenhagen

Jeff Mills – Purpose Maker [Axis, 1995]

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Jeff Mills released a lot of hard stuff in the beginning, and I think this record is the defining point when he pushed the music to another direction. This release came out on Axis Records, right after that he started another record label called Purpose Maker. You can play this record also in a house party because it’s just proper funk music. And nowadays, Jeff Mills still produces records, of course, for instance “Every Dog Has Its Day” series is beautiful, floating electronic music.

Mirage feat. Chip E – Jack Trax [House Records, 2006]

This is a repress of one of the earliest Chicago House records. The times were crazy back then. Trax Records were pressing on a crappy vinyl with old tires melted into the plastic.You could bring a tape, and then 3 days after, you had a record. Ron Hardy at the Music Box just banged them.

Sell Your Records

I’m always looking for records. I do buy, sell and trade. If I take records on commission, I clean them, give them new covers and make them presentable for customers. I would never sell records that are completely trashed.

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If you bring quality second hand records of electronic music, they will definitely be sold. I’ve been selling a lot of records and I can see the demand in Copenhagen. That is really nice, and it surprised me a little bit.

I have a good relationship with the record store Sound Station. Nicolaj is one of my good friends, he sends customers here. Also Martin from CAN, a small art and record store is my good friend. We are all friends. I think there is definitely networking between record shops. I send customers to Dorma21 for new records. Let’s be honest, Copenhagen is a small city. If we didn’t work together, I think it would be really sad. Working together is the only way forward!

Finally, I think Copenhagen needed a quality second hand record store only with electronic music. I have a lot of respect for all the other shops, they have very good, various types of music, but we needed the place to dig for only carefully selected electronic music.

And that is 313 Vinyl Collective.

***All information retrieved from a recorded interview with Morten Kamper at 313 Vinyl Collective in August 2020.

***Transcribed by Mioara Mihai, edited by Dainius Groove

Enjoy Your Vinyl!