Takashima Records Celebrates Great Plates and Acetate
Sean Baltzell knows a good thing when he hears it. He previously opened Union Barbershop, Tower Classic Tattoo and Knife & Flag Survival Union. His latest venture, Takashima Records at 4041 Chouteau Ave. in The Grove, continues this commitment to creating independent businesses with a locally focused record label and lounge concept.
Equal parts sounds and sashimi, Takashima Records germinated during Baltzell’s time in Tokyo, where hybrid bars and record stores are commonplace.
The lounge will offer a departure from the typical bar. “We wanted to create a space in St. Louis that was unique and something where we could pull people out of the everyday bar scene,” Batzell says. “It is an intimate space where we will have fine-dining type service. The service is going to be really next level but still approachable. Imagine an audiophile lounge with a Japanese-focused cocktail program. As a label, we will highlight our city’s musical heritage, as well as the newest hip-hop and international releases along with the latest sides from Japan’s bustling lounge scene.”
Takashima’s first official release (scheduled for early 2020) is a 7-inch single re-pressing of Oliver Sain’s “On the Hill,” with “St. Louis Breakdown” on the b-side. Choosing Sain for the inaugural single came about thanks to some assistance. “We also were lucky to have the ‘Papa’ Ray helping us,” remarks Baltzell. “He’s been so generous to open up his connections, catalog and library of sounds he owns, and allow us to do this first pressing.”
Despite the lounge’s contemporary Japanese flair, Baltzell promises the record label will kick it old school by presenting pressings that represent St. Louis’ lo-fi, jazz, blues, soul and early psychedelic rock legacies. “There’s a plethora of that stuff here. We’ve seen a lot of other labels doing this type of thing in their respective cities and we felt that we should tap into our own city’s rich musical history.”
With so much music to draw from, Baltzell described how the label’s releases will be available at the lounge. “The only records that will be for sale are the pressings we are doing. Those will probably be quarterly—maybe three or four a year. Those will be presented on a menu. We will probably have other merch, like a record bag, t-shirts and record needles from Japan. Other than that, we won’t be selling any records other than at the occasional vinyl pop-up market or for an event where we bring somebody in.”
Joining Baltzell to create platters that matter are fellow music junkies and DJs Paul Fullerton and Dan Hayden with 4 Hands Brewing Co. and 1220 Spirits, collaborating on the label’s debut 45. Offering more than cocktails and conversation, Takashima Records has also enlisted Kurt Bellon (of Global Foods Group and Chao Baan GM) to deliver authentic Japanese cuisine at Izumi, the kitchen housed inside the cocktail and vinyl lounge. Celebrating Japanese culture through food, Izumi will feature evening and late-night menus designed to complement the overall aesthetic of Takashima Records.
Hayden commented on the importance of selecting Oliver Sain for the label’s first release. “It is our hope to keep his music alive and honor his lifetime contribution to the industry. The re-press of Sain’s ‘On the Hill’ is just the beginning.” He continued, “With the Takashima Records label, it’s our goal to reintroduce music lovers to the artists, sounds and styles that have shaped what we love about this city’s musical footprint.”
Images courtesy of Takashima Records.