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Paradise Loft: Building a sense of soul and community in music

Posted by Renew Adelaide on May 2, 2017
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For Oliver and Lewis Graham buying albums isn’t just about the music, it is the sense of sharing and community the music fosters; a feeling they’ve attempted to nurture at Paradise Loft’s Regent Arcade location.

Paradise Loft started its life as record fairs, a chance for the two brothers to build a community of music. Using the contacts they built from living overseas the pair have imported more than 30,000 records to sell in store and at fairs, giving locals the chance to experience buying unique records.

“Buying online doesn’t have that same connection,” Oliver said.

“It’s more than the music, if you know what I mean, especially growing up, going to a record shop was more than the music, it was the connection to the other people and sharing knowledge and information and community.

“If everyone is alone in a room buying music than noone is excited to come together and share –  everyone thinks that their stuff is better, but if you’re doing it all together you’re supporting each other.”

After DJ’ing for more than 10 years Oliver saw the shop as an opportunity to create that community hub where people can drop in and talk about music and wanted a style to reflect that goal.

Oliver was concerned that “if we go over the top with the fit out it will detract from what’s in the boxes”. The minimalist style of the store was put together by Oliver and Lewis with help from friends and family to design the space.

There was no single album responsible for the passion Oliver has for music, he said it was everything from The Beatles to Jimi Hendrix.

“What’s got me here is soul in music,” he explained.

“Soul music doesn’t mean that that’s Aretha Franklin. The Rolling Stones have got soul, there’s a lot of these types of bands who aren’t necessarily ‘soul bands’ but it is in the music. It’s in the song, you either feel it or you don’t. Look at all sorts of different artists and you just find one little soul song in there.”

Paradise Loft will be moving out of its current location in a few weeks ready to transition back to the record fair distribution model they were running with previously.

“It’s a very difficult climate, Adelaide has got its challenges, retail has got its challenges but I can’t stress enough how important it is, especially for younger people to support as much as they possibly can,” Oliver said.

“I’ve seen places similar in size to Adelaide just be amazingly vibrant and Adelaide definitely is –  we just need to keep supporting, don’t leave, focus on your thing, do your thing here and scream from the rooftops that it’s awesome.”

DJ’ing and record fairs provide the kind of interactions that are becoming increasingly rare in our digital world.

“It’s just a feeling you get from the song … you’ve got this crowd of people and it’s just everyone singing, everyone’s moving and it’s very obscure music, in no way is it common, but you can see the feeling inside of people coming out. You can’t replicate that,” Oliver explained.

“For us to handpick different people to play… there’s a platform and opportunity for those cultures to exist and someone listens, goes ‘oh wow that’s great – when’s your next club night’, then they go there, they take some friends and that’s how it has to be.

“Someone inviting you to an event on Facebook doesn’t have the same sort of feeling.”

Bringing Paradise Loft to the retail space was a great experience, Oliver said and working with Renew Adelaide has been brilliant.

“I think it is such a good opportunity for anyone, especially young people to take a risk, a cheap risk, it’s really fulfilling and challenging, and why live in doubt? Why wonder if that idea you had was going to work or not?” he said.

“I set up a shop when I was 19 for two years and it was great. Then I closed it and I learnt more than any uni course. So I’d say roll the dice to kids and I think Renew’s brilliant and the more the merrier.”


Words and images by Melissa Berminhgam

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