An Interview With Request Music
Request is the only record store still in existence on the neighbor islands.
Last August, I took a trip to Maui, where I rummaged for records at Wailuku’s Request Music. It was there I met Brendan Smith, the shop’s general manager. This week, I wanted to highlight Brendan’s involvement with Request and get his take on the annual frenzy called Record Store Day, which celebrates independent record shops and wrapped earlier this month.
What’s the history of Request?
Request was started back in 1990 by Vince Mendez, first at the local swap meet, where he would sell used music out of an old mail van. Shortly thereafter, he moved into a small space and, approximately a year later, into a larger store on Market Street in Wailuku where we still hang our hat to this day. The shop changed hands three years ago to a friend named Joe Alueta, who has helped hugely to remodel and rejuvenate the business, as well as expand it to include comic books.
What has your involvement been with Request Music?
I had been shopping at Request since I was about 6 or 7. Eventually, I was there so often they offered me a job. Joke’s on them — I probably would have done all of this for free. I’ve been working at RM since 2003 and became general manager circa 2008 or 2009.
Request is the only record store still in existence on the Neighbor Islands. Why Maui?
Mauians tend to not have their finger on the strongest of pulses, and that’s OK. It allows us the opportunity to stock more of the music we truly believe in and less of the stuff stores like ours are expected to have for the sake of cool points. We know our customers really well and pride ourselves in being able to cherry-pick music for them.
Record Store Day is now over. From the looks of it, you guys pulled off a great event.
To say it was successful would be a huge understatement. I think everyone walked away with at least one of their wish-list items. The news of our appearance on Rolling Stone‘s website really has spread like wildfire, too.
Record Store Day has been criticized for being over-commercialized. What’s your take on the RSD madness?
For those stores and labels saying that RSD is nothing but big labels manufacturing fake collectibles for a large profit, I totally understand where they’re coming from. With that said, shut up and enjoy. The limelight it has shined on all of us (independent record shops) has been a huge boost in business with long-lasting effects.
Any last remarks?
Love the music you want to love. Even better, BUY the music you love. Also, your iPod might be portable, but it sounds like crap. Tangible music til I die!
Visit Request in Wailuku, Maui, or at requestshawaii.com.
For more from Roger, visit alohagotsoul.com.