Feature | Happy National Vinyl Record Day

Photo: Ed Canas

To celebrate National Vinyl Record Day I chatted it up with Lea Sindija, whose official title is Director of Programming at The Goodland Hotel, but is known in music circles as the “record concierge.” That is because The Goodland, a Kimpton Hotel in Goleta, CA, just a few miles outside of Santa Barbara, boasts a dope vinyl record store inside it’s bohemian oasis doors. Sindija is both collector and connoisseur whose knowledge of music runs as deep her roots in it (read below).

See: Playlist | Lea’s Picks for #National Vinyl Record Day 

She partnered with LA-based VNYL, a music discovery subscription service, to create this one-of-a-kind record shop that you can enjoy next time you visit the California coast. The space features dozens of titles that can be enjoyed during one’s stay and purchased for the road, as well as listening stations powered by SONOS and VNYL’s connected turntable line, TRNTBL. 

Crave: The Goodland has become a Santa Barbara fixture in supporting the arts with film screenings, live art shows, etc. What’s the connection? 

Lea Sindija: Art is heart, emotion, passion, opinion, meaning, conversation, expression. Without any of that, you have a stale environment. And, we didn’t want to create another stale hotel where people check in, sleep, and then depart. Hospitality is about having a personal connection with each guest and what better way to create that than thru art. We really wanted to make a statement that The Goodland is a platform to discover creatives in all forms and that we support and find so much value in the artistic community, especially locally.

What did the Goodland think when you pitched them the idea of having an in-house vinyl shop?

Everyone thought the concept was unique, but I definitely had to use my best persuasion skills to get them to agree to actually building the shop because it was something that had never been done before so there was no reference point to ensure its success. But that’s the point of my job, to create guest experiences that you can’t get anywhere else.

Speaking of, one of your many job titles is “record concierge.” What’s the record/song that best describes what you do?

Ha! Oh, yes I love this question. This a southern California hotel and the vibe here is surf/skate free-spirited bohemian beach vibes and my job is to make sure that energy is always present on property through the various projects, events and initiates I create and that in a sound is Red Hot Chili Peppers album Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

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What’s the difference between vinyl and digital music in terms of listening experience?

Listening to vinyl is a full sensory experience. The smoothness of the wax record being pulled out of a sleeve, placing it on a turntable, the click the player makes when you switch it on, the crackle of the needle hitting the wax vinyl and then the momentary hush of white noise that fills you with anticipation before the music starts to play. The energy of the music feels more raw and real to me. If you want to switch artists, you can’t just press a button and go to the next song, you have to start the process all over again, which is therapeutic and relaxing. It’s an experience that creates a feeling of nostalgia.

How did the collaboration with VNYL happen?

A friend from the radio station KCRW named Sandy Gilson, mentioned that she had a friend who just launched a project which involved vinyl and she wanted to introduce us. Sandy connected me with Nick Alt, founder of VNYL, and he drove up to the hotel on the night of The Goodland’s first concert, which was a Hanni El Khatib show. We came up with the whole concept of having a record shop in the hotel in that initial conversation.

Tell us about the record players in each room?

Crosley Cruiser’s. Eventually, we will be upgrading to TRNTBL’s which are VNYL’s creation of wireless turntables that can stream and upload music to your Spotify and are compatible with Sonos speakers.

What’s your go-to record crate digging spot?

Locally in Santa Barbara it’s Warbler. The owner Kurt is so knowledge and really into random, rare stuff which I love because discovering new sounds is what it’s all about for me. He turned me on to Dadawah “Love and Peace” which is a favorite reggae album of mine now. Some of my best finds have been at random flea markets and hole-in-the-wall shops that I stumble across while traveling. 

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What’s the funniest or oddest record request you’ve had?

A good friend of mine, who is a well-known Grammy award winning producer, stayed at the hotel and he called me weeks after his stay and asked me if he could buy the vintage Quincy Jones album that was in his room. Normally this would have been easy to do but this particular album was scratched and removed from the room. He told me that the way the album skipped created this looped beat that he could not get out of his head and he tried to sample it but couldn’t get the sound just right and really needed to hear the actual skipped record. I went on a wild goose chase to find this record that had been removed from the hotel room and dropped off at this spot called Art from Scrap with a stack of other broken and scratched records. Not sure what’s happening with the song but maybe we will hear it one day on the radio…

Is there a record out there that’s been your Moby Dick? The one you haven’t found… yet?

My great-grandfather, Mart Britt, was in a band in the 20’s and there was an image of one of his record covers that hung over the piano in my house growing up. I would love to find that, or any records of his. Aside from satisfying my childhood nostalgia, I am always on the hunt for bootleg’s and 90’s music on vinyl. I think they are the most exciting thing ever because you are getting a rare recording of an artist’s performance. The quality isn’t always the best and sometimes unpleasant to blast because there is so much background noise but it never outweighs the dopeness of listening to an artist of the past performing live. My fave bootleg’s that I own are of Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. I would love to find a Johnny Cash bootleg, I think he might have said some crazy stuff in between songs.  

Keep up with what Lea’s up to on her Instagram: @leajane__ and what’s happening at the Goodland @thegoodlandsb.