Brooklyn-based indie label Captured Tracks has built an unwavering foundation over the past five years. Since its inception in Greenpoint in 2009, owner Mike Sniper has compiled a roster ripe with unprecedented young talent (Widowspeak, Beach Fossils, Mac DeMarco) and coupled their releases with reissues from indie major leagues like The Clean, Medicine and Wake. Having once shared space with Academy Records in Williamsburg and with friends at the Mexican Summer label’s location, Sniper was on the hunt for the first space of their own. Now serving as both office space for the label and the recently opened Captured Tracks Shop, 195 Calyer Street in Greenpoint is a permanent home.
Talking with Sniper, who comes off as both focused and extremely affable, it’s clear he’s confident his store will set itself apart from the clan of labels who have set up shop over the past few years. Not interested in purely hustling CT merchandise, he sees the store as an opportunity to buy all sorts of music-related goods. The shop hosts a remarkable stock of both new and used records, art books, vintage recording equipment and more.
Fresh off celebrating the label’s fifth anniversary with CT5 fest and the shop’s soft opening, we sat down with Sniper in his new digs to see what’s brought him this far.
Where did the idea to open up the shop come from?
We were sharing what is now still our warehouse, on West St, with Sacred Bones. Mexican Summer was also using it as a warehouse and shipping zone. I still have an employee there for shipping purposes, but it was just time to have our own space, really. At first I was just looking at offices; I wanted to still be in Greenpoint since I live there and there’s so many labels around here and so many meetings I have here.
Everywhere that I was looking that was just an office was four or five dollars per square foot. Then I saw this place, which nobody was taking because it’s subterranean, but it’s commercial. It has an outdoors and then I thought, “This is more space than I need.” And then it hit me, I could open up a shop on the other side of it, so why not? It actually wound up being really cool like that.
Why did you guys paint it all white?
There were two reasons for that. One is we wanted to stand out as a record store. Most shops are homey and have kind of an organic feel to them, which I totally understand, but there’s so many of them in the area that I thought we’ll stand out by being sparse, clean, white and super brightly lit – which was a reaction to it being subterranean – so we kind of took advantage of that as well.
You guys just celebrated five years of Captured Tracks with CT5. What made five years reason to celebrate?
It was actually John Chavez – booking agent for my band Blank Dogs and [the guy] who books about 60% of the bands on the label – who came up with the idea for a festival. He convinced me to do it, and then I still didn’t want to do it, and then we did it anyway. The festival is what actually created the retrospective aspect of it.
Were there any highlights of the two days for you?