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Belgium: The Vinyl Frontier

Wallifornian Melomania

Wallifornian Melomania

Drop your kids at Walibi for some serious rollercoaster rides while you enjoy a relaxing day digging through crates at Wavre’s coolest record shop: Meloman.

It’s only been five months since Benoît Jacquemart opened his store. Meloman Music Store is not your every day record shop. In the back, lounging is allowed in the comfy couch and chairs. It’s also where Jacquemart organises showcases, exhibitions and lectures, the place where he occasionally screens music-related movies and documentaries. Enjoy a nice cup of freshly ground joe while listening to some records: two turntables and a CD player are at your disposal.

On the ground floor, you’ll be greeted by TintamArt, a collective of artists run by Jacquemart’s fiancée, Sophie Bayet. She organizes music courses for every age. Other than that, Meloman offers new and used vinyl, CDs, DVDs, cassettes, books, music sheets and turntables. Everything is focused on music, yet selections is key here. Just to be clear: The Sound of Music is not to be spotted on the shelves, nor in the odd flea market left-over box in the back.

“In French, a ‘mélomane’ is a music lover!”

Inside the store, all the walls are painted in yellow, which makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. There’s vinyl on the walls and some old-fashioned crates with records and CDs add to the cosiness. Jacquemart: “It was really exciting to find a name for the shop. I wanted something that’s catchy and easy to remember, yet just as easily pronounced in English as in French. Most of all, it had to identify the shop and its spirit.”

“My dream came true. I’m still living it and you can count on me for making it last as long as I can.”

Jacquemart: “Opening a record store has been my dream since I was 18. I always thought that being a record store owner was the coolest job on earth, especially after I read Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, a must-read for every record store owner and music fan. After high school, I spent a year at the University of Western Sidney in Australia with my best friend. There I discovered The Beatles, The Smiths, The Pixies… I also started going to record fairs and second hand record stores. I bought my first two records at a garage sale down the street from where I lived.”

“Long story short, after that amazing year in Australia, I came home, studied Communication, and got my first job in a record store. I loved it. After the shop closed down, I worked as a carpenter, travel agent, teacher and finally ended doing communication for a union. I was spending most of my time behind a computer wondering what I was doing there. I decided to quit, and suddenly everything happened pretty fast. Just seven months after quitting my job I opened Meloman. My dream came true, I’m still living it and you can count on me for making it last as long as I can.”

“I am a collector myself. It’s a big problem when you own a record store.”

“It can be hard sometimes to sell a record that you wish you had in your private collection”, Jacquemart guiltily admits. “My most precious items are the two first albums I bought at that garage sale in Australia: The Dream of the Blue Turtle and …Nothing Like the Sun, both Sting albums.” For Jacquemart, it’s hard to select only one favourite Belgian record. Parades by Loïc Joseph and Saule’s l’Eclaircie have been spinning non stop these past few months. Already on his wishlist is the new Girls in Hawaii, which will hit the shelves in September.

Jacquemart: “I also cooperate with other venues. I’ve organised two VYNYLY nights (it’s a board game about music) with the Citizen Kane café. They also organise showcases and some artists who performed there also performed at Meloman, and the other way round. On Record Store Day, April 22, Phorin (French songs), Loïc Joseph (alternative folk) and Orphéon Quartet (classical) will be playing in the lounge room.”

In need of more black gold? Check out our utterly complete list of all of Belgium’s record stores.