Ni Hao! In late January, the Discogs crew went to Taipei, Taiwan to attend the Red Bull Music 3Style World Finals IX and partner up for an after-party, the Bastid’s BBQ. As you may know, Taipei is one of the most popular tourist cities in Asia, however vinyl culture and record shops over there have been mysterious for most of us. But now is the time to unveil the Formosa with hidden gems! We are going to introduce some record shops in Taipei!
It was my first chance to visit Taipei and immerse myself in the city! It had a warm climate, friendly local folks, cheap delicacies, and great parties with enthusiastic crowds. It was just amazing. (Big respect to the Red Bull music crew!) Beyond the delicacies and parties, I also wanted to check out some local record shops. What were they like? I needed to know.
Before the trip, I had no clue about the city, so I researched the vinyl scene and local shops there and discovered some shops through VinylHub. However, there wasn’t much info about what types of records those shops had — so I wasn’t sure if I would find great shops and vinyl before I went.
But lo and behold! Even in my limited time, I found some great shops and got some gems. Let me share them with you! 🇹🇼🇹🇼🇹🇼
Eslite (Xinyi Store)
Eslite (Xinyi Store) 3F 11 Songgao Road, Xinyi District, Taipei 110
The first store I visited was Eslite (Xinyi Store), which was picked for the Best Asian Book Store by Asian TIMES Magazine. Eslite is not just about books and music. They expanded their businesses as a department store and have hip boutiques, food courts, and more in the building. So, I didn’t expect to find many records. But to my delight, there was tons of vinyl here! Around 70 percent of their vinyl collection is new domestic and imported jams covering all genres. The remaining 30 percent is used vinyl from Japan and the US, comprised of classical, rock, and a few more genres. They also carry new CDs in all genres and audio accessories like turntables and headphones. The store is close to the Taiwanese landmark Taipei 101, so you can easily access it during your trip.
indimusic records 3F. No. 297-5, Section 3, Roosevelt Rd, Da’an District, Taipei 106
indiemusic records, in business for over 20 years, is one of the oldest record shops in Taipei. Being a long-running shop, they stock plenty of used CDs from Taiwan, Japan, the US, and Europe in all genres. For you vinyl hunters, they also have a decent amount of used stock. The vinyl can be found in the bottom of the CD shelves at random, which ignited our digging spirit. Our good pal Skratch Bastid was the big winner at this store. He found a Taiwanese pressing of the Tom Brock album, which is sampled in Jay-Z’s Girls, Girls, Girls. We were so surprised that the Taiwanese pressing exists!
White Wabbit Records
White Wabbit Records 1F, No.1-1, Ln. 21, Pucheng St., Da’an District, Taipei City, 106
If you want to know about the Taiwanese indie music scene, hit White Wabbit. The store deals with plenty of new CDs and vinyl from Taiwanese indie artists, as well as imported indie music they carefully select. White Wabbit also runs a label and releases Taiwanese and Hong Kongese artists. The shop organizes music events like the music festival in Tainan, “LUC Fest”, and definitely has an important role in Taiwanese indie music culture.
先行一車 (Xian Xing Yi Che)
先行一車 (Xian Xing Yi Che) No. 102, Shida Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106
It took a little wandering around before we were able to find this store — but when we did, boy did we find it interesting! It looks like someone’s house, as you can see in the picture, and the inside of the store was just as unique. It’s as though someone took an old house and decked it out into a cool little record shop. The six of us standing in inside easily exceeded the store’s capacity. They stock all used vinyl, including Western jazz and rock, Japanese folk and jazz, and Taiwanese music. The owner likes Japnese folk and noise music and named his shop after a song from a Japanese folk singer (Kazuki Tomokawa), 先行一車 (Senko Issha). He also runs his own label and organizes music events.
Waiting Room No. 1, Alley 10, Lane 40, Chang’an West Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, 104
The store is owned by a member of the Taiwanese indie rock band 透明雑誌 (Touming Magazine). The shop carries apparel, music, and art books, which the owner and staff have carefully selected. If you’re interested in the latest Taiwanese street and youth culture, this is the place to go. They sell new vinyl, local and international indie rock, experimental, and jazz, with some items being exclusive to this shop. The owner is friendly and speaks English well, and the store is located within walking distance from Taipei station.
Xiao Sung Records
小宋唱片 (Xiao Sung Music) No. 79, Section 2, Xiyuan Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City, 108
Xiao Sung Music is a little far from the city center, but it’s definitely a worth to visit if you’re really on the hunt for used vinyl. As you can see in the picture, the store has many shelves jam-packed with vinyl! They mostly stock used records in various genres, such as Japanese and Western pressings of jazz, rock, classical, Japanese enka and Taiwanese local music. As an established and long-running vinyl shop, they clean records with a cleaning machine before they stock them. The owner was extremely helpful in assisting me to find a record that I wanted from Taiwan. I also got some Taiwanese library records and did some great shopping at a reasonable price. Do not forget to take off your shoes when entering the store!
Vinyl Decision No. 6, Lane 38, Chongde Street, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Vinyl Decision is a cute cafe/record shop. Before I visited here, I thought the place would only be a cafe with a small record section. Once again, to my delight, I was pleasantly surprised. Their walls are completely filled with records, records, and more records! Selected by a British musician owner, all the stock here is used and comes from many genres. It consists of Japanese and Western pressings of rock, jazz, soul, blues, and world music. Due to the massive amount of records, I didn’t have much time to go through many of them, but I found some rare Japanese pressings like the classic Miles Davis jazz-fusion album, Dark Magus with an obi strip! The best thing is if you get tired of digging, you can sit back and relax with some nice coffee or beer. For all you guys who can’t come here, you’ll be happy to know that Vinyl Decision sells their records on Discogs!
THT RECORDs No. 10-2, Xing’an Street, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, 10491
The next one is also a nice cozy cafe-bar with records. I started wondering if it’s a popular or traditional thing in Tawain to buy music while drinking coffee or beer. The owner of this shop is a musician and runs this store in order to expand vinyl culture in the city. There’s a vinyl section on the second floor, and it mainly stocks new domestic and foreign vinyl in various genres, from classic soul and jazz to modern R&B. They don’t really stock used vinyl, but I got a Taiwanese Salsoul Orchestra LP. The Chinese letters on the jacket look pretty fresh. The store is open until 1 a.m., so you can have some beer and vinyl after midnight!
Eslite (Dunnan Store)
Eslite Dunnan Store No. 245, Section 1, Dunhua South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
This is another store in Eslite in the Dunhua area. A local guy told me this store has the biggest vinyl selection in Taipei, so there was no chance I would skip it (Thank you for the info, Andrew!). I arrived at this store around 9:30 p.m. Do you think that’s late for diggin’? Nope! Surprisingly, the store stays open till 11:30 p.m. What shocked me more was the amount of vinyl they stock. They sell Taiwanese, Japanese, and Western pressings of new and used records for all genres. They also carry new and used CDs and music accessories. In the end, I spent over two hours there and copped a lot of fresh Japanese and Taiwanese records. I highly recommend this for vinyl hunters.
This is exactly a record shop, but it was so impressive that I wanted to share it with you anyway. We heard a rumor about someplace in the city that has a massive amount of 7″ vinyl. Of course, we didn’t want to miss this opportunity. What we saw there were stacks and stacks of 45s, almost full-naked (without a sleeve). Heaven! The place was only open for 10 days, and luckily we happened to make it in that time. The owner here happily showed us his vinyl collection. He has a lot of rare Taiwanese pressings, especially super rare 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng) records! If you don’t know her, you should definitely check her out on Discogs. Most of her records have become insanely popular and rare here in Asia. The one shown in the picture above was distributed exclusively to members of the Taiwanese armed forces. To help all of you who couldn’t experience this place, we are trying to bring the 45s to Crate Diggers Japan now. Stay tuned!
One Last Thing
I want to give you a tip for Taiwanese pressings. During our trip, I came across Taiwanese pressings of ’60s and ’70s US and European music. What I heard from the local people was that there were no performing rights organizations such as ASCAP in Taiwan until the mid-to-late ’70s. Therefore, most of the foreign music during that time was not officially pressed in the country.
Without exception, all of the Taiwanese pressings of US soul and jazz I picked up were pressed by unlicensed Taiwanese labels. As a result, most of those Taiwanese pressings until the late ’70s and early ’80s are considered to be unofficial and are not allowed to be bought and sold on Discogs. However, our main aim is to archive all music from around the world, so we are still able to submit unofficial releases for the Discogs Database.
Throughout the great trip, I got the impression that vinyl culture is growing in Taiwan, and it’s worth traveling there to dig. While the shops I introduced here are a bit far from each other, the taxi rides are relatively cheap. Taipei is close to other Asian cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo, so it might be a good idea to add the city to your Asian digging tour.
I’m sure I wasn’t able to knock off all the stores in Taipei, so if your favorite ones haven’t been mentioned, please add them to VinylHub and share them with us. Zai Jian!