IF YOU MANAGE TO DODGE THE SKATERS ON THE BEAUTIFUL YET CHAOTIC PLACE DE LA BASTILLE, YOU DESERVE A REWARD – PERHAPS IN THE FORM OF THE FRESHLY BAKED CROISSANTS YOU CAN SMELL WHEN PACING DOWN THE CROWDED RUE DE LA ROQUETTE BEFORE WANDERING ALONG THE CALMER STREET OF SAINT-SABIN. HERE YOU WILL BE DRAWN TO A BLACK SHOP FRONT WITH BRIGHT-RED LETTERS THAT READS “BORN BAD”.
Push open the door of Born Bad Record Shop and you’ll already feel you’ve found a rare treasure. With its turquoise vinyl racks and orange wax floor, the décor is reminiscent of the bizarre record shop in A Clockwork Orange. Opened in 1999 by Mark, Iwan and Christian – three long-standing friends seeking an adventure after periods of unemployment and disenchantment – Born Bad has become one of the most iconic Parisian record shops. Surrounded by a plethora of similar stores (Le Souffle Continu, Betino’s and Bigwax Records to name a few), Born Bad has thrived thanks to its continuous evolution. In 2006, for example, in the middle of the illegal downloading boom, Jean-Baptiste Guillot – aka JB Wizz, a Born Bad friend and former A&R man for a major record company – decided to join forces with the team to create a sister record label, Born Bad Records. Its aim was to break free from the industry diktats and embrace DIY ethics, working with artists who have a more raw, unpolished talent.
More than just a shop, Born Bad has become a unique driving force for a radical new French sound, taking eclecticism and stubbornness to new heights. If you love cutting-edge sounds and unknown musical geniuses, this is the place for you: in the shop’s curated crates you can find not only garage, shoegaze and blues, but also zouk, 70s synth-funk from Cameroon and rare unsung gems, even releases from bands like Cheveu, Yussuf Jerusalem, La Femme, Le Villejuif Underground and many more. You’re likely to discover at least five new bands on a visit here, and Mark and his team have impeccable taste.
More than an epicentre of rock ’n’ roll, Born Bad succeeds in creating a space for fellowship by building bridges between genres and eras, rather than falling into the trap of revivalism. The store’s ironic motto is inspired by a slogan used by The Cramps, “Bad music for bad people”, but fortunately for visitors, the shop hasn’t managed to live up to it, and stays ahead of the curve.