Dark Entries’ Josh Cheon on the childhood dream that’s since become a life-affirming reality
It was July 2021, and I was renting an office space above a record store in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighbourhood. The shop was in danger of not making rent, so the leaseholders decided it wasn’t sustainable and pulled out of their lease prematurely. I thought, ‘What am I going to do with all of my stock; 13 years of life’s work?’ So I started looking for a space.
I had just lost my sound engineer, George Horn, who I had worked with since day one. I was definitely in a funk, and all these signs were telling me that I should just stop. [At the time] I was working with a bookshop across the street. They told me, “Why don’t you check out the tattoo parlour next to us, it’s been empty for two years.” I was like, “Oh, wow, this is perfect.” I called the landlord; we worked out a deal and I got a lease. My vision for the space was to have my office upstairs and people could pop in to pick up records that they’d ordered online.
Two months went by and my friend [DJ] Mike Servito flew out. He was looking around and said, “You have to have a Dark Entries record store. It’s the next logical progression.” I didn’t know the first thing about [running a record store] or how to turn the parlour into a store – like, there were sinks everywhere from all the tattoo stations. The more I thought about it, the more I said, “Maybe I should do a record store.” When it opened in December 2022, I invited Mike to come and play the grand opening.
It’s been non-stop emotional since. Having a record label is a very amorphous thing and if you have a brick-and-mortar space, it lends more physicality to what you’re doing and almost gives it more validation. Having it in this neighbourhood is so important to me; it was the first gay neighbourhood in San Francisco, where the first Pride parades were. It’s always been a very trans, sex-positive place, and so much has been erased through many cycles of gentrification. It’s really wonderful to make this a queer space. Having this restorative moment in a neighbourhood that has seen so much erasure over the last 40 years feels good.
I always told my mum I want to have a record store. And she was like, “No, that’s not a real career.” And I said, “I’m buying all these records; I want to complete the cycle.” I was a teenager then and now I’m 42 – so it took some time! It was a dream I didn’t know how to make a reality. It’s something I didn’t see happening at this point in my life, but I’m so grateful it did, and I wouldn’t do it any other way.
Creative Technology Consortium’s Panoramic Coloursound is out now via Dark Entries
This feature is part of The Click series, taken from Issue 142. A podcast version of this feature is available exclusively to Supporters.