Mahssa Taghinia: The Record Keeper
By Diamond Bodine-Fisher
Just blocks from where the Gold Line cuts across Figueroa Street, you'll find the latest addition to an increasingly trendy business district in Highland Park — Mount Analog, which sells records, art, clothes and books, all on tidy display. The shop's register sits atop a Tetris-like mountain of speakers. Despite national trends, record stores are popping up all over Los Angeles, and the scene got even stronger last July, when Mount Analog opened its doors.
After closing one night, 31-year-old co-owner Mahssa Taghinia sits back in an old office chair. Wearing leggings and an oversized black T-shirt, she explains the shop's appeal: "We've carved out niches within genres that other shops don't hone in on."
Indeed, the bins at Mount Analog are filled with hand-selected experimental and rare vinyl. The collection is sorted not by genre but by sound and aesthetic — meaning that metal and electronic albums might share space if they have a common thread. "We have a section with Krautrock, progressive music, new age-y synthesizer and early electronic stuff together," she notes proudly.
While all of this may sound confusing or overwhelming to the uninitiated, it makes Mount Analog a mecca for both tastemakers and serious collectors.
Taghinia's love affair with vinyl began at age 14, when she worked at her local Columbus, Ohio, record store. After school Taghinia moved to New York, where she got involved with the British record label Finders Keepers, launching its U.S. arm. The imprint specializes in obscure and vintage recordings, originally released in tiny quantities. Many have been completely forgotten.
Finders Keepers recently re-pressed copies of DIY French punk and synth pop outfit X Ray Pop's 1985 release, Pirate!, whose initial run was only 100 cassettes. Another recent offering is a collection of rare tracks from the once-banned Iranian pop singer Googoosh.
"The best part of putting out these albums is finding their story," Taghinia says. "It's like a puzzle, piecing it together."
Having moved to L.A. in late 2007, she continues to manage events, sales and production for the label. With all this music retail experience under her belt, Taghinia also decided open Mount Analog, undertaking the venture with partner Zane Landreth, a scene veteran and artist manager. "Opening a shop was the next logical step," she notes.
The store serves, in part, as a physical extension of Finders Keepers, and also hosts in-store performances from a wide swath of acts.
Taghinia's journey has taken her a long way from Columbus, but she now seems to be just where she belongs. "There's a lot more going on here than any other part of the country," she says. "Every day in L.A. can be an adventure if you want it to."