Be right back, booking at trip to Miami just to visit Caroline and this shop. Kidding… sort of. Keep reading and you’ll see what I mean. Meet Caroline Cardenas, a Cuban-Honduran Miami native and manager as well as event coordinator at Technique Records. Her role includes managing the behind the scenes activity of the shop alongside the owner Mikey Ramirez, while coordinating events to bring in the community and spread the love for music. She also does some graphic design for the shop, recently designing an entire merch capsule for this past June’s Record Store Day.
Technique Records is an independent record store founded in 2017 located in the Upper East Side / Shorecrest / Miami Shores district in Miami Florida. The 1675 square foot facility houses over 15,000 used records, 45s, cassettes, cds & more. Technique is known for deep digging as 75% of their stock is used, original pressings with a focus on left-field new imports and obscure alternatives. Wish You Were Gear, an analogue & modular synthesizer haven, is also located inside the shop offering new and used gear from Moog, Make Noise, Intellijel & more. Caroline has been with Technique since it’s beginnings in 2018.
When she’s not at work she enjoys traveling, bowling, karaoke, cuddling her cat, watching films, and meditating with her Moog Subharmonicon. Cats, synths and records, c’mon, sounds pretty perfect.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
Ever since I can remember, I have loved music. My family always jokes that I was born singing and dancing, so in a way, I have always known that I wanted to work in the music industry.
In 2015, I moved to Los Angeles with a dream to work in music journalism and photography. Since I had a degree in English and enjoyed taking photos, I decided to combine the two skills. I did press and writing for an online publication called Illsociety Magazine in Los Angeles, covering local music, art and fashion events. My experience with them taught me a lot and it helped me find more opportunities in the music and entertainment industry.
When I moved back to Miami, a friend recommended me to Technique. With my skills in music journalism, my experience with content creation and graphic design, and my overall passion for music, I convinced Mikey to give me an opportunity. It’s been an uphill climb since then. I became manager after one year, we expanded to a larger location, and I have coordinated over 100+ events for Technique in the last three years including Meet & Greets, record signings, and in store performances with various musicians and collectives, in turn bringing more customer awareness to the shop.
What is a day in the life like?
Like every shop, we play vinyl or tapes all day long, and we have to do the daily filing of go-backs, mail order, inventory restocks, and social media posts. But despite these habitual duties, no day at Technique is ever quite the same.
For starters, every employee has different taste in music, so you never really know what kind of music will be playing each day. If it’s Mikey’s shift though, he’s most likely playing Industrial, lol!
With such eclectic customers visiting on a daily – locals, out of towner’s, musicians, and more – you really never know who is going to walk through the doors. Being that I love a good story, I am always finding myself getting to know the customers and learning about them. I think it is important to be a place where customers feel known and appreciated.
What has been your favorite sale / relationship made from behind the counter?
All of them! Honestly, I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. I’ve formed so many friendships working at the counter of Technique and hosting all the events.
But if I had to pick, one of my favorite relationships I have made is with the Vinyl Social Club in Miami. They are a collective of vinyl selectors who spread the love for music with their pop up events around the city. At their events, regardless of your experience with turntables and vinyl selection, you are encouraged to bring your own vinyl and sign up to play a short 20 minute vinyl set. This inclusivity is what drew me, and many others, to their events.
During 2018-2019, we hosted and helped coordinate a bi-monthly Vinyl Social Club Selector Showcase at Technique Records to highlight some of their favorite Vinyl Social Club selectors within the record store, partnering with Milly’s Empanadas and Pabst Blue Ribbon for refreshments. We met so many great selectors and a lot of them are still customers today.
Because of Vinyl Social Club, I also played my first all vinyl sets, which helped me land more vinyl selector opportunities, including a 3 hour happy hour DJ gig at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). I’m always thankful to those who help use their platforms to inspire others, who push others to try new things, and who help keep the music alive. This is why Vinyl Social Club is one of my favorite relationships I’ve made because they do just that for the vinyl community.
In your opinion what has been the coolest thing to come through your shop / the thing you had to keep / almost couldn’t put out for sale?
That’s such a tough one because Mikey is always buying amazing used record collections and I constantly have to stop myself from purchasing a lot of vinyl.
This one time, Mikey acquired a HUGE collection of The Smiths original vinyl and other tour memorabilia, and the line was as long as Record Store Day! It was insane, I didn’t even have a chance to get anything from the collection because everything was bought up that same day. Same thing happened with a huge Bjork collection he bought.
We also had a copy of Minor Threat’s “Filler”, a rare 45 which was worth $1,000 and I couldn’t believe someone would pay that much for a 7 inch, but they did and I wonder if their wife yelled at them for it! Haha!
What has been the craziest experience that has happened at the shop?
The craziest experience at the shop was when John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers visited the shop and Mikey leans over to me and whispers to me, “I think that’s John Frusciante.” He then looks over at John and says “Hey man, you’re a dead ringer for John Frusciante,” and John replies, “That’s because I am John Frusciante.” It was a very funny exchange.
We then took a photo of him with his record buys and posted it on our socials. That day, the photo was featured on all kinds of Red Hot Chili Pepper fan pages all over the world and we gained over 10,000 followers in a day. Some fans even showed up at the shop after we were closing to ask if he was still around. It was insane!
I live for these random moments. Like I said earlier, you really never know who is going to pop in to the shop and I’m glad the store is a place where musicians feel comfortable to dig.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Since most record stores are independently owned, getting a job at one can be hard due to there being a small staff. For me, I like to think I got the opportunity due to my persistence and determination. I looked at the strengths of the shop first and figured out where it’s weaker areas were and what skills I could offer to help strengthen those areas. I think that this is a good way to show your interest in a record store’s growth, and that you are passionate and confident about your work. Just dropping off a resume or loving music won’t suffice, you have to engage with the shop and its staff more personally and prove that you are a good fit through your skills.
With event coordinating, I had zero experience, but I jumped right into the world and got to know collectives and artists in Miami who were making a name for themselves. I made connections with the community, supporting them in their endeavors and stayed open to providing a platform for them, harvesting our ideas to curate events that helped spread the love for music. If you have an honest interest and commitment to the music, it will show and someone will take notice. Just put yourself out there and make those connections. You never know who you will meet.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Before Technique I was a music lover, but not a vinyl collector. After I was hired, Mikey gifted me a turntable and I bought my first record (the “Pretty in Pink” Soundtrack) and haven’t stopped collecting since. It is kind of a prerequisite, to sell vinyl, you have to know vinyl and own vinyl.
I constantly have to battle with myself to not buy every record that I want that comes through the door, but I now have a modest collection which features genres such as Krautrock, Jazz, Soul, New Wave, Ambient, Electro, and Latin records. I also began collecting cassettes and CDs. As a 90s baby, I look forward to growing my cassette and CD collection significantly.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
The most difficult part of working at a record store as a woman is that sometimes there is a belittlement of women employees by older male vinyl consumers. I can’t tell you the number of times that a male customer has asked me a question, received the correct answer from me, but still goes to a male employee to ask the same question. It’s always humorous to me when they get sent back to me for the answer though.
Other than that , I think we are moving towards a less elitist vinyl community, seeing more younger consumers join in on the vinyl craze and being more accepting of all employees no matter the gender.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
I am most excited about seeing more women being represented in the vinyl community, opening up their own record stores, labels, and working behind the scenes.
I am thankful for your platform shedding light on who we are and giving us an opportunity to be known and acknowledged. I am also excited about the increasing sales in vinyl each year and seeing the vinyl community grow exponentially. Over the past few years we have seen a huge increase in women, young adult and children purchasing vinyl and it is beautiful to see physical music appreciated during the era of digital music.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Keep pushing hard to keep physical music alive! Everyone has a role to play in its survival. With the pandemic, we saw a lot of musicians, venues, and record stores badly affected, so it’s important for us to keep striving to keep our culture alive and pushing one another to do so. If you have a new record store opening up nearby, go buy local.
If your friend is starting a new label, record store, or event series, buy their music and share their info. Help them get the word out. Show your support in any way you can so the industry of independent music stores will stand the test of time.
It means the world to me to work in this industry. To encounter new music, meet new people, and to use Technique Records as a platform to spread the love of music. I am appreciative of anyone who has worked with Technique and those who will work with Technique in the future. Record Stores are the hubs of the music communities, and I am honored to help do my part in pushing the music community forward and seeing Technique Records continuously grow.
Tell me what you’re listening to:
Techique Records: @techniquerecords