Minneapolis, the home of Prince, the Juicy Lucy, an awesome art and music scene, beautiful lakes, and the iconic record store The Electric Fetus which opened in 1968. The Electric Fetus has been a gathering place for music heads and counter-culturists in Minnesota since it began. They stock a comprehensive selection of new and used CDs, DVDs, and LPs from classics to the newest releases, from all different genres and styles. Read more on the history and name here. Today we have the pleasure of introducing you to Dawn Novak, the marketing, promotions, social media and web manager for The Electric Fetus who has been a part of the ever changing music landscape there for 30 years.
When Dawn isn’t at the shop she loves going to concerts with her family and friends. “I also love to travel and visit museums of all types. Spending a few hours viewing/reading as much as possible in museums makes me happy.”
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
After studying journalism (advertising focus) at UW-Madison and working at (then commercial alternative station) WMAD-FM, I knew I wanted to move to Minneapolis because there were a lot of great local and touring bands that played at First Avenue. I wanted to see tons of live music.
What is a day in the life like?
One of the things I like about my job is that I’m not always sure what the day will be like. I’m in the store’s basement offices a lot of the time, so it’s a nice change for me when we’re having an event that puts me on the retail floor to work with customers and our dedicated retail staff.
Favorite sale / relationship made from behind the counter?
I was fortunate to spend some time with Prince when he visited Electric Fetus on Record Store Day in 2016, just before he passed. We had been working on some distribution for him and it was great to have him visit on such a big day.
In your opinion what has been the coolest thing to come through your shop / thing you had to keep / almost couldn’t put out for sale?
If I didn’t have them already, I’d have to jump on any of the three special Police badge picture discs that were released in 1979/1980.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
I’ve been here 30 years and navigating social media channels at first was a real challenge. Like we do in the retail store, we listen to what folks want and use our social media to keep them informed on what we have to offer and we have some fun with it too.
What has been the craziest experience that has happened at the shop?
I’m a massive Sting/Police fan. Getting to coordinate and host the only in-store that Sting and Shaggy did on their 2018 44/876 tour was an amazing experience. That was some crazy good fun. Both artists were so kind and humble and the crowd of 250 hung on every word of the Q&A before they got their vinyl signed.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
I’ve always said that if I knew that my job existed, I’d have tried too hard to get it and it probably wouldn’t have happened. I just followed my music passion and it led me here. Talking with people along the way is key. Don’t be afraid to ask folks how they got where they did. When I was in college looking for an internship, my mom said, “Why don’t you call up that radio station you listen to all the time and ask them if they have anything?” I did, and I interned for a summer and then was hired on for my senior year. I was able to learn copywriting, production, on-air and promotions.
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’m excited to see the new wave of Listening Parties happening. We hosted separate parties to preview the new Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Melanie Martinez and Boygenius records and each time there were 100-150 young fans in attendance. They were excited not only to experience the new music with other fans, but to discover all the new and used vinyl we had to offer. For some, it was their first time in the record store and we loved talking vinyl with them. At a Gorillaz listening party, one fan said, “Oh, listen. It sounds so much better than Spotify when you listen here.” That brought a huge smile to my face.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
I do love my vinyl collection. It’s not massive, but it’s important to me. Like the music itself, each piece brings me back to a certain place and time…the 45s I bought as a kid, the records on my wishlist for Christmas each year, then all the vinyl I bought as an adult.
Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry?
When I started at the record store, I met Lelia Weimar, a former Electric Fetus employee who was booking bands at First Avenue. She has since retired, but for many years I learned a lot about the industry from her and she remains a great friend to this day. She taught me you have to be strong making your way in a male-dominated industry, but never forget to have fun.
Anything else you’d like to add; if not tell us what you’re listening to:
I can’t go wrong listening to anything by The Wombats. They continue to tour and release great music and I’m grateful for that. And of course, Sting. I’ve always admired how he does what he wants, and he still puts on a killer show. “Rushing Water” off “The Bridge” was my favorite song of 2021. I’ve got that record on three different vinyl variants.