Switched On started off like every other second-hand gear shop in the country, selling drums and guitars. Whoop-whoop. But then something weird happened: Local musicians stopped asking for rock gear and started obsessing over synth rigs. Between the rise of strictly analog acts like S U R V I V E—half of the band is behind Stranger Things’ stellar score—and the scene-sparking label Holodeck Records, it’s as if no one wants to play guitars anymore. And forget digital. As James Murphy once sang-spoke in the LCD Soundsystem anthem “Losing My Edge,” “I hear you’re buying a synthesizer and an arpeggiator and are throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something ‘real’.”
Therein lies Switched On’s strength: Today’s musicians want to reach out and touch things, to feel their way through a song with tactile buttons, keyboards, and dials. The only problem? Synths are temperamental buggers, prone to breaking down in the middle of making an album or suddenly needing a knob that hasn’t been made in 20 years. Switched On co-founder Chad Allen is determined to be the guy who can fix your ARP. And if you don’t own one already, you will by the time you leave his store, which encourages customers to fiddle around with floor models. Sometimes it’s a Minimoog or a Yamaha DX7; sometimes it’s a the futuristic take on a TB-303. Acid techno anyone?
2400 E. Cesar Chavez St., Ste. 200, Austin, TX; 512-782-8806.