Looking back at the history of local music venue WhySound and its record shop

Oct 09 2017 WhySound merch feature_Megan.Nielsen-11

WhySound, an iconic music venue, recording studio and record store located on Federal Avenue has provided an expressive space for Cache Valley creatives of all ages since its opening in 2008.

The current owner, Utah State University graduate Jett Fesler, is closing the venue at the end of this month due to financial and personal reasons.

“Studio business hasn’t stayed sustainable,” said Cory Castillo, the merchandise store manager. “If the studio is really busy and drawing a great rate, that can take care of all of the expenses in the building.”

The venue has a 49-person capacity and profit from live music attendance couldn’t sustain the building’s overhead.

“If I had to put a finger on it, Jett burned himself out,” Castillo said. “Out of passion and drive and grit. He did it for all of the right reasons, that’s for sure.”

Megan Nielson

WhySound is a unique place in Logan and was authentically created by the community. It was opened in 2008 by Tim Mose, who opened the venue and music studio shortly after moving to Logan from New York City.

In 2013, while studying music at Utah State University, Fesler took an interest in Mose’s work.

“I really got into sound rather than playing actual music,” Fesler said. “This was the only place to find that kind of work. I approached Tim and asked if he would teach me everything he does.”

Fesler ran the soundboard for free every night for a full year and a half.

“I just wanted to learn,” Fesler said. “And I did, he taught me a lot.”

In 2014, Fesler graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music from USU and became the owner of WhySound.

Fesler and Castillo opened the record and merchandise store last December. Castillo said the idea behind the merchandise store was to “just sell local stuff,” like CD’s, t-shirts and stickers of local bands for people who couldn’t make it to shows.

They started with one table of local merchandise. Castillo said it was always more about the group of regulars that would hang out and nerd out on music than it ever was about retail or money.

“We’re just there to compliment what’s already happening,” Castillo said.

On Christmas Eve of 2016, Huston Guy, a friend of Castillo, walked into WhySound and sold him his collection of 300-400 records.

“Suddenly we were a record store,” Castillo said, who picked up an additional 300-400 records himself. A visitor of the store offered another 300-400 on consignment.

Megan Nielson

“Suddenly we had as many records as we could handle,” Castillo said. “If (Guy) hadn’t walked in the door and given us records, I wouldn’t have set regular hours, hired two employees, picked up more stuff or bought furniture and painted.”

The store become self-sustainable. The two employees Castillo hired took home a meager stipend each day, mostly in vinyl.

“We really did try to help the larger picture,” Castillo said. “We were there because of it and we really did try to help out a lot, but unfortunately the venue and studio have a larger burden than a little shop where the people work for free.”

The building’s landlord is currently seeking a new tenant, but it is unknown who will take over or how long the building will be vacant.

“Some people think it’s a little more fatalistic than it is,” Castillo said. “(Jett’s) moving out, we don’t know who’s going to move in yet and it still is what it is.”

Until the new tenant moves in, the stage and studio will remain. Castillo has other business ideas for the vinyl sold on weekends at WhySound, but is not planning on moving the record store into a new space.

Castillo is hopeful there will still be a music venue in Logan after WhySound’s closure.

Students who are interesting in making a visit to WhySound before its closure can attend its final show on Saturday. Panthermilk, Mojave Nomads and Dr. Barber will be playing for an entrance fee of $10, or $8 if you wear a Halloween costume.

“Students have to come out,” Castillo said. “Something’s going away that’s so uniquely Logan. It’s unique in the world. They would be missing an important part of their college life if they didn’t go see that energy at least once this month before that place is gone.”

 

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