Local multimedia collective FeelTrip started out in 2011, running a South Loop DIY venue in a loft supposedly once occupied by the band Disturbed. Since then the collective, now anchored by David Beltran and Diana Bowden, has become home to a wider variety of projects. FeelTrip makes eye-catching apparel, including excellent shirts printed with a mashup of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures cover and the Air Jordan Jumpman logo; it presents events, such as a monthly dance night at Slippery Slope called Reptilian; and it releases records, among them Paul Cherry’s debut album, Flavour, which came out a few months before the local indie-rocker played the 2018 Pitchfork Music Festival. As of last week, FeelTrip also has a brick-and-mortar record shop, No Requests. It’s in the Kilbourn Park area of Irving Park, at 3358 N. Karlov, and it celebrates its grand opening Friday evening.
For a couple years, Bowden and Beltran had been looking for a space to serve as a FeelTrip headquarters. “We’re so used to working out of our house, and it was consuming our living space,” Beltran says. The pair wanted an art-studio-type space that could serve as an office and as a place to store FeelTrip’s apparel and label back stock, along with the 8,000 records they’d collected to sell at record fairs and other events (including Reptilian nights).
They didn’t consider making that hypothetical space a shop till July, when they came across the storefront on Karlov. “The landlord at the spot really wanted something that was gonna be retail,” Bowden says. “So that really pushed us.” The previous tenant, magician Dennis Watkins, had used the space to rehearse. “The window was covered up—it wasn’t opened to the public,” Bowden says.
“He had all this magic stuff when we went to check it out—posters of magicians on the wall,” Beltran adds. The magic posters are now gone, and the walls are nearly bare, in keeping with the minimalist aesthetic of No Requests. The intimate space is occupied by little except the items Beltran and Bowden are selling—which are also the things they’re most interested in collecting. “We have a lot of records, we have clothes. We’re interested in what other people make, which is clothes, zines, apparel,” Beltran says. “We kind of had to work around that—like, how do we fit that all in here.”
“It’s also, I think, inspired by a gallery space,” Bowden says. “It’s highlighting different things, so, like, the audio equipment was definitely something we wanted to be a focal point. We love vintage audio.” Pretty much the only things on display that aren’t for sale are the potted plants.
Bowden and visual artist Julia Kriegel also brought a tasteful gallery aesthetic to the storefront display window—large, royal blue curtains decorated with blobby patterns hang behind a couple of disco balls. Used records take up the bulk of the interior (the stock skews toward international music and dance), but there’s a small selection of new LPs and cassettes from FeelTrip and a handful of local and international labels—including London dance imprints Hot Haus and Lobster Theremin. No Requests isn’t the only record store in town where you can buy original Trax and Dance Mania 12-inches, but it might the only one to stock vintage LPs by southeast Asian pop stars.
“People have come in here and asked us, ‘You guys have an original Philippine music section? You’re the only record store that has this stuff,'” Beltran says. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m Filipino.’ If it’s my first record store and I have it, I’m gonna put it out there. I’m not sure what the market is for it, but it’s important, at least for me, to have it out there.” Shortly after Bowden and Beltran signed a lease on the storefront in July, they flew to the Philippines for a month; their trip unexpectedly coincided with a quarterly record fair, and they brought back dozens. “I was blown away just seeing records of pop stars from the Philippines, and everybody cherishes them,” Beltran says.
Records aren’t the only things Beltran and Bowden imported from the Philippines—among the Chicago-based art zines that dominate the shelves at No Requests is an entire row of Manila-based Team magazine. “Team mag is the first and only, I think, queer publication in the Philippines,” Beltran says. “So we thought we’d get that over here.”
Bowden and Beltran took over the space in September. They’d originally planned to open the shop by the end of 2018, but their budget meant they had to build and install all the fixtures in the shop themselves. “We probably could’ve opened up earlier, but it wouldn’t have looked as good, and we wouldn’t have been as prepared,” Beltran says.
“A big factor in that was we were busy with other things,” Bowden says. “We couldn’t just be here, like, 12 hours a day, hammering it out, because we had events.” Unforeseen overhead also slowed them down; late last year they launched an Indiegogo campaign to help cover those costs. Other FeelTrip enterprises continued to demand Bowden and Beltran’s time as well—the record label was growing thanks to the attention attracted by the Paul Cherry album, and they’ve been focused on a full-length by arty dance-pop trio Pixel Grip called Heavy Handed that’s due in April.
No Requests had a soft opening last week, and its opening party is Friday, March 1. Beltran and Bowden rented out an adjacent storefront for the DJs who’ll be spinning, and they plan to keep the shop open till the party ends. v
No Requests will be open regularly Thursday through Monday: noon till 6 PM Thursday, Sunday, and Monday, and 11 AM till 8 PM on Friday and Saturday.