Making Southern California Sound Like Southern California

Lea Sindija has the coolest job in Santa Barbara. She’s the Record Concierge at the new, surfer-cool Goodland Hotel.

When The Goodland opens in Santa Barbara next moth, it will be to the strains of California rock. But don’t expect to hear Hotel California. Lea Sindij, the new Kimpton Hotel’s Record Concierge doesn’t play that crap. Sindij has outfitted the 158-room pseudo-surf lodge with a library of rock, rap, and reggae designed to remind visitors that this isn’t merely a luxury property, it’s a luxury property in Southern California, the world capital of Southern California-ness.

Each room in the hotel is outfitted with a turntable so that each guest can make their own soundtrack. Trying to get work done: Put on some early, drum-heavy Chili Peppers. Chilling out after catching some waves: Brian Wilson is your man. There’s enough vinyl on site to please most diehard music buffs, but it’s Sindija’s job to cater to the one percent that know their deep cuts. To do this, she collected one-of-a-kind live recordings and hard-to-find psychedelia. Just because she’s got the best job on the West Coast doesn’t mean she isn’t hard working.

Sindij talked to MAXIM about what makes California sound like California.

How does one get a job as a record concierge at a high-end hotel?

I have a background in music on the public relations side, repping musicians and booking shows. Part of my job is creating the atmosphere at the Goodland and curating the vinyl collection is the best part for me. It’s the embodiment of what’s going on on the property. I get to set the mood.

And that will be…

We’re stocking stuff from the sixties through the nineties. Lots of the music has a surf and skate vibe. We wanted to play off the juxtaposition of that laid back tone and a bit of grittiness. A lot of the artists we’re stocking, guys like Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, and Coltrane, were really controversial back in the day even though they don’t seem like that now. The same is probably true of the psychedelic guys. Hendrix, Joplin, Black Sabbath, and Zeppelin. We’ve got all that.

Which records were the most difficult to find?

Those psychedelic records are actually the hard ones to find. Psychedelic rock is coted. Electric Ladyland, for instance, you find that and you grab it if you can. We had this list of must haves and for some of them like Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” – with “Iron Man” on it – I had to call around and really search it out.

I got really into finding the bootlegs the sound engineers used to record during live shows and illegally sell to outfits that would press them. They’re cheaper, but they’re actually cooler because you’re hearing something a bit more rare. I got a great live Iggy Pop.

Who is your favorite artist?

Hendrix. Everything he ever did.

Noted. But a lot of modern artists never really had great vinyl records.

Going into the nineties it gets a bit harder because everyone was buying CDs at Virgin megastores. I got a Red Hot Chili Pepper’s vinyl of “Freaky Styley,” the record just before the original guitarist [Hillel Slovak] overdosed.

We also got some Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Jazzy Jeff, and Green Day. I think it will transport people back to a nostalgic place. I tried to make sure there was a lot of SoCal vibes so we had to have No Doubt and Sublime.

Where were you actually finding this stuff?

Most of our collection came from Warbler. The owner, Kurt Legler, is super knowledgeable. He had a heavy hand in helping us because he’s the guy in Santa Barbara. After that, I just went into every hole-in-the-wall place from here down to Los Angeles.

Photo Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels

How will visitors to the Goodland get their hands on these records?

The vinyl will be behind the front desk so when people check in they can choose what they want. Either that or they can call ahead and tell us what they want and we’ll curate that for them. I’m also happy to sit down with people and talk them through the history of vinyl and the process of making it.

What’s the broader point here? This is clearly not just about finding a better brand of hotel music.

We’re very much a luxury property, but we also want to be laid back. We’re catering to younger creative people and entrepreneurs. It’s surfer chic with lots of wood and white paint – very California.

Photos by Kimpton Hotels