Diabolical Records Celebrates 10 Years

June 28, 2023 Written by Melissa Fields

This summer, one of Salt Lake City’s most beloved counterculture institutions, Diabolical Records (238 S. Edison St), is celebrating its big 1-0. This vinyl records store, tucked into a ground-level space on downtown’s Edison Street alley, was founded and is co-owned by Alana Boscan and Adam Tye. “We both grew up here and have always loved the local music scene,” Alana says. “Music is why we fell in love in the first place and is a big part of the reason we got married.” While Diabolical has certainly come a long way from its original shipping container home on Granary Row, over the last decade, Alana and Adam have managed to maintain the premise on which their small-but-mighty store was founded: giving Salt Lakers access the “weirder side of all music genres,” supporting local music and musicians, and fostering community.   

Adam was raised in a conservative household (“I wasn’t even allowed to wear black t-shirts,” he says.) and didn’t see his first live show until he was 15. “It was Form of Rocket at Kilby Court,” he says. “Ever since then, I’ve been a fan of local music.” Adam left Salt Lake after graduating from high school to complete a mission in Chicago for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He then briefly moved to Los Angeles to learn to screen write. When he eventually returned to Utah, he took a job managing a restaurant, but also worked one afternoon a week at the now-closed Slowtrain Records. “That’s when I really started collecting vinyl,” he says.

Live Show Diabolical

Alana, whose parents are from Panama and Venezuela, followed a more traditional, academic-focused path after she graduated from Judge Memorial High School, enrolling at the University of Utah and then earning a master’s degree from Westminster College. All the while, however, she remained proudly “a part of Utah’s counterculture,” she says.

The two met through a mutual friend and then married in 2010. Alana worked for the State of Utah while Adam bounced around at different sales jobs trying to figure out what he wanted to do. “We tried to buy Slowtrain when it closed in 2011, but that didn’t work out,” Adam says. Then one evening in 2013 a friend who worked for Uinta Brewing asked the couple to help with a beer garden the brewery was hosting at Granary Row. There they discovered four shipping containers for rent. “Alana and I thought that maybe this could be the place,” Adam says. “Two-and-a-half weeks later we were open.”

To call Diabolical Records’ first home scrappy is an understatement. “We opened in the shipping container with two boxes of records on a small table and an old Ikea futon,” Adam recalls. “But the rent was only $250 on a month-to-month lease, and so we thought we’d give it a shot.” Their early days clientele was based firmly within their friend group. But then, mostly through word of mouth and a bit of social media, Diabolical began to establish a name for itself and the store’s following gradually evolved into a larger community of non-mainstream and local music lovers.

Diabolical exterior

Then, six months after opening at the shipping container, Alana and Adam were wandering around downtown after seeing The Flaming Lips play at Pioneer Park as part of the Twilight Concert Series. Alana told Adam that she had something to show him: a ground level retail space along the Edison Alley. “We knew we couldn’t stay in the sipping container forever and had looked at spaces on Pierpont, but as soon as I saw [the Edison] space, I knew it was where Diabolical needed to be,” Adam says.

 A small business loan and Kickstarter campaign funded the move from the Granary to the brick-and-mortar space on Edison. The alleyway’s then scant occupancy allowed Alana and Adam to double down on a part of their dream business they had begun on a small scale in the shipping container: hosting live shows. And then, the once small role live music played at Diabolical almost eclipsed everything else. “From 2013 until 2020, when the pandemic essentially shut down live music, we were hosting between three and five shows a week, or over 700 shows in all.”

During that time, Alana and Adam also created BANDEMONIUM, a local musician mashup where 50 or so people would sign up to perform in a randomly created band during a live show at Diabolical. The bands were given two weeks to meet and rehearse before each BANDEMONIUM show.

“Some of my fondest memories from the last ten years have been watching all of the musicians perform at the store and connecting with one another,” Alana says. “It’s hard for me to pick which show was my favorite because there were so many good ones. Any concerts with Sculpture Club, Baby Ghosts, Chalk, Last or Portal to the God Damn Blood Dimension always felt meaningful, like we were doing something right.”

Though both pandemic-fueled regulations and fears have eased, live shows at Diabolical will remain, largely, a part of the store’s past. “I was spending 30 hours a week just booking shows, in addition to running the store and trying to have a personal life,” Adam says. “Many of the bands we were booking previously have kind of dissipated or moved away and Alana and I are enjoying spending more time doing things like kayaking, camping and have more balance in our lives.”

Other factors in Alana and Adam’s decision to not resurrect their store’s previously packed live show schedule include the increased tenant occupancy along Edison, which has made the neighborhood less hospitable to the impact of live music, and Salt Lake’s recent proliferation of small live music venues. “I think that, for a long time, local bands could not find a place to perform, which just wasn’t right with how good they are and what they have to offer,” Alana says. “Thankfully, that is not the case anymore with all the smaller concert venues around now.”

Interior Diabolical

Despite (mostly) closing Diabolical’s live shows chapter, Alana and Adam remain loyal to the community of music lovers who’ve supported them throughout the last decade and plan to stay in their iconic little space on Edison for as long as they can. “I don’t think the record trend will end,” Adam says, “but I do think it will lessen due to how much demand their now is for vinyl which has made it much more expensive than when I started collecting.”  

Maintaining a business as specialized as a vinyl and tape store has, as you might guess, not been easy. When asked what she attributes Diabolical’s unusual 10-year run to, Alana is resolute: “Adam. Our great customers. Adam. Our willingness to be flexible in the face of pandemics, injuries, keeping up with changes in the industry, and getting out of our own way. Being inspired by and working collaboratively with other local businesses. Adam and I always joked the key to our success was our resourcefulness. We don’t need much to make our dreams come true or make what we want, happen. We keep it pretty easy and simple.”

A party to celebrate Diabolical Records 10-year anniversary will be held on July 15 at International (342 S. State St). This free event will include DJs, bands playing and a BANDEMONIUM revival.