RIP Soundscapes (1999-2021)

We were really sad to hear the news this weekend that after 22 years on College Street, Toronto music institution Soundscapes will be closing its doors. With loving, thoughtful curation and a warm, welcoming environment of discovery, Soundscapes has truly been a local institution that has made a major impact on Toronto’s growth as a music city.

All of the city’s independent record stores are important, but Soundscapes is especially dear to us at Wavelength: many performers at our series have worked behind the counter, including a few of our co-founders and early contributors. We also both started around the same time, in the same Little Italy postal code – Soundscapes opened in 1999, the year before the Wavelength series launched across the street at Ted’s Wrecking Yard (RIP).

Soundscapes were also among the first to recognize the worth of what we were trying to do at Wavelength, and became our first sponsor – contributing cash towards the costs of printing our ‘zine, and not asking for any recognition in return, even when we insisted on it. We’re truly grateful to them for all their support over the years, and this generous spirit extended to the whole community.

Owner Greg Davis and the good people of Soundscapes are true, pure-hearted music lovers, always enthusiastic to share a new recommendation or put a local artist on the front rack – and sometimes performing live on the floor of the shop. Every live music promoter and fan also knows how important they were as a concert ticket outlet, and their selection of music books and magazines was incomparable. Going to Soundscapes was often a musical education: It became a rite of passage to discover new artists on their curated CD listening stations – and reading along with review clippings to expand your knowledge of music.

We’re really going to miss having them in the ‘hood.

A few people in the community have already penned some memorials to Soundscapes. Here’s a selection:

A beautiful personal reflection from musician John Crossingham, who worked behind the counter – and sheds some insight into the humility and generosity of Greg Davis.

A love letter from Michael Barclay on his blog Radio Free Canuckistan.

And a piece our artistic director Jonny Dovercourt wrote for Spacing in 2009, which they just re-posted. (Bruce Peninsula in-store photo by Frank Yang / Chromewaves.)