As I am sure most of you are aware, Record Store Day takes place next Saturday, 16th of April. We’ve decided here at Elba to scout around a bit and bring you some thoughts from Record Stores out with our locale. Today, we feature Drift Record Shop from Totnes in Devon. I’ve only ever made a ‘record store day purchase’ once before, I didn’t get up early last year to get the limited 7″‘s or anything but a couple of years ago, Drift Record Store gave away the Drift Records back catalogue, around eight albums, along with a few other bits and pieces. The majority of the artists I’d never heard of before but I now count several of these albums as some of my favourite albums, Tandy Hard – Tandy Hard, Birdengine and Thirty Pounds of Bone included.
We caught up with Rupert to get a bit more of a lowdown on Drift as well as getting his opinion on his favourite record store.
– Firstly, tell us a little about Drift and how you got started.
Drift has been in Totnes (small town in Devon) high-street since 1994, originally as a world music specialist but for the last decade specializing in contemporary rock/pop/indie/avant-garde/house/electronicia/minimalist/soundcape/disco… amongst others.
The label was a cottage industry that got too big too soon and got all caught up in the merky outskirts of the commercial music industry. We should have seen it coming, we should have know better.
The shop has always been run on a rolling 12/18 month schedule of the best new music we here and love to promote. We’re very lucky that we have such a good set of customers (or perhaps good fortune in that we’re one of only about five record shops in 600 square miles) and it has enabled us to get behind labels like Woodsist, Souterrain Transmissions, K, Holy Mountain, Anticon, Tri-Angle… support and stock people doing really special things. Not too bad for an indie record store in a tiny little conservative safe heaven in the farming countryside. We can pretty much do what we want and I think that people recognize that we care about… so keep coming back!
– You have an online store as well as the shop. Is it important for a
record shop to offer an online option in this day and age and do you find you get orders from all over the place?
We went online about 9 months back and it has been nice to meet more people that way also.
We decided that if we were to go online we’d have to keep up the friendly chit chat we do in the shop, so we concurrently launched a blog with audio samples, chit chat, videos… just all the good stuff we tell people about in the physical shop.
– Does Drift have any plans for Record Store Day?
We’ve got a SMASH load of new music coming in so we’ll be trying to keep calm amongst the chaos of guys in denim looking for the illusive Queen 7″. Besides this we’ve been stock piling some great treats and we’re going to be dishing out (amongst other warehouse finds) Some rare Dungen vinyl, a couple of Warp Box Sets and a few copies of Thom York + Burial + Four Tet… so there’ll be some rare stuff flying about in the shop come Saturday 16th.
We broadcast a weekly radio show (www.radiohour.co.uk) and we’ll be doing a live show between 12pm – 1pm, covering a lot of the exclusive RSD releases.
In the night we’re taking the Drift Pop Up Shop to neighboring Dartington and putting on the first collaborative ‘Soundproof’ night. Headlining are the brilliant Zun Zun Egui.
Drift Record Shop DJ sets till late also
Come Sunday morning we’ll drunk still and have empty wallets and full record bags I am sure.
– You also have a label, Drift Records. How did this come about and do you find having it alongside the shop mutually benefits each endeavour?
The label came about primarily as a means to releasing my first album (The R.G.Morrison – Learning About Loathing) and just got a lot of good support. We’d put out Thirty Pounds of Bone and Birdengine pretty quick after that and we got some good momentum.
We’ve got some good support for what we do in Totnes and we’ve shifted thousands of the Collective album (compilation) we put out about five years ago; so it’s nice to have that local interest.
I think running the label made me very sympathetic in running the shop; I listen to all promos we get, I take things on sound not press release, spread the shelf space out a little… get behind things that maybe other shops don’t have the opportunity to. We root for the little guys!
– Some of my favourite albums in my collection were actually released on Drift, Tandy Hard and Thirty Pounds of Bone, do you have any future releases planned?
Well John (TPoB) is now working on his own label (Lynched) and recently put out an album on Armellodie (Le Reno Amps label in Glasgow). Birdengine is about to put out his own new album, Le Reno Amps also. Matt Eaton, Mary Hampton and Tandy Hard are all writing, Tom White is as busy as ever and I just licensed my new album out… so all doing things… just less collectively!
Drift Records is hibernating I guess; I certainly don’t doubt there will be a release we’ll want to put out again at some point, but to be honest I get much more of a kick out of running the shop. This coming Monday we have releases by; Alexander Tucker, Autechre, D Charles Speer and the Helix, Hauschka, The High Llamas, Little Scream, Low, Liturgy, Mazes, Old Calf, Ponytail, Sarabeth Tucek, Vivian Girls, Zomes, Metronomy, Robbie Robertson, Cat’s Eyes and TV On The Radio… it’s just so fast moving and a real joy to be involved in some small part with all of those albums… I am not sure I have the concentration for a three months press campaigns anymore!
… Having said all that I did only this week start looking into licensing Townes Van Zandt material plus I saw band called ‘Barr Brothers’ who really blow me away… so you never know!
– Other than Drift, of course, what’s your favourite record store and where is it located?
I am and have always been a huge fan of Rough Trade (“west” now). It’s just such a great outlet. Waterloo records in Austin Texas is very thorough and very friendly. Amoeba Music in LA is just something else… be careful!
I love record shops… I always make a point of going and meeting people in them. Spencer at Rough Trade is tireless, Simon Pure Groove is a genius and Stephen at Mono is a great guy also.
– Do you remember the first record store you visited and what you bought?
‘Our Price’ in Torquay – I remember going to buy Blur ‘Leisure’ … I did own ‘Substance’ before that… mmmm James maybe? Frank and Walters maybe? I also had ‘should I stay or should I go’ on 7″… that was quite early?
– What’s your preferred format?
Vinyl… A nice heavyweight 10″ always gets me most excited. I bought two copies of the ‘Factory Floor – Wooden Box 10″ ‘ as it was just so pretty.