London’s Phonica Records has a well-earned reputation as one of the finest record shops in the UK. ROB CHADWICK talks to Simon Rigg about the store’s recent milestone birthday and more…
With the digital revolution now in full control of the house and techno scene, one record shop has stood strong through the hard times. Phonica is the stalwart stockist of vinyl in the country, and has just celebrated its sixth year on the go by partying with the Get Physical crew. Phonica's very own Simon Rigg tells EQ about the amazing birthday and music in general…
How have you found the market since the digital revolution?
It's completely changed over the last few years with far fewer shops and far less vinyl being sold. In the shop, we’re selling a lot more CDs (at one point, we didn’t even sell them) and T-shirts, but there are still dedicated vinyl buyers who aren’t happy with the sound or the non-tangible nature of MP3s. If you love a track, you want to have it, to actually have a physical copy.
You celebrated your birthday at the amazing venue Cable. What were the highlights?
It was a good party. Cable is a really nice venue that should be packing them in every week. It was great to see the Get Physical crew again and to DJ with Hector and Anthea from the shop and our guests from Cadenza, Cesar and Pablo.
There always seems to a great buzz around Phonica. What makes a good record shop?
It obviously has to have a good range of stuff, and it has to be reliable and point you in the direction of the records you might never find or listen to. We try and stock everything we think is good, so we’re comprehensive – and you can see everything we have in stock on our website.
You’ve had some great instore parties at Phonica. Any highlights from any of those?
We've had all sorts – from Moby to Heartbreak, MANDY to Lady Sovereign, DJ Craze to Scott Grooves playing – but the highlight has be Richie Hawtin, Gaiser, Marc Houle and Troy Pierce for a Contact special. Great fun…
What’s your opinion on the latest CDJ2000's from Pioneer? Will the new technology make things even harder for the vinyl stockists?
Not really. I think by now we can see that it’s not a question of technology. A lot of people use more than one format – MP3, CD and vinyl – and many DJs still buy vinyl to keep their favourite records, and then play out using CDs or Serrato.
The Phonica record label was launched earlier in the year. Tell us a bit about this.
Well, we wanted to release records that we came across or were made by staff members such as Hector or Anthea (JC Freaks with Werner). If we like it, we will release it. Phonica will be predominantly house based, but we've also started a white label series with the first release by Japanese producer, Iori, just because we loved his productions. So the white label series will be more techno-based – although this might change! We’re open to electronic music of all genres, from dubstep (our first release had a remix from Appeblim & Al Tourettes) and disco to house and techno.
The shop must be getting music constantly. Any stand-out tracks this year for you?
There’s been lots of great music of all genres, but the records that stand out this year are those doing something slightly different. Joy Orbison's Hyph Mungo, Floating Point’s Vacuum Boogie or tracks from Mount Kimbie, Pangaea and Tensnake spring to mind. Iori's Urge is one of my favourites too. I’m just going to start compiling Phonica's 2009 charts with all the staff's recommendations…
Running the store, you must have some right gems in your record box. How big is your personal collection?
I've kind of lost count now – 30,000 strong? And I’ve been throwing a lot out, so now I can’t find anything.