Next weekend Phonica Records store founder Simon Rigg joins us in the upstairs bar for PAG vs B(e)ast and will be sure to be digging deep into his own vast vinyl collection for some actual musical gems. Superstore boss Dan Beaumont pinned him down ahead of the party for a chat about a subject dear to both their hearts: records, record stores and more records...
How and why did you open Phonica records?
I opened Phonica in 2003. I was managing another Soho record store at the time – Koobla, and the guys who run Vinyl Factory and Fact Magazine approached me to open a shop for Vinyl Factory. So I left and brought Heidi and Tom Relleen from Koobla to run the place with me. We had a blank canvas and a great space on Poland St, so we designed it how we wanted our ideal record store to be.
How has Soho changed since you opened?
Soho is still thriving- a few years back, it was thought the beating heart of London was moving east and Soho would lose its character and its buzz... but it’s still there!
Why are record shops more important than ever?
Record shops are more important than ever because they are social places where people can gather and share a common interest, where you can be introduced to new music you haven’t heard before (or that would be suggested by a computer / Spotify / iTunes Genius), where staff might know what records you like (if you come often enough) and where you can meet like-minded people. Downloading records on a computer and trawling through Beatport can be an empty, unenjoyable experience but going to a local record shop can be a rewarding one.
What are your top three sellers of all time?
We don’t sell as many copies of the big records now as we used to five or six years ago. Before downloads, both legal and illegal, many people would buy a 12inch as it was the only way to hear THAT track they had heard at the weekend... our biggest sellers have been Bookashade's Mandarine Girl, Tiefschwarz's remix of Spektrum 'Kinda New', Villalobos's version of Depeche Mode 'Sinner In Me', definitely around the minimal 'era'. Nowadays, the new Bicep release has been flying out along with the Kon & Amir edit of Cerrone.
What are your favourite labels at the moment?
I’m a big fan of Sushitech, probably the most consistent house label out there. L.I.E.S. are on a roll at the moment too… alongside Permanent Vacation, Resista, Firecracker / Unthank, Cocktail D'Amore, Golf Channel, Andres's releases on La Vida, too many to mention.
What is on the shop decks right now?
We are playing our new EP from Lord Of The Isles on our own Phonica label. Detroit-flavoured techno from deepest Scotland.
What are your favourite clubs to play at?
My favorite club as been Robert Johnson in Frankfurt – it’s small, perfectly-sized with a great sound system – it’s just like playing at a mates house party but, of course, with a much better system. I played alongside Ewan Pearson all night for 9 hours. I also really like playing downstairs at Watergate as it has such a great backdrop with the Spree behind, especially when it’s iced up in the winter.
Tell us a secret about Phonica…
My favourite Phonica Birthday Party, which always happens around autumn each year, was the one at Corsica Studios with Four Tet, Henrik Schwarz and the first appearance from legendary Chicago house producers, Virgo Four. However, it almost didn’t happen - only a few hours before, I got a call from Merwyn from Virgo Four, who was stuck in an interview room at Heathrow as the guys didn’t have the correct work visa and with all their keyboards and guitars, they were clearly here to 'work'. It took a lot of pleading and after a few hours, thanks to an immigration guy having been to one of our parties, they were let in for 24 hours!!!
What are your favourite record shops in the world?
Well, there aren’t many shops left - especially those for crate digging and I seem to have most things I want now, so I don’t really go looking anywhere else now. I really like Dope Jams in New York for its no nonsense attitude, Discos Paradiso in Barcelona for the great service and decent selection and Rotation in Berlin!
Simon Rigg plays upstairs at PAG vs B(e)ast with Borja Peña, Tom Peters and Avihai Partok on Saturday 6th October 2012 from 9pm - 4am.
You can listen to the new Lord Of The Isles EP on Phonica Records right here