5 December 2014

Music | Introducing | Flashback Shoreditch

As part of Small Business Saturday, a grass roots movement that encourages locals to support the businesses in their communities, American Express sent me down to Shoreditch to check out Flashback, the newest independent record store on the block.
Walking into store yesterday was like a breath of fresh air. Unlike any record stores I've ever been to before, it was bright and spacious. Opening only three weeks ago, it's one of three Flashback record stores in London. It's stripped back to basics yet the white walls are lined with every record you could ever want and need. You'll find second hand CDs and new release vinyls upstairs. Downstairs is a bit more fascinating to rummage through; records sourced from all over the world sit in the basement of the store. 
"We have brand new vinyl but we don't do new CDs. People walk in the door with them basically," explains Flashback founder Mark Burgess. "We have a good reputation of being fair, knowing what we're talking about and being nice to customers. There are dealers who go out and scour boot fairs and bring in what they can't sell themselves."
Mark tells me about the store launch - they had a couple of bands play downstairs and a DJ upstairs to welcome them into the neighbourhood. He explains how he and John Patterson, the Shoreditch store manager, decided to look for a new place around the area even though they were fairly certain that they wouldn't find anything within budget and suitable but the store sort of just landed in their laps. 
I ask Mark why he thinks that vinyl has become trendy again - is it the old reliving their youth or the youth reliving the old? "I think when MP3s came in, like any new revolution, everyone was really excited about it," says Mark. "You could download it easily and carry it around and play it on shuffle. I think there's a sort of collector gene in humans. People like to have a physical thing to hold. All the stories of people losing their entire music collection when a harddrive has been corrupted. They're just beautiful things, records. If you're going to have an experience of listening to music, rather than just having something on in the background, it's nice to have some sort of ritual of putting an artefact on and being able to see the sleeve art. It's been popularised too; virtually every Hollywood film I've seen in the past five years has a shot of someone putting a needle on a record."
"We get 70 year old guys in and we get 15 year old girls in, whatever music they’re into. They're all interested in vinyl, it's not one particular subculture. It really is a mix. It's not led by people just wanting new vinyl. It's led by all sorts of different things. Bands are now releasing on vinyl. Bands are really excited about getting their albums out that way."
Upstairs, there's a Beyonce vinyl sitting alongside Caribou's Our Love - both equally as popular as each other in their own right and much to my surprise, Mark explains that the Beyonce album sells really well. "It used to be that you either like metal or you liked soul or you liked hip hop and there was very little cross over and everyone dug into their camps. I think a lot of the sampling culture and the cross over culture and DJs playing all sorts of stuff - a hip hop DJ will drop in a fusion tune or something like that - and there's been a lot of cross over. It's now cool to like lots of things. It's almost uncool to be fixed into one particular genre."
"One of the great things of working in a record shop is that you get turned on to all sorts of other music as well. Naturally, I don't go for sort of hip-hop or soul particularly but people play such wonderful things, they play the best of all genres so, there's stuff that I've never heard and completely dismissed and you just go "Wow, that's amazing" - even if it's a genre I don't particularly like, you can't help but be impressed by stuff."
Mark's open-minded personality translates throughout his stores and that's what makes them such a success. They are here to provide everyone with a little something of whatever it is they fancy with no judgement, whether that's Madlib, Joni Mitchell, or Led Zepplin; psychedelic, acid house or country.
You can shop small at Flashback Shoreditch this Small Business Saturday at 131 Bethnal Green Road, E2 or online at flashback.co.uk
Sponsored feature in association with American Express® - www.amexshopsmall.co.uk

Please note, the opinions shared in this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of American Express.
Hannah Louise said...

Very cool, this looks like such a nice store! x

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