We looked round Container Records in Brixton, and had a chat with the owners.
With a number of the capital’s more well-known record stores being clustered in a central locale – Phonica, Sounds Of The Universe, Reckless Records and If Music to name a few – it’s easy to forget about the smaller gems that can mix it up with the best. Container Records is a new outlet in London’s southern quarters joining stores like Rat Records, Rye Wax and Casbah hoping to turn heads away from the bright lights of the city centre towards their shipping container, full of the finest dance, rock and leftfield.
What’s the story behind Container Records?
In August last year I DJd in a venue with a badly calibrated sound system and managed to pick up chronic (permanent) tinnitus in my right ear. It was all pretty stressful and precipitated a feeling I had that I wanted a change of career. I had been working as a promotions manager in Camden and it wasn’t a very pleasant working environment.
I quit my job and went away to South America to take stock. When I got back in February this year I spent a bit of time working as a painter-decorator and pursuing things I enjoy with my time, like going to record shops. I also needed money and started dealing records on Discogs. Aside from that I run a recently set-up techno label and around this time it started becoming more active.
A friend of mine who has been living in Brixton for decades and is well connected there let me know about the new development on the site where the ice rink had been and that there were units available to pitch for. He’s now also on site trading as Donut Round with some really naughty fresh donuts, his prep kitchen is in the same unit as the record shop. We did a joint pitch in June and were accepted.
What inspired you to start and why Brixton?
I wanted to move away from certain areas of the music industry. I have been an event promoter for eight years and I found it a shady environment. I felt that to get ahead and to please those you work for you have to be open to manipulating others. I thought running a shop would be a more ethical practice, and so far so good.
I have hung out in Brixton since the 90s and and lived there on and off for the last five years. I live there now again and have no plan to leave now. I call it home.
What’s the journey been like from conceiving the idea to finally opening? Have their been many challenges, or things that have gone surprisingly smoothly?
I wouldn’t say things have been smooth. It being an organically growing business community, details change and you have to keep an open mind for solutions to unforeseen problems. But luckily the nice people in the Pop office and in the other containers have offered a lot of support along the way.
For the actual realisation of the business I’ve had help from certain friends of mine who have proven absolute heroes. People have not only showed a lot of insight and specialist skills but shown a massive amount of love and support in making Container happen and I’m very grateful.
What kind of records shop are you running? What can we expect to find on your racks, and are you looking to do things differently from others?
We stock certain types of music, a lot of dancefloor aimed dance music, new and retro, but also a lot of sounds that come out of underground rock, and also more leftfield and experimental releases. I don’t think there’s much more to it than that, apart from that we have maximised our space to put as many records in the 15ft x 8ft space. We have both new releases and second hand selection and I’m very happy with the quality of our stock. We’re all slightly in pain at points when a disc we had our eyes on gets sold, which can only be a good thing.
We plan to work with the council to offer some community projects, to support people who have had a rough time or who are living with some kind of stigma but want a chance to learn and work in the music industry.
Are there any other record stores that have inspired you in setting up Container?
I’m a lifelong record shop customer. My favourites have been Blackmarket, All Ages, Beggars Banquet (Putney and Kingston) Cob Records in North Wales, Rough Trade West, Rat Records (which is nearby in Camberwell), so I guess its inevitable that in envisioning Container Ive taken influence from these spots.
What would you say are your three favourite records that you’ll be stocking once open?
I don’t think I can limit it to my three faves but on our new in techno section I’m very happy to have the new EPs from Hiroaki Iizuka, Manni Dee and Ansome, as well as that highly sought after Slam vs Clouds remix exchange, but then I like techno! There’s some good new DnB on the racks too.
Second hand wise, we’ve got some great punk 7”s and 80s Rock and hardcore type 12” LPs which I’m pretty hyped about. Charlie (who works at the shop) is most pleased we have Dr Dre 2001…
What are some labels or artists you think will be taking 2016 by storm and that you’ll be supporting through the store?
There’s so much going on but interested to hear this new Radiohead LP of course, which I’ll no doubt aim to get in. Also really looking forward to the Ansome debut LP in February on Perc Trax.
Also interesting to see what Skepta will do next with his newly bolstered profile. He seems to have finally cracked the balance of popularity and underground appeal that so many grime artists before him have failed at.
Actually I also have to say we’ve really been digging the Stamp the Wax Radar Radio show, so big up to yourself for that.