CS: Paul, thank you so much for taking the time to chat to us. How has the response been from the local community and students over the past 28 years?
Paul: The campuses have become ten times the size they use to be. There has also been an influx of international students, which has changed the student union from a small independent group to an international body. Even though roughly 85% of gig tickets are sold online, we are still the front line for students and the local community to buy tickets, which is an amazing thing too still have that consistency. It just shows that there is still a massive support in the area for records and independent business owners. Unlike the UEA, Epic Studios and the waterfront, we are a one stop shop for everything – Records, new music, gig tickets, advertising and location; we are the city centres front line.
CS: It’s always great when you can get everything you need in one shop for music and your location is brilliant for many people including students. What made you decide to open and run a record shop?
Paul: I am Norwich born and breed. I guess I have always wanted to open a record shop. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time and its happened which is amazing, I can’t see myself doing anything else. Next year it will be 40 years in the industry and 2021 will see Soundclash Records turn 30, I haven’t got anything planned yet but to say we are the longest standing independent open record shop in Norwich, maybe even in East Anglia, is such a massive achievement and I am beyond proud to be able to say it. I believe 18 years was the one to beat which was 10 years ago, I’d say we passed with flying colours. I think part of the success has been that we specialise in unique music where it is extremely difficult to find it anywhere else.
CS: That is a massive achievement, it’s hard to find people these days that are living their dream and with two milestones in two years and to be the only open independent record shop in Norwich that is something to be incredibly proud of. You must have a massive range of people visiting?
Paul: I feel like we are mix, depending what is going on in the community. I would say between 30 to 40 year olds come in more to look through the records and are more inclined to buy them. But in saying that, I get just as many 18 to 30 year olds, more so for gig tickets but some of them do buy records as well or they come back later down the line. Which is great because it just shows how important a record can be.
CS: Music does really bring people together in any type of form, is there a particular favourite amongst your customers or even with yourself?
Paul: Now that is a difficult question as there is no straight answer. I find it’s never the same thing amongst the customers as new trends and bands are coming through all the time. At the moment new jazz seems to be in at the moment, but who knows in a week it could be something very different. I honestly don’t have a favourite band or genre. I think this is something that helps bond with all my customers, it also shows that I know my stock and also an open mind to go that extra step with someone who isn’t exactly sure on what they are looking for.
CS: I completely understand, I go through my stages of what is my favourite as well. And, especially in todays market of everything being online. It’s great to see the classic vinyl making a comeback, do you think they will always be in fashion?
Paul: Yes, I think they will be. There is just something about putting on a record after a long day. It’s authentic and real. With almost everything being online these days, people are looking for a kickback, something to be in control of. Music is the bloodline of the world. It connects people to the world and makes them feel like they are a part of something, even if it is for a limited amount of time. I find that people want something more physical, simple and homely; like a home cooked meal or a glass of wine.
CS: That sounds like a perfect Friday night to me. There is just something about listening to a vinyl. Music just sounds better on a record player. And it’s great to see the different generations appreciating the sheer complexity and simplicity that is a vinyl. And with new students hopefully moving in to Benedict’s Gate next year what would be the one piece of advice you would give them?
Paul: For starters - Get a record player!! Benedict’s Street is a good gateway to a fine city. There is something for everyone and it’s at your doorstep. This city is always changing, there is always something new opening up, or older places getting a revamp – like The Artichoke, a pub on Magdalen Road has recently changed landlords and has re-opened with a new wave of pub food bringing it back to its roots - it’s the best place to eat in Norwich. There are many things in Norwich for students. It can be overwhelming but everyone is super friendly and always here to help, all you got to do is ask.