What’s Your Story? is a monthly series in which we find and talk to interesting people in our local community, whether they run a business, have an interesting job or do something else that we think is worthy of wider attention.
Resident Music is a Record Store with a big reputation. Based on Kensington Gardens in the North Laine, Resident has become a Brighton institution, catering to crowds of record enthusiasts and growing with the revitalisation of vinyl in the past 5-10 years. We spoke to Natasha Youngs, co-founder of Resident to ask about her journey and how a modern day record store works.
HOW WAS RESIDENT MUSIC STARTED?
Myself & my now husband Derry Watkins met whilst working for Virgin / Our Price & realised we had similar dreams to set up our own business doing what we love best: running a record shop.
HOW HAS THE POPULARITY OF FORMATS CHANGED THE BUSINESS OVER RECENT YEARS?
We opened as a CD only shop, as vinyl was already heavily catered for in Brighton at the time (we opened in 2004). There were more than 20 places selling music in Brighton & Hove at that time so competition was strong & we wanted to be sure we were doing what we did really well rather than dabbling in a bit of everything. At the time, the demand for CD far outstripped the demand for vinyl but clearly, over the last 14 years, this has changed dramatically. We introduced a box of vinyl on the counter. This quickly became a lot of boxes under the CD racks. This this then became CD racks being swapped out for new vinyl racks. Then we just ran out of space! So we took on the shop next door, knocked the 2 together & now we have a happy CD / vinyl balance with space to shop more comfortably & a book corner too.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF RECORD STORE DAY?
We’re big fans of the event as it’s the one day of the year when independent record shops have a spotlight shone on them. It’s a way of bringing us all together in celebration of our place on the high street. A way to remind people how important record shop culture is – either an affirmation for those who already know & help us keep it alive every day of the year or a way for those who have forgotten or who don’t invest in the culture regularly, to be reminded or re-engaged. In the press, there is too much focus on the actual releases & the commercial aspects of the day & nowhere near enough focus on the actual shops involved the people behind them & the culture of our sector of the industry.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE STOCKING OF BIG AND SMALL BANDS AND LABELS?
We don’t really consider our curation of releases so much in this way. We try to consider lots of different elements surrounding our buying – customer demand (across a hugely diverse customer base, all ages ranges, locals & tourists, hardcore devotees & occasional buyers), how previous releases have sold, how much we are into it ourselves, press / radio coverage, how much we trust that label’s own tastes & previous releases.
TOP 5 RECORDS OF 2018 SO FAR?
Across all the staff tastes, the mid-year vote revealed the following to be our favourites:
Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Reptile
Rival Consoles – Persona
No Age – Snares Like A Haircut
Fire! – The Hands
Sleep – The Sciences
ARE THERE SOME HIGH FIDELITY STYLE QUIRKS THAT COME WITH WORKING IN A RECORD STORE?
Of course – we all have geek like tendencies & obsessive behaviours. It’s what holds us together!
Hopefully we come with a lot less snobbery though. I personally hate any snobbiness related to music. Who’s to say whether one noise is more superior to another? Whatever engages someone’s brain, makes them dance, takes them to a different place, helps them feel a sense of belonging, has a nostalgic warmth, challenges them, makes them feel fuzzy, causes cathartic release – that’s the joy of music. One person’s intolerable racket is another person’s melody. One person’s cheesy pop is another person’s euphoria.
DO YOUR STAFF INFLUENCE THE SELECTION OF RECORDS IN-STORE?
Yes, all of them, whether they realise it or not. We always try to recruit people with a fresh approach or who bring a set of knowledge with them that we are lacking as a team. The wider the tastes in the shop, the more people we can confidently cater for. Derry & I can’t possibly hear, understand, know or like everything out there so we need a set of people around us that can help filter & curate.
HAS YOUR CUSTOMER BASE CHANGED OVER THE YEARS YOU’VE BEEN OPEN?
Yes, although many of them are the same people that walked through our door in week 1 which is brilliant. We have changed as a shop, in response to the demands of our customers. We started out pretty mainstream as that was Derry & I’s background, what we were familiar with & what we were confident with but we’ve evolved. We take on board everything we get asked for that we don’t stock & adapt accordingly.
It’s home. It’s an incredible city. It’s what we know & where our heart is. The thriving live music scene here is crucial to our success & the people here want to be involved in all things cultural. Also, the support for independent businesses here is strong, especially in the North Laine.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS FOR RESIDENT?
Our plans change all the time. Expand Resident further. Open more record shops in different towns. Open more shops selling different stuff in Brighton. Just cruise along exactly as we are enjoying what we’ve built here. Pack it all in & live in Australia. Who knows what the future holds?……
If you would like to feature and tell us your story, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org