We’d like to introduce you to the amazing indie stores we work with, and this month we’ve been talking to Steve from Pie & Vinyl, a stunning shop in Southsea that offers a carefully curated selection of LPs and posters, but also local teas and pies…
Please introduce yourself and give a brief bit of background / history to the shop…
My name is Steve Courtnell, founder of Pie&Vinyl and the keeper of the secrets of Castle Greyskull.
The Pie&Vinyl concept was put together with the belief that there was still an audience that wanted to purchase physical format music, and in particular vinyl. I still believe the reason vinyl disappeared (sort of) was because no one could buy it. Being a huge music fan with a keen interest in new music, I noticed that vinyl had reinvented itself, an first of all in America – the LP came with a DL code or CD. For me this was a great move, and after fighting the MP3 downloading, piracy market – it became apparent that the labels were starting to embrace it, and use it to create almost a brand new ‘Ultimate’ format, which ticked the boxes for quality, experience, tangibility and the chance to get the album on your hardrive device. Whilst not being 100% confident that opening a shop selling something that was essentially free in a lot of people’s minds, I loved the idea of adding another sensory experience to the concept. And that was food, and in particular Pie and Mash. I felt that Pie and mash which is one of the original takeaway English working class foods, with its history and tradition, would work well with the vinyl concept. We offer a very contemporary take on Pie and mash, with around 40 different fillings – similar to the way vinyl, a format with history and tradition had reinvented itself in my eyes. Also, the look and feel of the place would be very important, and thus a hub that embraces all the senses in a most positive way, the taste, visually, touching and of course the ears.
We sell a unique experience, somewhere that people who love music on any level could come and feel welcome and relaxed and have a memorable time. Basically, everything the internet doesn’t offer you.
What positive developments and changes for independent music retail have you noticed occurring recently?
I think the indies only coloured LP, even if some people don’t admit it – they will always take a limited coloured version over a standard, and that really helps get people in store. Also, freebie – People love a gift with a purchase. We’ve been able to give away so many great things this year, from actual Jackets (The new Youth Lagoon release) to screenprints, like Fat Cat have done recently with the new Shopping LP. Also, in store shows are a massive part of what we offer, and it’s great that touring bands and labels seem so much more supportive of their bands playing in store. A perfect chance to meet the people behind the record you’ve just bought, have an amazing intimate experience in store and spread the word. Again, it’d everything you don’t get when you purchase a song online for 79p – we are trying to show people, particularly younger people that there is another way you can listen, experience and consume music.
What more do you think can be done to help independent music retail?
I think many labels, majors as well as independents really are supporting independent music stores much more. Obviously some of us won’t be able to buy in huge quantities like some other online retailers, but they understand the effect on customers is much greater than with on line purchases. Obviously, sharing what you love directly to the customer and feeling privileged enough to be able to recommend titles, gives you a great chance of repeat custom. We’ve managed to make lots of friends, and feel we have earned a level of trust with some of our regulars which is amazing. I guess keep up the exclusives, whether it’s gift with purchases, coloured LP, released in indies first –Available only/first in physical stores is a great one too – I’d like to see much more of that J
How is the local music scene in Portsmouth / Southsea? What role do you think an independent music store can / should have in its local community?
The local music scene is going from strength to strength, we have so many types of music and scenes, and micro scenes, ha – and many bands for quite a small city. We have a record label (imaginatively titled Pie&Vinyl Records) which aims to support and encourage bands we like and feel could have an impact nationally. We help release and obviously stock and sell in the shop. We do that for any local act that self distributes. We feel it’s important to be part of the local music community. We are in a pretty privileged place, it’s great seeing so many types of music fan come in to the store and this really reflects how we try and support the local scene. We also promote, and put shows on as well. We also release a mix tape compilation of local acts, called ‘Portsea, You Black Island’ which has gone down well. To be honest we don’t just limit ourselves to the local music scene, we invite local artists to reinterpret our logo, design album covers, we’ve recently put on a music poster show at the guildhall, and encourage any creativity that we can be a part of.
Finally, what three recent / forthcoming releases are you particularly enjoying at the moment?
We are really enjoying the new TRAAMS LP in the shop, what a fine band they are…we have our first ‘in store outside’ this weekend. This happens when we wouldn’t dare ask a band to compromise their sound but if they are way too loud for our little shop, so get them at an interesting venue Southsea, (Where they can be loud). We try and play new unreleased music in the shop all day long, which keeps the customers guessing and excited if they recognise it. #We do mix in released bits also though – but always relevant to what we sell. I guess the new Fuzz record is popular, a few people have asked about Richard Dawson recently, and quite right to…Kurt Vile, Songhoy Blues is a staff favourite on the kitchen side and the New Oneohtrix Point Never LP – Mutant Standard is good to clean the shop during close down which kind of makes sense. I guess it’s that time of year when I have to seriously start thinking about Records of the year 2015! It’s been a strong one…so is going to be tuff!
Make sure you visit Pie & Vinyl if you’re around Southsea – http://www.pieandvinyl.co.uk