Resident Interview

(Photo of Matt Hendon manning the Resident counter by James Kendall)

Rounder Records’ forthcoming closure at the end of the month has been a cause for sadness and concern to many locals and visitors alike, but also local businesses – none more so than fellow record shop owners. We spoke to Resident to get their opinion on the future of independent record shops and why they’re so important to the Brighton music scene.

The reaction to the closure of Rounder has been really intense, what are your views?
Nat: It’s a massive blow to Brighton because one of the great things about Brighton has always been, not only independent shops but also independent record shops.
Derry: The more record shops there are, the more people come shopping. Like the more gigs are on, the more people go to gigs. Brighton is a destination where people come here for the music scene, so the more of it there is, the better for everybody.

People will be worried about whether you’ll be next. Do they need to worry?
Derry: We’re not going to be next. We work really hard at this and at the moment it’s paying off. If we can carry on as we are, carry on being there for our customers and paying our staff, then that’s a success as far as we’re concerned.

What is it about record shops that make them so special?
Derry: It’s about real people dealing with real people. You can treat people well on a website but it’s never going to be the same as going into a shop and actually having a conversation. You get to know what people like and you can make recommendations to them. We never try to actively sell things to people, but if there’s something we genuinely think someone would be interested in or should know about then we think it’s bad service not to do so.
Nat: Most of our modern world is about dealing with people via email or text and people you never see face-to-face.
Derry: People can go to independent record shops and see something they weren’t expecting, or hear something they haven’t already heard. You can’t replicate that buying something from somewhere like Amazon.

What can people do to support the local scene and record shops?
Nat: People really need to think about the consequences of their choices when they’re shopping around to save money. Everyone’s saying how tragic it is that Rounder’s gone, but if you were shopping there then they’d still be here.
Derry: If you don’t use the local shops, you end up with another identikit town centre and there’s no soul to places like that. You don’t want people to shop independently for the sake of it, but if people care about something, they should support it.

How else do you think the loss of Rounder will impact on Brighton’s music scene?
Derry: If people don’t support the local record shops, it will have a knock-on effect on the live scene because a lot of gigs will end up not selling enough to happen. It’s important to us that there’s a great music scene. Losing Rounder may mean that shows don’t sell as many tickets as they used to, so some shows may not be able to happen.

So, for now can we safely say that Resident will not being going down the same path as Rounder?
Derry: We will carry on doing what we’re doing, which is doing everything we can to make sure that we look after our customers and at the moment, we’re still very busy.
Nat: It’s one of those weird businesses where people won’t allow costs to go up. We remember buying CDs as kids, you’d pay £15.99 for a CD and now we can’t charge more than a tenner.
Derry: When people talk about how expensive music is, it’s never been cheaper. That’s if you’re actually paying for it in the first place.
Nat: A lot of it is about perception. People assume downloads are cheaper and assume independent record shops are expensive, and they’re really not. We can’t afford to be; we wouldn’t be here if we were.

Any final thoughts?
Derry: People need to think about what’s really important to them and consider all the important things that have been said about Rounder. We need to make sure that if people like us being here, that they make sure that we are still here. We would love to have seen Rounder stay open forever and if something miraculously happens that would be fantastic, but if it doesn’t then we will certainly do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen to us.