Record shops only close down these days, don’t they? Well… not on the mean streets of Hove. Capsule Records swung open its doors a few weeks back, onto a moderately surprising location on Western Road, two doors down from the artisan fromagerie. We popped in for a chat with the far-from-cheesy owners Sarah, Lawrence and Simon, aka Skev.
These guys have realised that to thrive in today’s music market, they need to complement rather than compete against the digital space and, crucially, to play to their strengths as physical, meat-based humans. This means offering a closely curated, personal record-shopping experience.
“We’re putting collections together, which will also be a visual thing in the shop. It’s inspired by a capsule wardrobe [a condensed version of a designer’s vision] in the fashion industry,” says Skev. And the penny suddenly drops regarding the shop name’s inspiration.
Yes, accessibility is the buzzword here. “Some record shops can look down on people if they don’t have the knowledge. We’re for people who are restocking, who got rid of their records a long time ago and are getting back into it, or for people who are new to it and don’t really know where to start,” they tell us.
Visually, it’s immediately clear that this is no dusty, bargain-bin emporium (although we love those too). There’s a design vision at play here. It’s beautifully kitted out, with expensive-looking wooden record bins, a proper coffee machine, a seating area and… fancy acoustics. Because records always sound extra good in the shop, don’t they.
“We worked with a guy who runs a studio on the other side of town, and he advised us on the acoustics,” says Lawrence. “We fitted PMC studio speakers, wall panels and vinyl matting for deadening in the ceiling.”
“And we’ve got a console behind the counter that’s been wired so we can move it to the front and have in-stores and DJs,” continues Skev.
They’re also chuffed to show us their innovative QR code system, with which you can audition an album on your phone before you buy it. “The QR code thing came out of lockdown. We all got so used to ordering pints by QR code, and we thought why not do that with music.”
“So you can scan a few codes, grab a coffee, sit down, have a listen and walk out with something you hadn’t heard before,” says Lawrence, en-Capsulating the concept in one swift sentence.
We also get a peek into the basement, which is still a building site at present but presents all kinds of future opportunities, such as a space for kids to come in and get music tuition. Combine all this with an impending drinks licence and you’ve got a truck-load of multi-dimensional potential.
Music-wise, it’s mostly along the lines of jazz, funk, Afrobeat, electronica and hip-hop. But are there any genres they don’t sell? “We don’t really stock indie, metal or country,” says Skev, although to be fair there is actually an indie/rock section (see photographic evidence above). The other two must’ve sneaked that in there.
And while they do dig jazz, we love their description of the atonal stuff as “the audio equivalent of losing your car keys.” Forget the cheese – that one takes the biscuit.
Capsule Records is now open at 37 Western Road, Hove, BN3 1AF
www.capsulerecords.co.uk | @capsulerecordsuk
Photos by Ali Tollervy