About Bear Tree Records
Give us the background... when and why did you decide to open a record shop?:
I come from around Sheffield really, but went to university in Nottingham, and that’s where I got my first job in a record shop at the legendary Selectadisc… it was a great place to work. I moved back to Sheffield in 2006 and opened my (first) own shop which lasted a huge 6 (stressful) months, it was specialising in weird and wonderful sounds, and was basically a disaster. Ha. But, you learn from you mistakes. The shop turned into a label which I still do on a fairly infrequent basis. I managed a few years just doing the label, then worked in a few record shops in Sheffield. I wanted to go solo again and had a lot of specific things in mind from what I wanted (and personally liked about other record shops) and finally in late 2015 I opened Bear Tree. It was tiny at first, but after a year we moved to a bigger unit and it’s going good.
I hope the vibe is strong! Ha! We try to keep it fairly inclusive, we have a pretty broad selection of genres from indie, punk, psych, hip hop, reggae to more specialist genres like black metal, doom, experimental, jazz, modern classical, soundtracks. We can order in for customers which people appreciate. All stock has a description on, mostly press releases, which I think really benefit customers, and we mostly sell new, but have a small amount of secondhand. We have just expanded from being entirely just me to having our first member of staff, Ben. Ben previously worked at The Music Exchange in Nottingham, he’s knows his stuff and it’s great to feel like we’re pushing it forwards (plus I have the option for extra days off!).
Funnily enough I do, the first thing we sold was a purple splatter vinyl pressing of Kate Bush’s Hounds Of Love. Last record we sold was Pye Corner Audio’s Sleep Games on Ghost Box. A banger, check it out!
Probably the first record shop I went to was HMV or Virgin Megastore, but I was back in to CDs and tapes back then... The first record I bought, I can’t 100% remember to be honest, but I remember buying an early Radiohead 12” from Jacks Records in Sheffield when I was maybe mid teens. I don’t have it any more, it’s long gone.
Being self employed I rarely get out of Sheffield anymore. I used to love Selectadisc and was lucky to work there, it was such a great shop and introduced me to so much. There were a ton of amazing shops which have disappeared over the years like Volcanic Tongue, Alt Vinyl and Second Layer, which I miss. Beyond that to the current shops, I really like Forever Records, Hot Salvation, and Transmission, we’re all mates so that helps.
Getting locked in the toilet at a previous shop I worked in and live tweeting my rescue. The toilet was proper rank as well.
Probably Nick Cave at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall. Proper good.
I am honestly a terrible reader. Probably my most read book right night is Mog’s Family. I read it about 4 times a week to my daughter.
Probably a tie between Suspiria, The Thing and Halloween
It’d be pretty eclectic (probably not that comforting to be alone on an island too), Goblin’s Suspiria soundtrack, Carpenter’s Halloween soundtrack, and Morricone’s The Thing… then some African Head Charge or Creation Rebel, Burial’s Untrue, Neil Young (too many to choose from), Max Richter’s The Blue Notebooks.
Basically a mix of everyone I mention above probably, but I’m sure I could add a ton more relatively easily...
This varies massively, I don’t think I have a specific favourite album to be honest… There so much good music, it changes so often. I think the oldest records that’s been in my possession is probably Autechre’s Amber. It maybe not my favourite record at the moment, but it’s a great record. I got for Christmas when I was about 15 or 16 or something. Pretty sure I’ve not had a record in my possession as long as that.