About Intense Records
Give us the background... when and why did you decide to open a record shop?
I was always into music as a kid, following my older brother’s footsteps listening to bands like The Cure, New Order and especially Prince. As we grew up in the early 90s, my bro and my mates started to embrace the new up and coming dance music scene storm and most memorable ‘The Prodigy’.
When I was around 15, my brother gave me an Old Skool Micky Finn rave tape, and that was it, I was hooked. That Christmas I persuaded my parents I needed a DJ set. After a few months I persuaded the school to allow me to DK the end of year disco, then that summer of 2004 me and my mic controller ‘MC Indica’ put on our first event 'Midsummer’s Night Rave' at the YMCA in Chelmsford.
After leaving school I went to University in Birmingham to study Business Management where I continued to DK, set up a Drum & Bass Society and started promoting parties. I came up with the name Intense, at the time it was purely the name of the event, but it looked so good on the flyers and I liked the sound of it so much, that when it came to naming the shop, it was an easy decision. The rest, they say is history.
Intense was born in 1999 after years of DJing and scouring record shops up and down the country, spending every bit of money I had on vinyl, I decided I wanted to set up my own shop. It was purely to fuel my vinyl addiction at first, and to get the best records before the other DJs. To open accounts I had to order more than 1 copy of each record, so began ordering a few and selling them to mates and local DKs. The customers began to increase, and I was regularly ordering vinyl to my university house, it was like Christmas every week.
Studying Business management was very handy as we had to pretend to set up a business on the course, but I was doing it for real, so all my coursework was based on setting up the shop, and I passed with flying colours. Over the next few years the internet took off in a big way and I noticed online record stores appearing, with the ability to listen and buy vinyl online without actually going to a shop. I thought this was the perfect solution for Intense as I had no actual premises, so I bought the name www.intenserecords.co.uk and proceeded to build the website where you can search and listen to all the tracks before your order and we will ship them to your door anywhere in the world.
During the next break from University, I came back to Chelmsford and discovered a new record shop had opened, but wasn’t selling much Drum & Bass, which was my specialist subject, so I struck up a deal and began supplying them with all the latest D&B vinyl and would collect any profits when I returned the following holiday.
This arrangement continued successfully until I graduated from University and came back home when I needed to find a job. I decided that selling vinyl was my passion and didn’t want a 9-5 office job, so persuaded the record shop owner to go into partnership with me, I would continue pushing my Drum & Bass while he concentrated on other genres of music. Shortly after and with the help of a few friends the Intense website was born and we began to trade online as one of the world’s only Drum & Bass specialists.
With the shop in Chelmsford and the website getting more hits, plus DJing and running regular events, business was booming, so much so, that I outgrew the shared premises and needed to go my separate way and take Intense to the next level.
In 2003 I set up the Intense Record shop in Viaduct Road, Chelmsford under the arches, selling strictly Drum & Bass and related merchandise. Shortly after, the other shop ceased trading, so I began to diversify into all other forms of dance music, such as Breakz, Dubstep, Electro, House, Techno, Garage, Grime, Hip-Hop and Old Skool Hardcore to fill the gap in the market and cater for the growing demand.
It’s been a good journey and the determination to succeed have kept me getting up each day to push the music we love, I have seen the highs and lows of the record industry and the period between 2009-2014 was very hard with the decline in record sales throughout the country and especially in Essex where I had seen shop after shop close down.
My accountant told me to shut up shop years ago, she said I was crazy, so I sacked her and continued to keep the dream alive. However, thankfully in recent years there has been a resurgence in vinyl and we have been busier than ever. There are a few things contributing towards this, the first would be Record Store Day, the now global celebration of vinyl and independent record stores.
2012 was the first year we took part, we were new to the party and only dipped our feet into the many releases available, but we did notice some new customers coming through the doors looking for all different genres, some we didn’t stock, as back then we were still a predominantly dance based shop.
So, with the new-found customer base that we had gained, we began to change the mould of the shop and started selling all genres of music. It was a gradual transition but now the shop has been transformed into two sections. Being under the arches of the railway line, we now have 1 arch dedicated to dance music and the second arch focussing on the alternative styles including Rock, Pop, Indie, Funk & Soul, Reggae, Country, Jazz, Soundtracks and everything in between.
The company was set up 20 years ago in my bedroom as a hobby, and this year marks our 20th anniversary. I never envisaged that 2 decades later I would have my own shop and a globally recognised brand. This year we had our busiest day in history on Record Store Day, and long may it continue... Keep it intense!
I can’t remember it, but I will most definitely be a drum & bass 12”. This will also answer the last question but with a load of all other records from all genres in the middle.
The first record shop I remember going to would have been Our Price in Chelmsford High Street, which later turned into HMV I believe. The first record I remember buying is quite embarrassing now, the debut album from ‘New Kids on The Block’ I had seen it on Saturday morning TV and went out bought it later that day, I was only young lol. However, I do remember when I first started DJing, me and my mates thought we were super cool, smashed that record in disgust and threw it out of my bedroom window.
Before I opened my own shop I would visit shops around the country. My local shop was Vinyl Rhythms underground dance shop where l earnt my stripes with DJ Knuck schooling me. But later on as I got a bit older we would jump on the train to London armed with my paper round money to scour the city’s treasures, mainly around Soho area visiting Unity Records, or Razor Records in the basement of Mash Clothing on Oxford St.
My favourite however was Blackmarket Records or BM Soho it was later known as. It was run by some of favourite Drum & Bass DJ’s Nicky Blackmarket and Ray Keith. On the ground floor there was House, Techno and other styles but it was the Drum & Bass basement where you would find me. This was the mecca of D&B/Jungle shops where you would meet your heroes and hang out and listen to all the latest tracks on their monstrous sound system.
Through running events I got to book Nicky and Ray and we’re now good friends. Sadly all these shops I mentioned have now shut, most of them in the 90s, but when I opened Intense these memories are what I moulded my shop on. Hundreds of dance records behind the counter, a set of turntables to mix on and a massive sound system! The perfect recipe!
I guess it must be when I met my wife Jen, she used to come in to the shop with her mate shopping for the latest tunes, I thought they were an item so left it at that. A little later I realised they were just friends and over the years we struck up a little romance and then in 2009 we finally got together so it’s our 10th anniversary coming up next month, I’m going to take her away, she doesn’t know that yet, she will find out when reading this, surprise!! J You may all know Jen or at least used her products as she runs Get Customised supplying bands, record shops and labels with their custom merchandise and has previously supplied the merch for Record Store Day itself, so if you have had a RSD, Sister Ray, BM Soho, T-shirt, Slipmat, Tote or Carrier Bag in the last few years it probably came from Jen. She actually moved the business into the shop for a few years but with her business evolving and record sales on the up she found her own offices and continues to supply stores around the country. See pic of me and Jen DJing at a local festival!
Hard question but two spring to mind:
1) Prince Wembley Stadium around 1993/94 (the last concert he did as Prince before changing his name to the symbol.
2) Homelands (or mudlands as it was later known) watching Roni Size Reprezent Live in the D&B tent…
Don’t read a lot anymore, mostly find me on Netflix. But I did used to love anything by Roald Dahl notably Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.
Star Wars New Hope / Back to the Future / Usual Suspects and every James Bond film with Sean Connerry or Roger Moore.
LTJ Bukem -Logical Progression Vol 1
Prince - Purple Rain / Sign ‘O’ The Times
Anything & everything ever produced by Calibre #Legend
Prince, Bob Marley, Calibre, Nicky Blackmarket & Stevie Hyper D, The Prodigy, Michael Jackson, Slipmat. Nirvana, Guns & Roses, New Order, LTJ Bukem & Conrad
Joint top 2 that can’t be split.
LTJ BUKEM - Horizons + Adam F - Circles