Overdraft Records based in Southampton opened its doors last summer to a neighbourhood of vinyl and craft ale lovers. Speaking to store curators and DJs, Mark James and Neil Walters, we find out more on their unique take on owning, and managing an independent record store in the bustling and thriving south coastal port city, and their plans for Record Store Day.
For Overdraft Records and us as djs it meant complete shutdown. We’ve had to rethink our plan for the store and changing how we operate because we are also a popular craft ale bar so the first thing we did was set up an app for click and collect on all the beer and records, and then we use our website to list our stock for online sales so we could bring our vinyl and beer combo back to the community in some way as quickly as possible. Its taken us a long time to come together with the online catalogue because we intentionally set out to be, and have been trading strictly as an offline record shop. Our vinyl is now listed on our website but it’s a small amount of the full stock we previously had available due to the time it take to digitise, which is something we are not experts in but we are gradually adding more every week. We cant wait to be open instore again as soon as possible, hopefully around October in time for the last RSD drop. When we launched online we completed sold out of our store tshirts and tote bags so we have to thank so many people for supporting us through a few months of closure.
Also during lockdown we hosted several live streams and a Mixcloud series with a roster of 25 local djs recording vinyl mixes and doing live sets each weekend> Southampton has a brilliant community of working djs, record collectors and music lovers so getting people together over this strange period when it wasn’t possible to socialise together was something that kept us all going. On 4th July we were finally able to open up the bar to the public which was brilliant to see customers again, but having the vinyl onsale for browsing created too many safe distancing restrictions so for the time being we are doing monthly pop-up events utilising our outdoor space which is what we used to do before we officially became a record store.
It’s our first one as a store, we opened officially in October last year so we are still very new and finding our way. As collectors though, we have always enjoyed Record Store Day and have been fortunate to get hold of the things we wanted every year. With the 2020 dates being moved we were disappointed along with everybody else as we had a full day of live music, djs, craft ale and street food lined up, but we are still pleased we can take part in person this month, just in a lot smaller capacity than we originally intended.
We are planning pop-up stalls outside the store so that we have increased capacity and can organise social distancing better for the queue system. We are also operating Southampton’s first record cleaning service through our ClearAudio deep cleaner machine so people can bring their vinyl with them to get them professionally restored. There will be djs playing all day to keep everyone entertained and the bar will be serving craft Ale all day. Apart from all the changes we hope that everybody will enjoy the day and what we have to offer for RSD Drops over the next three months.
M&N: We have both been vinyl addicts for years, and as DJs, there’s the inevitable draw to a record store, boot Sale, second-hand shop, a Record fair or anywhere that sells vinyl, everyone knows that feeling. So, added to the fact we are both avid collectors, a shop seemed the obvious next step. As DJs we have championed vinyl for around 9 years with a dedicated 7inch format club night so the inevitable was as shop at some stage, mainly to sell on part of our collections, but secondly, we felt the city needed another option, the only issue was where and when…..6 months later and here we are gearing up for RSD, and in the best little spot in the South.
M&N: We are fortunate but also slightly unusual regarding your traditional Record shop we think. We’ve had a close friendship and relationship with Overdraft Craft Ale Bar in Southampton’s Shirley neighbourhood since they opened and to add to the vibe, our good friend and owner Mikha Ria, approached us to turn a section of the bar into a record shop. Mikha’s family has a great relationship with music, his father Amrik, who is sadly no longer with us, used to manage R&B sensation Ten City, electro-funk band CHAKK, owner of the legendary FON records in Sheffield and was an NME journalist in the 80s, so it all It made perfect sense. We both play in the bar monthly and we were delighted but slightly nervous when Amrik first approached us to DJ. I mean, an NME critic asking you to DJ, best be on your game for that one fellas!!! So, what’s not to like, Vinyl, Craft ale and Mexican street food all under one roof. The shop stays open late every day of the week and we have Vinyl only DJs playing every Friday and Sat, instore events with local live bands…so I guess you make your own mind up of the vibe. It’s a sound little place, with a unique setting for a record shop. But most importantly, keeping the name of Amrik and his love of music alive, it’s an amazing vibe, each night is different.
N: On our shop opening event we sold 4 copies of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. It’s an album people love so much that we keep stocking it. Apart from that, the very first records sold were Dr Dre – The Chronic, Otis Blue, and Metallica Ride the Lightning amongst others, nice copies as well.
M: Today we just sold a copy of Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet to a very nice guy we met recently who’s a straight-up old-school hip-hop fan. He’s got this one but it's scratched to hell, so he was pleased to purchase a near mint original UK pressing from us.
N: Yeah, Venus records Farnham, and my 1st purchase was in the shop too, Motorhead Golden Years EP on 12”. One of the very few things that is clear to me this day still got it as well.
M: Red Rose Records in Poole, it's still open now and no bigger than most people’s bathroom. It fits about 3 people in at one time. I spent my pocket money on two records…. Sugar Hill Gang – White Lines 12” extended and James Brown’s Make it Funky on a 45.
N: I am going to go for 2, Grimey's in Nashville Is an amazing place, the new and second-hand stores, spent a great few hours in there picking up bits. And in the UK I am going with 101 Collectors’ records in Farnham. Andy has just kept that goldmine going, he knows and loves his stuff, I know there are many amazing shops around the UK, but I love 101, many great finds and memories.
M: I don’t get their as often as I would like but Eldica Records in Dalston is a well known gem in East London run by the brilliant and very knowledgeable Andy Westbury. You never know who’s in there digging and last time I was in there, I was rubbing shoulders with Stones Throw Records founder Chris Manak aka Peanut Butter Wolf.
N: Record shop owners are going to hate this, I was, I’m going to say South Wales as I can’t remember exactly where, and I was in this little shop when a guy brought in a collection to sell, the guy behind the counter, who I am going to guess was standing in for the owner, gave the seller a small amount of cash for a collection of about 30 records and I had a little flick through…..a 1st press Nick Drake Bryter Later, the guy in the shop said yours for £4.00, I don’t think I need to go on
M: Record shopping in Tampa Bay Florida, they’ve got warehouses on industrial estates full of vinyl that is practically untouched. Shelf upon shelf stacked to the roof. It was so much vinyl that I felt a little claustrophobic, I didn’t know where to start and just to make it harder, everything was sorted A-Z making it hard to find certain genres. All my knowledge of digging for vinyl was really put to the test.
N: Having vinyl records, fine craft ale and Mexican street food all under one roof give us a chance to make the day more than just a shopping transactional visit. We hope that people will come not only to get hold of some of the vinyl exclusives but also stay with us for the day, watch the bands and meet people in Southampton’s vibrant and diverse music scene.
M: This year we are planning a full day of music with some of the finest local acts, which will carry on over the weekend too. Overdraft’s DJ roster has grown considerably over the last few months with all of them lined up to play vinyl-only sets throughout the event and late into the evening, and for vinyl available on the day we will have our second-hand selection and new releases fully restocked in time…..we have loads of free goodies to give away so get their early.
N: The Smiths at Glastonbury 84 sticks out, as does Our Girl at Heartbreakers in Southampton last year, but we’ll go with the Smiths
M: Rage Against the Machine at Redding festival. It was their last ever UK performance before they split in 2000. I think every die-hard fan was there that year and the atmosphere was one of kind.
N: Carry on Jeeves P G Wodehouse, or anything by Wodehouse, or everything by Wodehouse
M: Know your Onions by Drew De Soto
N: O brother where art thou
M: Pulp Fiction
Stone Roses - I am the resurrection
Smell of Incense - West Coast Pop Art Experimental
Apple Tree - Erykah Badu
Child in Time - Deep Purple
Leftfield - Release the Pressure
Brian Augers Oblivion - Inner City Blues
100%Pure Poison - Windy C
M83 - Go!
Trigger Hippy – Morcheeba
Public Enemy - Bring The Noise
Gil Scott Heron – The Bottle
Primal Scream – Come together
Paul Weller – Wild Wood
Dangelo – Brown Sugar
M & N: Let’s go with a Saturday line upas follows with no particular running order
Aretha Franklin performing her entire Amazing Grace album
Spinal Tap (just for a comical interlude)
NWA Vs Public Enemy (why not)
Steely Dan ( to headline…that’s set in stone)
N: Natalie Merchant – Ophelia
M: Public Enemy - It takes a nation of millions to hold us back