In celebration of their 8th birthday, Phonica Records are throwing a big old party with a lineup that will make your head spin.
Phonica Records began life in 2003 and has grown into something of an institution on the London music scene. A vast collection of vinyl awaits every customer who pops into the Soho store on Poland Street. Specialising in electronic and dance music with their own two labels to boot, Phonica has built a reputation as one of the most inspiring music stores in London. With a solid team behind them from the beginning, (the guys behind the counter are now well respected DJs in their own right), Phonica was able to establish itself as a platform for great releases as well as somewhere that people take the time out to help you find the vinyl you’re hunting for.
The guys will be celebrating their 8th birthday in style with an enormous party on October 1st; Phonica, Leftfield and The Jackathon will be taking over the Great Suffolk Street warehouse, with sets from Visionquest, Benoit & Sergio, Joy Orbison, Soul Clap, Heidi and Waifs & Strays to name but a few. i-D online met the man behind the music, Simon Rigg to discuss the mantra behind the label, how a normal day in the office goes and their aspirations for the future.
How did Phonica the store and the record label originate? We started back in 2003 when the Vinyl Factory approached me to open a record store for them. I was running Koobla at the time but the opportunity to open a new store completely from scratch was exciting. With the help of Heidi (now a big DJ in her own right) and Tom Relleen (now in the band The Oscillation), we opened the store at the end of September 2003 – at the time we also had Will Saul from Simple / Aus and Pete Herbert working behind the counter… It took us a while to launch the record label (running a shop is time consuming!) but in 2009, we launched with releases from shop counter staff Hector and also from Anthea (as JC Freaks with Werner) – now we are also running another Phonica white label and have a hand in Local Action too.
Who makes up the office team and what’s a normal day at the office? The current Phonica team is myself and Vangelis in the office, Brian & Nick on the counter and Ben & Sam manning the website. It’s not really that exciting other than the constant new music we get to listen to every day.
You’re highly regarded as one of the best record stores in London, how have you cultivated this reputation? What are the ingredients for a successful record store? I think we built a good name for ourselves over the years because of the music we stocked – at the beginning, we stocked a lot of music from Germany such as Kompakt, Trapez etc that you couldn’t get hold of. Also, we have never stocked only one genre and, whilst always in the ‘dance’ genre, we cover everything from house and techno to disco and reggae, dubstep and electronica. Good customer service is also key, of course, and whilst some customers know exactly what they want – we are also good at suggesting & recommending records.
To celebrate your 8th birthday, you’ve organised a massive party at the Great Suffolk Street warehouse, what can we expect from the night? This is our biggest birthday party yet – last year’s was an amazing party with Virgo Four’s first performance in the UK alongside Four Tet & Henrik Schwarz so we are trying our best to top that with three arches of music – Phonica co-founder Heidi is back to host “The Jackathon”, (a series of parties she has taken around the world) to coincide with the release of her “Heidi’s The Jackathon” mix CD on Get Physical – she welcomes Deetron, Mathias Kaden and Waifs & Strays to her room. London label Leftroom are on top form at the moment and label head Matt Tolfrey (and old friend of the shop) has invited the hottest names on the block Visionquest to join him alongside a live performance from Benoit & Sergio. And then we get to the Phonica room – alongside myself, Soho & Vangelis, we welcome Joy Orbison who has been rocking parties all summer and everyone’s party favourites and good friends Soul Clap to make it into a real birthday…..it’s going to be fun!
What are your future plans for expansion? We are finally bringing back our monthly parties which we used to do at the T Bar for five years – not sure of the venue yet but we’ll be back by December, followed by occasional big events such as this birthday… we’d like to do more releases on our labels and also continue doing our nights in Berlin & Barcelona.
Tickets here: facebook.com/event
Text: Laura Hinson