Notes From A Record Store: Drift, Totnes

“Obsessed by new music.”

Everyone in the record business probably should be.

Drift actually is.

The Totnes, Devon record store is truly one of the UK’s finest, winning acclaim and respect from UK music fans and independent labels alike.

It has a fantastic range of treasured record from across the ages, which it defines as “new, old and awesome from every warehouse in the world”.

Makes you want to go and while away an afternoon there right now, doesn’t it?

Well, we didn’t do that – but we did catch up with Mr. Drift, Rupert Morrison, to ask his thoughts about retail, Spotify, the music business and some brilliant new music…

How has business been in the past year, and how would you rate the landscape for independent retail in the UK?

Strong. I’d say awareness is at an all time high for us indie shops and if you do your job well and with passion it’s salad days!

Just don’t expect it on a plate, it’s not the 1990’s anymore.

What is special to you about working in independent music retail?
For the best part, because there are no rules. We’re governed and limited only by our ambitions, imagination and abilities to enthuse people.

Plus we’re actively getting people vibed about records and bands… if that doesn’t get you out of bed in the morning then God knows what will. It’s hardly a real job, right?

“One of my staff wrote the Actress R.I.P album was ‘about as fucking perfect as you can get… like taking drugs without ruining your life’.”

There are certain responsibilities for mass retailers, there are codes they have to obey and that combined with their lack of speed in adapting five/ten years ago is what killed off the chain shop.

So long as you do it with vindication, then you can do anything.

At Drift we write little reviews for the albums and stick them to the cover. One of my staff wrote that the Actress R.I.P album was “about as fucking close to perfect as you can get, like taking drugs without ruining your life” – I had a complaint from a customer.

I had a think about the review and ultimately stood by what she wrote, I in fact encouraged her to write loads more.

She meant it, that album made her feel that way and she just wanted to share that. For me that is what it is all about, recognising that we are part of an amazing process that takes music from studio to stereo. It’s a privilege.

What is your opinion on music streaming services such as Spotify?

I’m conflicted. I personally think that it’s just the best way of mopping up the mess that we’ve found ourselves in.

Getting my phone out of my pocket, hitting the big glass screen with my thumb and listening to a Chet Baker album that beams to me from thin air as I walk to work is just like something out of fucking Blade Runner man… it is amazing, but what is actually going on troubles me.

“I’m conflicted on Spotify. The maths are murky and stacked against the artist, but that’s hardly anything new.”

I think the maths are murky and grossly stacked against the artist, but that is hardly anything new. Back around ’97/’98 people just decided that music was free and started filling up hard drives with MP3’s they’d ripped off Limewire or Napster, storage was actually spoken about like a badge of honour.

The barn doors got opened and culturally there seems little impetus to try and rectify the damage.

What makes you optimistic for the future and what do you wish would change in the music industry?

Every day I get to listen to maybe five/ten great new albums, and that’s just the mainstream releases that land on my doorstep.

Stick on your headphones and go investigating and the possibilities are literally endless. People are making music every second of every day and it is the most inventive and wildly creative music that we’ve ever known.

“I hate a whole bunch about how the music industry is run. But I’ve found the one really pure bit and immersed myself in it.”

I hate a whole bunch about how the industry is run, but to be honest, I found the one bit that I see as being really pure and I’ve happily immersed myself in it.

For the best part, we are untouchable.

What are three records playing in your store right now you’d recommend we listen to?

Today’s is a great one: a buddy from Madrid came to the shop and told me about his friend running a label out of Alicante.

The label is Pretty Olivia Records, the band is The Wellgreen, the LP is ‘Summer Rain’ and I just imported loads of copies. Premium Glasgow sunshine jangle.

Otherwise, we’re sneaking in some advance plays of Julia Holter and Low, both of which are superb.

We interviewed Georgia this week so we’ve been listening to her album a bunch and that has been backed up by plenty of Gwenno, Red River Dialect, Seven Davis Jr and never does a day go by that doesn’t get a dose of Pavement… some things are sacred, man.